Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Monday, October 26, 2015

Round One of #DevilDiss Complete

Saturday I sent my Milton chapter, chapter six of #DevilDiss to my director, delayed by almost three solid weeks of being sick, thus completing my first round of revision on the dissertation, with roughly a week to spare.
My schedule had first round of revisions finished by October, second round completed in November, and then with the delay with the end of the semester and the holidays, receiving notes to begin the third round in January. And so far I feel confident that I'll be able to hit those deadlines.


One of the things I noticed, with this deadline, as with all the other #DevilDiss deadlines, they loom super large as you're heading towards them, but then you're passed them and there's no time to dwell on the accomplishment because it's onto the next to do item.

This semester hasn't just been about finishing round one of revisions though. I've had classes to teach, a first year composition and a survey of early English. I've also been spending each Friday on job applications. Most weeks I was applying for 10-15, last Friday I submitted one, so I expect that will continue the next few weeks.
This past week I also started to sit in on the Old English class as the final requirement for me to prove fluency. I translated Beowulf this summer, and did some graduate level reading responses over fall break, and now I attend the last few weeks of class to answer grammar questions about the text. I saw another grad student who gestured for me to sit near them versus in the back, the comment was along the lines of welcome back to the land of people.
And it's true- I've very much been a hermit this semester. In part because my two classes are Tuesday and Thursday, and late in the afternoon/early evening, so I don't see many people.
I've also said no to requests to give time, volunteer. I'm usually bad at this, but just the other day, when asked to do something that would have been a huge time suck with LITERALLY no reward for me I said:
"No. I'm graduating this year. I'm revising. I don't have time for anything else."
And I didn't feel bad about it.
You're either Neo from the Matrix or a PhD student
 Because the fact is, no one else is looking out for me. No one is asking how job applications are going, how they can help, if I need anything, how revisions are going, how's the process, how I feel about where I am, do I need anything?
So I'm looking out for myself.

Round 2 Revisions
I have feedback on chapters 1-3, which I submitted in September, so I'll start on those first. Chapters 4-6 were sent off in October, so hopefully I'll have notes on those by the time I finish the 1-3 revisions.
Initial notes were very specific, and in some cases line edits, but these notes are more big picture and trends.
So far my director seems pleased with my progress and revision schedule.

So, here are the things I need to consider:
  • Chapter 1 right now covers the English folkloric devil (EFD) during the Anglo-Saxon period up through the Conquest. Chapter 2 and 3 function as survey chapters, tracing the English folkloric devil through the medieval and early modern period through the lens of physicality in chapter 2 and personality/actions in chapter 3. I did this for a couple of reasons, the first was because I have real issues with periodization, and the EFD crosses these boundaries, and pushes against that containment, much as Jeffrey Jerome Cohen argues monsters do.
    • However, there is also a lot of overlap between physicality and personality/actions. I need to explain this, and the methodology for keeping these divisions.
    • I think too this means tweaking how I present Chapter 1, as having THAT be by time period, when nothing else is, needs to shift. Not the time period per se, there's no getting around the fact that the EFD appears first during this time. But I think I can shift the discussion to the foundations/origins of the figure, and away from the time period, and add some as to how this figure bleeds across time periods. Treharne's book about Conquest which I already cite will help with this.
  • While these chapters do function as survey chapters  in many ways, I also have to make sure I clarify what my argument is. I think one way I can do this is by strengthening the arguments about the subtopics I mention:
    • Borderlands: how liminal space and borderlands both contribute to the EFD as a constructed Other and as something for domestics to define themselves against.
    • Jews: While the EFD is associated with many Others, and threats, in many ways because of their absence, English Jews are the  figure/group associated the most with this figure. But because they are absent, the presentation is stereotypical, and a caricature, so I continue to struggle how best to present this.
    • Women: as representatives of the domestic space, both the actual hearth and the homeland, their role in the creation of national identity needs to be expanded more. In keeping with this, this will then allow me to talk more about how and why the EFD attacks women, and what these represent in larger terms
So these are what I need to correct/revise, but now I need to figure out HOW to approach all this.
I've changed my board to reflect what I need to focus on.
Right now #DevilDiss is at 334 pages, with the second half, the chapters that deal with function and use much larger than the rest. So at this point, since my director had me pull out the subtopic signposts, one thing I struggle with is the sheer size of the material. It's a lot of pages to track stuff through.

