Academic Jobs Wiki

English Literature Jobs for AY 2009-2010


Post school names and deadlines. Add materials requests, interview requests, and campus visit requests as they happen. Add any other pertinent information that you might know about the status of a given search.

Please refrain from removing information from this page. Even out-of-date or trivial information may be of historical interest to readers. Editing that improves clarity or renders information more concise is encouraged.

Last year's job search page: English Literature Jobs for AY 2008-2009

How about creative writing? And English Education? English Ed has been lumped in with Children's Literature. Feel free to update and check in (11-12)

I don't see any postdocs listed. Should we add them to the fields? Most are open. So why not a postdocs page? There is already a separate page for postdocs: Humanities & Soc Sci Postdocs


Generalist and Open


Early Modern/Renaissance

Restoration and 18th c. British

Romanticism and Victorian

Modern and Contemporary British

British Open

Early and 19th c. American

20th and 21st c. American

African American

Other Ethnic American

American Open

Anglophone and World Literature/Postcolonial

Canadian Literature

Creative Writing

Children's/YA Literature/ English Education (Updated 12-18... with a question for the English Ed folks)

American South

Critical Theory

Drama, Speech, Film & Media Studies

Irish Literature

Environmental Literature

Comparative Literature


Queer/Women's/Gender Studies

This Year's Cancelled Jobs--The Economic Downturn Strikes

  • Q. -- Has anyone heard about the Job searches in English for Northern Illinois University? Supposedly, they were going to actually contact folks one way or the other (for interviews and not via a post on the ADE list) two weeks ago, but nothing seems to have come of it. Anyone heard from them?
  • A -- Answered on Children's Lit. page.

Albion College (early modern)

Arcadia U (19th/20th C British)

Bridgewater State (Massachusetts), British and Irish Modernism

  • Q. -- Can anyone speculate on the validity of BSC freezing some searches while still running others? Could their lines have been cut as opposed to frozen? (12-10)

Colby College, Rhetoric and Comp. (Writing Center Director)

College of St. Scholastica (18th + 19th C British)

Colorado State University, Anglophone and World Literature

Dartmouth College, Creative Nonfiction (by email, 11/20)

East Tennessee State University, Modern British

Emory University, Women's Studies

Florida State University, Post-1900 British and Creative Fiction

Fordham University, Medieval, Early Modern

George Mason, Film Studies

Harvard, Renaissance

Hillsdale College, General

Hofstra U

Holy Family, Generalist/Composition. Frozen until April 2009.

  • Q: -- Is this the open field, open-rank position adv. on JIL? If so, it didn't mention American Lit! What is the source for its cancellation?

A: You are correct. It's generalist/comp. I was sent an e-mail that stated that they are freezing the line until April at which time they hope to review apps.

R: Thanks for that. They missed me in the email!

Johns Hopkins, African American Lit. Search back on.

Johns Hopkins, Comparative Lit

  • Q: what is the source of info that this job has been cancelled? Email notice 11/11

Lehman College, CUNY, 19th century

Long Island University, Modern and Contemporary Poetry

Macalester College, 20th and 21st Century American and US Ethnic Literatures

Maryville College, 19th century/generalist

Miami University, American modernism 1900-1950

Miami University, Romantic Poetry

Northern Arizona University, African American Lit.

Penn State, Comp Lit African Literature

Quinnipiac, mod & contemp Brit & Am

Rider University, Literary Theory and Composition

Rutgers University, Writing and New Media

Scripps College, Gender Studies

SUNY New Paltz, 19th Century American (per mail)

SUNY Stony Brook, African American Lit.

SUNY Stony Brook, Medieval

SUNY Stony Brook, Comparative Lit.

U of Alabama-Huntsville, Medieval

U of California, Irvine, Theory

U Chicago--reduced from 3 to 1

U of Miami, Late Med. Early Mod.

U of Illinois, Chicago, Gender/Women's Studies

U of Illinois (Urbana), Postcolonial/Anglophone

U of Illinois (Urbana), African Lit

U of Kansas, Rhetoric

  • Q: What is the source for this information?
  • A: I am a lecturer at U Kansas. We just received word from the chair that, because of budget cuts, we are canceling the Rhet. Comp. hire.
  • 12/2 Thanks. :-) No notice has been sent out yet and sometimes notices aren't sent or are postponed until the end of the academic year. It's good to know now.
  • U Kansas lecturer here again: sorry to break you the bad news. I know how it feels; I'm on the market right now, and some of the jobs I've been hoping for have gone belly up. I'm assuming that somebody at Kansas will contact you soon . . .

