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Medievalist Job Market Round Table

At the Leeds Medieval Studies Congress this week, I'm on a roundtable discussion about the job market in multiple countries. Now while it's true I've taught in Canada and held part-time faculty positions in England and America, plus applied to a fair number of jobs along the way, I can't say as how I feel I necessarily know much about the market more broadly.

I occasionally browse the AHA's reports on the History market generically. I have lots of anecdotal information about job-getting experiences. But I would love to have more input in advance from any of who you can comment on the job market for medievalists, from any angle.



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 8th, 2007 09:39 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Jul. 8th, 2007 08:36 am (UTC)
Pure medieval (history) IME is still a tough market -- there are enough candidates that even half-assed schools can be choosy. The market does seem to be opening up a bit -- anecdotally, I'm hearing that apps per job are down from about 150 to just under a hundred on average.

I was on the market for a full-time gig, aimed at 'teaching' schools, for 3 years, although I had FT visiting contracts that whole time. My impression, FWIW, is that the pure medieval jobs, especially at places with a 3-2 or lower load are still rarer, and go to people with both solid teaching experience and impressive research credentials.

Having said that, Medieval historians can kick ass in the pre-modern 'teaching school' market -- if they have a broader base of coursework and teaching experience. People with experience teaching the first half of the survey (world- or western civ) have a real advantage. I'm not sure why, but most of the pre-mod 'utility player' jobs do seem to go to medievalists. Oh -- also, since so many small liberal arts colleges have religious affiliations, they (especially the Catholic ones) seem to always want someone with training in a more traditional core, i.e., medieval.
Jul. 8th, 2007 09:41 am (UTC)
Thank you for the nutshell retrospective. I was hoping you'd weigh in!

(I'm teaching world civ. for the first time this fall.)
Jul. 8th, 2007 09:31 pm (UTC)
Remember,it's entirely different in it's approach. World civ is the lumper's form of history -- splitting will make things very difficult for the students. You have to be willing ot look at big questions and make lots of generalizations.
Jul. 9th, 2007 02:37 pm (UTC)
er ... that second 'it's' should obviously not have an apostrophe. I was watching tennis at the time of posting.
Jul. 8th, 2007 08:41 am (UTC)
Oooh! I have lots of opinions on *that*.

When's the roundtable? Hopefully I'll see you before then—text me whenever.
Jul. 8th, 2007 09:30 am (UTC)
It's Wednesday evening. Come and have opinions! (Or tell me about them in advance.)
Jul. 8th, 2007 11:35 am (UTC)
Jobs are a lottery. I was in a minor specialty, but with a strong publication record and good referees and had about a 50% success rate in getting to shortlists, and again about 50% record in being offered the job if interviewed, which is, I suspect, at the upper end of the range of experience. On the other hand, I almost never got grants, which is mainly down to being a Celticist -- no money in it, alas (I wrote good proposals: I know. When I drafted them for other people, they often worked). The thing to bear in mind is that it is never a level playing field. Mediaevalists tend to be a litigious bunch and there are many, many undercurrents, cliques and feuds which play into the whole thing. There are favoured candidate, 'heirs' and outsiders who are excluded because their sponsors are out-of-favour. And there aren't many jobs: it isn't a sexy area (the usual riff is that 'students don't want this'. That is not true -- students love mediaeval courses -- but modernists tend to bring in more money and thus have the whip hand)
Jul. 8th, 2007 12:12 pm (UTC)
I was just mentioning over at Practica that Medtextl has been having a huge participatory rant about this. It's all anecdotal and a lot of it's very bitter, but it does capture the views of people in many fields and stages of career.

My anecdotal experience is useless and people usually yell make snorty noises of disbelief at me if I give it. Are you just talking about the history market, btw? Based on historian friends' experience from grad school, I'd second what ADM says about medievalists successfully filling the lone premodernist/western civ slot for a lot of smaller places. Also, to second the point about Catholic colleges: there's a whole market out there (though not a terribly well-funded one) that's predisposed to be receptive to medievalists, and the existence of the Catholic college market is not something you'll find reflected in UK/Canada accounts of the market or in the Medtextl rants.

Will you do a recap of the roundtable after the fact for those of us who can't be there?
Jul. 8th, 2007 03:22 pm (UTC)
Does this mean you got the first job you applied for and it was perfect?

All my employment so far has come from people I know. Technically, I did interview for them (in one case retrospectively!), but my social credentials were at least as important as my PhD in getting me what I've had so far. Then again, it's not as if I have a full time job yet, wherein the hiring process matters a great deal more.

Thanks for the note about the Medtextl mailing list discussion. I read back through the most recent posts which were constructive rather than bitter, which means I haven't read back far enough.

I'm happy to recap the session.
Jul. 8th, 2007 05:07 pm (UTC)
Oh, glad you found some more constructive recent comments. No need to read back further!

Yeah, I was lucky enough to find a t-t job I loved before I finished - decided to take a trial run at the market in a year when there was a weirdly large number of jobs and got one of them - and so never had to do the adjuncting/visiting thing. Then I moved to a second job where there happened to be a perfect convergence of their needs and my special fields and where I was in my career then. But social capital of various kinds definitely helps.
Jul. 8th, 2007 09:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah -- I don't have so much of that social capital thing, although I think that might be changing. But DV is not so good with the social niceties, so has not so much pull.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )