January 09, 2004

Nice Work

Some days she's a raven, other days a frog, and nowadays she is gainfully employed. Congratulations to Rana, who has just received a job offer from the place where she's been temping. Go Rana!

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at January 9, 2004 07:57 PM

Thanks! (It is a big relief to not have to worry about the rent!)

Posted by: Rana at January 9, 2004 09:06 PM

Congratulations, Rana!

Posted by: Miriam at January 10, 2004 12:18 AM

This is great news. Congrats!

Posted by: language hat at January 10, 2004 03:20 PM

BTW, on getting jobs ...

F. Todd Weatherbee

In a post just below, I mentioned my old freshman comp chair, F. Todd Weatherbee, who I remember primarily for his favorite saying, "If you think literature makes good men, just look at the people in the English Department." Todd (not his real name, of course) was in the English Department too. I'm not sure how he exempted himself from his own observation, but I'm almost certain he did mean it not to apply to himself. And despite his opinion, he succeeded about as well as one can succeed in an English Department; the last I checked, he'd been promoted to an endowed chair. His colleagues must certainly have known about his attitude toward them, yet somehow this never stood in the way of his advancement.

Todd did differ from the typical English professor in several ways. He came from rural Utah and made no secret of his Mormon background, though he was a jack Mormon, which is to say a Mormon who smoked and drank. In fact, he kept a bottle of sherry in his bottom desk drawer, from which he tippled frequently during meetings with his teaching assistants. Todd's specialty was "composition", an intellectual sibling to what's taught in education schools, where you master not a field itself, but how to teach a field. A "composition" specialist didn't specialize in writing, he specialized in teaching writing.

In fact, "composition" was the only specialty where someone with a Ph.D. from that English department could hope to get a decent job. One day it dawned on a classmate in my advanced eighteenth century seminar that she wasn't going to get anywhere with Christopher Smart or Fanny Burney; she quickly changed her specialty to "composition" and had an Assistant Professor job at Michigan before she'd finished her dissertation. That was Weatherbee's, and the university's, reputation in that field. Those who stuck with specialties like eighteenth century at that school (which might charitably be called "top-50") were driving taxis and flipping burgers.

Posted by: Steve at January 13, 2004 09:11 PM