University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Restoration/18th Century

University of Minnesota -- Cultural Studies/ Comp Lit (per internal memo)

U. of Missouri, Columbia, African American

University of North Carolina, Greensboro Post-1945 British Lit

University of Pittsburgh, Medieval

University of Pittsburgh, Composition (per internal memo)

University of Pittsburgh, Creative Non-Fiction (per internal memo)

University of Puget Sound, Rhetoric

University of Richmond, African Literature

University of South Carolina, Rhetoric

University of South Carolina, Film Studies

University of Utah, Gender and English

University of Vermont, 19th century

University of Virginia, Postcolonial

Villanova University, 18th C. Novel

Western New England College, modernist literature and creative writing

Xavier, Early Modern (not to be confused with St. Francis Xavier University)

Comments and Questions

Anybody know why the JIL has been down since Thursday night, 11/6? (11/9/2008) Yes-- They were down for scheduled maintenance Thursday midnight to Sunday 5pm. Should be up now.

Just wondering if anyone knows anything about the search in British Romanticism at UC Boulder. (it's a mid-career to senior search) They said they were likely inviting candidates to campus in early November. Anyone heard anything further? (11/15/2008) A: Candidates invited and starting to give talks.

Q: I would like to add to this conversation: I interviewed with a major East Coast Div I school last week over the phone (standard, TT, AP search) - They indicated that their next step would be to fly in candidates for the final interview. Is anyone else noticing this year's financial pressures weighing against U's using MLA? I suppose I don't really care (as long as I get an interview :)), but I am wondering how the economy is altering the nature and timing of this year's interview process. Has anyone noticed anything unusual about initial contacts, first interviews etc. this year? (11/16/2008)

  • A: I haven't noticed this myself, although it doesn't seem too surprising. I'm responding, though, for a different reason: Did the school indicate when the on-campus visits would be? This is important, b/c, ethically speaking, they shouldn't be speeding up the process too much. They should wait for MLA and allow you to make a fully informed decision. Last year, my partner went on an on-campus interview at a school that was using this accelerated process; he was offered the job and had to decide whether or not to take the job right before his convention (where he had several promising interviews set up). It was agonizing to make that choice. We later found out that there are regulations in place to prevent this sort of thing from happening; the school could have (and probably should have) been censured. Anyway, just one other thing to think about! (11/17)
  • A Yes, I have noticed this. Three weeks after the application deadline on one job, I received a request for an on-campus interview. I went for the interview during the first week of November (crazy time with the election), and the decision is expected before Thanksgiving. I noticed a trend toward bypassing MLA last year too, but this year it seems more pronounced.
  • A This might not always be the case, but with economic pressures being what they are, some departments want to get positions filled/contracts signed before the admin put a freeze or cancel that particular search.
  • A I had an early flyback too, in October. Honestly, it made the other application materials I was preparing at the time feel rushed. Expecting candidates to prepare a job talk and travel months ahead of time in the middle of all of their other application/teaching/etc responsibilities is asking a bit much. Not to mention the financial problems associated with having to buy a suit at the last minute, airfare, etc in the middle of paying to send out dossiers, applications, etc. I had to eat a lot of rush mailing fees on top of everything. There should be a way to protect applicants from this, although I tried to make the best of it by saying "it's good experience." Of course, it is their market, and we end up jumping when they say so...(11/17)
  • A Wow, this is really troubling to hear. I have always appreciated how the MLA format, however painful it might be, protects applicants. There are a lot of other fields where applicants are much more vulnerable to the whims of the university. There must be a mechanism to report such abuses anonymously to the MLA. I would encourage anyone with relevant experiences to do so. (11/18)
  • A Another way in which the MLA format protects applicants is by allowing the lucky few with offers some negotiating leverage, finally. I had an early phone interview with a university that told me they were bypassing the MLA in order to get the best candidates first. So, that's another reason for the early schedule, to prevent applicants from negotiating.
  • A I'm in another MLA field, not English, but I'm about to leave for a campus visit in a couple of days and I have a phone interview with a pretty good public research university tomorrow (about which I had about a day of advanced notice). I had heard of smaller schools doing things like this, but these are both good, if second-tier, research institutions. This does seem to me to be incredibly rushed and it seems to me related to both punctual economic pressures (that is, the kind that might send us all back home to our parents), as well as--as someone wrote above--a desire to evade potential bargaining power (11/18)
  • A I think I liked this wiki more when we all complained about the job interviews we did NOT get... that way I actually had something to contribute.
  • A I agree. These complaints sound more like bragging than complaints. Congratulations to you all, but some perspect and sensitivity are in order here. With so many searches aborting, the job pool is shrinking but the applicant pool is not. Any interview granted, MLA or otherwise, is a major coup. And, frankly, I'll take an early offer to free me up from the stress of waiting.. and to stop checking CHE, JIL, and for more posts to apply for! ;)
  • Wise words. I'm like an internet junkie at the moment, hoping there are jobs I can apply for to ward off the waiting. And normally this level of neuroticism didn't set in for another month or so previous search years but has been ratcheted up in the current economic climate.
  • A I agree that the economic climate enables universities to take advantage of applicants and rush the hiring season in a way that hurts all of us and sets a dangerous precedent. For those who mentioned that a University doing this should receive some censure, can you pass on any more info. about this? I don't think it's bragging to express concern about searches forcing candidates to make decisions weeks before the MLA. I've felt uneasy about being forced into this accelerated timeline, but I didn't know there are formal rules preventing universities from stripping our bargaining power and forcing us to accept or decline offers before knowing if we have any other first-round interviews (11/19).
  • A We'll have more than fodder for that in the months ahead. Stay tuned!
  • Just because the economy is bad and we are all desperate for jobs doesn't mean that schools can circumvent MLA guidelines. If anything, this conversation is even more necessary for us to be having right now. It's not "bragging"--I myself have had zero responses from schools; it's realistic and mature. If it bothers you, then don't read this part of the wiki. (Or gratefully read it later when a school is unethically manipulating you b/c they know you'll take any job available.)
  • Everyone breathe deeply...I posted the original comment about complaining about jobs we did NOT get. It was half-joke, half-venting. I agree the conversation about ethics is relevant and frightening...
  • A I have not been able to find anything specific about this on the web, but I am told that these "pre-emptive" interviews are a violation of AAUP as well as MLA guidelines. Of course job applicants are in the worst position to complain about this, but I do hope people will bring some of these violations to the attention of any pertinent MLA committee representatives (Committee on the status of graduate students in the profession, committee on academic freedom and professional rights and responsibilities, etc).

