From Inside Higher Ed:
Today the Modern Language Association is releasing information on just how bad the situation is: The number of job postings in the MLA’s Job Information List will be down 21 percent in 2008-9, the steepest annual decline in its 34-year history. For English language and literature, the drop will be 22.2 percent and for foreign languages, 19.6 percent. . . .
For English jobs, the 1,420 positions the MLA lists this year is a drop from 1,821 last year. While the English totals hovered between 1,000 and 1,200 for several years during the mid-1990s, they have not been as low as this year’s figure since 1997-8. For foreign languages, this year’s MLA total is 1,350, the smallest number of jobs since 2003-4.
Over at the Chronicle, on one of the job boards, there is--or was--a little bragfest going on in the guise of problem-solving: "I have twelve MLA interviews and just don't know how to schedule them."
I submit to you, the jury, these ideas:
-- such claims are either highly exaggerated or just plain false
-- the job market is as bad as it has been in a long, long time
-- especially for Americanists
-- and that if you don't have an interview, it's not necessarily about you, your publications, your teaching, or anything else that you can control.
So the bad news is this: It's about the market, which is awful.
The good news, such as it is (and it isn't much), is this: It's not about you.