One of the things that came up tonight at the big bloggers’ bash (an event that slipped my mind much of today, mind you) was the whole issue of titles. Brock noted some disparity in how academic titles are used in the north and south. And, recently, a fellow blogger in private correspondence rather strenuously objected to my recent Ph.D.-dropping in the blog and elsewhere.
This issue was rather more problematic in my ABD and pre-ABD teaching days. I wasn’t “Dr. Lawrence” or “Prof. Lawrence,” yet my students insisted on using those titles—even though I routinely told them to just call me Chris. I certainly wasn’t “Mr. Lawrence” either, being only a few years older than my students, while my academic title—instructor—hardly made an appropriate salutation either. Now, of course, I am at least “Dr. Lawrence”—“Prof. Lawrence” will have to wait until the fall, or possibly even longer if I go and play post-doc or end up at one of the one-year appointments that uses the rather Anglophile title “lecturer.”
As far as the north/south thing goes, I think some of it has to do with the difference in being in an undergraduate institution to going to grad school. But it may partially be a southern thing as well; I still have trouble calling some of my now-former professors by their first names. Then again, that could just be a “me” thing.
I’m still somewhat conflicted on the issue my friend raised, however. Part of me says, “I just busted my ass for six years, I earned this title, and I’m damn well going to use it whenever possible.” On the other hand, I can see how it might lead some to think I’m trying to confer false additional legitimacy on my opinions; I didn’t magically become more expert on all matters political the afternoon of my dissertation defense, after all.
Further complicating matters is being on the job trail: since there’s a statistically significant improvement in my hiring prospects based on having the doctorate “in hand” entering a job search, it’s advisable to ensure that hiring departments are aware of that fact—and given the level of attention that is generally given to application packets on a first screening, repetition of that fact as often as possible is worthwhile. So if you correspond with me at my university email address, you’re quite likely to see the “Dr.” appellation, at least until I accept a (now-hypothetical) job offer.
Steven Taylor has a followup tonight to my post on academic titles from a couple of days ago; James Joyner comments as well.
In the blogosphere, any old conversation can become new again; the case in point is Eszter Hargittai’s post on the various and sundry titles used to refer to her (þ: Daniel Drezner).
I’ve said my piece on this before—indeed, over time, I’ve become rather more enamored of the title “doctor,” perhaps because (a) I won’t actually lose that title in May—unlike “professor,” which will go on haitus until at least August, and perhaps permanently—and (b) I continue to spend time in the South, where people with doctorates are typically so-addressed.
Here’s a big shocker, I know:
|What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland
“You have a Midland accent” is just another way of saying “you don’t have an accent.” You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.
|The Inland North
|What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes
A minor disclaimer: I tend to use a weird mix of formal speech and Southern colloquialisms in everyday conversation, so I do have my Southern “moments” when speaking, but if I avoid Southern terms (primarily “y’all”) I pretty much sound like Tom Brokaw.
þ: Prof. Karlson
Tyler Cowen notes a recently-changed German law (previously shared over on the right and also noted by James Joyner) that made it illegal for anyone with a doctorate from a non-E.U. university to call themselves a doctor.
As someone who’s discussed academic titles excessively in the past, I found this turn of events somewhat interesting, but I found this part of the original WaPo piece more noteworthy:
Under a little-known Nazi-era law, only people who earn PhDs or medical degrees in Germany are allowed to use “Dr.” as a courtesy title.
The law was modified in 2001 to extend the privilege to degree-holders from any country in the European Union. But docs from the United States and anywhere else outside Europe are still forbidden to use the honorific. Violators can face a year behind bars. ...
The German doctor rule has been in effect since the 1930s, but it has been only sporadically enforced in recent years.
That changed last fall, when an anonymous tipster filed a complaint with federal prosecutors against seven Americans at the prestigious Max Planck Society, which operates 80 scientific research institutes across Germany. Federal authorities forwarded the complaint to prosecutors and police in at least three states, who decided to take action.
Shouldn’t all of the laws passed under Nazi rule have been repealed anyway, either during the postwar occupation or the subsequent transfer of sovereignty to the Federal Republic in the west? One wonders what other oddities emanating from Hitler’s Reichstag are lurking in modern German law.
Time to clear out the Google Reader “to be blogged about” queue, while I wait around for the Safelite guy:
- The old debate over academic titles resurfaces with questions over whether Barack Obama’s teaching at the University of Chicago Law School merited his claim of being a professor; Orin Kerr says yes and I am inclined to agree, particularly given that at most institutions instructors with a terminal degree in the field (which in most fields of law, horror of horrors, includes the professional JD degree) would receive the title “adjunct professor” even when teaching a single course.
- Amber Taylor describes why she doesn’t sound like a Houstonian. My accent, on the other hand, is not really the result of any deliberate plan; it just seems to have worked out that way.
- Political scientists only pay attention to the importance of SES in their research, not in graduate admissions.
That wasn’t all of the queue, but it took care of most of the highlights.