Friday, April 07, 2006

Random bullets

Got some mildly good news today. I guess those three trailing letters are worth something:
  • At the urging of a friend, I decided to simply write to the textbook company and request an examination copy of the latest edition. I wrote that I am currently a visiting scholar in a different department from my PhD, but that I anticipate teaching a course in the fall at another school (a bit of wishful thinking, but true), that I need to prepare and submit the syllabus by May 15. The request was cheerfully, and rapidly approved, so I'll be getting a copy of the newest edition in campus mail next week, in order to prepare my syllabus for my application to Tough Commute U. That made me feel a bit better about all this.
  • Got word from my current host department, that they have approved my request for an extension to my visiting scholar status for another year (which is my hedge in case nothing comes through for the fall). At least I will retain access to the library and article databases and such. And most importantly, I will retain that shred of university affiliation.
In other news:
  • I sent out inquiries to a couple local schools, along with a cover letter, CV, and selected student evaluations, to see about adjunct teaching opportunities for the summer or fall. I think it's time I get back in front of a classroom again.
  • I've realized that part of my difficulty in freely celebrating PhDMe's wonderful news has to do with my own feeling that her self-affirmation "I am this good. I can do this." leaves unspoken the correlary "if you don't have a job yet, you just ain't this good, sorry". She never said that. Those are my words. They are the nagging voice inside my head.
  • It harkens back to those feelings I described in January, those fears of becoming smug, if I ever land that elusive tenure track job. I envy those whose paths have been/are easier. It takes nothing away from the quality of their scholarship and teaching. I wonder though, had my path been more smooth. Had I gotten the offer from my campus visit last year, would I have considered myself more deserving than those who didn't?
  • I wonder at the sheer number of my friends out here who received multiple campus visits this season. Is it simply the differences between our fields, and the current supply of PhDs? Is it sheer luck? Or am I really lacking something that they have?
  • Is it pigheaded arrogance that keeps me believing "I am that good too"? It's impossible to say. What I can say is that I do believe it. I do believe I have much to offer academia, that my research is innovative, interesting, and worthwhile, that it covers territory otherwise underserved, and that I am a good teacher.
  • If ever there is truth in our self-delusions: this is my calling. I am meant to be a scholar.
  • And so, I persevere. Apologies to PhDMe... I am proud of you, and pleased for you.

3 comments:

BrightStar said...

"Is it simply the differences between our fields, and the current supply of PhDs? Is it sheer luck?"

I have to believe it's these two. I can't even think it has much to do with qualifications. At some level, a large percentage of the applicants are qualified, and it's about search committee preferences. I'll say it before, and I'll say it again: Anyone as thoughtful and reflective as you are on this blog has to be an excellent scholar as well. I'm guessing that your field has an over-abundance of candidates.

Also, I do not think it would be right for people with jobs to consider themselves more deserving than those who do not... I assume that plenty of those with jobs feel like frauds sometimes (I know I do!). And if someone does feel "deserving," all they need to do is serve on a search committee! They'll see how many qualified candidates there are and how semi-random the process can be.

I really really really really hope and pray something comes through for you at some point, and I admire your perseverance.

ArticulateDad said...

I ... hope and pray something comes through for you at some point

It will. I know it will. The trouble is not intellecting the ultimate outcome... it's settling with the interim emotionally. And trying to figure out the best use of my time and energies in the meanwhile. I do my best.

Thanks for confirming my suspicions about serving on a search committee. I just said something like that to my wife yesterday, that serving on a search committee must be the eye-opener for many, that yes indeed there are many undeservedly unemployed PhDs.

The other day, I read a bit from The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career which validates this view as well.

Thanks once again for being part of my community out here, B*. It helps to smooth the path.

BrightStar said...

You have many of us out here cheering for you. I'm glad you feel that sometimes.