A Little Light Reading

Most academics like to read. Most English professors (or those who want to be) enjoy reading and writing about reading and reading about reading and reading about writing… Sometimes the merry-go-round goes round so much you want to puke.

Here is a suggestion for academics that provides a strategy for getting hold of a subject and one which has blessed my life (though it may not be visible in my publications) as you can see on TCE by following old sets of threads.

The post:

Mangojuice, you mentioned that you were going to do some reading over the summer.  Here’s a suggestion (it was one of the most helpful assignments I got early in grad school):

Choose a minor work that you know reasonably well, and read everything published on it in the last 25-50 years (keeping the amount manageable is why you choose a minor work). 

As you read, take note of the following:

What are the major issues that have been addressed in the scholarship?  
What are the major differences in interpretation represented in the scholarship?
What are the major differences in theoretical approach represented?  
What are the trends in interpretation/theoretical approach over the time period you’re reading?
Given what’s gone before, what seem to be the most knotty unsolved issues and the best questions for future research?

In doing this, you’re not looking for specific evidence to support an argument you already have in mind, but getting an overview of the scholarly conversation on the work and seeing where you might usefully enter that conversation.

Also, notice the range in quality of published work.  Which scholars do you admire most, and what qualities does that research and writing have?  How far from producing that kind of work are you right now?

I learned a tremendous amount from this exercise.  It was both humbling (because of the articles I would have given a limb to have written) and encouraging (even early in grad school, I could have written some of the stuff I read).  I ended up both knowing that I could certainly publish someday and knowing I had a long way to go to be able to publish the kind of work I wanted to publish.

caesura. “Re: Posting Hall of Fame–Reply 2454.” 22 April 2011, chronicle.com,www.chronicle.com/forums/index.php/topic,30991.2445.html.

Job Search #s

from a post in the CHE (which is not that unusual, but has clearly kept careful track):

I started applying to jobs while finishing up my MFA in studio art 6 years ago.  Since then I participated in the yearly ritual of applying to every job advertised, spending too much time waiting, refreshing my email too often, loosing sleep, not finishing projects due to stress, moving to a new location every year, and reading the Chronicle forums.  Six years ago I did not have a clue and I am not an expert now, but I have finally landed a TT job and I thought I would share the data about my search for all the new job seekers out there.  Every year around this time the rejection letters would start to come in if they were sent at all.  I would look around and try to cobble together an adjunct gig, fellowship, residency, and / or manual labor jobs to stay afloat.  

The forums were indispensable to my gaining an understanding of the academic world and how to conduct a job hunt.  

To all the forum contributors – Thank You.

Here is my story by the numbers.

2005-06  (Still finishing up degree)
15 Applications
0 Interviews
0 Offers

21 Applications
1 Phone Interview
0 Campus Interviews
0 Offers

21 Applications
3 Phone Interviews
0 Campus Interviews
0 Offers

29 Applications
2 Phone Interviews
4 Conference Interviews
2 Campus Invites
0 Offers

18 Applications
3 Phone Interviews
1 Conference Interview
0 Campus Interviews
1 Visiting Position Offer

25 Applications
1 Phone Interview
6 Conference Interviews
3 Campus Interviews
2 TT Offers

2011… 129 Applications later and I am finally off the market.  Here’s to hoping I stay that way.

finallyoffthemarket. “Re: Posting Hall of Fame–Reply 2439.” chronicle.com, 10 April 2011, www.chronicle.com/forums/index.php/topic,30991.2430.html.

Conference Tip for Newbies

from the CHE:

mdwlark: We had a thread a while ago about what we wish we had known when we were new graduates.  I wish I had known what a small world my academic discipline is, that even a vague negative impression or slight misunderstanding could have longstanding repercussions.  I finally went to our really big national convention a few years ago, and discovered everyone who is well published knows everyone else who publishes in our field–throughout the United States.  By first names.  I also failed to take advantage of the wonderful networking opportunities from some heavy weights who reached out to me at the convention.  Dumb dumb dumb.

infopri: Yup, the same is true of my field.  Not only does everyone know everyone else (again, first-name basis), but they often collaborate on various research projects, even when they are separated geographically by hundreds or even thousands of miles.  Even as a first-year doctoral student, I was meeting all the Big Names in our field (that is, the ones who weren’t at my school) at the conferences, and through various research projects, I was also meeting some of the Big Name policy makers down in Washington, DC.  Talk about networking opportunities!  But it also means that no student/candidate/faculty member stays anonymous very long.

“Re: Posting Hall of Fame–2432.” chronicle.com,6 April 2011, www.chronicle.com/forums/index.php/topic,30991.2430.html.

PCA Stargate & Said

Stargate and Said: Colonial Power
Robert Lively

Like show. Family watches religiously. Disturbing trends in it.
Examining movie and tv show:
SG1 franchise, several tropes disturbing
Portrayal of Middle Eastern
Tilt’s characterization
Colonization of Space by Stargate Command

Stargate corpus as text
Brought Orient into the West. Constructed by West.
Orientalism, regularized writing, vision, and study… ostensibly suited to the orient.
SG1 does this.
Middle Eastern gods are evil. Nordic are good guys.
Cultural relativism of West’s view of Middle East.
People will only be good if submit to Western values.
Egyptian gods are the big bads.
Earthmen can be seen as illegals coming to take resources.
None of us are free from struggle over geography

Liberating people from government and belief system they have always known.