Tuesday, February 17, 2009

personal ads (?)

emboldened to think aloud along these lines by both Andy Blubaugh's fabulous short film, "Hello, Thanks" (2005; info here, @ Andy's filmography), and Ondi Timoner's 2009 Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary, We Live in Public, i offer:

"tenured MWF (R/C) seeking ... "

ha. (?). i'm thinking that maybe the day will soon come when we use our blogs or other webspaces to formally advertise our virtues in ways that don't require committees to sift through our performances of professional and social selves in their efforts to tease out potential "fit." i keep hearing that this is already happening via (insert social networking source here). i've seen it in blog entries, in tweets and in FB status lines. our comments about job searches happen in ways both clandestine and out there. generally, people know. would it be so awful to be candid about it?

i'm talking about the emergence of a straight up "i-need-a-job-and-here-is why-you-should-hire-me" genre.

i suspect that we believe we are already behaving publicly in ways that invite potential employer speculation, and i wonder about the extent to which this infiltrates our prior-and-possibly-quite-intensely-productive sense of mission about our discursive online presence(s). i'm thinking about Craig Saper's 2006 Reconstruction 6.4 (2006) piece, "Blogademia," in which he describes some of the fears we might associate with blogging (many tenure commitees take a dim view of them, Saper suggests) but also about the kinds of cultural work that academic blogs reveal through "a desire to lay-bare the machinations of academia." in other (fancier) words, "[B]logademia," Saper writes," resists the hegemonic academic machine." might a personal ad similarly resist the genre of the job search in productive if not frightfully honest ways?

sidebar(ish): at the very least, structuring one's job search via a personal ad might enable a job seeking candidate to put oneself out there in ways that distance her/him from the implausible veil of secrecy regarding what's going on, liberating her/him in a variety of soul-sustaining ways. and perhaps it would encouage search committees to be a bit more accountable to 2 rather than 1-way flows of information (regarding acknowledgements, timelines, and rejections, say).

i'm tempted to reproduce huge swatches from Saper's insightful piece, but instead, i'll compress with 2 of the culminating questions he smartly poses. just after citing a scary comment about how some academics view blogging as "frivolous" ... "non peer-reviewed" (Burgess) --the latter pointing me to Academic Evolution's "revelation" that "peer-review is vanity publishing" -- a wild series of considerations i haven't had time to indulge in because of my brand spanking new 4/4 status at our fabulous new university! -- Saper compellingly asks:

"What if blogs' gossip demonstrated a structure (a type of knowledge), rather than expressions of speakers' situations and passions? What if the apparent opposition between scholarly knowledge and gossip was more porous than one might suspect? " (emphasis mine).

i was going to emphasize only key terms from this passage, but i want to emphasize the questions in their entirety, instead. because, speaking only for myself, i believe that a.) search committees are already viewing blog knowledge as knowledge that forms (or at least contributes to) the basis of critical evaluations (thus, as, well, knowledge), and b.) that that opposition is p-r-i-t-t-y porous already (and maybe especially now), and as such, it's available for commentary and critique.

so maybe we will soon be seeing the emergence of a bold new(ish) genre that enacts a kind of intervention whereby we might stop pretending that scholarly knowledge and gossip aren't uniquely interrelated ... something straightforward and direct, even if a bit suited up (or not) and formal ... something like a personal ad.

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