Posts Tagged ‘media studies’

Be My Colleague, Part II

October 25th, 2011 | Jonathan Gray

And a third posting …

The Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison seeks applicants for a tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant Professor in Media and Cultural Studies, to begin in August 2012. Candidates will be expected to conduct research, develop and teach courses, and supervise graduate students in the critical, intersectional analysis of identity and representation in contemporary media, including race, ethnicity, gender, and/or sexuality. Those whose work demonstrates a transnational/global/diasporic focus and an ability to combine methodological approaches are especially encouraged to apply. The successful candidate will teach a large undergraduate lecture course in addition to other specialist courses to both undergraduate and graduate students. Ph.D. in a related field and evidence of scholarly excellence and teaching ability are required. See also Please submit a CV and a letter detailing interests and capabilities, and arrange to have sent three letters of reference, to Professor Jonathan Gray, Media, Identity, and Representation Search, Department of Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 821 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706. Electronic applications will not be accepted. The deadline to assure full consideration is December 29, 2011. EOE/AA. Employment may require a criminal background check. Unless confidentiality is requested in writing, information regarding the applicants must be released upon request. Finalists cannot be guaranteed confidentiality. The Department of Communication Arts is committed to building a culturally diverse intellectual community and strongly encourages applications from women, ethnic minorities, and other underrepresented groups. Questions about the search may be directed to Professor Jonathan Gray at

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Be My Colleague

October 24th, 2011 | Jonathan Gray

For anyone on the job market in media studies, or anyone who knows someone, please do pass on these two opportunities, the first a tenure-track position in digital media production with a fast-approaching deadline, the second a pretty sweet postdoc position due two weeks later. I have fantastic colleagues, but am greedy and want more. Read more…

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Looking for an academic job or a place in grad school?

October 10th, 2011 | Jonathan Gray

While I slack off from writing real posts, instead I thought I’d give a wholly narcissistic shout out to some of my earlier posts. If you or someone you know is on the academic job market in media and cultural studies, this time last year I wrote a multi-part series with some advice, and some great folk contributed their own advice in the comments too, so be sure to read them. Earlier this year, I also wrote a three part series on applying to grad school, and once again some great minds chipped in down in the comments, so read those too.

The academic job market pieces, and links:


As for the series on getting into grad schools:


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Applying to Grad Schools in Media Studies, Part 3: How Do You Get In?

August 3rd, 2011 | Jonathan Gray

One of the most important things to realize about grad admissions is that most programs don’t so much reject candidates as they accept other ones. In other words, the point isn’t merely to make it past some arbitrary line of acceptability, beyond which the program thinks you’re good enough. The point is that the program has to want you and you specifically. Related to this point, you should also realize that resources are usually limited: some programs take only those they can fund, yet even those that take more have limitations set by class sizes, available professors, etc. Thus, decisions are bound to be highly competitive. For example, Media and Cultural Studies at UW received over 130 applications each of the last two years, but accepted seven (5%) and four (3%) students each year respectively.

Your job, therefore, is not simply to be good enough – you need to fit the program, and you need to submit materials that will make the program truly want you. Take heart, though, because this also means that a “rejection” from a school is likely more a sign of them wanting other people that year than it is a rejection of you. So many factors can go into these decisions: perhaps the program is lop-sided in one way and is making a concerted effort to tackle that this year; perhaps you’re applying to work with profs who already have too many grad students; perhaps they simply have less spots this year; or perhaps you look great and the committee realizes this, but they also realize that you’d be better served by others (certainly, each year, we don’t accept numerous people who I fully expect to be producing brilliant work in the years to come, and I’m sure that I’ll be reading and greatly admiring work by those who we “rejected”). Read more…

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Applying to Grad Schools in Media Studies, Part 2: Where Should You Go?

July 25th, 2011 | Jonathan Gray

There are too many universities with grad programs. Some have no clue what they’re doing, other than making money. But here’s the thing you need to know: it is very hard to get a good job with a PhD from a second or third tier program (unless, of course, your supervisor is the acknowledged expert, and is regarded as a first tier program in and of herself or himself). Competition for academic jobs is such that even lower end universities can and do limit their search for job candidates to those educated at the better institutions. So make sure that you ask around about the good programs. I’m not going to list them here, since I’d undoubtedly miss a few and get flak for it, but also they vary according to what you want to do: I’d highly recommend one school for one topic, and warn you to run for the hills rather than go there for another topic.

Indeed, as much as US News and World Report rankings and such may have you thinking about good schools, make sure you look into which are the good programs. Some great name schools have really awful programs in certain areas, or no program. Meanwhile, though I’m struggling to think of a great program in a bad school, many similarly-ranked schools will differ massively in the quality of their programs. Ask the professors whose work you find most like your own, or at least who know what your work is best, where they’d recommend. Look at the scholars who you’re quoting and reading and admiring and find out both where they’re teaching and where they did their PhDs (though remember that some of the older profs may’ve been with a program in a different era). Read the course offerings and see if they speak to you. Find out what current grad students are researching, and see if that scares you off or excites you. Don’t bother with published rankings, since most are deeply flawed and limited (case in point: the National Research Council’s recent rankings of Communications programs in the US applied their social sciences rubric to several humanities-based programs, meaning that books that would have counted as 6 articles for those in the humanities counted as a single article for the programs in question, and other lunacies).

