Friday, September 22, 2006

An Idea Proudly Stolen From Michael Berube and Ancrene Wiseass: Random Stuff, on a Friday. Some of it is Fun.

- A colleague of mine here in Microburg (Hey, we teach, hold office hours, and grumble about our paychecks together. That's a colleague to me.), upon learning that I am a native New Yorker, said "I'm so glad I'm not from NY. I'd *hate* to have to say that Hillary Clinton was my senator." This wouldn't be funny at all, except my colleague hails from Santoristan. One Heo, nonplussed.

- The English job openings list for the 2007-8 academic year is out. 242 jobs, 4 include Old English specialization as an acceptable *secondary* skill. One listing for a medievalist states openly that no Irish Old English people need apply. Most listings for medievalists call for a person who can teach everything from HEL to Literary Theory to Renaissance Drama. This indicates that I will somehow need to aqcuire about 4 specializations and develop a "strong publication history" in the next few years if I want to be an academic. One Heo, panicked.

- I'm considering buying this lovely chenille rug. Sort of a sweater for my floor. What do you think?

- I suddenly find myself fascinated by Mappa Mundi. Which is weird. I hate maps, generally, and take pride in being the person who always gets lost while driving. On Long Island, I would drive until I saw water, then turn around and try again. Here in Microburg, I drive until I see cows. One day I'll call my family from Canada or Iowa or someplace equally unlikely, and ask them to help me get back.

- The new crop of grad students is unbelievably beautiful. We're talking possible cover models for GQ and Cosmopolitan here, folks. They've totally ruined the curve. One Heo, new addition to the ugly club. Rats.

- Also, 34 is too young to be a dirty old woman. So, I don't even get to enjoy the new scenery in a lecherous way without feeling tremendously guilty. One Heo, suddenly separated from becoming Volpone only by guilt and the desire NOT to be a caricature of an academic before I get to actually be an academic.

- We have a new professor. He's British, and therefore uses British colloquialisms. I have several British students as well, who also use British colloquialisms. I have a Zelig-level accent/dialect imitation problem. One Heo, struggling not to pull a Madonna. That simply wouldn't be Cricket. Damn!

- While struggling through Wheelock, I often find myself muttering, "Damn you, vocative case!" One Heo, easily amused.

[Update: Someone from my graduating class at very preppy public high school is sending out emails to start organizing the reunion. The 20 year reunion. One Heo, older than she thought and considering weeping.]


Chris said...

Hey, think of it like this: If you're old enough for a 20-year reunion, you're old enough to be a dirty old woman! Errr... that's probably not as comforting as I thought when I started to type it.

OK, you're not old, but you are funny and cool (drowning in his own attempt).

Tiruncula said...

Ergh, that situation with the JIL and the ASists is not pretty. I'm terribly worried that after a few seasons of a lot of movement in the field, we may have reached stasis and that's not good for the young.

On the accent situation, my profoundest sympathies. Yesterday I ran into a new colleague, who presumably thought I was a fairly normal, dialectically stable person until he introduced me to another new and English (and cute) prof and my code immediately switched. I couldn't stop myself. Sooo embarrassing.

medieval woman said...

1) I dig the purple rug.
2) The JIL is a little scary this year (especially the way you have to search it b/c they took out the specific areas of specialty you could click on to narrow the field). And you're right about the dearth of OE jobs and, hell, even straight medieval jobs. It seems like most places want a Shakespearean specialist who can also teach a medieval survey if they have to.

Do we now have to study/teach 1800 years of literature rather than just 1500??

3) Will you go to your reunion? My 15 year one is coming up next year (gasp!).

History Geek said...

My ten year is comming up. I refuse to believe its been that long since I graduated.

The rug? Very very lovely color. *covets*

Tiruncula said...

MW - yeah, what is the fireplacing deal with the search functions on the JIL? Since there's no way to search for a precise phrase - "old" finds "old" as a substring and "english" gets every posting in the list - there's no easy way to check for jobs that might not have "medieval" or "anglo-saxon(ist)" in the description, and the elimination of categories makes that even worse. There have certainly been job postings in the past that ask for OE without other descriptors. What a pain.

medieval woman said...

Here, here, Tiruncula! I've been searching "medieval", "Middle Ages", and "pre-1800" just to be sure. There's one job that comes up where they actually state that they want just about any British sub-specialty *except* medieval. But because I type in "medieval" that job comes up... :)

Karl Steel said...

