Wednesday, October 31, 2007

In a Response that Lacks Substance...

I will note the following random thoughts that occur to me on the basis of the continuation of the nonsense about my going on the market, in spite of my attempt to derail the thing. I'd respond at more length, but it's been a very busy day over here, what with the fact that I'm really good at my job and I really care a lot about it. But I do feel the need to provide some response, since people really do seem to care a great deal about my situation, even as they vilify me and think I'm a spoiled brat. (Note to the haters: just stop reading my blog. Really. It won't bother me. Read something that doesn't fill you with rage. Read something that makes you happy. Life is too short, people. Don't waste it on me if I stand for everything that is wrong in your eyes.)

  • I'm not linking on purpose, mainly because I feel like I'm being used to work out a bunch of people's own shit and I'm not ultimately interested in being a vehicle for their stress release, and as a way to bring traffic to a blog that I generally feel is pretty mean-spirited, and I don't really want to assist them in leading the witch hunt against me. Call me crazy - Oh wait, you already do.
  • Learn to read, people. I've been at my current institution longer than a year, and I'm not being an unprofessional, entitled brat who hasn't thought about the needs of my institution or really tried to make it work here. If you're going to make ad hominem attacks against me, they'd be a lot more effective if you appeared to have comprehended any of what I write here.
  • Acknowledge that the system creates the conditions that lead people to look elsewhere. Don't believe me? See these posts.
  • Don't you all realize that because of the state of my field that I'm unlikely to get another offer? I mean, seriously, people. I'm writing about my experiences not because they will be exemplary or something to aspire to, but rather to paint a picture of how this process works when you're not newly minted or ABD. I accept that, and I'm actually really happy that I'm not totally miserable in my job because I'm ok with the possibility of staying here.
  • If I stay here, the trajectory of my career changes. I can't keep up the level of work that I've been doing over the past four years indefinitely. I'd like to have a career in which research is a bit more central. That doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the opportunities I've gotten where I am, though.
  • Ultimately, I am bored by what seems to me to be a false dichotomy between loyalty and ambition, between senior faculty who are martyrs and saints and junior faculty who eat babies and laugh gleefully at cruelty to animals. Are we really this unsophisticated that we can't think about these issues in more complicated ways? Really? Is it all so black and white?
  • I feel sorry for the people who are senior faculty who are being lumped into a category that they might not themselves choose -a category filled with bitter, raging people who want to attack anybody who makes choices different from the choices that they themselves have made. You should know that I am fully aware that many of you feel like these others who are waving the banner "senior faculty" high do not speak for everyone.
I think that about covers it. But wait: one last thing. What annoys me most is that people seem to be characterizing me as somebody who only writes about her cat, who is self-congratulatory about going on the market (which, honestly, I don't think I am), and who writes about her fucked up personal and romantic life ad nauseum. Now, I'm not saying that those things aren't true, but I also write about grading, research, course design, issues in this profession that face junior faculty, mentoring students, issues up for debate in the blogosphere, popular culture, what I did that day, any number of topics. It's not always interesting, and I'm not saying it is, but there is a broader range of content than the haters like to admit.


Margaret said...

As usual Crazy, you are very gracious. Like you, I am stunned at the absolute black and white version of reality that some people seem to be subscribing to in this debate: that we are all selfish naifs who hate our institutions, or that we are saintly and loyal and thus stay forever. Say wha? Anyway, as usual, I admire your ability to think and write clearly about complicated issues, and treat your commenters very seriously, even when they do not deserve it.

(I wanted to email you about all this, actually, but can't seem to find an address on your page-- which, given the wackos you've had commenting, I can understand.)

phd me said...

While I've been following the brouhaha, I haven't offered my small bit of support, Crazy, so here it is. Go, you! As others have said already, it's just a job and it's your life, so do as you must and good luck to you.

I have no idea what my future holds - whether I'll stay here or go elsewhere, by choice or by vote - so I'm exceptionally glad you're willing to talk about your situation. You don't have to hate your job to consider making a change; happiness, after all, is not overrated.

Sisyphus said...

Wait, you mean I'm not going to be able to eat babies and laugh gleefully at cruelty to animals once I'm junior faculty? Oh! You have crushed my youthful dreams! Crushed, I say!

Anonymous said...

a few thoughts:

i heart you.

junior faculty don't eat babies?? I'm shocked! I thought for sure this "grading" you're always posting about was a euphemism for that activity.

I do feel for the senior faculty, like ancarett and marcelle proust, who get lumped in with people like edsmithers.

Unknown said...

I don't comment often, but I too want to show my support for you. I am in utter shock and disbelief about some of the responses you got. Can people really be that vicious? Can academics be that vicious? Just like you pointed out, academics should be the first to spot the inevitable nuances of any situation. How can these people turn everything into such a cliche black and white picture?
Shame on them.