Q: This question is for those of you who have been on the job market before or are more experienced in applying for jobs: If I see on this wiki that a school (to which I have applied) has arranged either a phone interview/conference interview with someone yet I have heard nothing/received no rejection letter, should I just assume I am totally out of the running? Has anyone had a similar experience yet ended up getting an interview? Can anyone offer me some encouragement when it comes to wiki posts?

A: Based on my experience, you can't consider any job entirely gone until you get the letter that says it has been filled. I think the wiki information gives a good sense of what is going on, but sometimes the people invited for campus visits don't take the job, sometimes schools change their mind after interviews and try new candidates... There are a host of things that can change. And I know of someone last year that saw a school was interviewing based on information on this wiki, assumed she was out of the running, and then a few weeks later still got a call for an interview.

A: As above: I got my job after I had interviewed by phone but had been contacted and told that I was not in the running. I accepted a term position, and two days later, I got an offer for a campus interview at the institution where I now teach. Strange things happen, and so don't assume anything is over until you hear a final word.

A: I keep having to tell myself: no news is no news. Not good, not bad, just air. People on SCs at my university have told stories of the top-ranked candidates being incredible disappointments at MLA and being cut immediately and lower-ranked candidates moving up to get the job. Many different things can happen. Just do the best you can and hang in there.

A: The above answers are certainly exceptions. Don't hold onto false hope. Maybe you'll be the beneficiary of some freak situation, but don't even hope for it. The vast majority of the time, if you're not in on the dossier requests / phone interviews / whatever, you're finished. Just drink heavily while forming vague plans about your next career. Why, yes, this is my fourth time on the market. How'd you guess?

A: While I don't necessarily agree with previous poster's advice to "drink heavily" :), it is true that the aforementioned cases are exceptions. Realistically speaking, if places have set up interviews and you haven't been contacted, you might want to let go. However, if it's just an issue of being contacted for materials, that's a different story. Last year, this seemed to happen in waves. I remember giving up on a job b/c I saw requests posted--then, a week or so later, I got the same request. Hang in there, but brace yourself for disappointment.

A: I had a similar experience last year. I had gone out a little early and didn't get any interviews, but then at the end of January, I got a phone interview from a small state college that had decided to wait until after MLA. I had assumed that no news meant rejection when some schools simply hadn't used MLA for interviews.

A: I agree that the examples noted above are exceptions, but they are worth bearing in mind. In my own case, I now have a job at a school where I was turned down twice. First, I received a letter saying I was not in the running for MLA interviews and then got a call on Dec. 23. Afterward, I was told I was no longer in the running but in March I got another call. And I ended up with the job. Last year, I served on a committee for the same school that went through all its upper-tier candidates and we ended up with someone who had been fairly low on our original list. Truth is, I think she's worked out better than any of us had imagined and we're glad it worked out as it did. Don't expect anything, but do keep the faith.

A: This is my third year on the market. My first year I had telephone interviews, MLA interviews, and on-campus interviews scheduled before Thanksgiving. My second year I heard absolutely nothing until December 23rd, when two MLA interviews materialized at the last minute. Each year is different. My advice: 1) Try not to let it wreck your holidays. 2) Try to refocus on publishing projects (your dissertation, your next article, your book proposal, your edited collection) that will help instead of destructive anxiety.

Q: Are people only applying to jobs that are listed here - under such headings as Romanticism and Victorian - or is everyone combing through anything they can get their hands on to apply to? I feel a sense of urgency because so many jobs are being pulled this year to apply to anything remotely in my field (19th century British). (11/24)

A: I am not. I applied for about ten jobs this year, only in my area. But I think we have to face the real possibility that next year's market might be worse as hiring freezes reach into anticipated retirements. (11/24)

A: I have applied to 90% jobs in my area, 10% jobs that are a bit of a reach in terms of my research but good fits in other ways. I've had the best results with jobs in my area. It's pretty clear from your CV and project what your interests really are, even if you try to position yourself a certain way in your cover letter. Plus, your advisers are likely to have written about you as a future scholar of X, not Y.

