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Academics On or Near the Tenure Track

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Another Introduction [Oct. 20th, 2006|03:00 pm]
Academics On or Near the Tenure Track


[Current Location |office, during fall break]
[mood |blankeh]
[music |KCRW online]

Greetings all! I'm another medievalist in the rat race. I teach at a place I usually refer to as SPLAC (for Small Public Liberal Arts College), which is on the Gulf coast of Florida and is one of those crazy honors colleges with no grades. This means I get to teach pretty much whatever I want (a major perk), but instead of handing in grades every semester I have to write several-paragraph-long evaluations of each student; I esteem the principle but could do without the work. I'm now in my 3rd year here, so I'm finally feeling like I have a clue as to what's going on.

Basically: I LOVE my job, but I kinda can't stand its location (hardcore red-state developers'-dream suburbia). I have good colleagues in my area (med/Ren English and a classicist who does late antiquity) and my discipline (history), which balances out some of the crazy small-college politics. I also have a longstanding long-distance relationship with a classical archaeologist who just started a tenure-track job on the West Coast.

I would have posted earlier, actually, but I just got back from a visit out West, and the return was a bit of a bumpy landing. In 8 hours, I went from my SO's adorable urban neighborhood full of shops, restaurants, and boutiques, surrounded by public transportation and parkland---to my condo in the middle of nowhere in faceless suburbia with its ongoing rats-in-the-attic problem. Yes, well.

On the presentism debate: I feel like paradoxically, I may benefit here from being in a Social Sciences division (we're too small for proper departments). My colleagues in English and classics are always complaining about presentism in the Humanities division (none of the foreign-language professors is a premodernist, and many of them would like to eliminate Classics altogether despite its claim to the most over-subscribed language classes on campus). I get that occasionally in my division (as when my chair, an economist, told me flat out he couldn't understand how I ended up with so many people in my introduction to manuscripts class), but more often I feel like the sociologists and anthropologists and psych people feel like they have no idea what I do, but it's probably valid. It's an interesting balance. Guess that's all for now--I look forward to the discussions!

[User Picture]From: dracsmith
2006-10-20 07:31 pm (UTC)
instead of handing in grades every semester I have to write several-paragraph-long evaluations of each student;

I would go NUTS! Kudos to you for keeping at it. :-)

I suppose - stepping in to blurt out the obvious - you've already thought about looking for a job nearer the SO on the West Coast? As a medievalist myself I understand how hard that can be - I'm doing more of a generalist/classicist thing myself.
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[User Picture]From: eulistes
2006-10-21 12:30 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'm keeping an eye out. So far all they seem to want is early modernists (both Berkeley and SFU are hiring this year). Part of the problem is that SO and I aren't really sure what WE want, which makes taking random leaps away from one's obvious career track tough...

But thanks for the kudos. I take all the appreciation I can get. :)
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From: neogrammarian
2006-10-20 10:52 pm (UTC)
I hear you re: love job, hate place. I'm in a town in the deep south, and it's really hard to not let that get to me, when I'm a northern, urban sort of person.
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[User Picture]From: eulistes
2006-10-21 12:25 am (UTC)
Zackly. Grew up near NYC, spent 5 years in Boston, 6 years in LA, a couple in Rome and London--and now this. And (as all the locals say) southwest Florida isn't the South! (The joke often goes on, it's the 6th Borough; Chicago's WAY South side, etc.)

I almost applied for that medieval job at Duke this fall, but apart from getting me a better library, would it really accomplish what I want? When, wow, I really miss seasons... and cold weather... and skiing... and my extremely large, extremely unused sweater collection... :)
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From: neogrammarian
2006-10-21 02:49 pm (UTC)
yeah, speaking as someone in AL, where my sweaters are molding (literally- don't know how to stop it except to put them in the sun every few weeks!), Duke sounds like an oasis of culture, though. Maybe I can retire to my dreamhome (a tiny brownstone in any one of a number of cities).
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