Unknown said...

Wow, this is most unfortunate. I've been lurking and unlurking for many moons and remember last years' brouhaha over the search issue. You seem far more sure about things and in a much better place than last fall. This remains one of the the must read academic blogs for all it 'Crazy' fantastic-ness.
It is interesting what distance means in different regions of the country. Along the East Coast 5 hours isn't far enough to worry about, it the Midwest you've traveled through at least two or three different worlds.
Best of luck on the search, you'll kick butt wherever you go.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I was pretty PO'd about the way they treated you in that post over there.... (written holding nose and spitting when thinking about that post on an otherwise pretty good site)...

I really agree that the whole thing is more complex than some people think it is. For one thing, senior faculty make moves too --- and probably for less good reasons that junior faculty AND with significantly bigger impacts on programs and universities. You don't see them being called icky things, instead they get good press for the move and sometimes steal grad-students.

Really, you said something brilliant when you mentioned that your committment to the college is only as long as its committment to you. They can decide not to give you tenure, but you aren't supposed to think about other options where you are a better "fit"?

Also, why isn't it the case that your maturing in your work and teaching wouldn't mean that what was a good fit for you a couple of years ago no longer is one?

Addy N. said...

You are awesome, Dr. Crazy and you hit the nail right on the head- why are these people reading your blog if they find it upsetting (about your job search) or don't like to hear about cats occasionally? If they are bothered by either, they should just STOP READING! Good luck with the search! Hang in there- and I loved the Man Kitty post yesterday- he is the best (next to MY kitty) ;)

Kelly Herold said...

Long time lurker here. I'm an academic with a niche blog (children's lit), but read yours daily.

Anyway. I can't believe RYS posted the comments of Professor Mushy. He called out your blog directly. Did they ask your permission? I am even more horrified that they posted that noxious follow-up regarding cats and glitter pens. Shameful, disgraceful, and hateful.

I am 100% on your side, and I'm post tenure at a SLAC which invests heavily in koolaid. That being said, even the koolaid drinkers believe that the individual doesn't marry the institution.

Keep on keeping on!

Ancarett said...

Oh, frak 'em. They're the kind of deadwood we're all secretly hoping will be shoved out the airlock, er, door as soon as they can be convinced to retire. As a senior faculty member, myself, I'm rather resentful that they're blackening the reputation of my cohort!

You, on the other hand, have been nothing but gracious and wise. I wish you luck on what is, as you note, a really tough market.

Hilaire said...

On that last point you make: So, so true!! It infuriates me that people make these outrageous generalizations about you and your blog. You write long, detailed, complex and incredibly helpful posts about all sorts of professional stuff. I have *printed* out your posts and put them in my "teaching" files, for god's sake. PLUS you have a life. Go figure.

Also: I just wanted to note that I've had two senior faculty members say to me completely nonchalantly, in these first few months of my TT appointment here, that "either I won't like it and I'll move on" or "I'll decide to stay" (and we know which of these options I'm thinking is more attractive right about now...) Said very matter of factly, indicating that this is standard practice nowadays.

Nik said...

Dr. C, I swear I left a comment here but I can't find it. That is disturbing. But I wanted to say thanks for putting yourself out there and standing up for all of us.
This whole thing is freaking me out, two years into a tt job. The thing I'd written before: I'd say I felt like a wolf caught in a trap but I'm afraid the lifers would call me unfaithful for using teeth.

Compson said...

Kudos to you, Dr. C; you shouldn't have to put up with this kind of grief for what was clearly a well-thought-out and mature decision. Though I find it hard to believe, given the time and stress involved, that there are junior faculty who blithely campus-hop, I can see -- just slightly -- how other faculty might be annoyed with that kind of person. However, as you referenced in your post, you are so clearly not that kind of person. Anyone who has read your blog with attention can see that. So, I wish you the best of luck in tuning out, to use Shaw's apt term, the "Noisy Incapables."

Dr. Crazy said...

Thank you all so much for your supportive comments. I'm not feeling too terribly over this whole thing, but it really does help to know that so many of you have my back. The fact is, though, really, that I've got a lot going on this week that's a heck of a lot more compelling than the stupid debate that rages on regarding this.

Sis: I feel that we can eat babies and laugh at animal torture throughout our careers - indeed, it should not just be the prerogative of junior faculty members, for I will miss it when I'm tenured if that is so :)

David: I *am* far more sure about things this year, and part of that comes out of my experience on the market last year. I'm stronger this year for having had that experience and for having moved through it thoughtfully. Who knows what the future holds, but I'm actually feeling quite centered about everything right now. That's not to say my life's perfect, but then, who has a perfect life?

