December 8th, 2003

Fishy Circumstances

Webpage conversion

I'm slowly converting my webpages to use C.'s cunning template script. I'm doing any major redesigns in the process. That'll be a different set of efforts entirely. Instead, I'm trying to make it easy for me to make large-scale changes to my websites easily, to make it easy to add and remove pages with minimal fiddling and editing. Also, I'm changing the colors (finally) to make it legible. I've uploaded the first portion, but won't link to it until I've filled in a few of the gaps with links to currently non-existent pages.

My current goals are to convert all the pages to use the script and to provide more content about medieval technology, since that's where most of my hits are coming from. (When I can find out what the hits are... recently the hosting service hasn't been generating the list for subdomains, and C.'s script for doing the same requires python elements which don't exist under MacOs, annoyingly.)
Fishy Circumstances


Late in the evening on Friday, with various PhD students and one faculty member gathered around at a pub, we discussed titles. The U.S. and Canada aren't big on titles. They aspire to be societies of social equality, where titles are largely reserved for an elected few. If someone with a PhD calls themselves Doctor, they run the risk of being called upon when there's a heart attack. Putting the initials PhD after one's name looked pretentious.

It's different in Germany and Italy, and elsewhere as well, I presume. In Germany right now, I'd be a Doctoranda, a perfectly good title to denote my current progress towards earning this degree. Once the degree is achieved, I would legally be referred to as Doktor. The language would not confuse me with a medical doctor. The title legally required is clear under the circumstances. In Germany, a university level teaching position comes with the title "Herr Professor Doktor" (for men).

In England, it's different. The word "professor" is reserved for university instructors who hold endowed chairs. The title denotes a much higher status within the hierarchy of academia than it does in Canada and the U.S., where any university instructor can be called a professor without too many people making a fuss over it. (To be fair, many will still argue that one should at least hold a PhD in order to deserve the title). University-level instructors are Lecturers or Readers in a specific area, and addressed as Ms. or Mr. In the U.S., Mr. or Ms. as a title usually means that the person in question does not hold a PhD, and, odds are good, that they are specifically teaching at a primary or secondary school.

In Germany, I would be Doctoranda Worthen right now. My students have called me Professor Worthen all semester, which is appropriate only in the sense that I was the course instructor - I don't hold the degree yet, and if I were working in England, it is quite likely that I would never hold a position which would make me eligible to be referred to as Professor. I don't know where I will end up working - possibly some other country entirely that the ones where I know anything about titles, the ones I have mentioned here. (Although if any of you know more about titling in these or any other countries, I would love to know more.)

It's strange to think that this semester, before I even have a PhD, could be the last time I will ever be referred to as a professor.