A: I apply to everything I plausibly can. While it's the exception rather than the rule, I've seen a number of people get hired for jobs which they did not match particularly well, at least on paper. Every now and then, because the goals of a search committee shift and evolve, you'll end up being a good fit where you wouldn't have expected to be. Also, I'm desperate.

A: I am applying to positions that seem a bit out of my area, or the area that looks the most "relevant" according to my dissertation and cv. The truth is, for me and I would imagine for others, is that I have far more interests in terms of research than one would expect just looking at what I've done in grad school. One of the issues I have with the whole dividing up the timeline the way it is that while it is true that we all have an area of speciality, the divisions presuppose that we will stay in an area. I know my advisor, for example, was originally hired as a 19th Century American scholar, and is now a specialist in 20th Century African american lit. Go figure. But it is true that search committee's like to pigeon hole applicants, and that can really work against those of us with broad interests or interdisciplinary methodologies. I was told I had to take out my second book project idea from my applications because it is in another "field" and so would confuse search committees. That has not stopped me from referencing my idea for jobs where it would be deemed more appropriate.

  • (I asked the original question): (11/26) It does not surprise me that someone might get hired for one type of position and/or field and then move into another area of study. One can do that after one is hired. No one expects a person to only have one area of study or field anyway. I'm surprised the former poster was told to take a book project out of the application letter. It seems to me (after 4 times on the market) that many search committees - especially at small schools - look for breadth. Can we do something that we haven't necessarily been "trained" to do? I must concur with one of the posters above - I, too, am desperate. Or at least feeling the very strong need to not be trapped in a composition position all my life or trapped in the adjunct route, which is where I am now. Having been a victim of department cutbacks - I was laid off from my Visiting position - I feel the desperation even more these days. I remember the "good old days" of being a PhD candidate on the market - my how fresh and new everything felt. But now, I slog on in the jaded track (instead of the tenure track) and pray to some unknown higher academic power that someone out there will say - hey, what about this applicant?

Q: Earlier this semester, I saw a listing for an Associate Professorship in Humanities at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I can't find any information about the position on this site. Have I overlooked something? Has anyone learned anything about the job since the deadline passed?

A: I don't know about the Boulder job; I'd look in the JIL, the Chronicle, the Boulder HR site and the InsideHigherEd jobs page. If you find its field, and it is not listed here, please add it. I bet you will find someone will come back and add their status reports to it once you do (as has been my experience). I found only a smattering of the jobs I am applying for listed, and added the rest here. I keep discovering new ones and adding them. Others have done this too. But if it is not here, it simply means no one bothered to add it, or no one who uses the Wiki has applied for it yet.

Q: How much money have you spent so far on applying for jobs for which the search was cancelled after you applied?

A: Wow, I hadn't considered that. And am not sure I want to know, considering I hate how much money it costs to do this year after year, let alone in years like this where jobs aren't even filled. It really is like throwing away money on hope.

A: Hate it, hate it, hate it. Especially when they requested extra materials to be rushed to them. Thanks! Glad I dropped the extra $20/30 for the rush dossiers, plus priority mail on my own materials, plus whatever I sent you originally. I know it's not the search committees' faults that searches are cancelled, but it's a major financial hit for us. I'd rather spend my money losing out to a stronger candidate who gets the job -- at least that way I'm more likely to get one of the other jobs.

A: I've only lost $10 to 3 canceled searches so far. But I assume that the large majority of cancellations are still unofficial/pending. I'm betting I'll eventually lose $100.00 or more. But then, nobody ever called me optimistic.

Q: What are your thoughts on next year? I know it's early to be considering this, of course, but I'm in such a limited field (complit), and several jobs have been cancelled. Will universities even approve searches next year? That truly worries me. Meanwhile, I hear more people than ever are applying to grad school, given the economic forecast. And that's just what we need--an additionally glutted market.

A: The economy is unlikely to be better next year, and in any case I assume that the job market will continue to get worse for the indefinite future (except in suddenly emergent fields, obviously). Barring massive structural changes in academia and/or massive funding increases, there's no other way to bet. The perverse incentives that cause a flooded market aren't going anywhere.

Q. How about a list for searches that have scheduled MLA interviews so far -- I'd like to gauge other fields since I'm not hearing much from mine either way.

  • But you can always look at the list above and see what schools have scheduled interviews. People seem pretty good about posting this information as it comes in. Not too many, it seems so far, so maybe there is hope still.

