Do you ever casually look for jobs on-line? I do. Usually when I am supposed to be grading or completing some other tedious task that is the bread-and-butter of my work as a tenured professor. I sometimes even apply for the jobs I find, but I have only been mildly successful at that pursuit, and never in a life-changing way — a nibble here, a nibble there (“Finish your book, stupid,” they write back on a postcard. “Oh yeah, right, I forgot” I say, and paste it in my scrapbook of Futile Acts.) But as I take little breaks from writing letters of recommendation so that many of my favorite students can go to graduate school and also worry about being jobless, I have been checking the listings and see if the economy has affected the market or that American Studies job at the University of Hawaii has opened up yet.
Of course, it’s always 1933 when it comes to jobs in United States history or American Studies, isn’t it? Yes, these are more popular fields than Renaissance Poland or Enlightenment Corsica, but there do seem to be fewer jobs than normal. OK, move to Tier Two: the creative job application.
This is how it works. For example, I have always wanted to work for UCLA, but if there were a job there in history I would never get it because someone in that department once fired my sorry ass, and she is the kind of person who holds a grudge. So how much better to apply for a tenure-track job in economics? My enemy would never find me there, guaranteed. And I bet I could also give it a good shot as chair of the English Department at the University of Minnesota: with all that course relief, I bet I wouldn’t have to teach so many courses — and have you heard of the New Historicism? I mean — HELLO!? If Minneapolis is too chilly for the Radical household, a quick look at H-Net shows that there are an astonishing number of positions available in Qatar. I’m also happy to say that Zayed University in Dubai is hiring in history, as is New York University’s campus in the United Arab Emirates. Or how about Professor of American Studies at Keimyung University in Daegu, South Korea’s third largest city! This job is made for me. First of all, they do not want anyone Korean (qualified.) Second, their ideal candidate is “a talented and enthusiastic faculty member who will actively and passionately lead students in advancing their knowledge of English.” That’s what I already do! Except I would be a lot closer geographically to Kim-Jong-il, and that would worry me a lot.
But here’s a good one, and it is totally local: Director of Alcohol and Drug Initiatives at Yale. That’s a job that keeps a person stateside, without spending vast sums on sunscreen or wool hats, and I would never have to write a letter of recommendation again, nor teach Engllish (hell, they are so plastered, they don’t even understand English!) But in trying to control undergraduate drinking anywhere, I would worry about acquiring a sense of futility about my work. Wouldn’t you?
Ah well. Back to grading.