More updates from the MLA at RYS Hall

Don’t miss the reports from Overhearing Olive and Harry from Hartford–most entertaining.  (However Olive, you strike me as a bit too accommodating, although I’m sure you’ve endeared yourself to your colleagues.  But–seriously–typing up notes from the interviews and “saving one small question for the end?”  That sounds rather secretarial, and that’s not your job.  If the search committee members want notes, they can take them–and type them up–themselves.  If I were on the search committee, I’d never have let you volunteer for this.)

Harry writes:  “Given the choice of MLA without coffee or MLA without alcohol, I’d become an historian.”  No Harry, you’d become A HISTORIAN, because the word “historian” has a f*&king aitch in it.  Dig?

0 thoughts on “More updates from the MLA at RYS Hall

  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly about Olive and the notes. Bad move to seem to be the secretarial adjunct to the interview process!

    When I was hired here, many years ago, as the first woman in the department, I said “No way!” when they tried to convince me that I should be taking notes at the departmental meetings. Apparently, up to that point, it had been the job of the most junior faculty member. Suuuuuure. I said that it should be the chair who’s actually running the meeting, taking the notes, or we should bring in the secretary. Guess how we do things today?


  2. The classic study on which article to use before the word “historian” is Wendell Tripp, “How to Disenvowel a Charging Historian,” _Wisconsin Magazine of History_ 53 no. 3 (1969-1970), 223-226, with fifteen footnotes. No s*&t! There was some rad stuff coming out of Madison back in those heady days of tin soldiers and Nixon coming. Actually, he took a pretty balanced, or maybe even equivocal, stance. I find myself using both forms from time to time, but prefer the clean “a” in most cases.


  3. In reading the article by Olive, I’m assuming that not all search committee members are able to travel to the conference, hence the need to type up interview notes to share with them post-conference.

    We’ve had to do this several times in the past as our department often has a 10 member search committee, of which 4-5 attend conferences for the physical off-site interview.



  4. I’m not down on Olive’s interviewee–it sounds like she’s got very clear boundaries about the kind of institution that she’ll be willing to consider, and she’s done Olive’s department a favor by being up front about them. That’s what interviews are for, right? (Too bad about the limp handshake, though–I’d work on that if I were the said interviewee.)

    I know notes are helpful–I just think people should take their own. Janice’s comment shows how it’s done!


  5. I hear you, Historiann, but who then takes notes for the committee members who DON’T make the conference trip? The last time we interviewed at AHA in Philly a couple of years ago, we had 10 search committee members, but only the funds to send 4 people to the interviews. We took extensive notes (although we took turns) for those back home.



  6. I’ve never heard of TEN search committee members! (I just assume that everyone at the interviews takes their own notes, and that they’re competent to summarize their impressions for those not at the conference.) I’m glad you didn’t send 10 people to interview–that would freak out most job candidates!

    I did have some interviews with 5-6 people, but that usually was because there were other department members “sitting in” on the interviews. Now that I’ve been on a few search commitees and even run one myself, I’d never permit anyone who hasn’t read the files to “sit in.” (At my university, searches are all confidential until we make the first cut anyway–search committee members aren’t permitted to share any information, even the names of the applicants, until we present a list of names to the department for its approval for first-round interviews.) It’s not fair to the job candidates–the sitter-inners haven’t done the work before the conference, and I have no idea why anyone would want to “sit in.” (Is there really nothing else better to do in Philadelphia, New York, San Fransico, or Chicago, for example? Really? I can think of a few zillion things I’d rather do…)


  7. Our entire department is only 10 people, but for as long as I’ve been here every member reads the files and gets a say on who to interview by phone, conference, or campus. But we’re a small school with a tenuous budget, and we’ve organized a rotation over the years so that everyone gets funding for a major conference at least once every 2 years. I’m told that they interviewed several years ago as a group of 8!!! But that was in a big hotel suite with plenty of room, and not in the ballroom-style scene.

    Truth be told, EVERYONE in our department WANTS to be on the committee….not necessarily to do the work, but to make sure we don’t hire someone silly…LOL.



  8. Yes–that’s really something. You won’t have to worry about getting stranded there for another 4 days like I did trying to escape Atlanta after a massive snow and ice storm hit the east coast in 1996!


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