The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 9th, 2015
At a recent job interview, I explained to the committee that I was
trying to write a book for a popular audience. One of them smirked, but
at least had the grace to try to hide it behind her hand. The
self-described maverick of the team — you know, the one who couldn’t be
bothered to wear a suit to the interview — simply laughed out loud. The
head of the committee stared at me in genuine amazement. "Why bother?"
he asked. After all, there was no hope of reaching the general public.
Or as he put it, "the masses will always just be the masses."
It was a somewhat alarming sentiment coming from an extremely
well-tenured professor at a particularly generous state institution, and
I think I suggested as much in response. Needless to say, that year the
search committee received many strong applications from candidates who
better met the department’s teaching requirements.