Reading Job Ads

Where are the Ads?

First, job ads in English Studies fields are posted on several sites, linked in the sidebar. The MLA/JILĀ  site needs an ID and password. E-mail Cheryl or I to get the department login info that you need to initially get in. Then, with their new system, you can create a personal ID and password.

There is still some debate about whether it is helpful to look at the print version of the MLA joblist in addition to the online list. Five years ago some ads regularly showed up in the print list that weren’t online, but that may not be an issue anymore with everyone having crossed the digital divide. It’s up to you whether you want to pay to order it. You might ask Irene if the English dept. gets a copy — I don’t remember seeing one, though.

No one doesn’t use the online JIL anymore.


When Do the Ads Come Out?

The big MLA job list premieres on the mid- or last Friday in September. However, check the list earlier that week because sometimes they let you in a bit sooner. If you can’t get in on Friday morning, just wait a while. The site is being swarmed with jobseekers and is just running slowly.

The Chronicle starts publishing ads much sooner, so you can start looking over the summer. September and October will see the most ads on the Chronicle. The Chronicle and MLA lists overlap quite a bit BUT be sure to check both. Since schools have to pay to post, many cut costs by only publishing in one or the other. The MLA list is more expensive, so schools with lower budgets often opt for the Chronicle.

2012 Update: All new jobs in the humanities (specifically in writing studies and digital humanities/new media) are posted to the Academic Job Wiki on a weekly basis. (But beware the wiki…)

Other sites and listservs may start running ads sooner or later, so keep looking for them.

After the September and October surge, keep looking! New ads come out every week. There’s also a wave of new ads the beginning of the spring term and even into the summer. It can take some schools a bit of time to get positions approved, get funding worked out, decide what they want, etc. Our ISU grads have particularly good luck with spring ads.

What Information is in an Ad?

  • the school
  • the department/field
  • whether it’s tenure-track, NTT, temporary, a postdoc, a lectureship, etc.
  • rank — assistant, advanced assistant, associate, full, or “rank open.” If you are a grad student on the market, you’re looking for assistant. Advanced assistant usually means with a few years at assistant rank already under your belt. “Rank open” may be worth a shot but, generally, if a department is approved to hire someone advanced, they’d rather do that. But again, may be worth a shot if it’s really up your alley.
  • the teaching load (3/2 is very good and most common for schools that want a balance of research and teaching, often with a heavier research agenda; 2/2 is for top research schools; 4/4 common for teaching-focused departments)
  • the disciplinary specifics (if they’re hiring in rhetoric/composition, for example, they will outline some specialties they’re looking for, e.g., multimodal composition, cultural rhetorics, professional writing, digital rhetoric, etc. In ads for literary fields there will be a period or area focus (say, Renaissance/Early Modern Drama with expertise in Shakespeare and interests in textual studies and history of the book, queer theory and sexuality studies, or psychoanalytic theory.
  • the materials you need to send (more about this below)
  • the deadline
  • the contact person
Is the Ad Right for You?
You should seriously consider each ad and whether it is really in your area of expertise. Having taken one grad seminar on rhetoric doesn’t make you qualified for a rhetoric position. If rhetoric is an important part of your dissertation on the development of the 18th-century novel, you want to look very closely at what kind of rhetorician they want, whether they ask specifically for a PhD in rhetoric or not, whether you’re really engaged with rhetoric in your diss, and if you are truly qualified to teach courses in rhetoric. As an ISU grad you will be uniquely versed in a number of the disciplines in English Studies but, alas, job ads call for specialists. Even if your dissertation is on the 20th-century American novel, you may well be wasting your time applying for a job wanting someone in 20th-century American poetry.