November 19, 2003

Academic Job Search Strategies: The Cover Letter

My Dear [department chair],

Rejoice! After considerable rumination, I have choosen to fill the Tenure Track position in Art History advertised by your University in The Chronicle of Higher Education! Fret not, for while my decision was influenced by your university’s proximity to vast fields of wheat and several shooting ranges, I have choosen the University of [delete] because of its sparkling repuation and world-class faculty. As an art historian, one has the option of living a gigolo lifestyle, awash in cocktails and listing back and forth from auction to private showing to auction again. Nonetheless, I know that the charms of such a tawdry existence would soon fade. And so I say no - no! It is to the life of the mind that I must cling, and cling I shall at the U of [deleted].

-- Alex Golub, "Sample Job Letter"

Via Liz Lawley, Alex Golub gives Mary Morris Heiberger and Julia Miller Vick a run for their money with his own version of a winning cover letter.

Legal Disclaimer: The above is intended as satire. The Invisible Adjunct and its employees, agents and subsidiaries disclaim any and all liability and responsibility, moral, legal or otherwise, for any result (including, but not limited to, not getting the job and getting the job) obtained from any academic cover letter which salutes any department chair as "My Dear."


When I wrote the above, I did not realize that Mary Morris Heiberger had died recently. A brief obituary can be found here.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at November 19, 2003 01:04 PM


But on a sadder note: you may not have heard that Mary Morris Heiberger died recently. No link; I read the news in the dead tree version of the Philadelphia Inquirer. I haven't seen notice at the Chronicle yet.

Posted by: jct at November 19, 2003 03:40 PM

Short obituary here:

Posted by: ogged at November 19, 2003 03:48 PM

Does anyone have a link to "Manfred's" cover letter which was making the rounds a few years ago? I seem to remember it claimed to have been sent to a bunch of departments who took it seriously.

Posted by: jam at November 19, 2003 04:01 PM

I'm too lazy to link, but you can find it at William Dowling's homepage at Rutgers.

Posted by: Chun the Unavoidable at November 19, 2003 04:12 PM

No, I had not heard that Mary Morris Heiberger had died. That is sad.

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at November 19, 2003 04:22 PM

Into and out of German (maybe more effective):


My dear [ department chair ], Rejoice! After considerable Wiederkaeuen has I choosen, in order to fill the possession rail position in the history of art, which is announced by your university in the Chronicle by higher training! Be not annoyed, because, during my decision was affected by your university?snaehe to the considerable fields of wheat and some shooting distances, I to have choosen the university of [ deletion ] because of its sparkling repuation and world category training body. As an art historian one has the choice of to live gigololebensstil, awash, in the cocktails and back and forth again in registers from the auction to the private agency for auction. Nontheless I know that the charm such became one tawdry existence verb-let soon. And so legend I NO - No.! It is for the life of the understanding that I must adhere, and clings I is at the U from on [ deleted ].

Posted by: at November 19, 2003 05:42 PM

Dowling's home page also has a sensible attack on teaching evaluations - a useful addition to the other IA thread on this subject.

Posted by: Vivian at November 19, 2003 06:09 PM

The Manfred letter:

"Basically, I argue that the figure of the former pirate must be viewed in terms of a transgressive sexuality absent from depictions of the shore-based highwayman who, having begun his career on a horse and ended it in a halter, is able to function as an unproblematic ideological support for a depredatory imperialist commerce during the period of the East India monopoly. Several undergraduates have told me that this course changed their lives.)"

Hee hee.

Posted by: aa at November 19, 2003 08:44 PM