Resisting the Search Committee Cabal

leonidas_300_dine in hell

To be filed under “Don’t Hold Your Breath” but also “cc”d to “Resist Absolute Power Absolutely” . . .

Someone who tweets anonymously as @MLAlienation just sent this message to Marymount:

Dear Search Committee,

The Committee of Qualified Scholars Eliminated from Consideration for the position in American Literature at Marymount University invites the Search Committee to respond to the following questionnaire. We are confident that the Search Committee and the Marymount University administrators are committed to transparency, and we thank you in advance for your participation.

For reference, the rejection letter:

Thank you for your interest in the Americanist position at Marymount University. You were one of over six hundred impressive applicants for a single position, and the Search Committee has had the difficult task of selecting final candidates from among a highly qualified group of scholars and teachers.

Unfortunately, your application does not meet our department’s very specific needs at this time, and I regret to inform you that you are not among the finalists for this position. We wish you the best of luck in your job search, and thank you again for your interest in our department.

The job announcement:

We seek a teacher and scholar of wide-ranging expertise, and we are especially interested in candidates with a commitment to teaching writing at all levels and experience in masculinity studies or transnational literature.

In addition to upper-division and graduate courses in their specializations, literature faculty teach courses within our liberal arts core and writing courses, including first-year composition. The department values interdisciplinary teaching interests, experience with student advising, and innovative approaches to writing pedagogy.

Candidates must be committed to working with a diverse metropolitan student body; developing new courses; promoting departmental activities; and performing university service responsibilities.


1) Please detail the “very specific needs” of the department and explain why they were not listed in the job announcement.

2) How many scholars were chosen for preliminary interviews?

3) What are the demographics of those candidates? (Include: years since/until PhD conferral, disciplinary subfield, male/female/other, public/private PhD-granting institution, rank of PhD-granting institution in US News, and years experience in the classroom.)

4) Is the group of preliminary interviewees representative of the applicant pool as a whole? (Use the demographic listed in question three as metrics for your response.)

5) What characterizes the supremacy of the preliminary interviewees over the rest of the applicant pool?

We are confident that Marymount University is commited to transparency and that this information would have been availably publicly had this message not been sent.


The Committee of Qualified (but Rejected-before-anyone-met-us) Candidates”