Damian Fleming, Associate Professor, English and Linguistics, Indiana

Damian Fleming, Associate Professor, English and Linguistics, Indiana

BY: as told by Damian Fleming / As written by Catherine Nygren

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During high school, I decided I wanted to be a medievalist. A bachelor degree in medieval studies led to an MA, and then on to a PhD at Toronto. I enjoyed my time spent with my supportive supervisor, mentors, and colleagues, but it was more learning on my feet than crafted, institutional mentorship. Still, when I meet others from Toronto’s Centre for Medieval Studies, I feel like we’re part of the same tradition and academic family.

When I went on the academic job market, I found I had a strong, specialized research profile, but my teaching experience was mostly limited to teaching Latin. After two years as a full-time visiting professor at a small, private university, I was much more experienced at teaching a range of classes, and I had many more interviews. Finally, after a total of about four years on the job market, I got a tenure-track job. My current work developed from my doctoral research—rather than being too narrow, my topic has continued to turn up new things.

I sometimes wonder if I had been guided more and if I had thought more in terms of the job market,  whether I would have changed what I researched, the kind of courses I took, and if I would have gotten as deep into my subject. I know my outlook might be different if I did not have a tenure-track job. Now, at my institution and through the Medieval Academy of America, I actively mentor early career academics and graduate students, especially regarding the practical aspects of being in the academy.

During high school, I decided I wanted to be a medievalist. A bachelor degree in medieval studies led to an MA, and then on to a PhD at Toronto. I enjoyed my time spent with my supportive supervisor, mentors, and colleagues, but it was more learning on my feet than crafted, institutional mentorship. Still, when I meet others from Toronto’s Centre for Medieval Studies, I feel like we’re part of the same tradition and academic family.

When I went on the academic job market, I found I had a strong, specialized research profile, but my teaching experience was mostly limited to teaching Latin. After two years as a full-time visiting professor at a small, private university, I was much more experienced at teaching a range of classes, and I had many more interviews. Finally, after a total of about four years on the job market, I got a tenure-track job. My current work developed from my doctoral research—rather than being too narrow, my topic has continued to turn up new things.

I sometimes wonder if I had been guided more and if I had thought more in terms of the job market,  whether I would have changed what I researched, the kind of courses I took, and if I would have gotten as deep into my subject. I know my outlook might be different if I did not have a tenure-track job. Now, at my institution and through the Medieval Academy of America, I actively mentor early career academics and graduate students, especially regarding the practical aspects of being in the academy.

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