When I initially read my director's comments I briefly wondered if the survey chapters (2 and 3) SHOULD be reoriented around periodization: medieval and early modern, since chapter 1 WAS based on Anglo-Saxon. But too much of my argument is based on how the EFD tradition crosses boundaries and defies periodization, so instead I think I just need to strengthen the chapters as I have them, as I've noted above.
So I'm going to start with chapter 1 revisions, revise, then move onto the next chapter, then the next. But I am going to focus on the themes, the topics that I've identified as throughlines above.

I'd like to stick to the revising schedule I had before three weeks of sickness completely messed me up which is one chapter per week. That means that chapters 1-3 would be revised and sent off by 1 December.
I feel good about the revisions I made on chapters 4-6. I did have some questions about them:
  • Chapter 5: I had to read all of the Stationers' Register for a footnote of number of times "devil" appears in titles versus EEBO. This holds the potential to be a rabbit hole- keeping distracted. BUT I do think I need to move it from a footnote to the body and talk about how the Stationers' Register has very few titles, almost none that EEBO has and what this might mean.
  • Chapter 6: I had to expand the end where I gesture towards Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. But this has the same rabbit hole potential. I need to successfully gesture towards how these works revisit the ideas in Paradise Lost without it becoming a chapter about those works.

And with all of this, there are still other things playing in the background.
I'm still having issues with anxiety every time I go to campus.
I'm trying not to stress about the the fact that I don't know what my life will be life in eight months. How I'll pay rent. Eat.

But I'm going to try to focus on what I can control- which is round two of revisions.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Cartography and Social Justice: Survey of Early English Edition

Last night in class, I walked my students through this thought process:
  • I was watching The West Wing the other day, and it was one of the Big Block of Cheese episodes, the one about cartography and social justice

  • Since we've been in the early modern period in my survey class, and covering travel narratives, this got me thinking about early modern technology, maps, and how this related to the course theme of viewing texts through monsters/travel narratives.
  • We opened with me explaining The West Wing background, a short explanation of social justice in cartography, then we looked at these three maps: 
Nova totius Terrarum Orbis geographica ac hydrographica tabula, a map of the world created by Hendrik Hondius in 1630, and published the following year in the atlas Atlantis Maioris Appendix.

Mercator Projection Map

Peters World Map
  •  We talked first about the similarities and differences they noticed, and what this meant
  • We talked about how this related to the idea of erasure, and marginalized voices
  • Then what it says about dominant voices, and who tells the story, through maps. Whose story isn't told?
  • There were good dissenting voices, different point of views about why it's a larger conversation & complicated, & necessary conversation. Many students offered their own anecdotes about social studies, geography (or its absence in their education), their experiences with the Mercator map in a classroom. While this topic hit some sore spots, and forced them to think about some hard things, I was very proud of the how they engaged with each other, and me, on this.
  • We talked about Eurocentricism, and some of the effects of this, how it was reflected in larger issues we saw now, not valuing places not us, what countries or wars we got involved in, how current events could be read as a result of this type of thinking
  • Tangible objects like maps, like literature, are great ways to tie larger ideas, and trace them forward in time
  • We also talked about institutionalized racism a la maps
  • We also covered some of the issues in scholarship with covering marginal voices- the ability to translate source materials, present them to others, what this required
  • I used Cortez and Malinche as an example, highlighting the importance here of translation, who tells the story
  •  I also asked them about Columbus, and how many of them knew the name of the Indian chief he dealt with. Since Albuquerque also just changed Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day, we also talked about the issue of where Columbus landed, how it was never Northern America, and the oddity of a country he never landed in, celebrating him.
  • We had some debate about how you could have a Mercator map in your room but teach why it was problematic, that it wasn't an either/or issue.
As I wound down this part of class, to pivot towards covering Herbert's travel narratives of Persia, here was my main point:
  •  I asked them to think about how different their educations, and our classrooms, would be- history, literature, science, math, if we told the complete story. If we didn't just cover the dominant narrative. If we made sure all voices were heard
  • I stated that as a teacher, no student should ever have to sit in a classroom where their culture, their history, their story, was erased from history, told it didn't matter
We then pivoted to talking about Herbert, his narrative, why I chose it, how Persia was represented, how these presentations were connected to earlier ones, the the impact moving forward that these presentations had on literature, how people viewed, and justified later English actions.