No permission was asked about referring directly to my blog. And you know, one thing that troubles me about what's going on over there is that it's a site that generally revolves around pointing out the foibles of students and the frustrations that professors face because of their students. Am I the equivalent of an entitled undergraduate? To some, perhaps, I am. Guess earning a PhD and working successfully in this career for years ultimately gives me absolutely no authority.

Again, to all, thank you. Know how much I appreciate your supportive and kind words.

Miranda said...

I also rarely comment, but I wanted to write words of support for you. So many times I've read one of your posts about your courses or your research and wished I encountered more professors like you who are willing to be honest with your students and colleagues.

Unfortunately, I've run into far too many professors like Mushy Brain and too few like you.

St. Eph said...

Another small voice of support for you, Dr. C. And an echo of Hilare, in that I've used specific teaching strategies and have deeply appreciated the thoughts you post on the nuts and bolts of classroom stuff.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

I was really horrified at the characterization of your blog, too. Damn, people read selectively sometimes.

I was also annoyed with the equation of all people who go on the market with those who change jobs every year, but partly because I want to know, who are these people? Someone wrote about his own experience changing jobs every year and how he realized later how "immature" he was for doing this. Again, who are these people? They're NOT medievalists, because I don't know any medievalist who would be able to change jobs that many times. I mean, seriously - moving three or four times before tenure? (between t-t jobs, I mean.) It just doesn't happen.

Then again, I'm annoyed by almost everything to do with this debate. Why is it that when a subject like this comes up, highly educated people who make a living out of analysis and communication lose all rational capabilities?

Anyway, you have been a great deal more gracious than I, and I commend you. And I am so tired of all this. I'd much rather read about Man-Kitty.

k8 said...

I'm sorry you've had to put up with the vicious attacks - and the attacks on the much beloved man kitty! All of the other issues aside, I appreciate reading blogs by academics that aren't purely academic. I like to know that people are actually human and have interests and lives. This idea that professors should be monks (or nuns) devoted to some medieval monastery of a university is, to be frank, depressing.

saxifraga said...

Well, no need to defend yourself. We are obviously lots of people who come here daily because we like what you write about and how you do it. Who cares about the haters. As you say yourself, they should go and read something else if they don't like it here. A blog is a personal text with personal views. You are in your full right to say whatever you want here and people can come and go as they please.
That being said, it's a mystery to me why people can't accept that academics too will want to look for better/ different jobs. I'm in a similar boat, though the other way around. I want more teaching as part of my career, have found the dream job and am going to move institutions next summer and I find very little support and understanding for this. My immediate colleagues supports the decision, but I think most people in my department just don't get why anyone would leave a safe future at our government research institute for a more teaching heavy position in academia. To top it off, I'm not even in a TT-position, but a postdoc, with sort-of-a-promise for it to be made permanent once the external funding runs out. How weak is that for their commitment to me.

Anonymous said...

I once met a person who said he'd changed jobs every year for ten years. but not because he was immature. it's just he couldn't get permanent a full time gig. he did ten years of one years.

Brian W. Ogilvie said...

I was rather distressed by the vicious, bitter attacks on you and anyone who might even consider looking for another job. I don't remember "till death do us part" being part of my contract, even after I got tenure. I'm glad you're not too upset about the whole mess. And good luck with the search!

gwoertendyke said...

i no longer have the energy to express the horror this conversation across the blog world has made me feel. it is precisely the positions expressed by disgruntled people that contributed to my early disenchantment with academia.

mostly, i want to say i'm sorry, dr. c. you don't deserve such vilification. and thanks for taking it for the team. really, the amazing thing is the level of discourse your blog regularly features, given your insane commitment to students, intellectual production, and obvious presence in your department.

how you've done so this long is what dazzles and amazes. those of us pre-baby eaters need to see people like you to know that it isn't all sheer nonsense.

but really, i just want to tell the wankers to fuck off.

Terminal Degree said...

I want to thank you for yet another honest, thoughtful post. You're a great writer and your posts always give me something to think about. I'm sorry you've had to put up with so much garbage this week.

Rent Party said...

How silly of them. Ancarett's right, they're just jealous. Of course you should go on the market ... why *not*? You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

I am not at this time really marketable except for a laterial move, and I don't feel like making a lateral move, so I am not on the market.

But I say that unless one is utterly delighted with where one is, there is no reason not to be on the market.

Second Line said...

Wow, I came to this late, but still want to respond. RYS asks whether junior faculty would be okay with being viewed by students as simply the guy/gal who taught me math? Umm ... I think that's exactly how many students view faculty. AS a career adjunct, I know that's how they view me. But worse, I know that that's how the other faculty and the dept. chair view me as well.

This is life in the brave new world of academe.