Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Without Apologies

I'm trying not to feel bad that I don't post on here more often (hence the post title). I'm posting more and more regularly on my blog under my real name, and my film work has kept me increasingly busy (for those of you who remember my angst over all the rejections my film had received, I'll update by saying that it has screened in more than 15 festivals, a few of which were very strong fests, and has won three different "Best Feature" awards).

Anyway, the thing that prompted me to post today was New Kid on the Hallway's revelation that her 3rd year review was unsuccessful, and that she has been given a terminal contract for next year. Sometimes, this field doesn't make much sense.

By "this field," I mean "academia" -- New Kid and I don't share the same field (she's a medieval historian, I believe, and I'm a filmmaker). But since I'm on the tenure track, too, and am very angsty about what I need to do to get tenure (and am on approximately the same point on the tenure journey that she's on), this news hit me hard.

From all appearances, New Kid is a dedicated and thoughtful teacher and scholar who puts much time into both of those activities. And while I don't know her work specifically, from her postings on the subjects, I can tell that she is precisely the kind of person a school would should want working for it.

As I said, sometimes academia doesn't make much sense. This finite tenure clock makes people think and do crazy things (to whit: there's a reason I'm posting this on an anonymous blog). The fact that you have to justify your existence every year in such a bizarre way strikes me as problematic. The idea that you have to publish a book (for most academics, anyway) to get tenure is especially problematic in light of the crisis in academic publishing these days (not to mention how market-driven even academic publishing is; in a sense, the projected financial popularity of a book plays a bigger role in determining someone's tenure than anyone wants to admit).

I don't mean to condemn the entirety of academia here. In fact, the faculty in my department tend to be open minded and considerate (for the most part -- and you know I mean it because I can say whatever I want to on here).

But this kind of thing does give one pause. Here's hoping that New Kid lands on her feet somewhere that makes her very happy.