Most of all, think about who you’d like to work with. When I look at the applications to UW’s Media and Cultural Studies program, unless I think that a student would benefit from working with my colleagues and I, I will never pursue the application any further. Sadly, many applicants know simply that they want a PhD, but haven’t stopped to think that any given program will consist in large part of a small group of faculty, their courses, and the peers in the grad program there. Not only does this usually kill their chances of getting in – as I’ll discuss in the next post – but more to the point, it means they’d be miserable if accepted. You want and need advisors who will help you get where you want to go, not ones who are constantly talking about X when you don’t really give a damn about X.

The above paragraph may set an intimidatingly high bar to clear for some. So let me be clear that a good program will realize that not everyone who applies to their program has their ideas set in stone. Especially if you don’t already have an MA, and are applying straight out of your undergrad, you may still be fairly new to the field. You may have a very wide set of interests, which may make it extremely hard to work out who you want to work with. That’s all fine. What you don’t want, though, is to be applying somewhere where you’re already not a fit.

What other considerations should you take into account? Below I’ll consider the American picture first, then talk about the UK separately, since there are some important differences (I’m only discussing these two countries’ PhD programs, since I really only know these two countries’ PhD programs). Read more…

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Applying to Grad Schools in Media Studies, Part 1

July 22nd, 2011 | Jonathan Gray

Last year when I was publishing my series on looking for academic jobs, I got some email requests from Masters students who were looking for PhD programs to expand the series to encompass that issue too. At the time, I wanted to go through another year of decisions for our own grad program at UW, so that I could make some notes on the whole process while it was happening. I’ve now done so and am ready to comply with those requests. So, if you know someone who wants to go to grad school in media and cultural studies, feel free to pass this on to them.

A key warning first, though: these are simply my suggestions and thoughts. They may not apply to other grad programs in media and cultural studies. They will almost definitely not apply, at least in total, to a lot of grad programs outside the field of media and cultural studies. And even if you’re applying to the Media and Cultural Studies program at University of Wisconsin, Madison, I’m not the only one who makes decisions, and I’m not speaking here for my colleagues, so please don’t see this as a How to Get Into Wisconsin document.

And a key request: I would love if some other practicing academics would chip in with their own two cents. Similarly, prospective candidates should feel free to fire questions my way (though please only send the generic ones via the blog. I won’t address personal issues and cases in this public venue).

I’ve broken the advice into three posts:

(1) Should you even go to grad school?

(2) Where should you go?

(3) How do you get in?

These aren’t strictly chronological, as you’ll find that some of my suggestions in the second post are directed towards those with several offers in hand, and hence to those who have already aced the third topic. But it’s a way to avoid a 6500 word blog post! Let’s start with the first one … Read more…

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The Media Studies Job Market, 10: The Offer

October 17th, 2010 | Jonathan Gray

And so I come to the end of my journey through the hiring process with this post. Before I wrap it all up, though, let me say that I’m sure I’ve missed a lot along the way. Please feel free to post below or to email me about issues you’d like to see covered. If I can do so, I will; if not, and if I think I know someone who could provide a guest post on the issue, I’ll try to get them to do so.

Anyways, the offer, after the fold: Read more…

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The Media Studies Job Market, 9b: The Campus Interview

October 9th, 2010 | Jonathan Gray

With pilot season behind us, it’s time to return to the job market posts. And I begin with a Tale of Two Interviews.

As an intro to discussing interviews, let me share these stories – a good one, and a bad one (they’re also my first and the second respectively – I thought my later ones would be less helpful for ABD readers). I’ll list lessons from them, along with some general points, at the end. But I want to share the stories, since my sense is that most people hear about “the job talk” and little more, thereby focusing all their energy on a small (albeit vital) part of the visit. More after the fold … Read more…

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The Media Studies Job Market, 9a: The Phone Interview

September 18th, 2010 | Jonathan Gray

Not all universities do phone interviews, but they’re pretty common. If you’re being interviewed by phone, you’re likely in the final ten or so, if for logistical reasons alone (it takes a lot of time to do these), and if it’s a group interviewing you, you may be in an even more elite group. It’s a tricky stage, though, since a lot of people wait till they get to the campus visit to do the really top-notch preparation, and there have been a few times when I’ve heard this become all too painfully clear in a phone interview. Below the fold, I’ll try to offer a few thoughts on how to interview in general, and how to handle the peculiar demands of phone interviews. Read more…

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The Media Studies Job Market, 8: The Upgrade Search

September 17th, 2010 | Jonathan Gray

Till now, most of my comments have been offered with an ABD or very recent Ph.D. in mind, but this post’s for those who’ve got a job already but are looking for another one. I planned to do it, and so am posting it, but in retrospect, it feels like I’m saying things you probably already know? So maybe this is still for the ABD who is thinking ahead to the next search? Please ignore as you see fit! After the fold …

Read more…

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