I know some students did not like this lecture. I could see it in their faces. This type of challenge of basic teachings and experiences can be uncomfortable. Confronting ideas about institutional racism is hard, and some balked. And I understand that. I try to present it the way Loewen does in Lies My Teacher Told Me, and I make explicit reference to his book, that these views are a result of WHERE these books are written, and HOW they are taught. These are hard issues.
And when I plan these tangential lessons, ones that are a modern throughline to current events, rooted in the past, I do pause. Because I know they are hard issues. I know some students will balk at them. And I go back and forth on whether or not to include it.
This is why I do:
  • Teaching is social activism. End of story.
  • Viewing cultural objects and literature as reflective of their historical and cultural moment, this is literary scholarship.
  • Viewing how these texts construct Otherness, and what our creation of monsters and presentation of travel narratives tells us about these texts and time periods, is what I centered this class around.
  • Viewing the long view of these issues is my methodology.
So I'll teach this lesson again.
But next time, I think I'll ask students to write down some experiences with maps, geography, and world history before we have this class. And I'll definitely play The West Wing clip to open, it's a better, more concise (it's Sorkin after all) explanation that I may have fumbled in my excitement.
But I think these issues are important.
So I'll continue the challenge.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Choice and Reflection in the Classroom: Midterm edition

Yesterday a Twitter friend posted a tweet about what I assume was an internal monologue about telling a disruptive/unhappy student to not come to class if they didn't want to be there.

As we just passed midterms, and I have certain things I do at midterms, this struck a chord, and we talked back and forth for a while.
My students took their midterm- only one student not showing up. Despite the fact that the midterm was not for a grade. I do this for a couple of reasons. The first is that in a survey class, there's a lot of information to take in, learn, and apply and the final exam is 30% of their final grade. But a lot of them may not know how to study for that kind of test. What if they've never had to do it? It's a 200 level class, so that's not unheard of. What if they have weaknesses in how to choose the best answer? How to write timed essays? How/what to memorize/identify as key events or people?

So, from day one, I explained that they would have a midterm, we would review for it, and I would grade it, but it would not figure in their final grades. It was to help them do their best on the final.
The class period before we reviewed types of questions, with them supplying the answers.
They then created "magical index cards." I gave each of them a single index card, which they could use however they want and have during the midterm. And here's why- because it's the creation of the card that helps the student. After the exam they turn in their test, their index card, the answer sheet, and short answers. I graded the exams, looked at what they missed, and looked to see if it was on their index card.

I posted a general announcement in Blackboard about common errors, things to consider to improve for finals, and how to use their midterms to prepare for both class (preparation, what to look for, take notes on) and for the final prep.

A couple of weeks ago my students in my Survey of Early English had their first big assignment- a 2-3 page close reading paper. They chose their own topics, and close readings. I supplied these guidelines, and encouraged them to share their line/passage choices before they started writing to make sure they were on the right track. I also always look at drafts as long as it's not within 24 hours of the deadline. Some did. Some didn't. But as I told the students (both before and after), the students who do so do better. They don't have to, but it's a resource available to them, and if they choose not to take advantage of it, that's okay, but it is a choice.
Before the assignment is due we also have a conversation about what they can expect from me:
  • I'll grade on Saturday, and post the grades on Blackboard as soon as I have them. They will always have their assignments back by the next class
  • I'll make lots of detailed notes on the first few paragraphs, but then when I see the same note I'll just comment "same note" and expect you to track it
  • I'll grade, not edit. This is not high school- I won't line edit the paper, making the corrections for you. If that's help they need, they should take advantage of the writing center
  • Other than those detailed comments, at the end of the paper I will make holistic comments about the overall impression I had of the paper, general weaknesses and strengths
  • I use highlighting to color code larger chunks (green = good, yellow = unclear, orange/red= issue) so you can see at a glance bits to work on
  • Grades are not negotiable, but if they don't know WHY they earned that grade, or want to learn how to fix it, sitting down to revise together, that's when they should come see me in office hours. These conversations cannot happen over email.
I have 23 students in the class, and a handful didn't pass. I graded the papers Saturday, and posted an announcement that they could revise (anyone, regardless of grade), with the revised grade replacing the original one. I have very specific guidelines for this revision:
  • You must upload the graded assignment, with my comments to Google Docs
    • I do this so I can track all the revisions
  • You will then revise based on my comments
    • These are both surface and broad revision comments
  • You will write me a cover letter that explains what you changed and why
  • They had one week to do it, and revisions would not be graded without the cover letter
We had fall break (we got Thursday and Friday off), the revisions were due Sunday at midnight, and we had our Week 8 check in surveys.

