All right, let's get that gloomy post out of the top of the blog for now, shall we?
added half way through post: and let's replace it with another passionate gloomy post, why not? Because today is the day in which "the touch of gloom" is upon me (hahahaha) and nothing I write can be truly cheerful even though I do feel pretty cheerful, not overly gloomy, right now. ;)
Isn't it ironic that the first page proofs for my article that is to be published in a prestigious journal in Brazil (and which was the final positive impulse I needed to "cheerfully" submit my application last year) was emailed to me yesterday?
I looked at it today and it's just so beautiful! Real print (even through a PDF) is just gorgeous, seriously! The essay made me feel like I should just sit down and try to write more, but only about the things I love.
I have so much passion for so many things! So many authors, so many subjects, about literature and knowledge and history!
Passion doesn't really matter in academia. OK, it does to a certain point, but not centrally, and not really if you think it through. And does passion matter anywhere else in the workplace nowadays?
Being really smart, outstandingly articulate, exceptionally well-read (the right things, mind you!), learning to follow the rules, thinking and writing rationally, absorbing what came before (theory, especially) and spitting it out in eloquent language, building up on what cam before you and demonstrating rationally that you are adding to it and how, following prescribed theories and current buzz words, fitting in, doing what's "on" and deemed relevant to the consensus of learned scholars in your area, etc...
THESE MATTER in academia and I don't value some of those things as much as others. I mean, sure, I will read the literature, but I may not agree with it and... of course, I now know that I have real, physical trouble engaging with some materials (my ADD). Oh, and I didn't "tackle" the subject I wrote about in the traditional way, so that was a big "sin" right there.
The problem is that passion alone -- being passionate for teaching, having students be passionate about your teaching, being passionate about the authors and issues you care for -- does NOT count, not for a TT job. It only counts if you're wiling to sacrifice that passion to requirements I listed in the paragraph above and I didn't do that. It's partly my fault and partly the problem Anastasia describes in this post (which I want to comment more on later).
If you have the passion, the intelligence and the drive, but you do not package it the right way (bathed in theory that is accepted and current and in "fashion" even) and... in my case, if you don't go to the right phd program and study with the right people.
So... I do not fit in (my scholarship itself is unusual) and I never really have fit in. It doesn't surprise me in the least when they don't call me for interviews and in the only interview I ever heard the first question was, with a quizzical look: "why is your dissertation about this topic?"
The only reason I applied for the job at my current institution is that it would have been total foolishness not to. What if the starts aligned or something and the unthinkable happened -- they liked what they saw on paper? (ridiculously convoluted writing ahead: though I suppose that this would be really really hard for this group of men because they had seen me in person very often what good would the "looking good on paper" do when they knew what I looked like and was like in person? I think that's definitely a factor, even though it should NOT be).
I feel that a passionate person like me is destined to go through life receiving multiple huge cold water showers or splashes (that comes straight from Portuguese in which "um banho de água fria"-- a cold water shower/bath -- means a really discouraging event). I am slowly becoming jaded and less passionate simply because I'm getting tired of getting wet and shivering...
In academic circles, passion and originality don't matter as much as eloquence (or being articulate and fully conversant in complex opaque theories), relevance to what the founders of the field consider important, and the right key words and subjects do. I urge you to convince me of the contrary, I really do. In fact, being genuine, warm & passionate is sometimes the opposite of what many scholars are like because the field makes stiffness and smugness (and unapproachableness!) the proper behaviors.
Oh, yeah, and I think that this post is much more helpful in convincing me that in fact a TT job is not for me than the previous one, and that I should simply become an advocate for more stable and reliable lecturer work (which I will, that's for sure). And... if someday something (tt) comes up, I'll gladly take it!
There, this is not gloomy anymore, is it?
Let Tomorrow Come Tomorrow
2 minutes ago