Blog Post

Liveblog: HASTAC2011 Alt-Ac Workshop!



Public Google doc for questions

Opening remarks. (Expect typos and other hazards of speedy publishing.)

Shana Kimball: talking about possibilities of scholarly publishing as alt-ac career. University presses are an idea that interests many PhDs interested in publishing, but they're struggling –– for her, the library was a great alternative.

She thought 'Oh, I'm not a programmer, I'm not a real web designer' -- but found that being willing to get her hands dirty served her well in combination with advanced analytical skills from training in humanities.

Hiring people, she looks for people who can do the work of translation between domains, who can do the work of critical thinking without being afraid to get their hands dirty.


Erin McCulloch: PhD from Michigan English, a very traditional program in terms of scholarly professionalization. 

He has many passions: published 4 books of poetry, MFA–would choose that over all else, but there's no money in it (a few TT positions). PhD in English was his security move... Followed what he wanted to do, but found the end point of the job market not so desirable.

Director of publishing wing of library approached him about job for Early English Books Online encoding project. Interviewing for library jobs he could be more sincere than at the MLA; more acceptable to [I paraphrase] geek out. :)


Brian Croxall: "As many of you may know, I am a failure, but I am fucking successful at being a failure."

PhD English Emory 2008; tried to get academic job for several years; now CLIR postdoc at Emory. In grad school, he worked more hours than many, felt he didn't have the right experience -- but the work that was the 'not so good' fellowship in grad school was the most helpful for what he does now.

He actually does want to be a TT faculty member -- but it doesn't working out so well. Wrote about his experiences on the academic job market: 5 years, 3 MLA interviews. Alt-ac: 66% record on getting interviews.

Most important thing here: hearing from those who already have alt-ac positions can't be the path that will get you to one; it is very idiosyncratic. Being a faculty member is a path of continuing to do the same thing, following a route set out. Nobody else in the world gets a job that way. Alt-ac is more like the rest of the world.

CLIR postdoc is a really good thing. Council for Library and Information Resources. Due Dec 19.


Elizabeth Werdy (sp??) at Michigan for a month; interested in exploring the civic mission of higher education. Trying to support grad students in fulfilling that throgh partnerships with schools, agencies, community groups -- including work on alternate forms of scholarship like online exhibitions. Worked with academics on public project on Jane Jacobs in NYC; many opportunities within the academy that are different and nonconventional, connecting with outside the academy.


Brian responds to Twitter: I don't think I"m a failure; it's the academy that thinks I'm a failure. and that's okay.

In grad school, you learn how large bureaucratic organization of the academy works. That's a skill -- and it's part of why so many alt-ac scholars end up working at their graduate institutions.


Now going over specific exmaples: job ads and job materials. This may not be so easy to take notes on, but I'll try to post the major takeaways.

Job letters: to get the interview. Hiring manager wants to see what value someone will add to a project––don't mention your dissertation if it doesn't!

Example draft being shown is clearly an adapted academic job letter; it doesn't address anything about the ad. (Talking about this ad.). Like a student who writes essay and doesn't connect the research to the thesis. Was reworked; writer got an interview.

"Good example" of job letter for a digital humanities librarian position at Brown. (Worth saying: #alt-ac doesn't mean digital humanities, though the conversation goes that way very quickly; libraries, archives, state humanities councils, etc). Job letter from Jean Ann Bauer, who has really lovely personal letterhead and font. And also a fantastic record; eclectic background that makes sense for the position. Tailoring is incredibly important, more than in the TT job letter.

Audience comment that I think is key: this letter is about the *employer* rather than about the applicant –– key difference from TT letters. Shana from the audience says that if the applicant has not done research on the job and tailored their application, it's is a quick route to the "no" pile.

Examining 2-page CV: representative examples of experience, languages/skills. Brian says he's tended to send 2-page cover letters and more of a CV than a resume (longer). 

Going to questions on Gdoc now: read there (link above)!




No comments