I do the revision for a couple of reasons. The first is this- most of my students told me that they'd never done a close reading before, and most struggled with the format/set up. Since this is the type of foundational writing most of them will do the next couple of years, I think it's important to teach. And this is how I explain it to the students- If I think it's important for them to learn it, then it is IMPORTANT THAT THEY LEARN IT.
So I let them revise. 
And one student told me in their cover letter that they'd never been given this chance. That they usually looked at their grade, and moved on, that they never looked at the comments and considered how they might use them to improve on the next assignment. 
So pretty much the opposite of everything we  WANT our students to do.
But here's the thing- part of the reason this student never thought of this is because they were never given the chance or taught to do this.

Before this assignment we had a conversation in class about what grades looked like (A, B, C), that a C was average, and it was okay to get a C. That they shouldn't buy the hype, there was nothing wrong with getting a C. I had a student email me and thank me for saying that.

Only a few students took advantage of the revision. And one student in the survey mentioned it, saying they didn't do it because they were just swamped with other things, and they didn't want me to think they didn't care about the class. After the close reading revisions, I made another announcement in class.  This time it was to make sure they knew that I did not hold grudges.
That at this point, they are adults. And they make choices. That it was okay to make the choice to not revise. To prioritize other work over this class, particularly if this was not your major.
BUT...
We also have the conversation that THAT IS A CHOICE. And while it's okay to make it, now that we were past midterms, we were also going to reach the point where these choices had serious consequences.

This past week the students had their multimedia travel narrative projects due. Again, they chose their own topics. I do this because students are more likely to do the work if it's something they're interested in. I tell them that if they liked their close reading topic they might want to expand on that, or complete this project as a variation of that topic, but if it turns out they hated the topic by the time they finished their close reading topic, that's okay too, they can change it.
Same thing- encouraged them to share ideas, and drafts as soon as they had them to get feedback.
It was due by midnight Thursday (it's a TR class). But I saw a couple of students after Tuesday's class who seemed a little stressed about the timeline. Because it's a multimedia project, and because those take more time, they were concerned that they wouldn't finish in time.

So I gave the class an extension until Saturday at midnight. And here's my logic- I grade on the weekend. So if I wasn't going to grade it until Saturday or Sunday, what did it hurt to give the students some extra time? The answer is nothing. It cost me nothing to do this.
And again, I had a student email me to thank me.
And the projects were great! I've encouraged them to share them under the class hashtag #E294HBM
I also used Google Forms to grade these. Usually I grade according to this type of guideline, mainly because I think students are clearer about what an "A" looks like versus a "C" rather than what 200 points means out of 300. I think letter grades are easier to talk about so far as achievement, stretch, and where they are versus where they want to be. I also like it, because as I tell them in class, the feedback, the comments, are the way they improve- the real point of the assessment.This is a paradigm shift for a lot of them, but I like to get them to shift their perspective and how they view their work- not focused on grades so much as on what they know, where they are, and where they want to be and how they get there.

I had a couple of students who didn't turn anything in. And I emailed then and asked them to touch base with me. One did, in a panic, having misread the deadline as Sunday midnight (this happens all the time- is midnight Saturday or Sunday? I never understand it, but I do get it if that makes sense). They politely explained their misunderstanding, and asked that I take it, understanding that it might result in a grade deduction, and understanding too that I did not need to take it, and if they earned the zero, they understood that was on them.

I took the assignment. And here's why I send out the email- because IF it's a legit reason, and IF the student cares about their work they will do what this student did, in exactly the way they did it. And that should be acknowledged. The rest, I'd like to hear from, because while I won't take the assignment at this point, if there's stuff going on with them, or they need help, I want to know that.

