Shitty times continue. What a fuck-up of a day. Argh, everything. (Except my students, who provided me with the one bit of comfort and happiness so far…)
But it’s on to the next thing. I would love some advice about my job talk. This will be the one for the upcoming interview and also for any other interviews, should I happen to get some more. I have seen exactly no job talks in my life because my grad programs were interdisciplinary and didn’t do their own hires. The place I was teaching at last year didn’t have open talks. And when I interviewed at that place, I made a short research presentation on my dissertation (then in progress) to the hiring committee only. I’m freaked because of my lack of experience in this area.
Here’s the deal, and here’s what I’m wondering. ..
I defended my PhD in early December of last year – so, essentially, a year ago. A version of one of its chapters has just come out in a collection of essays – so I won’t be presenting that. But the rest of the dissertation hasn’t been mined yet. My plan, outlined in my job letters, is twofold. It is, on the one hand, to generate two more articles based on the dissertation material – but really building on it, transforming it. (I find it organizationally unwieldy.) The other plan is to write a new book – and I have just begun to work on that project, having presented the first paper at a conference a month ago. The book project is in broadly the same area as my previous work; it really clearly evolved from that research, but is on a more specific question. An analogy would be if I were a Canadian historian and I worked on the Depression; my dissertation was on, oh, say, ideology in the labour-management relationship in the Depression and my new book project is on unions in a particular industrial sector in that same era. But both the dissertation and the new book are trying to “do” the same thing, to intervene in/have an effect on/build the literature in similar ways.
So, does it make sense to use the bulk of my job talk to present dissertation material (which sets up my theoretical interest and approach, and what I consider the urgency of the topic)? I’d have an example or two in there, to be sure, but it would be broad – a non-specialist, but at the same time not superficial, introduction to the kind of work I do, and where I see it fitting. And then, at the end, to spend ten minutes or so indicating the questions of my new project, with a sense of how they build on the approaches established in the earlier work.
Or should I be seeing this as a contained argument/chapter from my dissertation, rather than a broader introduction to what I do?
I feel as if the committee will watch closely how I interpret the vague imperative to “give a research seminar”, and choosing the wrong approach, even if what I say seems okay, could be a bad move.
What have you seen in the best job talks? Or, what did you do in yours when you were a successful candidate? (If it helps, this place I’m interviewing at next month could probably be characterized as a moderately research-intensive institution; it’s kind of hard to categorize at the moment for reasons I can’t get into here.)