Monday, September 10, 2018

MLA Job List and some links

The MLA Job List opens today (September 10) at

Remember, this isn't the be-all and end-all that it used to be. As Jonathan Kramnick reminds us in "The Way We Hire Now" (
To get a grip on where things now stand, start with the fact that the MLA jobs list has lost its monopoly. The low cost and simplicity of doing things online has meant that advertisements now appear on any number of platforms, including The Chronicle, Interfolio, Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC), HigherEdJobs, and well beyond.
Don't forget the jobs at, too.

If you're looking for information on historical trends (and the now-infamous rosy vision of the Bowen report), here are some links.

MLA Report on the JIL 2016-17 (chart is from this source):
At the Chronicle (paywalled but free with this link): On the Bowen report and what went wrong:

Some older posts from this blog about job letters, still maybe useful:

The art of the job letter:
The art of the job letter redux, part I:
The art of the job letter redux, part II:

Good luck, everyone!


sophylou said...

Clicked on the Bowen report piece -- I'd never known the name of the report, but as someone who graduated with a history BA in 1988, I remember our professors telling us that this was the first time they'd felt comfortable recommending graduate school to their graduates. Scott Sandage, quoted in the piece, was in the class above me in my doctoral program.

It's actually kind of a relief to see something out about that report, because I'm one of the people who failed on the job market as a result of that push (started in 1990, transferred to a different program in 1992, graduated in 2000) and left academia because I couldn't get past nonTT temporary-lecturer positions. There were few resources for people who left academia at that point beyond the first edition of So What Are You Going to Do With That? which a friend (who had also left academia at that point) sent me after I finished my dissertation while buried under a 4-4, 60-students-per-class load (my big failure, I guess, was that I couldn't manage to publish under that load -- or manage the intense amount of anxiety that 10 class sessions a week meant for me). At the time it felt like there was so much emphasis on individual failure; you'd hear that you would lose all your friends/colleagues and that your advisor would dump you (mine, bless his heart, has always supported me, but other professors of mine didn't). It was a seriously isolating experience, and I still feel that. Especially because my real love was research, which, since I always had 4-4 jobs, I didn't get to do while I was in the academy.

And yet we continue to churn out PhDs. I've always kind of felt like our experiences never really registered as systematic because the focus tended to be on individual failures -- and it still is to a certain extent? But at least it's talked about more now?

I've also started seeing a little discussion on Twitter about how women my age with PhDs at alt-ac positions are struggling to move forward in their careers b/c we can't get hired into next jobs. I'm in a field that pretty clearly prefers to hire young and I can attest to the "can't move beyond current position" thing. I've been on the job market in my current field for 6+ years. Which is more or less why I stopped blogging. There's just too much that I can't say online in a non-anonymous space.

I didn't mean to sound quite this bitter -- it's actually kind of a relief to see something that actually addresses my (sorta lost?) generation rather than simply treating us as potential "Plan B" mentors (something I just am not up to doing).

undine said...

sophylou, thanks for this thoughtful comment. I don't know how anyone could publish with a 4/4, 60-students-per-class load. I finished my diss under a similar situation but only 22 students per class, which was manageable.

"Failed at the job market" is being too hard on yourself, though; you have a job & put food on the table, which is and has always been my standard of success & one I impart with mixed success to students. Could something evolve out of that Twitter discussion (raising awareness about this inequity)?

The only thing that bothers me are those pieces that say "yeah, I wish all the full/associate professors would die so there'd be jobs aplenty." No and no. If I or just about any of my colleagues dropped dead tomorrow, the line would be grabbed back by central admin and maybe-just maybe--the department would get a non tenure-track line. It's not as though with one person at the table gone, there's place for another and more pie for everyone. They just keep giving less and less pie.