Monday, April 05, 2004


An Update on the "Theory Question" and the Academic Job Interview

A colleague recently informed me about a string of job candidates for a position in the English department at a prestigious West Coast university being rejected because of the dreaded theory question, the one the academic left insists does not exist.

Several candidates were in touch with one another at a graduate student conference (after all had gotten jobs elsewhere, and were willing to talk about the job search experience with some candor), and each told the others the same story--a job interview that ended when the theory question was answered "improperly", i.e. the candidate expressed reservations about theory.

The position did not advertise for someone who was a theorist, but was presented as a traditional, era-designated position.

Doubtless, this will be dismissed as mere heresay. But I trust the person from whom I received the information--someone I'm not about to out because a first-year assistant professor is just as vulnerable as a grad student--and the story is in keeping with other anecdotal evidence.

Frankly, there's a part of me that would like to make it a legal requirement that these interviews--which are often only a few steps removed from an interrogation--be taped, so that there is a record for all parties involved.

As for my own progress on the job market, that's something I'll address when I feel more comfortable divulging details that might allow a hostile audience to discern my identity, particularly after some recent experiences in the world of academia that have left me a bit unnerved. For now, I'll merely say that I will not be living in the same state come August.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?