Just as I've been ready to throw in the tenure-track towel, a search committee has decided to give me a chance. I have a videoconference interview in a little over a week.
And it's in a history department.
Let me repeat that: a history department.
The competition for history jobs is, even in this cutthroat market, exceptionally insane. Over my three years of academic job searching, because my CV doesn't bear a Ph.D. in history, I suspect many copies of it have met recycling bins tout de suite.
Which renders this opportunity particularly extraordinary. I'm trying to walk the line between getting my hopes up too high and being self-defeating. For me, that's a very fine line.
But let's be optimistic for a moment, shall we? The position is tenure-track, and it is in public history and gender history. The institution offers a really distinctive M.A. that overlaps with museum studies—which is just about perfect, both in terms of what I do and where I want to go with my teaching, research, and practice.
The department seems to really value teaching, too, which is fabulous.
Of course, as is always the case in an academic job search, there's the matter of where. It's in a state where I may have camped once as a child, but beyond that I've never visited, and it's definitely a place that, while beautiful, many people would consider flyover territory. But so is my beloved Iowa, so color me intrigued. Politically, it's a staunchly red state, with Republicans holding every major office at state and federal levels, with the exception of one Democratic congressperson in the district where the hiring institution sits. (But that same district voted 69% for GWB in 2004.) The politics wouldn't be a deal-killer, actually--I learned a few years back while living in the Young Women's Christian Home in D.C. that I very much enjoy talking to, and learning from, people who hold beliefs very different from mine.
But I get ahead of myself. For the present I have a stack of a dozen books about public history next to me because while I certainly understand the issues facing museums of history and culture and I am familiar with the kinds of natural and social history interpretation that happen at, say, national parks, and while I have kept abreast of developments in digital history, the finer points of, for example, historical reenactment, genealogy, corporate histories, battlefields, and video games/simulations may be lost on me.
I also have a smaller stack of books relating to the subfield of gender history into which I've been wanting to dive headfirst, but into which I have instead been wading very slowly. I need to outline my next project, even as I must refocus on revising and shopping around my diss.
And of course I have a dissertation to reread. A dissertation elevator speech to revise. Answers to draft to typical first-round job search questions. Syllabi to dream up. Nervous breakdowns to experience.
And the biggie: I need to articulate why a Ph.D. in cultural studies—or maybe especially my degree in cultural studies—prepares me to "do" history and to prepare grad students for jobs in public history.
Any tips you want to give on interviewing via videoconference, or references to books, articles, and other resources I absolutely must not miss on teaching public or gender history, etc. would be most appreciated.