Q: I'm wondering about publications - if one has been out a while, but doesn't have many publications is this a problem for the hiring process? Also has anyone thought about doing anything else instead of trudging along each year, spending gobs of money on the job market search. What do I want to do when I grow up? Well, it certainly wasn't slaving away, teaching composition, and going on the job market every year to compete with the multitudes of people who already have a book by the time they reach the second year of their PhD work. (I sound so jaded.) 12/2

A: Believe it or not, I have (early) publications that would get me tenure anywhere outside of the top 20, and maybe at some of them, and I'm not feeling much love from the market either. Certainly that could change, but good publications aren't any sort of cure-all. An anecdote: late last year I was hoping for a job at a low-pay, masters-granting institution with a 4/4 teaching schedule, and got beaten out by *another* person with very good publications. Yet, the three other jobs where I had interviews hired people with way *less* publications, who got doctorates from "worse" institutions than mine. What's it all mean? I have no idea. What to do? I have no idea. I think the most important factors in a search are, in order, luck, charisma, connections & pedigree, publications and teaching. I know a former department chair at an R1 university, who has served on dozens of search committees, who relentlessly emphasizes the primacy of luck over all other factors. Let me know if you think of a good next career - I may join you. (I *am* jaded.) 12/3

A: (To comment above) Don't give up. Keep your chin up and remember that it truly isn't about you. I had publications and spent years on the market.... It seems arbitrary and unfair, and I was about to throw in the towel when, at last, a tenure-track job arrived. Now those publications have a lot of weight towards tenure.

If you don't have publications, focus on SLACs and make sure you know the culture of the places you're applying to. Don't send out the same letter that would go to your dreamy R-1 school. (12/9)

A: (12/5): I really agree that connections are important to this "game"

A: Re: next career... Does UW-Madison still offer a major in "Creative Beer"?!? Maybe brewmeister is the way to go...and look, it's even an academic pursuit. Dissertation title: "Hunter S. Thompson and the effect of Alchohol Consumption on Literary Studies"

AA: (As in Answer to Answer): That's preposterous! Everyone knows it was the hard core drug abuse that led to any literary significance in Hunter's work! I'm sorry, goodsir or ma'am, you will simply have to change your topic and restart that dissertation! :)

A: Hey, guys, the assumption that SCs who are interviewing before MLA this year are doing so merely to screw the pooch on MLA isn't necessarily right. I know of one search, for instance, that brought people to campus before MLA this year b/c they wanted to lock in a hire before the line got cut. This is a weird year.

A: (to above): Couldn't they be doing both? (x2)

Q: (12/6): Are conference interviews (for example, MLA) necessarily scheduled all on the same day? I see that under two schools, it says "MLA interview scheduled," but I also received an email from them just a day before requesting writing sample. So, is it possible they schedule "most" of the ones they know they want but are flexible about leaving room in case they want to add a couple more? Or is there some "rule" that all of them have to be requested on the same day?

A: Doing it all on one day does seem to be the norm, but it's hardly a rule. I do normally assume that if I'm not in the initial set of interviews, I'm toast, but obviously that's not the case with you - they wouldn't ask for a writing sample for no reason.

A: I think, too, as we have sent our applications in most committees are reading those applications. After following this list, it seems that folks are getting requests just as others are getting interviews scheduled. It is, after all, a market year where departments and committees really have their choice - there are far too many of us, and too few departments hiring. So why wait until one day to schedule interviews or ask for more materials. (12/8)

A: Every committee works differently. It could be that they had one pile of applications that everyone agreed they should interview, and those are the people who have already been contacted. Then there was another pile that required further scrutiny and debate (e.g., yours), and they're just now getting around to the "maybe" pile. Not being in the first batch is discouraging, but not the end of hope.

Q: Ok, should we be looking towards the spring market now that we're moving so rapidly toward mid-December? Feeling like a fall failure - not one single dossier request, not one single tiny request coming my way to even make me feel like a wanted and loved academic. I got the job market blues . . . say it again, baby. I got them job market blues, oh yeah!

A: Don't worry, you are not alone. I'm sure there's more than a few of us who have felt no love yet. We could all get together and start a blues band or something. Might be a better alternative to this.

A: You are not alone! I haven't gotten a single request either. Last year, I had *one* dossier request in the fall and no interviews. You just have to keep hope and keep applying. After feeling like an utter failure last fall, I ended up landing a very good Visiting Assistant Prof. position. It looks like I'll be able to stay here next year, giving me another year to try again. So keep hope for spring! And keep reminding yourself that it's *not* you. If I've learned anything these past two years, it's that this market is based primarily on luck and little (and sometimes big) things about Search Committees that we can't possibly predict. There are a couple of things you can control (i.e. making sure your materials are in the best shape possible), but otherwise we are powerless. So keep your chin up. [The blues, after all, are ultimately about resilience.] :)

Q: If the dean is part of the interviewing group at MLA, is this unusual? Does it suggest they may be skipping the on-campus interview altogether? (Indeed, do schools EVER skip the on-campus interview?) Thanks!

A: Is the dean from English? S/he might just be part of the general conversation (or married to a search-committee member, or just wanting a free trip to SF). It's interesting to think that this might be one way to cut the costs of bringing people back to campus after MLA, though.

A: I've never experienced an MLA interview with a dean, but I know deans have sat in on some of my phone interviews. Particularly if it was a smaller two year school or a SLAC. In those cases they still did campus visits, so I don't know that it means they won't.

