Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Impostor Syndrome, Toilets, and Eggs

Every time I begin an application for a faculty position, I feel a wave of nausea that can only be attributed to impostor syndrome.

This is especially true of applications for jobs in history. It helps if I keep reminding myself that Tough Reader, the historian on my dissertation committee, assured me I wrote a history dissertation (in her phrase, whether I like it or not) and that, in her opinion, I'm qualified to teach history. And Fantastic Adviser pointed out that in my application for one interdisciplinary history of science job, I don't need to project an image of being an expert in the classic history of science texts because, hey, she knows that the person leaving the job worked on the history of toilet technology. (A topic, by the way, I think is absolutely wonderful. I'm actually jealous.) So my fears of history of science programs being a bit hung up on Newton and Galileo may be unjustified.

Anyhoo, I keep the assurances of Tough Reader and the hiring of Toilet Scholar in my mind when I'm applying for programs, and it helps me get through my cover letters without hyperventilating. It makes it easier to write about my dissertation research on women museum scientists and about my current research on, well, some confusion Americans seem to have between human ova and chicken eggs.

For those of you keeping track of trillwing's wild-n-crazy research agenda, I thought I'd share the latest iteration of Egg Studies. Here's an excerpt from one cover letter:
Beyond my dissertation revision, my current research includes an examination of how public misconceptions about human reproduction and fertility have influenced public discourse and policy-making in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States. I have begun this study by exploring the iconography of the human ovum and its common implicit and explicit conflation with the chicken egg. I argue that, because of this confusion of ovum and chicken egg, the perfectly white, uniform chicken eggs available in abundance at American supermarkets help to soothe Americans’ fears about white, middle-class fertility but also provide false reassurance of success in conception.





Fantastic Adviser once cautioned me to publish the women-in-museum-science research first so that I don't become known as "plastic horse woman." Now my fear is that I'll be known as "chicken egg iconographer."

I suppose there are worse things to be known for.

6 comments:

Honeybee said...

I never thought about eggs soothing white middle-class Americans, but the preponderance of the white variety in stores instead of the tan ones seems to support that. The tan ones taste exactly the same, after all, but they aren't white.

Sarah said...

Wow--that sounds like something I'd read! And thanks for the images--great stuff.

Susan M said...

I don't know what to say.

Actually, I think it's great. Don't you just love interdisciplinary fields? (Says the comparative ed student)

Susan M said...

I don't know what to say.

Actually, I think it's great. Don't you just love interdisciplinary fields? (Says the comparative ed student)

ArticulateDad said...

Trillwing, my friend, whatever path you take, wherever life leads, always be true to yourself, as you have been. In all honesty, little else matters. There is no posing, when we are ourselves.

Uccellina said...

So that's why I thought conception would be easier. Huh.