Looking for a Comparative Media Scholar
One of the most interesting, exhausting, frustrating, and exciting things you can do as a faculty member is serving on a search committee–interesting to see the broad range of work that emerging scholars are doing, exhausting from the time it takes to read hundreds of files and conduct lengthy interviews, frustrating because in the end you only get to hire one of the candidates, and exciting due to the end result of hopefully ending up with an amazing new colleague to work with for decades to come. I’ve served on five search committees in my time at Middlebury – and now have the chance to chair one.
This fall, the Film and Media Culture Department is in the enviable position to be hiring a tenure-track position in Comparative Media Studies. Both as the department chair and the faculty most overlapping with the advertised area, I’ll be reading all the applications quite closely, so it’s in my best interest to make sure that we get great applicants that are well aware of the specific facets of the job and institution. To help accomplish this, I decided to use this thread on my blog to discuss the job and publicly answer questions from people interested in the position. (I personally think Middlebury’s a wonderful place to work, and the fact that my Provost was not only supportive but excited about this form of technological transparency is a good example of why.) Please feel free to repost this link and encourage potential candidates to post any relevant questions.
Here’s the official job description – I’ll provide some more information and context beneath the fold:
The Film and Media Culture Department at Middlebury College invites applications for a tenure-track position in Comparative Media Studies beginning in September 2010. Appointment will be made at the rank of Assistant Professor; Ph.D. preferred, A.B.D considered. The successful candidate will teach courses on the cultural impacts and influences of media technologies, new media as aesthetic forms, and additional contributions to the program’s curriculum in film and media criticism, history, and/or production. Expertise in one or more of these areas is particularly desirable: online video, social software, videogames, new media art, digital media pedagogy, transmedia convergence, media and the environment, or global media. We welcome applicants from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, but the successful candidate should be comfortable teaching in a humanities-centered program anchored in film and media studies as part of an undergraduate liberal arts curriculum.
Candidates should provide evidence of commitment to excellent teaching and scholarly potential. Send letter of application with a statement of teaching and research interests, curriculum vitae, and three letters of recommendation, at least two of which must speak to teaching ability, to: Professor Jason Mittell, Film and Media Culture Department, Axinn Center, Middlebury College, Middlebury VT 05753. Applications must be received by November 2 to ensure full consideration. Middlebury College is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to hiring a diverse faculty to complement the increasing diversity of the student body.
The Film and Media Culture Department (FMMC) is a fairly new addition to the college, spinning off from a combined Theater / Dance / Film department in 2002. We have six current faculty members, ranging from brand-new colleagues to faculty who have been at Middlebury for decades, as well as two staff members supporting technological and administrative areas. We cover a wide range of approaches and media, including both scholars and creators, and our curriculum spans film, television, digital media, and other emerging forms – and a number of us are particularly interested in finding ways to teach and create media that bridge the theory/practice divide. We average around 15-20 majors per graduating class, making it a mid-sized major at the college (out of a total student population of around 2,350), and I believe we are growing in popularity and visibility, especially following our impressive new facilities opening in Fall 2008.
Tenure-track faculty at Middlebury have a somewhat complex teaching load – typically we teach two courses a semester, but one course a year has to be a “double” course, either with two parallel sections or a large-enrollment (at least 45) with separate discussion sections. Additionally, Middlebury has a Winter Term over January, in which students do a single intensive course or project – faculty typically teach every other year, which means that every other year there is a two-month period between classroom obligations (grading and syllabus prep, not included, of course!). But as a whole, it’s a very manageable load, conducive both to working hard to succeed in the classroom and as a researcher. (For more on my own perspective on these issues, see this previous post.)
As you might notice, we are asking for a thin application packet: a letter, CV, and reference letters. Since we are anticipating a large number of applications, we want to save the paperwork and hassle of full dossiers except for candidates who seem to best fit our needs, from whom we’ll request further materials at a later date. That being said, if you have materials available online, certainly including a URL in your letter or CV would be a good idea. We will not be doing any conference interviews – we hope to do phone or video interviews before the holiday break in December.
A few general comments that are appropriate to any search, not just this one: remember that your dossier will probably be one of hundreds. While most readers want to find great candidates, it’s up to you to stand out from a crowded field. So be sure to customize the material for the specific job and institution, demonstrate that you’ve done some homework on the department and its curriculum (and how you’d fit into it), and avoid sloppy mistakes. Since writing is part of your job as a teacher and scholar, the cover letter is the first way to demonstrate your writing abilities to potential colleagues, so be sure to be clear, convincing, and engaging in this brief and constrained format. (See this post for more detailed wisdom on writing the job letter.)
Hopefully this further information is helpful. I’m happy to answer questions about Middlebury, our department, the position, or the logistics of the search. I cannot answer questions specific to an individual application here on the blog, but I’ll try my best to be as helpful and transparent as possible. I hope to hear from many of you here, or via your dossiers.
Filed under: Academia, Media Studies, Meta-blogging, Middlebury, New Media, Teaching, Vermont | 55 Comments
Tags: job search
random thoughts from media scholar Jason Mittell
Check out my books:Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling How To Watch Television Television & American Culture
Genre and Television: From Cop Shows to Cartoons in American Culture
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