A: Schools do sometimes skip on-campus visits, especially if an MLA interview confirms that they've got the person they want. Cornell did this last year (made an offer in Chicago immediately after all interviews had been concluded). But I wouldn't assume anything about a dean participating in an interview, especially not if she has an active appointment in the English department.

AA: Thanks: I was the original questioner. The dean is NOT in English. I apreciate the input and won't assume anything. By the way, I had posted a response earlier and someone deleted it!

A about MLA requests: FYI, I have now noticed at least one school where there are posts for MLA requests taking place over two or more days recorded here at the wikia, so that confirms that MLA requests *could* potentially happen over more than one day. On a more depressing note, I got many dossier requests, but no interviews as of yet. I'm feeling anxious that something in my second round of materials is not up to snuff... Then again, some of the dossier requests occurred fairly recently, so perhaps there is still hope. And I know a couple of schools mentioned not deciding until mid-Dec (Dec. 15 or after...)

A: Like many of you, I have the job market blues. Even with a couple dossier requests, I have not had any happy phone calls to set up an interview. But, in a ray of sunshine, a professor in my department who has contacts at various other schools tells me that many schools seem to be running late in reviewing the application mountain. Certainly, according to my field's wiki page, a number of schools don't seem to have contacted anyone yet about anything. Of course, since many of them have no ethical problems with asking underfunded job marketers to send every document under the sun they could even imagine asking for all up front, it's possible they won't be doing dossier requests. I mean, what else could they really ask for except the unborn child I'm not planning on having! So there is some modicum of hope still. Perhaps. If nothing else, grad school has given me some mad editing skills.

  • I can second this. Using unscrupulous methods, I had my husband contact a variety of programs not updated in my area on the wiki: all of them had not met yet to determine their candidates for MLA/ campus visits. Every single one of them is planning to meet next week. I don't understand exactly how this happened as, I thought, MLA moved everything up this year in an effort to not have mid-December calls (Anyone have any speculation on that?), but, it would appear that patience might give us all happier holidays. Or we could just hit the eggnog early.
  • I do think that lots of places have not yet scheduled interviews, and I am continually amused when someone posts something along the lines of "OMG WTF has anyone heard from this school like I have totally heard nothing ugh!?!?!?" and the next day the school schedules interviews (sometimes even with Dr OMGWTF). Patience is key.

Q: Has anyone in other fields besides Modern British taken note of committees scheduling MLA interviews without making any materials requests (e.g., no writing sample)? Is this considered customary? Or do we assume it means (a) they don't have the resources to read materials, (b) they're going with somehow-known quantities (well published, already TT somewhere else), or (c) b perhaps partly as a function of a? It has just seemed in previous years that there are at least a few rounds of requests before interview scheduling time.

A: Scheduling interviews without requesting materials is quite common. It is perhaps most common among SLACs (who generally request at least letters up front, and tend not to care about writing samples), but you can see it among all kinds of institutions. In my experience, most PhD granting institutions want a writing sample and letters; teaching schools may want only letters. If they ask for those materials up front, that's all they need. In practice, I find that very few institutions at any level request teaching materials beyond a statement of teaching philosophy - YMMV. Personally, that drives me up a wall, because I have great evaluations and they do me almost no good. :-( I am, btw, an Americanist.

Q: I have no interviews scheduled. Some of my friends say I should still go to MLA. Given that I only have enough money to make it to March, it doesn't make sense to me to go. Unless, of course, I get an interview at the last minute. At that point, I'll buy the plane ticket. Am I shooting myself in the foot, though? Do people do "on the spot" interviews of any kind? I've not heard of that for the MLA, although I know that happens at other professional conferences. What do you think? Thanks.

A: Well...go, if only to network and get free wine at the book exhibits. But I have never heard of on-the-spot interviews at MLA. I think that legalities hold back many from doing this--all candidates must be treated in the same way (or subjected to the same processes, depending upon how you want to cast it). And to chime in on a couple of other threads...first, I have had interviews with different types of schools that have asked me to bring writing samples and teaching materials with me to MLA interviews...I think that sometimes that just fits into their schedules. Second, I am on a search committee right now, and we don't meet until Monday (12/15) to get our MLA list together. I think that it's almost impossible to get a group of people into one room during finals week at certain kinds of institutions! So right now, no news is perhaps good news, and most committee members are not resting back, but are grading and doing a lot of the same things that applicants are doing right now.

A: Also call-less! Yeah!!! About going to MLA. I went last year with nothing, trying to network and definitely for the free wine. To be honest, though, I'm not sure it did any good. Sure the place is chaotic, but only just enough to make networking in a meaningful way near impossible and not enough that you are going to be freaked out next year if you haven't experienced it yet. San Fran is expensive...I only went to Chicago because it was close and required minimal monetary input. My advice is be prepared to book that last minute flight, but otherwise come 12/24 spend that money on your own bottle(s) of wine and that extra time sending some emails or working on an article (i.e. that type of networking). Others will, I'm sure, disagree. Either way, for those despairing--I'm right there with you (and I thought PhD in hand was going to make a difference)!!!

