Tuesday, October 21, 2008

102 Applications, and Counting?

On Monday morning, the Department received 22 more applications for our TT position. And the afternoon mail brought 2 more. Hopefully that is that last of those that were postmarked by the required date, but were hung up over the weekend in our university mailroom. Great (in a way) to have so many applications, but some are really sloppy, some don't have the Ph.D in anthropology and/or didn't mail all the required components (so they are gone from the pool, gone, gone, gone), and many just do not do the kind of scholarship we are asking for. On the one hand I appreciate it when people don't make an effort on either their letter or their vita to spin their work in our direction (this kind of misrepresentation is always easy to see past), but why waste our time and yours (especially the time of our office staff who must process your application as if it really matters)? Others are doing the kind of work we are looking for (broadly conceived) but haven't got the sophistication to better claim the field (here the committee's work is more interesting, at least), some have been out a long time and are just too all over the place (I mean, really, just clean up your vita--we know you have to make a living--but you're killing yourself with all this extraneous bs on the front and second pages of your vita), and yet others are so incredibly d*e*s*p*e*r*a*t*e to leave their current job (and apparently have this pattern of restlessness) that they are a major turnoff. Also, please make it easy on us, give us a list of courses you've taught, TA'ed, etc. Make it clear. Don't make us search through 65 entries of "Lecturer at Suchagreat University where I taught "Introduction to dumb and dumber," "Folkways of Underwater Weavers," "Post-Colonial Dance for Dimwits." We don't want to wade through narration on your vita. The place for narration is your letter of interest, where you have an open-ended opportunity to let us know that while you haven't taught an entire course in the field we are looking at, in such and such course that you have taught way too many times, you regularly use your fieldwork/dissertation research in the area to discuss this topic. Proofread your letter, or better yet, have two other individuals proofread, just for typos. The sad reality is that we are not reading your letters word for every word, but your errors will always find their way into our field of vision. So far I've read only two really brilliantly crafted letters. They are on topic and use language that demonstrates their knowledge of the field. They let us know that they know the institutional structure and student terrain on our campus (or know our campus, period), manage to convey that they could make a decent life for themselves teaching at a university that is not an R1 without feeling insecure and scummed, sound confident of challenges and opportunities, and so forth. It is also stunning to me how many letters are just pathetically generic. More venting later. I've got to go in and re-read some files. And then hold a meeting that generates a first-cut list.
On an entirely different note: the day before last week's presidential debate, I mailed in my absentee ballot. Since I'm all about blogging my presidential ballots this year, I give you the following photo.

click to enlarge, of course!

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