In case you missed it, Hotshot Harry checked in with us last night from the AHA with his second report. Meanwhile, there are some other folks blogging the conference–some of the most interesting posts are listed below (with thanks to Cliopatria and The Way of Improvement Leads Home for pointing them out to me. Please note Cliopatria’s pickup on Indyanna’s reminiscences about Nat Hentoff being called a very bad word–repeatedly–at an early 1970s AHA!)
- First of all, Archie has checked in again at RYS hall to post another report. (I like Archie, foulmouthed though he is.) He spent most of day 2 interviewing people for a position in his department, and reports only one candidate flameout while offering some excellent (if screamingly obvious) advice:
Here’s a hint to the grad-flakes in the audience: the first question you will face in every AHA interview (and I mean every single f#%king one) is some variation on the old standby, “tell us about your $hitty f#&king work and its relationship to the boring-a$$ field.” This is a softball. This is the easiest motherf*!king question you can get. You should have a 45 second answer to this question in your back pocket. And when I say 45 second, I mean 45 f#&king seconds and not a second more. Practice it in the mirror if you have to. Go to an acting coach if you must. But if you cannot state the importance of your work and its relationship to the field in 45 seconds or less, you are not getting the job. Sometimes candidates can get away with a 90 second answer if they have charm, but your goal should be 45 seconds. I mention this because today the self-immolating candidate took up the entire interview trying to answer this question. And I tried to stop him. My colleagues tried to interrupt. But he was having none of it. He spent 40 minutes trying to answer the question. And when we told him his time was up, he said “I guess what I’m trying to say is that my ideas are really complex.”
- Our pal Notorious Ph.D. actually found intellectual stimulation and inspiration at the AHA! (Quick! Alert the media.)
- Cameron Blevins at History-ing provides evidence for Hotshot Harry’s theory about the AHA being largely about “celebrity”-watching. Blevins seems to have done better than most bloggers in finding the elusive wireless connection at the Hilton–and see Ann Bartow’s advice in the comments on the previous post for exactly where she found a wireless connection. More substantially, Blevins reports on a session on writing for readers outside of the academy, which slided into a discussion of blogging:
The first session I attended was The Promise and Pitfalls of Writing for Readers beyond the Academy, at which I was that guy who embarrassingly enters late and bumps into people while finding a seat (in this case, on the floor). It was a relatively informal panel, with none of the typical reading of papers in a monotone voice, and with a lot of back-and-forth with the audience. I found it interesting that for the first part of the session, blogging was never touched upon. Then an audience member brought it up, and the panelists began to fervently speak about it for a fair amount of time. What surprised me was the relatively positive attitude many of the panelists carried towards blogging. This might be a kind of self-selective mechanism, as panelists for a session on popular writing are probably not the stuffy academic types that look down their noses at blogging. On the other hand, I got the sense that blogging as a whole has become much more mainstream and accepted within the academy. The panel also reminded me of the kind of “exercise” aspect of writing on a blog – in that it forces you to write and is a great tool for experimentation and self-improvement.
That’s a little too high-falutin’ for this cowgirl. I see blogging–even professionally-related blogging–mostly as a tool for entertainment and self-promotion. At their most serious, academic blogs can be sites for communities of likeminded individuals to meet and share ideas and concerns–my blogging about bullying work environments and urging people in academia to be fair and decent has served that purpose, I hope, as has some of my women’s history blogging. But I’m not on board with the movement of academic bloggers who want job credit for blogging. Putting this baby on my annual review would make it feel like work–and although I enjoy my work, I like thinking of this space as a not-work space.
Anyhoo–back to y’all in New York. Good luck, greenhorns and vaqueras! Let me know how it goes for you–send in a dispatch before you start that long cattle drive home.