It's the second week in October, and most of the job ads that are going to be out, are. So this seems an opportune time to assess the situation. Let me preface this by saying that, although I follow the job ads, in no way was I planning on being on the market this year. And it's a darned good thing, too, because the medieval field in my discipline is having a rough year. I've counted 21 jobs. Not so bad? The three years around when I went on the market, there were about 32 medieval jobs in my discipline, each with usually 90 or so applicants. Those were good years (yes, a three-to-one qualified-applicant-to-job ratio is considered "good"). And a handful of the jobs this year are really quite good: a few R1s, a few high-end liberal arts colleges. So, why do I think 21 job openings makes for such a rough year? Well, take away:
• 2 positions open to hires at the level of associate or full professor
• 10 positions that are medieval combined with another chronological field – common at small colleges
• 1 position that is very geographically specific
…and we have eight jobs that the majority of junior medievalists can apply for, that won't involve them competing against not only 90 people in their field, but also 50-150 additional people in another neighboring field. Eight.
I'm posting this, not to be an ass, but to offer my heartfelt sympathy and support to those on the market this year. And to remind myself of how lucky I was. Would I have gone to grad school if I'd known the TT market was this bad? Probably – I had a weird and possibly unique set of motivations that had nothing to do with market forces. But I might have stuck with the M.A. and settled down in a nice Community College job in Home City, rather than chasing the TT job.