...and what about the jobs that require a statement of your dedication to Xianity.... Good lord, I'd hoped to get over that one when I left behind my shithole hometown. I figured academia was a good way to shake off the religious bigots. I know, I know: but, still, facefull of cold water.

medieval woman said...

should that have been "hear, hear"?

Karl Steel said...

How about 'oyez oyez'?

Karl Steel said...

Ah! From the OED:
1689 SIR E. SEYMOUR 19 Feb. in Cobbett Parl. Hist. V. 122, I see gentlemen speak here under great disadvantages..When gentlemen speak with reflections, and cry ‘hear him, hear him’, they [the former] cannot speak with freedom. 1689 SIR H. CAPEL ibid., When Seymour was in the Chair, I have heard ‘Hear him, hear him’, often said in the house. 1762 FOOTE Orators II. Wks. 1836 II. 176 Ter. Dermot, be easy{em} Scam. Hear him{em} Tire. Hear him{em} Ter. Ay, hear him, hear him. 1768 LD. J. CAVENDISH Sp. Ho. Com. 8 Dec. in Sir H. Cavendish Deb. (1841) I. 96 Let us..give a dispassionate attention to everything that passes. [Hear!] That very word ‘hear!’ I dread of all others. 1769 SIR F. NORTON Sp. ibid. 432 The common law is as much the law as the statute law. [Mr. Grenville called out hear! hear!] If the hon. gentleman will hear, by and by he will hear. 1770 G. GRENVILLE Sp. 16 Feb. ibid. 461 The House will be obliged to you [the Speaker] for your information. [Hear, Hear!] Mr. Speaker, I beg the House will be silent. I am sure that is disorderly. 1783 Gentl. Mag. LIII. II. 822 As to himself, he was free to acknowledge..the hand which he had in it (A cry of Hear him! Hear him!) By the cry of Hear Him! said his Lordship, gentlemen seem to think I am going to make a confession. 1803 in Stanhope Life Pitt (1862) IV. 49 When he [Pitt] sat down there followed three of the..most enthusiastic bursts of applause I ever far as I observed, however, it was confined to the parliamentary ‘Hear him! Hear him!’ 1812 Parl. Deb. 5 May in Examiner 11 May 292/2 Orders were sent off to Mr. Henry to withdraw from the United States.{em}(Hear, hear!) 1865 LOWELL Scotch the Snake Prose Wks. 1890 V. 251 One Noble Lord or Honorable Member asking a question, and another Noble Lord or Honorable Member endeavoring to dodge it, amid cries of Hear! Hear!

Dr. Virago said...

Working backwards through the randomness, some random comments...

Wait, how is it that you're celebrating a 20 year reunion? I'm 37 and my 20 year reunion isn't until next year. Did you graduate early?

"Damn you, vocative case!" One Heo, easily amused.

And one Virago who actually snorted when she laughed at that.

Pretty grad students make grad school more pleasant. Think of it that way. Mmmm...pretty, pretty.

Since mappa mundi aren't actually orienteering maps, but conceptual ones -- a worldview, rather than a view of the world, if you will -- I think you may still proudly keep your disdain for modern maps while also being fascinated by mappa mundi. INHO.

The purple rug *rocks*.

The new MLA JIL interface pisses me off, too -- as does the lack of OE jobs -- and I'm not even on the market or an Anglo-Saxonist. I like to look at the list to see where my friends (blogular and real life) might end up, but having to go through the entire Brit Lit list is a major pain, dammit. But becasue I did, I noticed all the med-ren or simply ren jobs, and also the lack of OE jobs, and it made me a little queasy for the future of the field (medieval broadly conceived). I think some of the most exciting stuff is going on in OE and early ME studies, and those people can also teach Chaucer, I'm sure, and would probably bring really interested perspectives to it. So dammit. Sigh. Is OE going to go the way of the classics at schools like mine (public comprehensives -- or anything other than R1s)? Sad, sad, sad.

Tiruncula said...

