In ten years at the University of Louisville, I have had two students move on to Ph.D. programs. Recently I caught up with one, who had ventured out of radio silence mode long enough to call me. It’s a brave thing for a candidate on the market to do. I learn she had several interviews at the MLA convention and two invitations to come to campus, the traditional final stage before schools select and then extend a job offer.
I am thrilled for her. To think that even one person I taught might make it into the ranks of the profession is almost beyond belief. I can tell that two years on the market has seasoned her: I sense a new inner core of strength when she tells me about the pitiful resentment she is subject to from her friends and fellow grad students for advancing as far as she has.
And then she tells me that she knew when I was requesting recommendations, and writing samples, and scheduling interviews because its all on line.
Yeah, she says, just go to--
And so I learn something new about how the web is facilitating communication and solidarity. Not all the candidates are sharing information yet. But given the numbers it’s a high percentage—2 out of the 9 we interviewed at MLA and 1 out of the 2 we are bringing to campus.
Its not exactly like rooting for the workers who occupied their shuttered window making plant and then emerged with a severance package but somehow I see it as close. So in that spirit I wish them luck, and to my student: I say chin up, don’t burn bridges, and remember—later you will need to generate a list of outside recommenders to evaluate your tenure file, and then if you stay cool, those campus visits that don’t pan out will pay dividends. Because its all about the economy of the gift.
Causes Matthew Biberman Supports