I sincerely doubt she would have been negotiating if she had not already been interviewed and possibly offered a position? I could be wrong, though. I didn’t get that from the slate piece, or the original posting. The email she got also mentions that the committee was discussing this with the dean, etc, so they wouldn’t have gotten to that point if she had not already had an on campus or at the very least a skype/phone call interview. Again, I could be misreading this whole thing, but that is how it seemed to me. I’ve never known anyone applying for a job to have the expectation that they could negotiate before they even had an on-campus interview.
I’m not sure that’s the case here, either. Not that I think she’s necessarily right in all this, but there is no reason to think that she shouldn’t negotiate as a possible new hire, as that is standard practice from what I’ve seen. There is probably something else going on there that we just aren’t privy too, in regards to inter-university politics, either at the department level or between the department and the school. And, honestly, there is no way that she can know what that is, because she’s only interacted with her potential colleagues in a very mediated way–on some level, the department is just as much being interviewed as the candidate is.
In my experience of academic job interviews (I’ve attended a few at this point and taken candidates out for breakfast in my capacity as a graduate student - so all on the hiring end, not so far on the candidate end), departments tend to offer advice and talks on how to deal with the job market and on the various options available. In my field at least, there has been a real push, given the realities of the job market, to try and help phds think more creatively and think out side academia, too. But obviously, if you are a phd in the humanities, your ideal is most likely a job at a college or university.
I’m also guessing she is coming out of a top-tier university, because those are the guys who tend to get the most job interviews anyway… but since we don’t know who she is and where she is coming from, we don’t know… But, many of the candidates emerging from elite schools tend to be far more coddled than those of us who are at state schools. They get a free ride, they get much more individualized attention, and they are far more insulated from BS realpolitiks, I think. The universities that already have reputations and fat endowments can afford to do that - their students actually have the ability to think about pretty much nothing but their dissertation work, because that is their REAL WORK anyway. But they also generally can’t teach for shit coming right out of their phds, because they have not had to teach surveys. Some schools actually forbid phds from teaching surveys and only allow them to TA for a prof in the surveys or to teach an upper division course of history majors. Few of these unis have classes which deal with pedagogy, because they are being trained to research, think, and write–not teach surveys.
All of which sounds so unbelievable cushy to me right now…
Okay, now I have to get back to writing about the luddites for a class of ungrateful and uncaring non-history major undergrads… :-/