Thursday, September 22, 2005

Things I did today

I found another four jobs to apply to today. So I started tackling the cover letter in a serious manner. I have more on it in the post down below. I did not make any progress on how to address my lack of teaching experience. The only possible way out of this catch-22 I can see is if I get a post-doc which has a teaching component. I found one today, but I suspect the ideological black list problem even greater with these positions. My understanding is that the selection of post-docs is even more subjective than assistant professors.

I finally got some work done on one of the encyclopedia articles. I wrote half of the article on Ukraine. I will finish it up in the next couple of days and e-mail it to the editor. After that I will have two left to write. These short general articles are pretty easy to write.

I wrote up to page 70 in Catherine's Grandchildren. Although for a while I thought I was not going to be able to get the file open on my other lap top. That would have meant the loss of 13 pages of text, a week's worth of pretending to work. Fortunately, I did get it to open and did save it to a floppy disk. I think I am also going to load it onto this laptop and save a copy in my e-mail. I hate it when technology conspires against me. Like academia I have no understanding how it works so I am completely at its mercy.

What I did write today on Catherine's Grandchildren, however, was quite interesting. The Volga German ASSR had its own limited foreign policy. Part of this consisted of economic and cultural exchanges with Weimar Germany. But, a more interesting part was its active encouragement of recent emigrants to return. In a strange replay of Catherine II's original recruitment of German settlers to the Volga, the Volga German ASSR offerred free land to returning emigres. They also had agents in Germany and the US working on persuading recent refugees to return just as the Russian Empire had touts in Central Europe. It does not appear that they persuaded many people to return. Russian-German migration out of the USSR greatly exceeded return migration during the 1920s. Still it is a fascinating little episode. One of the few cases in which a national territory in the USSR received permission from Moscow to conduct its own foreign operations.


Frank said...

Not that I should be giving anyone advice about job hunting (due to my own current woes), especially of the academic variety (since I'm not an academic), but why don't you try saying "I haven't taught much, but here's how I'd do it..."? Might count for something.

J. Otto Pohl said...

Frank, yes I am going to have to construct a theoretical method of teaching. Actually, I don't think my class room lectures would be any different from those I have given in front of various groups already.

The problem of course is that even a little teaching expereince by some other applicant trumps all my publications, presentations and cool British degree. I think I might have better odds waiting for Ukraine to start offering me goodies to "return" to the land of great grandparents.

KRISTIN said...

Can you enable e-mail sharing on your posts? It's very handy way sometimes when someone finds a particular post interesting for someone else and wants to send it to them. And there's no links for your separate articles either. I'm in a hurry, I'm talking rubbish LOL, sorry. Hope you got the idea of what I just said :))


J. Otto Pohl said...


I think I have enabled the e-mail feature. The one I did not know about until I saw your comment. I hope it works.

Frank said...

Yes, you do have the email sharing thingie on. It's the little envelope icon with the arrow. It's next to the timestamp.

Camicao said...

I really look forward to teaching general courses in history as well as more specialized ones in my area of expertise. In a survey of modern European history I would engage students by introducing interdisciplinarity through the discussion of key films, works of music and famous paintings. A careful analysis of Picasso's Guernica, for example, as well as Robert Capa's photographs of the Spanish Civil War, helps bring the past to life, and excite students about learning history. In a more advanced, thematic course on Orientalism, I would introduce students to the subtleties of historical thinking by having them read Said's "Orientalism" in conjunction with articles critiquing it, and help them understand the methodological and ideological crosscurrents of academic thinking. As a teacher, I would seek to guide my students to find their own answers, and always encourage them to be independent thinkers.

Otto, you can't pretend you have teaching experience. But you can sell your potential and your ideas. I don't know what the hell I'm talking about above, but the paragraph sounds like many of the teaching statemetns that have come across my desk when I chaired search committees in literature. Surely you can sell your potential, your ideas and your originality. Most importantly, your enthusiasm. If I'm reading your letter of application, I'm looking for a voice I can believe in. A voice I can imagine at the front of the classroom, inspiring students. Your lack of teaching experience may be real, but the issue at stake for your applications is a rhetorical and strategic one. You need to sell yourself in spite of whatever lack of experience you have. You need to make people imagine you as a teacher, regardless of that inexperience. You need to be passionate about teaching despite your lack of experience. You need to communicate confidence, originality and drive to teach and throw caution and insecurity to the wind. You need to go for it my friend,and write about what you would do in your classes. I said would, not what you did. WOULD. There are committees that will take a chance on you if you give them that much. I know I would. And I think my colleagues on past search committees would.