Getting Medieval on the Job Market

There is a certain epistemologically messy game that all professors play with their students at some point in the semester.  Students arrive to class unprepared and pretend that they’ve read the assigned material.  The professor, in turn, pretends not to know that the students are pretending to be prepared.  The students, in turn, pretend not to know that the professor is pretending not to know that the students are pretending to be prepared.  The professor, in turn, pretends not to know that the students are pretending not to know that the professor is pretending–OK, you get the point.[1]

Well, it’s that time of year again, the time to send out applications for the academic job market, and for the first time, I’ve decided to list “Got Medieval” on my C.V., under “Professional Service.”    (Since this place occupies the first couple of Google hits for my name, I figure I might as well be proactive in claiming the blog.*)  So, if you’re someone on a search committee doing research on this Yale applicant with the old-fashioned sounding thesis topic, welcome.  If you would like, we, too, can play the game.  You can pretend you never found this place, and I can pretend I don’t know you’re pretending, etc.**  If it helps, I retracted my blog, Chaucer-style, before my aborted foray onto the job market last year.***  You can pretend that I really meant that.

But please, even while pretending, don’t let the gratuitous posts on Mrs. Brad Pitt, Dan Brown, or monkey shenanigans fool you.  I really am a normal academic who will dutifully show up to faculty meetings and teach survey courses and freshman comp at 8AM without complaint.  My office door will have the same collection of twenty-year-old photocopied comic strips as your normal, non-blogging colleague.  Yes, you’re right that my blog shows a remarkable lack of career foresight.  Yes, perhaps I should have prepared for your arrival by delaying my piece on medieval political propaganda and pushing out some additional scholarly sounding posts starting back around August, but it’s almost November, and here we are.

In my defense, I think it’s fair to call this blog “professional service.”  The last conference I was at, more than a few people came up to me and said, “Hey, aren’t you the guy with the Got Medieval blog?”  One of them even said, “I use your blog in my class to show students who don’t believe me that medieval people weren’t boring.”  That’s a service, right?  I’ll be presenting a paper at Kalamazoo this year on self-aware medieval marginalia, a topic I’ve been poking at in my Mmm… Marginalia feature for a while now.  Like it or not, this weird Internet thing I do is tied up to my scholarly identity in ways I can’t quite disentangle from now.

So, for my normal readers, I will promise to try not to become suspiciously dull now that we have guests reading over our shoulders.  Maybe in return, normal readers, you can help me out, at least in a small way, by becoming my blog-follower on the Google, or faving me at Technorati, or by writing a glowing testimonial about how I definitely would be a great literature professor, etc.  There are many applets and links in my blog’s right hand margin for you to give me additional Internet credibility.  Remember, the Internet cred to academic cred exchange rate is akin to the Zimbabwe dollar to American dollar rate, so I’ll need approximately 60,000 internet recommendations to translate into one real world one.

[1] Observation stolen shamelessly from Prof. Lee Patterson.
*In fact, I’ve had to cultivate that, because my unique name is shared by one other Internet savvy person who happens to be 1) my father and 2) completely insane when it comes to his political opinions, which he has a tendency to post frequently and at length across the blogosphere.  (Hi, Dad!)
**And yeah, I know you’re here reading.  When “carl pyrdum” shows a sudden spike as a search term in November in the Google Analytic’s search history, and these spikes are correlated with originating .edu IP addresses, it can really only mean one thing.
***Aborted not because of scandal, but because my boring, old-fashioned thesis really wasn’t going to come together by May 2008.  It has this year.  Really.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Isaac

    My fingers are crossed for you, Carl. I sometimes worry what would happen (or what might have happened) if a search committee came across my blog… But now, let’s hope, I’m not in a place where I need to worry about it.

    (Now I just have to worry what happens when my students find me making jokes about how slutty Princess Projectra looks, or whatever.)

  • Steve Muhlberger

    I think it’s service (I link it to my blog which is at least in part meant for *my* students).

    And I’m a tenured full professor. Does that count for something?

  • Dr. Virago

    Here’s immediate credibility for you: I cited “Got Medieval” in a published, peer-reviewed article. I keeping meaning to send you a copy of the article. E-mail me your preferred mailing address (to drvirago2[at]gmail[dot]com) and I’ll send it along to you.

  • Jeffrey J. Cohen

    To all those on search committees perusing this blog: just hire the guy, he is brilliant, and Got Medieval will bring renown to your department. I’ve even purchased monkey magnets from the site.

    And if you are on a search committee and somehow think that having a blogger on your faculty is a potential liability … hello, welcome to 2008, where have you been? NOT having an excellent blogger among your faculty is the liability, not vice versa.

  • Fencing Bear

    If I were on a search committee and came across your application, I would insist we interview you. One of my students told me about your blog several years ago and I think it’s one of the best things on the Internet, right up there with Paul Halsall’s sourcebook as a service to our medievalist community. Remember, we’re the ones who go to Kalamazoo every year and laugh at all the jokes in the Pseudo-Society. I would love having a medievalist blogger in our department (wait, I guess that’s me now, but you were my inspiration); I’d use it as yet another proof that medievalists are always on the real cutting edge, just like it was, um, medieval Europeans who invented the printing press. If that doesn’t work, there’s always Bruce Holsinger’s book on pre-modernism to help buttress your case. But I really don’t think you’re going to have any problem with the blog–it’s brilliant!

    By the by, how do you find all those dates for your monthly calendars? Those show quite an impressive bit of research.

  • flipsockgrrl

    If you need an excuse** to keep blogging, look no further than Stephanie Trigg, who recently credited her Humanities Researcher blog with helping her to win a national teaching award.

    ** apart from the adulation of mmm…marginalia fans, of course 😉

  • Isaac

    Shouldn’t you be footnoting Lee in the first paragraph of this post, though? That’s his shtick / observation, right?

  • Got Medieval

    Yeah, that’s pure Patterson.

  • Bearded Lady

    Hi Carl, I am going to throw this out there as just something to think about when you are in the interview process. I am definitely NOT in the same rigorous field as you. But I still think my experience might apply…

    After I showed my blog to my editor, her immediate response was to ask me if my creative energy was getting used up on my blog when it could be used more toward my writing (translation: If you miss your deadlines then I am going to know why). I think this is a concern that anyone hiring someone who blogs regularly might have. I still think you should include your blog in your resume because it is so well done and your writing style if full of the type of dry wit that academics need to not take themselves so darn seriously. I just mention this experience so you can be prepared to have the perfect response in case someone sees your blog as taking away from your daily duties. You might be stuck in an interview with someone who is not a fan of blogging.

  • Pseudoangela

    Well, I’m a student in medieval English literature at Oxford University – and I would ten times rather be taught by you. Just what that says about Oxford University I’m not sure. Actually, some of my teaching isn’t so bad, but medieval studies could do with a little bit of livening up.

    So if you are thinking of hiring this guy – take it from me. I’m a student, and I think he’d be a great teacher.

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