Friday, September 12, 2008

What's with the Gouging, MLA?

So, in order to go on the job market, one must:
  1. Pay an annual membership fee.
  2. Procure a separate subscription to view the JIL (or poach one from a friend if one's institution does not subscribe to it).
  3. Pay an immodest conference registration fee ($125!).
  4. Buy a passel of one-way plane tickets so that one can attend the conference and also visit one's family for the holidays. These aren't cheap in the best of times, and people, these aren't the best of times.
  5. Pay for a hotel room in a city with which one probably isn't familiar, which often leads one to stay in one of the conference hotels ($$$$) rather than risk getting lost on the way to/from interviews, which one may or may not have.
  6. Let's not talk about meals, or dossier processing fees (should properly blame my grad school for this one), or postage or copying fees.
Okay, not all of that is MLA's fault. But it struck me this morning that it's truly weird to withhold the job list from people who don't have subscription numbers. Seriously, does any individual pay for a JIL subscription? I don't even know how one would go about doing such a thing.

I haven't made any decisions about my own future, by the way. I'm just railing against the currently overwhelming expenses that I will incur should I happen to follow Option A.


Dr. Crazy said...

RE: #4 I think that the way to go is not to go the way of the one-way tickets but rather to do a round-trip to family and then a round-trip to the MLA from home city. Can definitely bring the cost down at least by a couple hundred bucks, depending on where the family is located.

RE: #2, I was under the impression that everybody just used their grad school's subscription for the rest of their lives.

RE: The substance of the post, exactly. And while it's not entirely the fault of the MLA, the MLA and the process that emerges from its practices hold most of the blame, as far as I'm concerned. It's set up to save the interviewing schools money - they get to do an in-person screening interview without incurring the cost of bringing 10 people to campus. In other fields, phone interviews are the norm rather than the exception for the screening interview stage of things. And say what you will about that practice, it doesn't put the financial burden as much on the candidate. Also, it keeps the playing field more level for hiring institutions that can't afford to send entire search committees to swank hotels and to buy them suites for interviewing purposes.

I'm applying to one (or two) places this hiring season, but I'm not going to MLA. This may get my application tossed in the garbage, but you know what? I can't see spending around grand to go to SF - for the *chance* at another job, when mine's good enough and when the likelihood is that all I'd see of SF is a range of hotel and conference rooms. The whole thing sucks.

Sisyphus said...

Yes, the whole thing is a Kafkan scam. I know Kafka's more about the existential punishment than scamming, but there it is.

Good luck with whatever you decide!

PS, I got the Lentil Lentil Legume catalog the day after you posted, and said, "that isn't so bad. There's this gorgeous chair on the cover." But nowhere is the chair to be found inside the magazine. So you're totally and completely right.

Dr. Virago said...

You can now get the Job List from the MLA's web site with you MLA member number (if you're a member -- still an act of gouging you). Then, once you've signed up, you create your *own* login name and password.

Or, you can go Dr. Crazy's route and use your grad institution's ADE member number and password.

OR, you can do what I did and ask for you current dept's number/password and say, "It's so I can show students what professorial job ads look like." Easier to do if you have grad students, of course. :)

medieval woman said...

You can use ours if you like!! Just lemme know....

And I feel ya on the dossier processing fees - just got in touch with P McN...

heu mihi said...

Heh--you guys all saw right through me--that wasn't a hypothetical "Oh poor souls who can't access the JIL!"--it was me, forgetting my grad uni's login number.

Which I found a short while later, so all is well.

Except my bank account, of course. Sigh. I think I'm applying to a few things--not at all everything, but there's one in particular that would be teh awesome--and just shelling out for the deal. Totally agree with you, Crazy. The thing is a mess, and not at all friendly to impoverished job candidates, even if it isn't really all the M-la's fault.

clio's disciple said...

You have to have a separate subscription to view the job information? The AHA does not make us historians do that, at least. Although all the other complaints apply to the AHA just as much.