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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tenure Track

The tenure clock seems like a long time. Six years or seven. It's really not all that long, though. You have to adjust to the new condition of being an Assistant Professor, where the people judging your work are no longer your mentors, but your colleagues. They may or may not mentor you, but they do not have the same stake in your success as your dissertation advisor. If your dissertation is not already book-ready, you have to revise it, cannibalize it for articles, and/or start a new project. You've been in Graduate School a while, but you've never had to publish your work. Getting an A in the class does not mean your paper is a publishable article. Going to an ivy-league school does not mean you have been professionalized. You have to have made yourself a presence in your field, knowing people personally and gaining their respect. If grad school seemed hard, being an Asst. Professor is five times worse.

1 comment:

Clarissa said...

For me being an Asst. Prof. is a lot better than even being at the best graduate school ever. I like having the freedom to do what I like and the responsibility for my own decisions. I miss being mentored by more experienced colleagues, but the freedom is priceless. I still can't get used to this great feeling.

When I first started working as a Visiting prof., I kept persecuting senior colleagues with questions about how to teach my classes, readings to include, etc. "You can do whatever you want," they kept saying. "Just do what you want to do." I thought it was too good to be true, and I still do. :-)