Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Job letter

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Dear Chair:

I'm writing to apply for the literature job you advertised in the MLA Job Information List and in the Chronicle. I've been combing the ads obsessively for months now, and I was really happy to see a job with less than a 4-4 load come open. Who am I kidding? I was just happy to see a job, period. I sounded your name out and tried to imagine what you look like, but all I see is a manila folder on a table in a conference room.

See, I'm unemployed. I've done lots of stuff, and I've taught lots of classes, but right now, no job-o! Funny how that can happen. Anyway, I'm super-over-qualified, way too old and entitled, disturbingly savvy edging on bitter, and basically disbelieving that anybody who isn't young and feminine and push-around-able and exploitatively, naively enthusiastic can get a job in an English department nowadays. Heck, who am I kidding? In any department. But I thought I'd apply anyway.

I should tell you about my cv and publications because I know you won't read them. I've published lots of stuff, smart stuff and really crazy dumb stuff, and my book will be out next spring. I've taught for forever, and I mean, forever. I'm theoretical, psychoanalytic, and close-readerly. I've taught composition (I actually love teaching composition), Thackeray, Derrida, Woolf, Rushdie. I can recite the entire script of the film "Paris is Burning" by heart. I know enough famous academics for them to run away when they see me making a beeline for them with a drink in my hand at a cash bar.

I would love to work at your university. I haven't heard anything especially exciting about your town, but everyone knows you are a nice department, and I figure I could have some sort of mini-farm on the outskirts if I moved there. I get fat eating out anyway, so lack of restaurants isn't a problem. I'm happy to teach anything you want, serve on orals and dissertation committees, and generally help the department pretend that it's ok to train grad students for jobs that won't be there. I promise to pretend that what we do is relevant, and I'm prepared to certify that I believe these dark days of political conservatism, religious intolerance, homophobia, privatization, and intelligent design are just a blip on the radar screen of democracy, allowing us to go on doing what we do pretty much as if it's 1965. Oh, and I know about the monasteries you are building out there for the End Times, to preserve the books and all in the Dark Ages to come, and I think it's a great idea. As our Aristophanes, Tom Wolfe may need transcribing by someone at some point, and I have pretty good penmanship.

So I hope you'll consider my application. I plan to go to MLA in DC in December, how I have no idea because my car will never make it, but maybe my dad will give me one of his I'm-a-guy-so-I-don't-give-presents Christmas checks a little early and I'll get a ticket. Please, please interview me. Please. Oh, and I can't really afford an interview suit unless I know I'm going to use it, so let me know in time hit Lane Bryant for blazers, will ya?

Good luck reading through 500 applications. I'll be lighting candles to the Goddess and checking my email every 20 minutes until I hear from you.

Sincerely, Sfrajett


Stewgad said...

This is so true it is painful. It is the letter we all want to write to these things, and perhaps is the letter that the committees need to hear. But, it will remain safely anonymous here in the blogosphere -- a testament to the words that need saying but can never be said.

By the way, I think yours is one of the smartest blogs on the web. I look forward to every new post.

Sfrajett said...

Thank you stewgad! I just got so feeling full of bullshit writing my job letter, I needed to write a real letter. Thanks for getting that the spirit of it isn't mean or even especially cynical, just exasperated, with a teaspoon of tired thrown in.

dr. m(mmm) aka The Notorious P.H.D. said...

This would have been much funnier if it wasn't so true. I'll light a candle for you.

All the End Times tropology should make our medievalist friends happy, I suppose.

Carroll, Violinguist said...

I think you should send this anonymously to a hiring committee. It's absolutely hilarious. I'm sure hiring committees need a good laugh...and knowing a committee will read this might give you just enough naughty-pleasure-feeling to help you surmount the doldrums of being unemployed.

At the very least, you should send it to the Chronicle; I'm sure they'd print it--and don't they pay a couple hundred dollars for their "First Person" columns, or am I dreaming? If they do, well, then there's your new suit!

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