Thursday, December 24, 2009

Something Useful

I've pretty much finished Tatum's "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?", and I found it interesting. The part I found most provocative was the idea of actually putting up front on job ads the requirement to have demonstrated experience/effectiveness in working in multiracial settings (124-5). I think we could probably use something like this in our job ads along with the demonstrated effectiveness teaching comp and so forth.

It's important, and if it's important, we should be looking explicitly for those experiences in our candidates.

Like many English departments, ours has more diversity than some other departments on campus. But, also like many English departments, our diversity is based on people of color teaching the literature of people of color. We've got a poor record of hiring people of color to teach theory or Shakespeare or romanticism. (And our local population includes a far greater percentage of people of color than either our student body or our faculty. So this is a matter of recognizing and serving our community.)

Can you tell I'm feeling housebound and antsy? It's true. The freezing rain hasn't helped, either. Now I'm on to some Shakespeare reading.


  1. I teach political theory, and there seems to be a pressure in that discipline for women and people of color to work in feminist theory and theories from people of color, rather than the canon. Does that same pressure (either external or internal) hold true in English?

  2. Just a quick note - I think everyone has a poor record of hiring people of color to teach Shax, medieval lit, etc., because there are *very* few people of color who study that material. It's becoming slightly more difficult to grow our faculty in these areas (I'm talking about second or third hires rather than providing basic coverage) when we can't bill them to the admin as potential diversity hires.

    This is just an observation rather than commentary!

  3. Emma Nadine, Yes, I think those pressures are in play, and not only in hiring.

    Medieval Woman, That's an important point; I don't know how it is for medievalists, but there are a goodly number of fine Shakespeareans and early modernists who are people of color. I was fortunate to be mentored by an African American Shakepearean in grad school.