Also, because we've completed roughly 50% of the assignments in class (30% final exam, 20% final paper/project, plus a few reading/participation quizzes left) I also looked at everyone's cumulative grades this past weekend.

I admit up until this week, I have struggled with reporting grades this semester in this class, and we've talked about it in class. I put grades in Blackboard as soon as I grade. BUT because so much of their grade depends on the end of the semester performance, the "current" grade may or may not be an accurate reflection of how they're doing in the class. Other than making sure students know this, and talking about how they CAN use their grades, I've been stumped on how to address this (so I welcome any advice).

But halfway through, I do feel comfortable making some general statements.
So I emailed everyone with a D or F. I asked them to email me or come see me during office hours and identify specific actions they needed to take the last half of the semester in order to get the grade they needed/wanted. I also posted a more generalized statement in announcements. Asking them to think about what earned them their grade so far, what they were happy with, what they needed help with, what they needed to fix.

Each of these choices, these modeled reflections are specifically designed to accomplish a couple of clear goals:
  • Think out loud in class about how students can impact their learning, grades, and performance.
  • Provide resources that students can take advantage of to improve all of the above.
  • Model for the students strategies they can use to do better in ALL their classes.
  • Show the students the benefits of brainstorming, planning ahead, revising, taking advantage of office hours.
  • Force students to think critically through choice- choose a topic, explain why they chose it, weigh the benefits and downsides of certain approaches.
  • Be transparent with them about why we do what we do in class.
I think students do better when they have choice.
I think when students have input in their learning they do better.
I think students do better when you explain to them WHY we do the things we do.
I think that my classroom should be built around what is best for my students not what is convenient for me.
I think that constantly checking in with my students, and getting their input, reflecting myself on how to improve, makes my classroom better.

Mid semester is a great time to stop and reflect on class.
What's working?
What's not?
What are students struggling with?
WHY are they struggling?
How can you help?

I can tell you that all of this takes very little work and effort on my part. I present resources and help, but the onus is on the students. And if they're willing to put in the work, so am I. It's why I'm here.



Sunday, October 11, 2015

There and Back Again

A few weeks ago I had an interview for a fellowship and the Dean asked me why I was interested in teaching at a small liberal arts college (SLAC). The (unplanned) answer I gave clarified some things for me:
When I graduate Professor will be my title, but if you asked me what I was I would tell you I was a teacher.
And that's what I am. I am a teacher. I like researching. I like presenting at conferences. I like sharing my work and being published. But I am a teacher.
In the last year or so I've reflected a lot of what it means to be a teacher.
  • For me, it means being a social activist.
  • Being a part of the community you teach in so you know how best to serve your students, what tools they need.
  • Staying on top of news, but also technology, so you can not only present the content, but do it in the best way possible.

I was not happy when I taught high school in NC. I did not feel as though my work was appreciated, or that I was valued. But I think that had very little to do with my teaching and my students and everything to do with the environment. A small, rural, conservative Southern town was also not a great fit.

I was happy teaching in Brooklyn. I liked living in the neighborhood I taught. I loved my students. I knew my work, showing up every day, mattered and made an impact.

Every Friday I have set aside for applying to whatever new academic jobs have posted. This past Friday I applied to English Education jobs because my teaching experience makes me uniquely qualified to teach future English teachers.
It meant revising, and rethinking my application materials.
And I started thinking of other back up plans. And back up plan is the wrong phrase. It's more like alternate lives. Paths to take.
I've spent a lot of time on my runs with Nehi thinking about what happens next. Imagining our lives in a year. Where will we be? What will we be doing? Am I this person? That person? It's interesting to try on the imagining of a life and walk around in it, see if it fits.

Am I the type of person that could be happy working for the federal government?
Would I be happy working for the National Park Service?
What do these day to day lives look like?
Which road am I on?


And then I circle back to what I am. I am many things, but I am at heart I am a teacher. Have been since making my sister sit still so I can "teach" her through the McGuffey readers we had.