Dr. V, thanks for the vote of confidence on behalf of OE/eME. I'm not on the market either, but I'm a) shamelessly nosy and b) concerned on behalf of friends who are just coming on the market or still looking for t-t jobs. I'm not sure the situation is as long-term dire as it might seem - not for unemployed friends, of course, but for the teaching of OE in a variety of institutions. My sense is that in the last five years or so, a bunch of mid-career moves made some junior-level openings, and I had hoped that the fallout-movement was still going on, but apparently not. In one example I can think of: a very good SLAC has a young-senior, still very active ASist; the other medieval position in that dept. had been filled by a junior ASist who was actually teaching ME there; the junior ASist then got an R1 job that was actually in OE, and that SLAC is now quite naturally advertising for a ME person. So no new junior OE job, but still, a small SLAC where OE is still being taught. My bigger concern is for students now picking their dissertation topics who will look at the current situation and shy away from working in the more interesting (imho) early MA and opt for safe topics, and thus compound the medieval=14th c.-only problem.

I think I'm going too suggest to friends in the MLA's OE committee that some internal lobbying is in order (JIL-wise, I mean).

(Heo, sorry for hijacking your comments! I like the rug, too.)

HeoCwaeth said...

Chris, you really shouldn't sass your elders like that.

HeoCwaeth said...


Stasis is my big fear, too. And it's become one more thing to consider in my almost daily "gee, is grad school really a good idea?" ponderings. I cannot go heavily into debt, develop serious neuroses (going by past trends), and spend what's left of my ever-diminishing youth in academia for kicks. I need to know I won't be unemployable later. Ugh.

I don't think that in my case it would be a switch to the 14th century. I really am in love with the old Anglo-Saxon stuff, and if I couldn't at least do quite a bit of my work in that, I'd go teach kids how to read Shel Silverstein instead. There may not be a great market for Anglo-Saxonists, but there's always a market for goofy middle-school teachers. The kids dig the goofy.

HeoCwaeth said...


P.S. --I'm loving the conversation; this isn't a hijack at all.

HeoCwaeth said...

Medieval Woman,

"Do we now have to study/teach 1800 years of literature rather than just 1500??"

That was exactly my reaction. I mean, seriously. I think we should have solid understanding of the classical period and the renaissance, just because it's necessary to know where you're going and where you've been. And I always try to keep that stuff in mind when I'm working. But, damned if I think it's fair or reasonable to demand literary *expertise* that spans 2 millenia.

Plus, yeah, that search function is for to poo. What were they thinking?

Regarding the reunion: Eh, I dunno if I'll go. I'd like to see my classmates again, this time with smaller hair. BUT, I was in the geek squad of the previous graduating class. So, all my *best* friends from HS won't be there.

HeoCwaeth said...

History Geek,

There's something extra awful about even decades, isn't there?

HeoCwaeth said...


I was actually too perplexed by that demand to be annoyed by it. How is teaching literature written by very dead Catholics enhanced by a Protestant loyalty oath? Or, in case they're concerned about wicked ideas getting into their kids' heads, how could one possibly teach medieval literature in a way that condemns religions that didn't exist in the period? Well, I suppose it's possible, but who would do that, especially knowing that they're in a very hostile environment? You'd have to think "I guess I'll settle for a job at this religious university, but I'll vex the students for fun."

BTW- thanks for the OED definition for that "hear, hear" thing. I love fun stuff like that.

HeoCwaeth said...

Dr. V,
We're not celebrating yet. We're organizing. The 10 year was a disaster, frankly. Only people who still live in Colonial One-Horse Town were invited. Literally, I lived on the other side of the only highway that touches the town that year, and they couldn't imagine where I'd gotten to. I was personally offended -- hell, I'd seen people in the damn supermarket -- until I realized that everybody who didn't return to our zip code after college wasn't invited. And nobody in our class bothered about a 15 year, so I think my classmate is determined that we'll finally get one right, and that takes planning.

HeoCwaeth said...


Sorry for the weird, individual responses. I just wasn't in the mood to write transitional sentences.

Also, it's clear I have to acquire proofreading skills. *shamed blush*

Tiruncula said...

Popping into this thread one more time to note that one college, at least, has posted not only a really good job, but a carefully-thought-through, interestingly-periodized job. It's so rare that a small college, howver prominent, thinks outside the box and requests a medievalist who doesn't fit firmly either pre- or post-Conquest. And this job would be perfect for the friend I'm most worried about! Fingers crossed, anyway.

HeoCwaeth said...


That might be the first medievalist position I've seen listed this year that seems it was written by a person with a clue about medievalists' work. Fingers crossed for your friend on this end, too.