BMCR 1998.12.07

From the Editor’s Disk: the job market

Readers of these reviews, at least the more long-serving among you, will recallsome earlier dates at which BMCR reported on the state of the job market by counting candidates in the APA’s placement book and then positions listed at about this time of year on the APA’s job list. The oldest instance of that occurs eight years ago at:

BMCR 1990.02.19 (candidates)

BMCR 1991.01.20 (jobs)

Idle common-room conversation this fall (of the sort that now occurs primarily via e-mail) led us back to the question and we thought this time to add a third set of numbers: reviews published in BMCR for the current year.

Now it needs be said at the outset that all these numbers are first-order approximations at best. The APA placement book gets a broad swath of candidates, the job list a slightly more restrictive listing of mainly the better jobs, and the BMCR archives a selection of reviews whose distribution by subject has a lot to do with the editors’ preferences, with the performance of reviewers, and the like. Still, as snapshots go of what kinds of Ph.D.’s we’re training, what kinds of jobs we’re offering, and what kinds of books we’re reading and writing, it seems worth taking.

Our categories are heuristic and deliberately broad:

Literature (Greek, Latin, “general”)
History (Greek, Roman)
Archaeology (Greek, Roman)

The distribution of books, jobs, and people into these categories was accomplished by Dr. Procrustes, a great friend of the editors.

First, candidates.

Literature (Greek): 59 (1990: 86)
Literature (Latin): 73 (1990: 55)
Literature (General): 8

History (Greek): 23
History (Roman): 22
History (General): 1
(1990 total all three categories: 44)

Archaeology (Greek): 25
Archaeology (Roman): 21
Archaeology (Other): 2
(1990 total all three categories: 49)

Other (don’t fit in above): 8
Total candidates: 242
(1990 total of candidates: 234)

Positions advertised:

Literature (Greek): 9 (1990 total: 10)
Literature (Latin); 15 (1990 total: 21)
Literature (General): 7

History (Greek): 5
History (Roman): 2
History (General): 5 (+ 1 Near Eastern)
(1990 total all three: 15)

Archaeology (Greek): 3
Archaeology (Roman): 1
Archaeology (General): 7
(Several of the “history” positions specified a desire to have teaching extend to art/archaeology topics)
(1990 total all three: 8)
Greek and Latin: 24
Latin: 9
Greek: 2
(This category is difficult to pigeonhole. One might be tempted to lump them with “literature”, but departments clearly want more than that: ability to teach broad-based courses in ancient culture is not just a plus but an absolute necessity. This is the category that doesn’t really match anything in the 1990 numbers and a comparison suggests that this is where the apparent growth is.)

Other: 14
Total positions: 104
1990 total of positions at this point in the year: 54

(Editor who did the earlier survey skeptical about this apparent disparity, unsure of cause)

Reviews published in BMCR for the year:

Literature (Greek): 63
Literature (Latin): 38
Literature (General): 10 (“general” here clearly combines Greek and Latin)
History (Greek): 23
History (Roman): 18
History (General): 11 (“general” mainly Gk./Rom., but also other combinations to other cultures)
Archaeology (Greek): 11
Archaeology (Roman): 8
Archaeology (General): 3
Other: 11
Total BMCR reviews: 196

Readers will want to make their own comparisons. The only point not made explicitly above to which I would draw attention is that the candidate pool has shifted in one area: from a historic strong imbalance in favor of Greek literature candidates over Latin (while jobs were more plentiful for Latinists), there is now a decided balance in favor of Latin, while the job distribution remains about the same. Further analysis would be required to confirm whether the supply of positions has in fact increased: I suspect it has, but not by so great a number as our figures here indicate.

In other regards, little has changed.