A: Nobody's ever accused me of having great networking skills, but I'm a little unclear on how one would productively network, as a sub-junior person, at the MLA. Panels are packed and intense, publishers are busy (and have you ever noticed how glazed their eyes get around the end of the first day? It's not easy work standing there for two days!). Publishers won't care much about having met you at the MLA in any case: they want to know whether they can realistically hope to break even on publishing your book. Don't get me wrong: all kinds of networking happens at the MLA. But it's mostly about multi-year relationships building, not about desperate interviewees and non-interviewees making a magical connection that leads to good things. There are better ways to spend the money.

A: Also despairing and also call-less. Apparently not even multiple publications (as well as Ph.D. in hand) make a difference. At least I'm on the correct coast for the MLA. Fingers crossed for all of us for the next few days.

A: To person above who is debating traveling to MLA. I'd say don't go if you're having money problems and don't have an interview. I would personally not wish to be anywhere near such a stressful conference around the holidays unless I had an interview, and I usually like networking. If you have the money, though, why not go and see what you can make of it? Also, depending on where you live, a road trip to SF is cheaper now with gas prices falling, and you could stay outside the city and save money. You may not need a plane ticket if you're west of the Mississippi.

R: West of the Mississippi? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that an East-Coaster wrote this. You do know that St. Louis to San Francisco is 2000 miles, right, or about 30 hours of non-stop driving? Even Salt Lake City to SF is over 700 miles. But if you're in California, Nevada, or Oregon, driving might make sense. Anyway, folks, it's still early days; in past years I've gotten requests for interviews after Christmas. Relax.

R to R: Actually, I'm within driving distance myself (West Coast). I guess I did exaggerate: St. Louis would be too far to drive. But I'd definitely rather drive from 700 miles away than spend $$$$ on a last-minute plane ticket during the holidays. 700 miles would cost about $50 each way for me to drive, and having one's car in town means more financial flexibility. Plus, if you only have interviews on 1 day, you can leave when you're done. For a lot of us, those little savings (trader joe's food vs hotel restaurant food, SF hotel vs sacramento motel 6) add up.

A: To the person questioning the value of attending the MLA without interviews. If you can swing it financially, I would go for two reasons. First, if you have good relationships with a more senior professor who is going or have met people at conferences, then you can latch on to them some of the time. It's actually a good way of meeting people, if not in the hope of landing a job, but for professional contacts. I have had some very good times at the MLA quite honestly meeting new people, and although I didn't think of it as networking, I suppose that is what it was. The second reason is one I've heard from the former chair of my department - some schools do set up last minute interviews at the MLA. I don't think its as common anymore, but if the budget line was approved late, or some of the interviewees they had decided on don't work out for one reason or another, there are still interviews given out at the MLA. From what I've been told, there is a bulletin board at the Job INformation Center with some job advertisements. The prof who told our job seekers this said you should arrive at the MLA with your job documents in hand in case you can apply for newly approved jobs. As I said, I'm not sure how much this happens anymore, and especially in this economic climate, but it is a possibility. However, even that off-chance might not be enough of a draw if one is contemplating homelessness or starvation. In fact, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be worth it.

Q: I'm trusting the "homelessness/ starvation" comment was not meant to be glib. In light of the fact that so many jobs have been cancelled, although we're feeling it now, the next 2-3 years will surely make it tougher for all of us competing for fewer jobs among exponential growth of unemployed Ph.D.s. I was just wondering if some of these schools could find other ways to cut their budgets rather than cut these jobs. I hope, since it doesn't make sense for many of us to drive the distance or purchase tickets without interviews, those of you who'll be attending would pledge to keep in mind the gravity of this situation and represent the ones of us who will be absent. After all, we'll be the ones educating the next generation of students who'll be facing so many of these problems. More than ever before, humanities courses are needed. This sounds more like a statement rather than a question and I apologize... however, would you please keep the conversation alive and healthy? I guess that's my question.

A: I'm the one who made the homelessness/starvation comment, and I did not mean to offend at all. Perhaps an attempt at humor gone awry.

Q: I received a dossier request on 12/4. Had it sent the day after, so it should have reached the SC middle of this week. Wiki shows that one candidate has received an MLA interview request today (12/11). Should I consider myself out of the running already? I apologize for the impatience; it's my first time on the market and I'm confused. Besides, nothing else has worked out so far. Thanks.

A: Nope. In "hot" fields or searches that combine junior/senior positions, committees sometimes lose a candidate or two. I'm a search chair and we have alternates for our MLA interviews. Also, can I just say? It's still EARLY. Next week is the crucial week for committees with a large # of files to read (12/12).

Q: Another dossier question: Does anyone have a sense of how many writing sample requests search committees tend to make? I ask because based on what's posted here, it often seems that about the same number of people who report receiving materials requests also report having interview requests. I'm wondering if committees tend to ask for samples only from the people that they expect to ask for interviews as well (and then disqualify the candidates only if the writing sample is egregiously bad). Or do they have a larger list for materials requests and then winnow it down considerably before requesting interviews?

