[Humanist] 24.476 job at Ryerson: jobs and disciplines

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Nov 9 07:30:33 CET 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 476.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 8 Nov 2010 11:15:15 -0400
        From: Ryan Deschamps <ryan.deschamps at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.474 job at Ryerson: jobs and disciplines
        In-Reply-To: <20101108074722.BC8C696A82 at woodward.joyent.us>

Since I do not work with faculty (of any sort), I've been kind of quiet on
the issue, but now that I've read this I feel bold enough to add my 2 cents.

>        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>
> 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 inclination, when I heard the complaint over posting was to say 'just
apply anyway.'   Back in my early 'Humanist' days I did a relational content
analysis of job postings and learned (subjectively, not fool-proof
empirically) that 'experience' really means 'can you tell me a good story
about. . .' and disciplinarity, when you scrape away all the self-interest,
is really just 'a bunch of people connected through knowledge.'    That
knowledge appears in artifacts, of course (books journals etc) - but the way
those artifacts have been organized for years and years are the fault of
stodgey old librarians (like me) who generally have had to make decisions
about who among the faculty will most be interested in said artifacts.
Many of the standards to make these decisions (like most standards) come out
of exceedingly long bouts of people arguing and compromising until you have
weird anomalies like a book of rules called the 'Anglo American Cataloguing
Rules' using the English spelling for 'catalogue' even though the standard
itself recommends using the American spelling.

In short, all disciplinarians are pawns in an elaborate game us librarians
 (lead by Alfred Hitchcock) have been playing for years.   :)

I am sure there is a lecture awaiting me about the 'harsh reality' of
faculty interests, labor markets and the job hunt.   I would suggest this is
rather a 'harsh facade' - especially in an age where much of the knowledge
of our society has become more accessible than it ever has.
Society's knowledge is not only more accessible, but the context of that
knowledge is dynamic.   With the rise of databases and
personal/collaborative taxonomies, we can in fact create our own
'disciplines' in the blink of an eye.    Digital Humanities is not just
humanities and computers, but also Geography (geolocation), physics (what if
the power goes out?), Management, Design, Psychology, Sociology, Public
Administration (the researcher with no understanding of the bureaucracy is
the researcher with $0 in funding) and so on.    The only link that I can
think of that turns a tag/'discipline' into an actual discipline is the
community of people willing to join in on the genre of study.

I am reading Plutarch (though I am not a classist).   In the chapter
on Dion http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/p/plutarch/lives/chapter62.html in
*The Age of Alexander *i found it quite interesting and logical how much
philosophers wanted people outside their field to practice their discipline.
  Granted, some of those philosophic outsiders (Nero, Dionysius etc.) ended
up being tyrants - but the broader point here is that the separation of
people through the division of labor / knowledge / skill does not seem to
work well (from my perspective) in humanistic study.   Division of labor
works great for widgets and software development but literature is something
to be shared and enjoyed if it is to mean anything to society.   Saying
"Joyce's Ulysses" to someone who has studied English literature is akin to
an early Christian doing the sign of the cross.   I have yet to meet the
prof who does not want to see the CV of someone who has the
desire/interest/aptitude to join in - whatever their main discipline.  This
is a positive thing.

All this rambling to say this:   I think Ryerson is a great school and I
hope they get a whole whack of CVs from people from whatever disciplines
brave enough to introduce new ideas into the old practices.    I also hope
the brightest, bravest and best of the digital humanities are among them.

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