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Thursday, 16 October 2008

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Ahistoricality

In history, we're less likely to need a writing sample in the first phase (about a third of the schools ask for it up front, maybe less), but we are often asked for something like a research prospectus, outlining our research and publishing plans for the next 5-10 years.

I've never seen a request for a teaching philosophy statement with a specific page length, though I have seen some page-length caps on those. Mine was two pages, though I had a one-page version when it was necessary.

Having been on the other side of this particular process, I can say with great confidence that the idea of reading a whole stack of ten-page pedagogical statements chills me to the bone. They're all the same! Even mine, which I start by claiming not to have a pedagogical philosophy, is essentially indistinguishable from 98% of the rest of them. There's no bleeping way anyone can write 5-10 pages on teaching without masses of boilerplate, jargon and fluff.....

That said, if you want someone to look at your stuff with an outsider's eye (I have served as an outside member on English hires), you've got my email.

Sisyphus

Now now, you exaggerate a tad, particularly on those cover letter lengths: for instance, I have never heard of them handing the bear a chainsaw, much less a flaming one, and I have been applying for professorial jobs since their inception in this country back in 1789. You really wouldn't want to dissuade any of the eager young grad students currently storming the barricades of grad school, now, would you.

BTW, how is your field's job list looking this year? Like Death Valley or the balmy paradise of Joshua Tree and its occasional tumbleweed?

sdc

Oh, the joys that await me on the other side! Best of luck.

JP

You think this is fun. Just wait for the phone call asking you to come interview later this week in Nowheresville, New Hampshire. Could you please skip teaching Wed-Fri, prepare a lecture on a class you just now heard of and put the flight with two layovers on your own credit card before driving yourself in a cheap rental the last six hours to a motel for four hours of sleep before your 7:45 interrog... I mean, interview with the Board of Trustees and the school's lawyer. Give me the flaming chainsaws any day!

Adam Roberts

You came close, Dr Kaufmann, but the appointment committee has decided to offer the job to the bear on the bicycle.

adjunct whore

my stomach hurts for you. i, for one, think your diss sounds fascinating...send it my way!

for what it is worth, i think you can far more easily see what needs to be done to make diss a monograph, so in that respect, i guess you know more what is good.

Miriam

Oooh, I know you're hyperbolizing (it's 1 AM, I can invent words), but those fantasy page lengths you've conjured up for items 1-2 and 5-7? Speaking as a veteran of several search committees, all I can say is: No. Please no. For the love of all that's unholy, no. I really have read cover letters than have gone on for three pages or more, and can't remember any of the writers making it past the first round. If you're applying for entry-level assistant professorships, there's no reason for your cover letter to be longer than two pages, no matter what sort of job is in question. That is, unless you've already had J. Hillis Miller's career. (You can keep the three-to-five page letters in reserve for your application to be an outside chair, twenty or thirty years down the road.)

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