A: It depends on the school; requests for further materials seem to fluctuate btw. 20 and 50. I also think more people use the wikia later in the game, so they may not have been noting dossier requests, but will note MLA interviews. I think there's hardly ever a 1:1 correspondence btw. requests and interviews, sadly.

Q: Anyone hear anything about the Digital Humanities job at Old Dominion? Listing expired from JIL on 12/5 and there's not a peep about it here on this wiki. Thanks (12/12)

Q: Follow-up to Old Dominion Digital Humanities question: Has anyone heard anything about the Digital Humanities position at Univ. of Nebraska? Listing expired from JIL on 11/7 for a specialist in digital humanities and 19th C. lit, British or American. No one has reported receiving a letter of acknowledgment (it's listed on the Early American page). Any news? Thanks again (12/12)

A: Check the Romantic/Victorian page. Nebraska scheduled MLA interviews on 11/25 [R to R: Thanks--I didn't think to check there.]

Q: If a search committee asked for writing samples and contact info for recommenders up front, does this mean they are going to try to contact the recommenders directly? I ask because I see that someone has received a dossier request for the position, and I am wondering if this means I am out of the running because I didn't receive such a request? Or is it conceivable that they only asked for dossier requests from a candidate whose recommenders they were unable to contact? I'd appreciate any insight on what it means when a school requests contact info for recommenders as opposed to letters up front. Thanks!

A: There are a couple of reasons I can think of. Sometimes they have no intention to call your recommenders, but just want to know who they are so that they can request a dossier from you later if they like everything else about you. This can save you money if they weren't into you anyway. Alternatively, they may require contact information for recommenders even if they request a dossier because dossier letters are often just on dept letterhead and don't give useful personal info like e-mail addresses etc. If they have follow-up questions, this is handy info to have. In your situation, you should contact your recommenders and ask if they have heard from this school. If not, then maybe they aren't into you.

New Q: Where should I start looking for one-year Visiting and lecturer positions? I do have a couple of MLA interviews, but I want to make sure I have something for next year, so I am already thinking about one year positions.... Is there a particular database on which these are located? (or just keep checking highered, Chronicle etc/)

A: Having had two 1 year VAPS, it is my experience that calls for these start right about now (MLA call time too) but don't really pick up until late January with a second spike in early March. Also, while this is not universally true, I have been told in a number of interviews for VAPs that schools are looking for someone who will be able to handle to teaching with a minimal amount of supervision. Were you to be in a position to look for one year positions, even at top-tier institutions, I would be particularly careful with the teaching portion of the application. Finally, despite the general antipathy for inside candidates displayed on here, getting a one year position is often really just getting a one year position.

  • Response to A: Thanks for the answer. I'll continue to look for the ads for 1 year positions. Given my teaching experience, I am confident I can "teach with minimal supervision" and thanks for the tip regarding applications. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by your last sentence, but if you mean that getting a visiting position is not equivalent to a tt offer, I am aware of that. I'm just looking out for next year. Thanks again.

Q: Anybody heard from Purdue University North Central? (They were hiring someone from a number of different areas.) No comments that I can see. Am I the only one who applied? Argh. Thanks!

  • They might not have got that many apps. because they just listed those positions on the Chronicle website Dec. 1. It's not unusual for regional state colleges to wait until after MLA. Last year, some called people as late as mid Feb. It helps thin their app. piles as some people withdraw for other jobs and keeps them from having to interview people who are only going to drop out to take jobs with the larger schools.

Q: Is anyone else having trouble logging on to the MLA website? (12/14 at 12:50 p.m.)?

  • A: resolved as of 12/14 14:27 (EST)
  • It's still not working for me??

Q: Dear experienced job seekers: Does this coming week, December 15 through the 19th, continue to constitute the "high period" for invitations to interview at MLA, or do phone calls/e-mails begin to wane?

  • A: From everything I've heard, everything seems to be running a week "late" this year. In my field, the calls seem to be almost done, but in my friends' fields, there's still a lot of silent schools.
  • A. Check each particular school's last week of classes/ exam week schedule -- while I had been done for 1.5 weeks, I got an interview on 12/15 from a school I had written off at (what I thought was) this late stage. I made the mistake of thinking my end of the semester was their end of the semester. So you could still have till the 19th.
  • A. I've had calls to set up interviews as late as December 24, and even once on the eve of the conference itself. Remember how busy you are at the end of the semester. Then imagine a committee of 2-8 very busy people, trying to find time to read dozens of applications and a time when everyone can meet to discuss them. Some committees only meet after graduation, when everyone is done grading. Anything is possible. Relax, and try to enjoy your holidays...

ADVICE: I've been on the market for a couple of years. Last year and the year before I got hardly any interviews. This year, however, I have several. My case confirms that getting interviews/getting few is largely random. If you're not having a good time of it right now, keep your chin up, maintain your sense of humor, and don't personalize the process. Persistence pays off for English Ph.D.s. -thanks for this!