With spring nearly here, I am suddenly facing the prospect that I will, in fact, graduate from college and have to find a job. I have spent the last four years earning a liberal arts degree and, as I hate the smell of coffee, hope to find a position in one of the few other fields that may value my skills: academic publishing. While confident I can handle the theories and grand ideas you people talk about all day, I’m a little worried about what I’d wear to work. Have yoga pants become acceptable yet? Or should I hit the thrift store and hope an eccentric banker dumped his wardrobe there before trekking into the Himalayas to find him/herself? Signed, Pretty Fly for a Wide Tie
Fly: Thank you for writing. Take comfort, comrade. The world of academic publishing for the most part operates under the “Business Casual” dress code, albeit one that regrettably hasn’t expanded to admit yoga pants. By and large, academic publishing—like academia at large—bears some responsibility for the depletion of the worldwide khaki supply, and you won’t go wrong peddling sweaters or charming socks to the staff, either. You can get away with a shirt, tie, and sneakers; you can also get away with a blouse, skirt, and combat boots. Better still, your workplace culture will consider both of those ensembles gender-neutral. That said, ties and jackets need make only infrequent appearances, and like pearls and heels only have to be considered when you venture outside the office to meet authors at conferences, give presentations to other professionals, and ballroom dance.
Have you ever considered getting a few presses together and starting a Gawker-style gossip blog covering the UP universe? Maybe dirt presented with snark could get you some clicks and sell books. Signed, Diminished Expectations
DE: Thank you for writing. Though your idea sounds intriguing, upon reflection I think the hypothetical gossip blog would probably languish due to a lack of conspicuous sleazy behavior at university presses. Indeed, the personal lives of many U. press employees revolve around cats, and seriously, there’s enough of those things on the Internet already.
Your press publishes works on the cutting edge of scholarship. Some of them, no doubt, offend certain corners of the public. Do you ever have safety concerns? Signed, Concerned
Concerned: Thank you for writing. I am glad you asked that question. Indeed, academic battles over theories and grant money can and do turn fierce. It reminds me of my days back in the World Revolution, when you didn’t dare put Trotskyists and anarcho-syndicalists in the same room, especially if that room was the V.I. Lenin Broken Beer Bottle Museum. Fortunately for us, UIP authors squirrel away the highest levels of animosity for their department meetings.
UIP, nonetheless, faces unique challenges. For example, our building sits near train tracks. Who knows what liquids slosh in those tanker cars? One derailment could bring us face to face with a tsunami of high fructose corn syrup that recalls the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919. Or, alternately, a wall of fiery oil. University security has also explicitly warned us of train-riding hobos* wandering into our parking lot. And not the charming kind that sing folk songs and make soup, either.
* This is actually true.