Dressing for a job interview? Just dress for the conference.

Lee Skallerup Bessette offers some good advice for people on the academic job market in “Dressing for Success” without blowing a lot of dough.  Her advice:  make sure that whatever you wear fits well and is in good condition, and she offers a lot of ideas and resources for building a professional wardrobe without a lot of money.  However, she focuses a lot on “suits” for some reason, when I personally don’t think I’ve worn anything that can be called a “suit” for at least 6-7 years, and most men in my field don’t wear suits either.  Beyond the conference, as some commenters note, we almost never teach in suits.  The men in my department tend to wear long-sleeved shirts and ties when they teach, but most of the men professors in other departments wear jeans or khaki pants with a fleecy vest and hiking boots.  (That’s the preferred look around here, anyway, but it’s probably more casual on average than other parts of the country might be.)

My advice to job candidates is to dress to fit in with the best-dressed folks at the professional conference where they’ll be interviewed.  After all, you’ll be spending more time on average hanging out in the book exhibit and lobby and attending sessions than you will be spending in interviews, and you’ll want to look and feel reasonably comfortable all day long.  And fitting in is what you want to convince your potential future colleagues you can do. Continue reading

Who’s killing the footnote?

Alexandra Horowitz blames e-books, but footnote-killing is a longstanding trend among non-virtual academic book publishers for at least twenty years.  Most university presses and tradey U-press lines use endnotes, period.  (And who other than university presses make such generous use of notes, anyway?  Nonfiction trade books usually offer the clumsy and much more paper-consumptive apparatus of citing sources by quoting the beginning of a sentence, followed by ellipses, and then listing the relevant sources.  Are tiny numbers on the page really all that distracting to the average reader?  Srsly?)   

My understanding was that the increase in paper costs nearly 20 years ago led most academic publishers to switch from footnotes (at the bottom of each page) to endnotes (at the back of the book.)  Somehow, I was informed, this saves paper.  I can remember the last time I read a book with footnotes–ironically, it was Anthony Grafton’s The Footnote:  A Curious History (1997), which I re-read with my graduate seminar a few weeks ago, and which for obvious reasons offers footnotes rather than endnotes.  (Horowitz’s exploration on the life and death of the footnote uses and cites Grafton generously, too.)  But I think when it was published 14 years ago, it was already exotic for having resisted a publisher’s insistence on endnotes.

My foremost concern about e-books–or perhaps more specifically with the Kindle, although I hope those of you in the know will inform me if this is true of other e-readers–is that it makes citations by students unnecessarily annoying.  Continue reading

20th anniversary of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the Clarence Thomas SCOTUS nomination

Nina Totenberg, who broke the story of Anita Hill’s allegations about Thomas, has an interesting retrospective of the Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings.  I was just starting my second year in graduate school in 1991.  Sexual trauma was big in the news of 1991:  that summer had already featured the ugly smearing of a high-profile rape victim in the trial (and acquittal) of William Kennedy Smith.  The Thomas hearings had us all riveted–on the one hand, it was remarkable to see a young, black woman’s testimony about sexual harassment entered into the public record.  On the other, the all-too-predictable reactions of the U.S. Senators who treated Anita Hill with such smarmy condescention or prurient personal attacks (Snarlin’ Arlen Specter and Orrin Hatch in particular) were almost too much to bear. 

Senator Ted Kennedy was of course notably silent through these hearings, because he had been a witness called at his nephew’s rape trial the previous summer. (That’s what Snarlin’ Arlen meant to imply when he said towards the end of the clip above, “Mr. Chairman I object to that. I object to that vociferously. . . If Senator Kennedy has anything to say, let him participate in this hearing.”)

Anita Hill looks so young and without defenses or allies in these old clips. She was unimaginably brave to endure this in public. Deborah Gray White suggests the powerful historical currents that Hill swam against 20 years ago in Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower (2008):
Continue reading

Moving beyond the grad committee

Those of you on the job market for either a first or a second tenure-track job may be interested in the following question:

For how long might a job applicant include letters in a credentials file from a graduate advisor, committee member, or other professor from one’s graduate institution?  I thought that once I found my first tenure-track, post-grad job, that it was up to me to cultivate senior scholars as mentors and allies on whom I could call for letters of recommendation.  (Besides, the direction of my intellectual interests and the fact that I didn’t end up publishing my dissertation as a book meant that people at my graduate institution wouldn’t have been very good interpreters of my new work, in any case.) Continue reading

11-dimensional chessmasters checkmated by “reality”

Scott Wilson has an interesting article in the Washington Post today about President Barack Obama’s political troubles and how they may be connected to his dislike for retail politics at any level–he never stays on a rope line for more than 15 minutes, big donors are shocked by how little face time they get, and he delegates the management of Congress to Vice President Joe Biden.  Members of Congress are getting a lot more sleep than back in Lyndon Johnson’s day–there are no more “Senator So-and-So, this is your President” calls at 2 a.m. 

But then, they’re apparently not the only ones getting plenty of rest.  Obama’s schedule shows striking deference to his children’s schedule and needs–but remember how we all laughed and laughed at President Ronald Reagan and “Mommie” being in their jammies by 7 p.m. to watch re-runs of Little House on the Prairie?  I’m not convinced that Obama’s days are significantly longer: Continue reading

American ingenuity: Steve Jobbed?

Has the over-the-top coverage of the sadly premature death of Steve Jobs (1955-2011) struck anyone as perhaps a telling sign of anxiety over the prospect of American decline?  Specifically, I’m writing about the decline in technological innovation, but I think it speaks to anxities about the future of the United States in all kinds of global leadership questions as well as the current state of the U.S. economy.

From my perspective, Jobs is an odd person to lionize.  Don’t get me wrong–he helped develop and sell a number of remarkably nifty gadgets, but he wasn’t the inventor.  He was the CEO of Apple–a company that moved most of its manufacturing to China.  Continue reading