So I did some more research today, in between reading Old English scholarship, on teaching certification for high school in Albuquerque.
This plan has many benefits.
  1. My National Board teaching certification is recognized in New Mexico, so once I apply I'm automatically certified.
  2. It would be a salaried, benefited job.
  3. New Mexico has posted record teaching shortages, so I'm pretty sure I could get a job without a problem.
  4. It would mean saving money (as I'm currently living on $14,400 a year and student loans).
  5. It would mean no moving expenses, because my landlord loves me and I would just stay here.
I don't know if this would be a permanent solution. I'm at the point where I don't know a whole lot at this point. But it's something I could be happy doing.

It's not without issues, mainly Nehi. She's used to me being home. And she's crate trained. Eight hours is the limit of her crate, and a school day is usually longer than that. Yet I know people have dogs they leave longer than that for when they're at work, so I imagine we could work it out.


So, that's where we are today.
Me returning to high school teaching is back on the table. So I guess I need to start practicing not swearing again.
I've gotten a lot of snarky, condescending, comments about my posts of back up plans, alternate paths. Been told I'm giving up, that getting my PhD has been a waste of time, along those lines. The thing is, after Mom died, I needed something different. I wanted to see if I could do this, spread my wings some.
So no matter what happens, I don't think this is a waste of time. It has ensured I can do more than I could three years ago. That I had more opportunities. Which I do. So I wouldn't trade it.

I still want to be a unicorn. I still want an academic job as a professor.
But we'll see...



Saturday, October 3, 2015

New Project: Robin Hood, Folklore, and Nationalism

I watch movies to go to sleep. And this month has been gold for Netflix: Batman Begins, Bourne movies, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
A lot of times I wake up in the night and watch some sections, then fall asleep.
Last night/early this morning I was having a hard time sleeping. So I woke up during the end of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Towards the end of the movie, Morgan Freeman's character, Azeem, a Moor, stops the common people from fleeing the castle grounds and instead gives them a rousing speech to get them to support Robin Hood:
I am not one of you but I fight. 
I fight with Robin Hood.
I fight against the tyrants who hold you under his boot.
If you would be free men, then you must fight.

It's a rousing speech, and the result is the common people turn around and attack the soldiers.
I love this movie, but several things struck me-
  • The clear emphasis on the common people as a power or force to be reckoned with
  • The optics that even a black Moor could see the power of the English people (vomit)
  • The martial framing of the entire discussion
  • The clear class divisions between the common rabble versus the opulent tyrants
So, in the wee hours of the morning I thought about how all of this would make a great next project for me.
Examining the medieval/early modern Robin Hood tales through a folkloric lens, how they are a reflection of the historical and cultural moment, and what they say about the folk they claim to represent, and how folklore is used as a vehicle for issues of nationalism are all research interests for me.
I need to beef up my medieval/early modern publications, and this seems a good way to do it.
One thing I've struggled with though, is because I read literary texts through a folkloric lens, and place them in their historical and cultural context, that's more difficult in the medieval period, where lack of evidence makes this harder.
Not impossible. Just more difficult.
But the publication of the Robin Hood tales is late enough that I have more to work with.
So I think this will be fun.

I'm not sure when I'll be able to work on this, I'll be in the second round of revisions on #DevilDiss soon, but there will be downtime on that, and there's nothing that says I can't work on this in pieces.


Friday, October 2, 2015

#JobMarketing Fridays

 
It's the 2 October, which means we're now officially in job market season.
The day the MLA job list was released there were about 17 jobs that I qualified for, and I'm up to +/- 28 (there are a couple I'm not sure about, but more on that later).
Because I am who I am, I had color coded lists and plans for this job market season.
  • I printed out all the ads from Vitae, MLA, and Higher Ed, highlighted all the pertinent information to address in cover letter, and made notes on each after researching their courses
  • I then added each job to my tracking spreadsheet
    • I put them in order of when the application was due
    • I tried to put as much information as possible so that it was a solid "at-a-glance" spreadsheet 
    • I shared this, along with my other job market materials, with my committee members
  • As I applied, I changed the color coding on the spreadsheet, as well as marking off my hard copy
  • Many of the applications I completed two weeks ago, so I had notes to go back after 1 October (when I asked for recommendation letters by) to send off letters
As of today, I have applied for 21/28 jobs.
There are a couple of jobs I'm still on the fence about applying for. I know with the statistics being what they are, that choosy is not something I can be. While there are some ads I've gotten more excited than others, I think I'd be happy at them all. The only thing I've been hesitant about were jobs in cities, because I do have a 70 lb. dog and I did promise her a yard, so I worry about that, but I still applied. That's a cross that bridge conversation.

