[Humanist] 24.474 job at Ryerson: jobs and disciplines

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Nov 8 08:47:22 CET 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 474.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Sun, 7 Nov 2010 08:34:52 -0500
        From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.472 job at Ryerson: jobs and disciplines
        In-Reply-To: <20101107105125.35CA2995E0 at woodward.joyent.us>

I very much enjoyed the post quoted from below for a number of reasons.
 However, I'd like to respond to this paragraph in particular:

> In fact, when hiring committees focus on the size of the pool rather
> than its relevance, they tend to waste everybody's time: this is in my
> experience the problem with ads that imply the discipline is open. It
> never is /actually/ open. A committee that claims to be open is either
> misrepresenting the situation in the department or hasn't quite made up
> its mind between two or three areas. But they never mean "anything."
> What they do often want in these cases is a really large pool: the idea
> is that maybe somebody will show up in it that will get them excited.
> But they do end up wasting the time of most of the applicant who aren't
> in their secretly preferred disciplines.

Just to add detail.  While I cannot, of course, speak to Ryerson's situation
in particular, I would say that you are generally right that schools have
some idea of what they want when they advertise for "open" speciality.
 However, in smaller schools, this "what they want" involves a number of
possible combinations.  Maybe they can only hire one position, but need
someone with a background in creative writing (say, fiction), and a couple
of different fields in American lit., and would like someone with some
background in minority lit too.  Maybe these represent their first
preferences, but maybe they have other needs too -- most of which are
determined by what existing faculty are able and willing to cover.  An open
call allows the search committee to see what possibilities are out there and
what range of departmental needs can be met by faculty currently on the
market, which would also determine, in part, what existing faculty would
have to cover.

So, to give one concrete example, I know of one job at a small honors
college that specifically advertised for a rhet/comp person and wound up
hiring an MFA. This candidate deliberate ignored the ad and applied anyhow
-- she probably had some experience with rhet/comp, but who doesn't?  This
candidate apparently offered better possibilities than even the department
had considered when defining their search.

My current institution will probably start a search for a rhet/comp position
-- we know that we need a rhet/comp person, and will not consider anyone
without a Ph.D. in this discipline.  The entire dept. is already lit people
who have learned about rhet/comp along the way and has taught a lot of it.
 But, we also need experience in either developmental writing,
business/technical writing, or writing center administration.  Our ideal
candidate will have a combination of these.  We don't expect anyone to have
all three, though.


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