duckgirlie (duckgirlie) wrote in little_details,

A few questions about a fictional English lit department.

Setting: Modern day America, fictional liberal arts university.
Googled: 'what happens if my thesis advisor changes specialisations before I get to graduate school?' 'how long does it take to get tenure?' 'American university class naming conventions'

None of these were particularly helpful, because I'm looking for more of an 'does this abstract situation make sense' instead of 'has this factual thing happened before' Except for the last one, because "American University" and "Nameing conventions" Are both apparently actual things, neither of which is what I'm looking for, and I don't know how to describe what I am.

This is one of those situations where I need to have several characters all in the same place at the same time, and need to make sure that my reasoning for them being there is sound. Obviously all universities are different, so this is mainly just checking to make sure that it's feasible, even if it's not massively likely.

The fictional university in question is one that is a well-ranked, but not spectacularly impressive university. The kind that would be on the lower edges of reach schools for smart kids with good grades and good SATS (or might be an "acceptable" safety for someone aiming at the top universties), but not quite little Ivy territory. (I'm not American, but if someone could give me a throwaway line about it's ranking like "it's top ** for 'specific catagory' or whatever, that would be great. Our universities are ranked completely differently)

The story is centered on the English department, and there are two couples and one single person involved.

The first couple are two of the bigger names of the department. Not household names in general, but the kind of people whose work is quite well-known in their field, and it's quite possible that more prestigious institutions would have tried to poach one or the other of them at some point in the past. The wife is in the process of writing what a lot of people are expecting to be an extremely influential work in her field, when she dies suddenly.

Firstly: If she had already completed most of the work for the book, how likely would it be that her husband would be allowed complete it? They don't work in the same period, but he's obviously spent a lot of time reading her work, so isn't a complete neophyte (She teaches the Symbolists/Decadents, he does postmodernism) And he'll primarily just be editing, there won't be much new material added.

Secondly: If his wife died at the later half of one school year, and the following year he's going to be spending most of his time working on finishing her book, what would happen to his grad students? Particularly, what would happen to the new grad student who's just arrived at the department that year, only to discover her advisor (who she'd been very excited about working with) has kind of checked-out of postmodernism for the next little bit? How would she/the university deal with this? (In a way that has her staying there, obviously)

Thirdly: The other couple both arrived at the university together, and I need to figure out what they were about five years ago and what they are now. (As in, were they postdocs who are now associates? Associates who are now tenured? Associates who are still associates? What would make sense?) Also, they specifically came to this university because it offered them both positions, but it was only one of their first choice, and the other's second. (which got picked because the other option was one of their first choice, the other's fourth). In a somewhat argumentative relationship, this is the kind of thing that might cause bubbling resentment at later points, yes?

Finally: As I've said before, 3rd level ed is structured entirely differently where I come from, so I have some questions about the names of classes. I know "Blank 101" is like, the easist/first class in a particular subject, but how do the numbers proceed after that? What does 401 mean as opposed to 301 (and as opposed to 407)? And would a class be refered to as "Victorian Lit 304" or "English Lit 304: Victorian Lit"?

Thanks for any help!

Tags: usa: education: higher education

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