Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It'd make quite a conference nametag too

As the APA begins, I remember how I felt going on the market 4 years ago. What if I didn't get a philosophy job and had to work in fast food, but my R&R went through and the Philosophical Review asked for my institutional affiliation? Would I list it as "Burger King"? Thanks to NUS, it didn't come to that.

51 talks, 6 months

It's been an amazing six months. Thanks to the generosity of the National University of Singapore and a bunch of wonderful people at philosophy departments around the world, I've given 51 talks in six months -- 42 in the USA this semester, and 9 in Australasia during the middle of the year. (That includes workshops on my papers, an invited guest lecture for a class, and a mystery event that turned out to be a 3-hour Q&A on my defense of utilitarianism.) I'm home with the family in San Francisco right now, polishing up the papers and sending them off. I'm also trying to get lots of exercise so that my pants will fit properly again after all the delicious dinners people fed me.

I was really impressed with how welcoming people were. My advice to any junior faculty person who would like to give a talk and has their own funding is to go ahead and ask! Especially at smaller departments that don't have that active a colloquium schedule, since they'll be very appreciative and up for hanging out with their visitor. I had great conversations with philosophers at places I didn't know much about before like the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, DePauw, IUPUI, Salem State, and the University of Portland. I had a good time talking with the philosophers at Boise State, who asked me to give a public lecture on Nietzsche (50+ people came!) as well as a research talk.

Oh, and the best accommodations I had were at FSU, where they put me up in a former university president's apartment that you could get to by putting a key in a campus elevator to make it go to a secret floor. Sometimes you feel like a rock star.

I mostly did the colder parts of the country in early fall and the warmer parts of the country when winter struck. Not only did this give me better weather, it let me use one set of clothes in all climates. The smaller amount of clothing meant I could fly carry-on, which helped with scheduling because I could get out of the airport faster. The big hassle was all the logistics -- having to figure out lots of intercity transit stuff to figure out where I could go before I could even ask departments whether they wanted me to come by got pretty tricky. But everything got figured out and I didn't miss a talk (thanks in part to nice people at Wayne State and Alabama who accommodated my train delays).

Writing on the road went really well. I'm a lot better at getting stuff done the morning of the talk on an airplane wedged between two chubby businessmen than I am with no deadlines ahead of me in my office. The office makes me procrastinate; having to give a talk in a few hours makes me write. Of the 10 papers I presented on this tour, 7 are under review now (3 are R&Rs which are now back to the journals) and I should be able to finish up 2 of the remaining 3 by March. I'll be setting up a proper website to house my draft papers in the next week or two.

It looks like I'll be on the road again from late April to July when this semester ends, as well as in the spring semester of 2013. My department head is great and we've worked out a deal where I do some extra teaching in exchange for my taking spring 2013 off. I was mostly in the Midwest and East Coast this time, so I should try to visit California and the Southwest when it's colder, or Canada when it's warmer. If you'd like to have me come by, send me an email!