Scholar eat scholar

A spread from Fillipo Vadi’s Book on the Art of Fighting with Swords, c. 1482-1487

I know a reasonable number of the UK early medievalists at my rough level—Leeds is good for that. And I get on well with a number of them, might call them my friends and so forth. But inevitably we wind up applying for a lot of the same jobs, and we have to accept that if we wish to carry on dealing with each other.

It’s not usually quite as cruel as just recently, however. A job for which I was never in the running saw one of my closer contacts interviewed, and they came second. Unfortunately they came second to another contact of mine, and at the moment we three, with some others, have an ongoing project which I hope will become a book at some point. Assuming that they can continue to get on or we can get round it…

But the person who came second place has no contract in a few months’ time; the person who came first was in a job already and had two more years left on the contract. Now they won’t be finishing the research project on the basis of which they were hired, and meanwhile the unlucky second has no job because the first reckoned they could do better than the one they had.

I suppose we all have stories like this, but I’m sure that’s not how it should be.

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3 responses to “Scholar eat scholar

  1. I can’t say that it’s any better in the US. In fact, it’s about the same. I know a lot of colleagues in about the same position as me and, when I was on the market, I was competing with a lot of them for the same positions. I tried desperately to ignore the fact that there were others out there interviewing, but at a place like Leeds or Kalamazoo the next year, I’d always see someone’s nametag and think “That should’ve been my job!” It’s an awful process. Too few jobs. Too many good people out there.

  2. Yes, definitely: the horrible irony in this case was simply that actually, there were enough jobs, but for ambition. Except, I suppose, for the other interviewees…

  3. Ahhhh … so there is something good about having sabotaged one’s own career. One doesn’t feel as guilty when one’s friends get jobs! Seriously, it does suck, but I get the feeling that friends do help to look out for each other. Also, now that I’ve served on my first search committee? I know better that ‘fit’ really does count. Not that that helps.

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