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Humanist Archives: Nov. 19, 2018, 6:17 a.m. Humanist 32.204 - overworked, with opportunities

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 204.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                   Hosted by King's Digital Lab
                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org

        Date: 2018-11-18 12:07:37+00:00
        From: Roopika Risam 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.199: Overworked, with opportunities

Thanks for the responses. [NB: My name is not "Roopa."]

Most critical here is that it's difficult to tell what a 
job is actually like based on an ad. (As true for R1s as 
regional comprehensives, for that matter.) 

Course releases, for example, may not be mentioned in 
job ads (I have some, as do many in my department, but 
they never get put in the job ad). Other factors often 
not mentioned: whether or not there is a union and what 
kind of labor protection that may afford, how much 
research is expected and what "counts," or what the 
expected distribution of labor is between teaching, 
research, and service (if it's set in stone - for many 
of us it's super flexible). 

Very often, graduate students and early career scholars 
do not think about anything beyond teaching load 
numbers for faculty jobs because of the messages they 
are receiving in graduate school about what "success" 
or "a good job" looks like. That's reinforced by offhand 
remarks by senior scholars. 

It's really critical that we don't make assumptions about 
what jobs look like in practice and instead encourage 
faculty job seekers to talk to other people who have 
recently taken jobs at these institutions. They need to 
know what they can reasonably expect and ask for to 
support their work if they are offered the job - and 
nder what circumstances the position truly is exploitative a
nd untenable. 


Roopika Risam, PhD
Assistant Professor of English
Faculty Fellow for Digital Library Initiatives
Salem State University

> On Nov 18, 2018, at 1:43 AM, Humanist  wrote:
>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 199.
>            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.dhhumanist.org
>                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org
>    [1]    From: Jim Rovira 
>           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.196: Overworked, with opportunities (31)
>    [2]    From: Ben Miller 
>           Subject: RE: [Humanist] 32.196: Overworked, with opportunities (47)
> --[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
>        Date: 2018-11-17 14:16:14+00:00
>        From: Jim Rovira 
>        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.196: Overworked, with opportunities
> Many thanks to Roopa and Elisa for their responses. Believe me, I know 
> the conditions of small regional and low endowment colleges. I worked in 
> them for ten years, developing programs, courses, publishing scholarship 
> (three books, 30 conferences, book reviews, poems, etc.), and serving as 
> department chair with a four/four load. I have nothing but sympathy for the 
> faculty who work in those conditions, and I understand the workload you 
> need to take on in order to do the things you love.
> But my eyes are open, I’m no longer calling it “institutional limitations,” I see 
> where their money really goes, and I see it only as a form of abuse now. One 
> course release to develop a program that draws in students that generates 
> revenue for the institution is a small investment to preserve faculty health 
> and well-being and teaching quality. 
> I can’t emphasize enough, however, how  well I understand being complicit 
> with this to do something you believe in. It’s a life choice, but brand new faculty 
> straight out of grad school usually make it without knowing what they are choosing. 
> Jim R
> Sent from my iPhone
>> With all due respect to Dr. Rovira, this is the nature of academic life at a 
> regional comprehensive university in the U.S., where teaching loads are high, 
> some research is expected (certainly not at R1 rates), and the service load is 
> significant. But, when approached strategically, which works well with digital 
> humanities, it can afford tremendous professional creativity and freedom - 
> without any more than the usual academic overwork (itself a different issue). 
> --[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
>        Date: 2018-11-17 21:00:25+00:00
>        From: Ben Miller 
>        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 32.196: Overworked, with opportunities
> Based on 15 years of working in DH, 8 of which were at regional comprehensive 
> universities, I have to agree with Roopika, Elisa, and Jim.  The devil of a job like 
> this, from my experience, depends on the quality of the departmental administration.  
> If they do moderate their research expectations, forestall major programmatic 
> development until after tenure, and have the infrastructure and staff so that the 
> new faculty member can primarily focus on DH research rather than DH infrastructure 
> development, then the situation could present a good environment for the right 
> candidate.  If any of those things are not true, then I would expect the position 
> to be a difficult one to navigate successfully.  There's just not enough time in 
> the week to do all of that and teach a 4-4.  Elisa's comment about needing 
> colleagues who consider DH work to be professional development and not 
> service or solely instruction, to me, couldn't be more accurate.  
> If there were to be one change that might help that conversation, it would be for 
> the MLA to have good guidelines for awarding credit for digital scholarship 
> similar to what the AHA already developed.  Until that problem is solved, it's 
> too easy for departments to retreat to evaluation standards that either dismiss 
> much of the effort someone in DH has to put in to develop their scholarship 
> or are unavailable to scholars in DH.   The MLA's guidance here, 
> “Documentation of projects might include examples of success at engaging 
> new audiences; securing internal or external funding, awards, or other 
> professional recognition; and fostering adoption, distribution, or publication 
> of digital works, as well as reviews and citations of the work in print or digital 
> journals," helps, but doesn't clearly equate these mechanisms as the DH 
> equivalent of peer-review.  They also put the burden on the job candidate to 
> negotiate the conditions of their own professional review while interviewing 
> for the position.  Not only would I have not known enough to manage that 
> when I interviewed for my first jobs, that seems, to me at least, a lot to ask. 
> https://www.mla.org/About-Us/Governance/Committees/Committee-Listings/Professional-Issues/Committee-on-Information-Technology/Guidelines-for-Evaluating-Work-in-Digital-Humanities-and-Digital-Media 
> https://www.historians.org/teaching-and-learning/digital-history-resources/evaluation-of-digital-scholarship-in-history/guidelines-for-the-professional-evaluation-of-digital-scholarship-by-historians 
> Best,
> Ben
> __
> Ben Miller, Ph.D.
> Senior Lecturer in Technical Writing and Digital Humanities
> Affiliate Faculty, Quantitative Theory and Methods
> Emory University
> Callaway N212A // (404) 251-1354
> b.j.miller@emory.edu // bjmiller@mit.edu // @intransitive

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