Job Market

Dispatches from the Dissertation (Part 10), the Job Market, and Pedagogical Fun

So I wrote my dissertation Introduction. I purposefully waited until I had the chapters drafted before starting the Intro. I know some people take the opposite approach, and I tend to start with the Intro on shorter pieces of writing. But for my dissertation (Which Is Now Hovering Around The 250 Page Mark OMG What On Earth), I really needed to know what I was saying before I could try to figure out how to introduce it. Out of all of the drafts I’ve written thus far, I think I might feel most confident in the Intro. And that’s not because I’m not also confident in the chapters, but it’s because I think that purely by way of continuous writing practice/feedback/revision in this project, I can see pay offs. The intro draft benefits from all I’ve learned along the way. Plus, the dissertation workshop class I participated in this semester really helped me to get a better sense of how my writing comes across to readers and how I can continue to improve as I make revisions leading up to the defense. If your department and/or university offers a class like this, I would definitely recommend taking it. Admittedly, sending out pieces of your writing to a bunch of people can be stressful, but I think the good outweighs the bad. At least, it did for me. Plus, I got to talk about a topic that I love quite a bit, which was an added bonus.

Lamb Chop, Hush Puppy, and Charlie Horse meme with the Song that Never Ends

I’m working on my Conclusion now, and I find something deeply ironic about crafting an ending to a project about remakes, reboots, etc…

In other news, I’ve also spent most of this semester deeply enmeshed in the academic job market. I’m probably not going to post too many specific details at this juncture, but I can say that I’ve applied to a fair amount of jobs, most of which have their own particular requirements for application. What this means, if you intend to go on the market, is that you’ll need a significant amount of time in order to complete applications. For me, this has meant being even for more intentional about keeping my schedule. It has also meant that I have had to work more often on the weekends. I say all of this to say that dissertating, applying for jobs, and teaching simultaneously is a heavy load that will require increased time management, planning, etc. For me, I think it’s worth it. I’m pretty clear about what I want to do (whether it pans out in reality is TBD). For some though, the whole process might not be worthwhile (for a variety of reasons). And I think that’s totally valid and reasonable! I’ve been happy to see more and more programs and professors discussing futures outside the professoriate this year because I think it’s important and necessary. But there’s still a long way to go on that front.

I got to teach Intro to Pop Culture this semester, which is a class that I’ve wanted to teach for most of my PhD career. The relatively open parameters of the class allowed me to incorporate an assortment of my research interests into the class (the syllabus is accessible on the syllabus tab). By the end, most of my students had noted that while they knew about pop culture when the semester started, they’d never thought about it (and its various tentacles) in as much depth as we did in the class. This is the kind of thing that I love about the material I research. I love taking something that is often interpreted as commonplace or irrelevant or unimportant and really digging into what lies beneath the surface. For the final project of the class, we developed a collaborative alphabet of what the students believed to be the most important/influential figures/people/ideas in pop culture. You can check that out here.

In my upcoming final semester at OSU, I’m scheduled to teach Digital Media Composing for the second time. If you’ve been following along here for a while, you might recall that Digital Media Composing was the class I was teaching when I started this site. It remains one of my favorites out of all of the classes I’ve ever taught, and I’m excited to take another swing at it. In terms of digital media itself, so much of it has changed since Fall 2016, and I can’t wait to jump into it with a new group of students.

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Dispatches from the Dissertation (and the Impending Job Market), Part 8

Yesterday, I sent a revised version of my first chapter to my committee for the first time. I made revisions based on feedback I received from my advisor on the first draft, reverse outlining I did at a retreat earlier this year, and a meeting with my advisor a few weeks ago, in which we discussed devoting more attention making sure each chapter’s argument is evident as well as establishing throughlines throughout the four chapters, now that they’ve all been drafted.

I definitely feel more comfortable working from the drafts than I did creating the drafts (surprise!). There was a lot of cutting, a lot of adding, a lot of rewording, a lot of rethinking, etc. And I’m sure there’ll be more in the future once I get feedback from my committee. But it feels like I’m in a good place. Summers can be difficult because the openness of the schedule can make it harder to focus when needed. I try to balance that out my creating a set schedule habit for my work days that I (mostly) stick to. I also started out the summer by setting goals/deadlines for myself to work toward. For example, one of the goals for this month is to revise chapter two and send that to my committee. Part of the bigger picture for me has been trying to have as much done as I possibly can before the fall semester kicks off because life and teaching and writing and the job market is…a hefty load. It’s not that I don’t think I can manage it, but if I can alleviate some of the pressure ahead of time, I definitely want to do so.

