Monday, October 8, 2007

A Rough Year for Medievalists

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.


medieval woman said...

hmmm - this is an interesting review. And I *have* noticed that a lot of the jobs want someone who can do med-ren. I know that last year, for the job I got (that was entry level and a pretty good load in a pretty good place - this says nothing about me so much as they got plenty of apps) - they got 75 applications for my position. Maybe there are less medievalists going out??

Hope so for everyone's sake! :)

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Well! That is interesting info. Perhaps three relatively good years (2002-2004) scooted more people out of the pipeline?

Still, 75 is a pretty high number to beat, and I think we should all take a moment and reflect on how fortunate we are. Yes, we work our butts off in grad school, but, having seen so many well-qualified people go without jobs, I'm convinced there is a large element of luck involved.

Belle said...

You're too young to remember, but in 1999, Minnesota-TC had 5 t-t positions... fields open. They reportedly got over 5000 applications, and rumor had it that they were so overwhelmed that they simply shut all the searches down.

I'm not sure that CC's offer much better. I applied for one job at a CC (self described as "geographically undesirable, 20 miles the other side of hell") who told me (yeah, I got a campus interview) that they'd expected 5 apps, and been stunned at more than 100. No, I didn't get the job, even though I wanted it rather desperately.

Unemployment does nasty things to academically-trained brains.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Yes, after I posted that, I realized how arrogant it sounded -- like I could just walk into a CC job and they'd hire me. I should know better. Apparently employment, too, does things to the academic brain.

And I'd heard about Minnesota, though I'd heard they were all set aside for senior (or at least associate) hires. Of course, it seems to have worked for them, as they're now one of the best public-uni history grad programs in the country. 5,000 apps, though... yeesh.