Making the Most of the Summer

Making the Most of Summer Plans

This time a year ago, I finished my degree and headed into the summer unsure of what to do with myself. It was only in hindsight that I thought critically about how to invest one’s time and energy over the summer. (Those thoughts are documented here.) This year, I’m taking a more proactive approach and creating a plan for the summer before it begins. Here, I describe the decisions I’ve made in terms of my teaching, structuring my time for research, and reading for professional enrichment. Continue reading

A Week in the Life of an Assistant Professor

This year I transitioned from graduate school to the professoriate. I was one of the lucky few to get an increasingly rare tenure-track job in the Humanities. It’s been about six months since I started my new job, which has caused me to reflect on the transition and on how I spend my time. It probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me that, with a few exceptions, the demands post-PhD are harder to balance than the demands of graduate school. The economic precarity of graduate school may be behind me, but employment pre-tenure is still precarious and my time feels even more valuable. I’m sharing with you a few lessons-learned, to shed some light on how an assistant professor spends an average week. (The original version of this blog post is available at on Teaching Academia.) Continue reading

On National Conferences

Now that the holidays are behind us, hundreds of Humanities PhDs and PhD-seekers are back to thinking about national conferences, whether because they have scheduled interviews there or due to the more general networking possibilities these conferences bring. The first half of this post is dedicated to preliminary interviews…and, specifically, the awkwardness of interviewing at national conferences such as the upcoming MLA 2019 Annual Convention or the AHA 2019 Annual Meeting (both being held in Chicago). I’ve included my list of preliminary interview questions to prepare at the end of the section. Part two of this post is about networking at these mammoth conferences beyond interviews. Networking doesn’t always come naturally to everyone, so I’ve compiled a list of ideas and techniques for networking if you’re not sure where to start.

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“That New Hire Needs Your Help” — A Response

(This blog post was written in response to Jane S. Halonen and Dana S. Dunn’s Chronicle of Higher Education article, That New Hire Needs Your Help.)

I’d like to start off by thanking Professors Dunn and Halonen for their thoughtful and compassionate article, “That New Hire Needs Your Help.” I am a new hire in my department as of August and I’ll admit that when I saw this article pop up in my inbox, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that someone was concerned about my adjustment to my new job.

As they rightly point out, “sometimes the stakes are really low and the politics vicious.” In what follows, I would like to elaborate on this point and also contribute one or two points that I feel were missing from their list. I hope that my anecdotal evidence will prompt those of you who are concerned with the welfare of your new faculty to heed one or two of my requests. Continue reading

How to Write a Book Proposal

This whole post could probably be distilled into one single PRO-TIP.

PRO-TIP: Start thinking about your book proposal way before you think you need to. An significant number of presses will expect to see projects that already have a fair amount of momentum behind them.

More and more these days, presses (university or otherwise) are asking for supplemental information along with book proposals. The basics are all the same, but many presses  would now like for you to be well-connected socially. In other words, they want to see evidence of an audience, marketability, or of your book’s momentum. We’ll return to this quandary in a moment. Continue reading