Faculty Job Searches in the Humanities

In this blogge post, former academic and now journalist Rebecca Schuman takes the English Department of University of California-Riverside to task for informing faculty job candidates that they will receive only five days notice before the start of the Modern Language Association conference if they are going to be invited to interview at the conference.

Schuman was really fucken pissed offe about this short notice:

The way I see it, Dr. Katherine Kinney and the Overlords of the UC-Riverside English department have decided that anyone they deem worthy will, of course, already be attending MLA, either to give several important papers, or to be interviewed by several other institutions who have the common fucking human decency to notify their candidates more than three days in advance. This is a move that is both elitist and out of touch. Because of the hyper-competitive market and huge glut of applicants for every job, nowadays many, many PhDs and ABDs now attend MLA to go on a single, solitary, pathetic interview–because, they’re told, “all it takes is one,” after all.

The UC-Riverside English department’s decision to give their candidates five days’ notice is unconscionable. I have never felt the need to name a search committee chair in public before, but this one deserves it. Dr. Katherine Kinney, you and your committee should be ashamed of yourselves.

As a natural scientist, it is bizarre to me that humanities job applicants would be expected to spend any of their own money on travel, accommodations, and a conference registration fee in order to interview for an academic job.

While Tenured Radical feels that the tone of Schuman’s reaction may have been excessive, it seems to me that Schuman’s complaints are grounded in truth: that the search committee acted thoughtlessly, blinded by its own privilege to the effect its actions would have on applicants. And I get the impression that the humanities job search process–which Schuman apparently went through multiple times without success–can involve a continuous series of microaggressions exerted by faculty upon applicants. Based on all of this, I figure that this UCR dealio was one microaggression too many, and set her off.

Looking back on my own entry-level natural sciences faculty job search–even though my own experience of it was clearly highly privileged–I myself experienced what I perceived as a pretty continuous stream of microaggressions. Had the ultimate outcome not been favorable for me, I would surely have become embittered and felt oppressed. So I am not inclined to blame people too much who do experience unfavorable outcomes and thereby become embittered and feel oppressed, and lash out accordingly.

Gluteus Medius Pain

I overdid running hills earlier this week, and now I’ve got some hip pain that my Internet MD diagnosis tells me is gluteus medius inflammation. Any readers have experience with that? If I take a day or so off, will it likely resolve? Or am I looking at a long-term problem? As of now, it’s minor pain, and doesn’t hurt at all at rest.

Blanquette de Veau


This is a classical French dish, from way back in the days of Escoffier. Here is my version, which commits blasphemy only in two regards: (1) serving it over buckwheat kasha instead of white rice and (2) not using any butter to make roux for finishing the sauce (I just dissolve some cornstarch in a bit of the braising liquid).

one and a half pounds veal shoulder, cut into ten cubes
ten nice-sized boiling onions
one cup dry white wine
two cups veal stock
one bay leaf
eight fresh sage leaves
juice of one half lime
fresh-ground black pepper
one tablespoon cornstarch
half cup heavy cream
one cup coarse-ground buckwheat kasha

(1) Put the wine, stock, lime juice, bay leaf, sage, black pepper, salt to taste, and the veal into a dutch oven. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a very low simmer, and cook covered.

(2) The veal should take about three hours to become perfectly tender. When there is about an hour left, thrown in the onions.

(3) When the veal and onions are done, remove them from the pot and reserve, covering them with foil. Remove the bay leaf and sage from the pot, turn the heat up to high, and reduce by about half, salting to taste, then turn back to a low simmer.

(4) Cook the kasha by simmering it covered for about 12 minutes in two cups of water with salt and pepper, until all the liquid is absorbed.

(5) While the kasha is cooking finish the sauce. Stir one tablespoon cornstarch into a bit of the reduced braising liquid in a ramekin, and when smoothly mixed, add it to the pot and stir well until the cornstarch is dissolved. Then add the heavy cream and stir to incorporate until the sauce is nice and thick and creamy.

(6) Return the veal and onions to the sauce and continue to heat with gentle stirring until the veal and onions are nice and hot.

(7) Spoon the blanquette onto the kasha and enjoy!

Fucken Fleas

I got bitten by motherfucken fleas at my motherfucken friend’s house five motherfucken weeks ago, and the goddamn motherfucken flea bites on my leg still itch like a goddamn motherfucker. Fucken goddamn fleas.

Pitchforks and Torches

Ms. Viola supervised every detail of the makeover. She went on worldwide shopping sprees to find precise shades of Venetian onyx (even the elevator is onyx) and other decorative finishes, and visited Versailles so that she could replicate its grandeur in her 900-square-foot dining room. She recently installed the finishing touches in the duplex library — a ceiling mural painted by an artist from County Cork, Ireland, and a two-story rendition of Kipling’s poem “If,” hand-stenciled by an artisan who has designed custom Christmas cards for the White House and the Vatican.

The grand staircase of Italian granite has a custom-carved mahogany banister, and many of the walls are decorated with gold-leaf filigree. There are service kitchenettes and powder rooms off both the parlor-level living room — which has a fireplace of Brazilian travertine, a coffered ceiling, a south-facing Juliet balcony, and a heated walnut floor with an inlaid stencil — and the third-floor banquet room, whose heated floor is black walnut with a marquetry border.

Words On Slides

Odyssey just posted about words on presentation slides.

My practice is to have a short declarative title on each slide that summarizes the point of whatever graphical shitte is on the slide. This way if someone loses the train of a slide, they can at least just read the title and get enough to keep following along the talk as a whole. The worst thing is to have someone lose concentration for a single slide and then be in a position where the entire rest of the talk becomes incomprehensible.

Incidentally, this is why it is important to repeat key shit a lot during a talk. If you as the speaker perceive yourself as being painfully repetitive, then you are probably repeating key points the correct amount.