The Square Circuit

Academia, parenthood, living in a bankrupt city, and what I read in the process.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

teaching composition

zp asks,

"If I were interested in applying to teach first year composition in the Pittsburgh area, say, next fall, where would I find the jobs advertised? I don't know if I'm qualified, but if I applied through the proper channels, I guess I'd find out."

That's a good question. I've hunted down adjunct teaching gigs in several cities, and it generally works the same way: just call the department in question. Rarely are the positions advertised, unless they're at Yale or something when they'll put an ad in the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER ED because they know that people would move across the country to pick up a class there. In a city like Pittsburgh, though, the best policy is to call the department.

On the bright side, there are so many schools in the area that one can generally find work. Carlow, Point Park, Waynesburg, Duquesne, CCAC, Cal UP, sometimes IUP, Washington and Jefferson, Geneva, LaRoche, Clarion all use adjuncts. However, those jobs pay poorly--about $2000/class is a ceiling. CMU and Pitt use adjuncts, as well, and pay much better, but they generally stick to their own graduate students and alums.

The required qualifications differ, but generally a candidate needs a master's in a relevant field (English, composition, or an MFA in writing) and some teaching experience at the college level. Sometimes when schools are particularly hard up they'll loosen those strictures slightly, but that's pretty much the baseline. Research, a hot dissertation, a published novel, a friendship with Terry Eagleton, all of those things that'll get you a second look for a tenure-track job, they don't matter. I'd take someone with four semesters experience teaching a 4-4 load of gut comp and a good rec from their department chair over an academic superstar any day.


  • At 8:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    great post... thanks.

  • At 1:12 PM, Blogger zp said…

    Thanks so much . . . zp


Post a Comment

<< Home