A couple other jobs I'm still trying to figure out. Almost all the jobs I've applied for are early modern ones.  Last year, and the year before there were a lot that straddled/collapsed the medieval and early modern periods, which I'm perfectly tailored for. But this year that trend reversed. So almost all of my jobs this year were early modern ones. There are a few medieval ones, which because of my dissertation and research interests, I could make an argument for. Except some of them say Middle English language versus medieval literature, and if they want someone who can teach language, Old English, and history of the English language, that's where my uncertainty comes in, despite finishing Old English fluency this semester. And unfortunately, I have gotten pretty conflicting advice on this, so I'm still mulling. Because I got an early start on these applications though, I have time to think and spare before deadlines, so we'll see.

At this point except for some of the medieval jobs which I'm still waiting on some stuff/info on, I've applied to all the early modern jobs posted.
 
I'm getting my daily HigherEd emails, so jobs are trickling in, and at this point, versus big, day long applying marathons like I've done the past couple of weeks, I'll apply as these appear.
I'm also checking the MLA joblist for updates (one was there today that wasn't when I last looked) and Vitae for anything not popping up in Higher Ed.
There are things that have helped this process:
  • Having solid documents to start with, that were edited and revised by classmates, professors, and my social media support network for WEEKS and MONTHS before the jobs even posted, was really helpful. As ads have come in, and I've tailored documents I've felt confident doing that because the templates were so strong.
  • Having a system (color coding, files) has helped me feel like I'm not missing anything.
  • I am very grateful to my recommenders for getting stuff to me so quickly, particularly as one is on the East Coast and one is in Europe this year with another on sabbatical.
But there have been a couple of hiccups:
  • Interfolio is great. But no one told me anything about it, and I could have used the help. I paid the yearly fee, and paid $42 dollars to send out recommendation letters this morning. Because I didn't know that applying through the MLA joblist meant I DIDN'T HAVE TO PAY. That would have been nice to know ahead of time.
  • I wish I got more input/advice about which ads I could stretch for and which ones I shouldn't.
  • As I said, prepping materials early has been a great help, but I wish there was more immediate advising once the job list came out. Having more ME as in tailored towards me not Middle English :-) specific advice also would have been nice.
  • As with everything else, I'm trying to be transparent about my job hunt, as I am with my teaching and scholarship. But more than with those other topics, I'm getting a lot of negative responses to the job market. I'm trying to ignore it, but it's hard. I get people have been burned by the job market and academics but that's not MY fault, so people can take their crap elsewhere.
  • Then of course, there's the very real, very simple fact that what I do the next couple of weeks will determine the entire course of my life.

One nice thing about only being on campus two days a week, and not during times others are  is that I'm not having to answer any questions about how's it going?  How many jobs? I think I'd do okay with those questions, but it's kind of nice not having any added stress.
The flip side of that though is there's no one to commiserate with!
I only know two others (who were in the job seekers' workshop) who are on the market this year, and I don't know how it's going. When we were still in the workshop I said I'd be willing to look at stuff, but no one has reached out. So...

But I do have a great social media network, particularly everyone on Twitter has been great.

At this point, with the bulk of things done, there's just the worrying in the down time.
  • When will I hear about whether or not I made the first cut for interviews? One responded with 18 December.
  • Were my recommendation letters good enough?
  • Did I tailor cover letters enough?
  • Did I explain my research context enough?
  • I've booked MLA flight and hotel already, but how much prep time will I have? I've heard nightmare stories about people not notified until a few days before.





 
And the thing is, I can't control any of that. In fact, once the job applications are submitted, I can't really control anything.

I want to be a college professor. I think I'd be good at it. Obviously.
But I'm also prepping some back up plans. I am following @USAJOBS and I have it marked in my planner come January that if I don't have any academic interviews, to start applying for federal jobs so I can (hopefully) be employed come graduation.
I'm trying not to stress about anything past May- how I'm paying bills or where I'm going to live, or if I'll have a job. I'm admittedly not doing so great with all that, but I'm trying. 
Here's to being a unicorn...