Speaking of the job market, I’ve been collaboratively working on the development of job market materials with some colleagues this summer, and I’ve found that to be incredibly useful. This is an idea that I got from Maia L. Butler and Krista Benson, and the idea is pretty straightforward. On a weekly basis, we share job market document drafts and provide feedback to one another. We’ve been at it for about a month now, and we’re almost done with what we’d planned to work on. I now have drafts of the majority of the job market documents I’ll likely need, and instead of creating from scratch, I can focus on revising and retooling as needed this fall. It might seem like we started early, but having already seen some fellowship and job posting with August and September deadlines, I’m actually really happy that we did start early.

I suppose the theme of this post is planning/thinking ahead. I’ve always done a fair amount of that, but going into my final year of grad school (🙏🏾), it’s been on my mind even more than usual. I don’t know what all is going to happen in this next school year, but I’m ready for it.

Title screen from BSG that says "And they have a plan"

My first chapter is about BSG, so this seemed apropos.

(Some of y’all are thinking “WHAT? IT’S JULY! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?” I’m like that sometimes too, but also, I was the kid that was definitely ready to go back to school by a smooth August 1st at the latest. This is all very on brand for me.)

Dispatches From the Dissertation, Part 7 (plus some other stuff)

Today in posts I meant to be able to make approximately 3-4 weeks ago…

Jessie Spano's caffeine pill induced time related panic

I just sent my advisor my fourth chapter draft (it’s actually going to be the third chapter in the diss, but I wrote them slightly out of order). I think that this is maybe the lengthiest one of all four, which is funny because I was (mildly) trying to write less.

Alas.

Now that I have the four chapters drafted, I’m going to be focusing on revision (I’ve already done some revision on two of them, but I need to do more focused overhauls/additions based on some changes I made to my structure after those drafts). I’m still putting off the Introduction and Conclusion for now because I want to make sure the chapters make sense (and make sense together) before I jump into those parts. The goal is to graduate next spring, and so far, so good.

In the last post, I mentioned that I’m teaching a summer class this year. It’s an online class, and we’re still a couple of weeks away from the start date, but I’ve been trying to have everything pretty much ready for it beforehand. Ideally, I’d actually like to make the course site available by the end of next week, so students have some time to get acclimated, peruse the available materials, etc. I think I can probably meet that goal. The main thing I’m working on right now is captioning the videos I’ve recorded, which is both an important and mildly humorous experience. Some of the interpretations of my speech that I end up having to correct are wild. I’m happy to it though, and I’m glad it’s pretty easy to manage with what Youtube has available.

The class itself is an Introduction to Fiction class, and I’m looking forward to it, in part, because I’m not typically scheduled to teach literature classes (my MA is in English & American Literature, but I pivoted to Media Studies for the PhD). Since I prefer to teach things I like whenever possible, the class is going to utilize two YA fantasy novels: Sherri L. Smith’s Orleans and Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation. I read and enjoyed both of these books these year, and I think (or hope?) they’ll both do a good job of capturing my students’ attention as well as providing plenty of material that my students can work with to grow as critical readers, thinkers, and writers.

In addition to diss revisions and summer teaching, I’m also working on drafting job market documents this summer. It’s a little bit wild to be at this point actually. I’ve been in grad school since…2012, and while I did graduate from one program and start another, going on the job market will really be the first big professional life change I’ve had in a while. Y’all may recall that I was a secondary teacher in the past, and in both 2010 and 2011, I think I applied to 40+ teaching jobs each year. Those applications also tend to be lengthy, so I have at least some familiarity with the complexity of such a process. I also know that the academic job market is basically in shambles right now, so I’m very much trying to avoid putting my eggs in one basket. That being said, I’m completely clear about what kinds of work I want to do. Now I just need to convince someone to hire me to do it 😛