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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

It Happens

When people say that somebody who has “an old PhD” and has been adjuncting for almost a decade at anonymous community colleges in remote rural areas will never get a tenure-track position at an amazing school, they are talking out of their ass. I know somebody who beat enormous competition and today got an offer from a sensationally good place. And no, she has no connections. What she has is a difficult, gruff personality and a complicated personal life.

I love this kind of stories.

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11 thoughts on “It Happens

  1. That’s cool — congrats to colleague!
    But I bet she also has other qualities, like a good publication record, other markers of professional excellence? What is it that you think made her successful despite the odds? Because the difficult part is getting the interview;’ once you do, a strong personality goes a long way.

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    • As for the candidate, I know little about him but I do know that he was obsessed with moving to that particular part of the country for personal reasons.

      As for the colleague, she has many great qualifications but after years of searching, this time she really REALLY wanted this job.

      This is why I’m so happy about this. These people really wanted these particular jobs. It’s perfect. And of course, they are very deserving.

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  2. It used to be (I’m told) that if if you took any jobs you could find for a few years then one of them would turn into a tenure track position.

    That was before the system began to be gutted by “the market” though…

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    • This almost never happens. We did it for the newest colleague at my current department but we are an exception in many ways. I haven’t heard of this happening anywhere else ever.

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  3. Clarissa, this is unrelated to the post, but perhaps you (and other readers) could give me some advice. What would be a good resource to read up on the dos and don’ts of creative writing? I think I’d like to try my hand at some short-form fiction, but am mostly scared that there is this entire body of knowledge on what works and what doesn’t that I am completely unaware of and that at best, I will be reinventing the wheel, and, at worst, I will be producing prose so goddamn awful that the readers’ sight may never recover after the world’s biggest eyeroll.

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    • Rule #1: don’t write fantasy until you’ve done something else and it worked. Like Picasso who trained for years in the classical style before he created his own style.

      Other than that, I think it’s best not to read what others have to say about the process and invent your own. Your writing on the blog and in your book is very clear, uncluttered and distinctive. I think you have every chance of doing great.

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    • “the dos and don’ts of creative writing?”

      If you’re talking real nuts and bolts stuff, then I’m told that finding a story or two that you like (or novel if that’s what you’re aiming at) and then copying the whole thing out by hand (sentence by sentence) works very well.

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  4. The worst hiring error I ever made was to mistrust someone who had been adjuncting 7 years. Great candidate. My assumption: if has not gone TT there must be a reason.

    Supporting my assumption, a prejudice: I thought the research field was eccentric / marginal. I am not sure this is true.

    The real problem: I ranked this person no. 2, in a situation where the job had to go to the first candidate without any on campus interviews, and no. 2 would get the job if no. 1 turned it down. If we had seen both in person, no. 2 would have been offered the job first, and my error would have been corrected.

    Still, after this I really became aware of the prejudice I had had, and how it was a prejudice and not a piece of wisdom.

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    • We are in the same situation right now: we are not allowed to conduct campus interviews or teaching demonstrations. We are supposed to decide based solely on a Skype interview. This is strictly a teaching position we are hiring for, and reading the CV is not that helpful.

      Liked by 1 person

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