- Major Pseudology Conference. This is the ginormous, overstuffed, pan-Pseudology conference that almost everyone hates, everyone badmouths, and everyone attends anyway. Given my disciplinary training and expertise, this is the conference most likely to generate prelim interviews for me. I'm in several smaller interest groups within the umbrella of the larger organization, which have their own little meetings during the big MPC, during which I have to be quiet, applaud at the right moments, and try not to embarrass myself in front of people who could hire me in a year or two. (Already failed at that effort, I fear.) On a better note, there are always lots of old grad school friends there, and it's good to catch up with them.
- Area Studies Conference. This is relatively large, too, but not like the 800-pound gorilla that MPC feels like in practice. Pseudologists make up a comparatively small percentage of the membership, most of which comes from other social science and humanities disciplines. This, naturally, is reflected in the hiring opportunities that articulate themselves around the conference. Essentially, after having scouted things out, I have concluded that ASC is probably a waste of time if I'm single-mindedly focused on getting a job. It is, however, useful for publicizing my work to colleagues in other disciplines who don't read Pseudology journals. And, for that matter, it can open doors to publishing opportunities in the journals that maintain a high profile at ASC. As I somewhat hazily recall, there are also some fine opportunities for late-night bull sessions at the hotel bars. ASC people can drink, that's for sure. A fair number of grad school friends here, too, but not as many as at MPC.
- Secondary Disciplinary Interest Conference. I joined SDIC a year ago specifically to expand my access to timely job postings, which are often reserved for dues-paying members. I've never even seriously considered going to SDIC, since money, time, and utility were all concerns in previous years.
More to the point, I don't know anyone with the money, the time, and the energy to keep up with that many conferences. You know you can't do all of them each year, so you start thinking that you shouldn't bother with some of them at all. And yet, what if that conference you're thinking of ditching is The One Conference?
I think you get the idea. At the moment, I have confined myself to a single SDIC, although to date I've never even gone: I just pay dues and get the associated journal. Frankly, I was beginning to think that I should bag SDIC altogether and concentrate my attention on MPC and ASC, even though it's almost impossible to do both of those latter ones in the same year. (They're practically on top of each other for timing, and yet somehow never in the same city.) SDIC, since it has to date yielded me nothing but slightly easier access to some journal articles I probably could have acquired elsewhere without much trouble, seems uncomfortably like a vanity membership — kind of like padding the CV.
EXCEPT...the newest wrinkle for me is that the short-list interview I've just landed is for a position firmly situated within the purview of SDI, rather than Pseudology proper. I know: crazy, right? My mind needs to be in five places at once just to handle all of it. Since this is the single best lead I have on a job right now, I don't dare discount SDIC. Indeed, if I get this job, then I would think that I'd be expected to go to SDIC on a regular basis, perhaps even more frequently than I would go to MPC. Weird.
So anyway, those are my three, and my current mercenary thinking about each one. How do you good people all run this calculus?