Friday, January 1, 2010

Baltimore Shocker! "Strangely, Awfully Interesting." Johns Hopkins Embarrasses Early Modernists in Mass Mailing Gaffe

It's a Baltimore shocker--one of the worst job market gaffes in years. Johns Hopkins, one of the few big history departments that seems immune from the current fiscal crisis, is hiring away this year. Big time. What a bonanza it will be for two lucky early modernists who have been pining to follow in the footsteps of such giants as J.H. Elliott and Sidney Mintz. Hopkins has advertised not one, but two positions, any rank, in early modern European history. One of those jobs is to replace French history heavyweight and dean of the faculty, David Bell, who is decamping to Princeton (where he'll fill the shoes of his mentor, former Princeton great, Robert Darnton). The other: Europe and the world.

All was smooth until mid-December, when Hopkins sent a mass email to 106 applicants for the early modern job. But oops! Forgot about the blind cc option. It's a great bit of marginalia in the history of letters. Old time epistles might be mass copied, but never with a complete list of recipients.

I'm too polite to name names, but wow, it's a Who's Who. Most of them don't stand a chance, but Hopkins is going to have a helluva shortlist come January, when they finally sift through all of the applications.

The European history job wiki lit up with with outrage and delight at the news.

"Don't know whether to laugh or cry. Anyone who's 'secretly' on the market will be majorly P.O.'ed..."

"That's very, very bad. I can't recall a search committee making a similar mistake. (Although I can't help finding it strangely, awfully, interesting)."

"I was sickened to see the list of email addresses. This is an unacceptable breach of confidentiality."

Confidential or not, industrious early modern sleuths immediately began breaking down the list of names by subfield. Good thing there are still some quantitative historians out there, even if they probably won't get the job (the field is dominated by cultural historians these days and Hopkins is unlikely to buck the trend by bringing a number cruncher aboard). Right now, we have a list of 40 (plus or minus a few) French historians and 50 Europe and the world.

Ha, ha! Hopkins.

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  3. JHU isn't the first (and surely won't be the last) to make this mistake. Cruise Wikis from years past and you'll find other examples of this. Embarrassing for them, yes. Shocking and unprecedented, nah.

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  4. Unprecedented. no. Embarrassing and amusing. Yes.

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  5. I still don't see what the problem is. May the best person win. That the applicants don't know one from the next defeats the purpose? Why cloak the process? Perhaps this can be the start of a new protocol when sending out job offers...

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