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We're All Failures

Seven scholars reflect on what they learned from their many brushes with defeat.

On Rejection: Jim Lang

My earliest aspirations as a writer were to write fiction. So my first efforts to publish my work came in the form of short story submissions to literary journals, beginning with the student magazine at the University of Notre Dame. I still have that rejection letter in a folder in my home office file cabinet. Many, many others f...

On Rejection: Kelly J. Baker

I was on the Metro riding away from the annual meeting of American Academy of Religion, and for once, I felt hopeful. I had a few conference interviews, but one particular interview went remarkably well. I was finally on the path to getting that tenure track job that I wanted so desperately. Everyone keep telling me that this wa...

On Rejection: David Perry

Celebrating failure is the privilege of those who have succeeded. I have tenure at a university I love, and so my failure narratives fall into the "it all worked out" category, but it's vital to realize that academic culture can be highly abusive. We're told to just work hard enough and we'll get a job, publish our way to R1 scho...
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Dealing With Disappointment

Arbitrary decision-making by the powers that be is common in academia. So what can you do if you’re the victim of an official’s whim?