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11/22/2023

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anon

I would recommend cold-emailing people, personally, it's worked out well for me. One factor that you might think about, which has helped me I think, is that while the people I have cold emailed are very highly regarded, they work in departments with no or relatively few grad students (so they were relatively non-busy and happy to talk).

Aspie

I'm an Aspie and near the end of my PhD. I've made some great contacts and developed some good relationships by cold emailing people. Be very friendly and positive - one of the most important relationships I developed started by sending someone an email saying how much I liked a paper of theirs and why. If you're writing to someone primarily to express your genuine appreciation, that's a much nicer email to receive than one primarily asking for help.

I work in an area no one in my department does (something I haven't really found a problem). I recently organized a workshop in my area and I highly recommend it as a way of meeting people, getting yourself known, and also getting people in your department a little interested in your topic.

I think most important professional relationships are with people not working in your area. Whatever someone's topic is, most philosophers don't work on it, so most hiring committees will be made up of people not in your area. So, you want to learn to be able to present your topic and your particular view on it as interesting and important to philosophers in general. I recommend working on that, and finding ways to socialize with other philosophers that works for you. (E.g., I found that going to after-talk dinners works well for me.)

Best of luck with everything!

Paul

Hi! OP here!

Maybe I'll be a little more specific. My work focuses on Contingency, Reality and dialectics. My dissertation poses the question of the relationship between experience and reality in the context of a necessity of contingency (Meillassoux). One major aspect of my dissertation is to establish a connection between Deleuze and Adorno in an attempt to reconfigure an epistemological link between experience and reality.

I don't really see many CFP or conferences where I can talk about that.

(I can now post in the comment section, the buttons work! That's strange.)

anon

Hi! I bet you can find conferences - you just need to play around with how you’re framing your work. I’m kinda guessing here, but it sounds like you could pitch your work for conferences on any of the following:
- Deleuze
- Adorno
- Continental philosophy more generally
- Epistemology and/or metaphysics
You don’t need conferences at the exact intersection of ALL your research interests: you just need some point of connection. (If you’re not using philevents.org yet, you should. A ton of CFPs get posted there.)

I also second the folks who recommended cold emailing. It’s worth a shot! And if you happen to have an advisor or friend who already knows the person you want to meet, they might be willing to make an introduction.

anon junior faculty

many grad conferences are open to all areas of philosophy (though I probably wouldn't bother with ones at largely analytic programs given your interests). I think grad conferences are underappreciated for precisely the reasons you are concerned with here: they are great, especially for earlier-year grad students, for meeting grads from other programs, people who might be a bit farther along, and a few faculty in a friendly environment.

I also would encourage you to focus on what kind of work you find interesting outside your own research and not to be afraid to try to express interest. Cold emailing doesn't have to be "read my work" or "talk to me about my project". It can be "hey I read your paper and here's this one thought I had about it". And it doesn't have to be directed at fancy tenured faculty. Look for farther along grad students, postdocs, junior faculty working on things outside of your specific work but that you are interested in, and get to know them by showing interest in their work instead of trying to get them interested in your work (which is also good! just emphasizing that there are other ways to go!).

cold called

I am hardly super famous, but I do get "cold call" e-mails, including from high school students. Of course, it is flattering, but do be clear about what you are asking for. It is quite unreasonable to just contact some stranger and ask them to read your work. So, the conversation might begin by indicating what YOU know about their work. So when someone writes and indicates that they know my work, and they give some sort of account of how they understand it, I get a sense of what they do know and whether this will be a constructive interaction. I have had constructive exchanges with a variety of people that began with a cold call e-mail. Some have been high school students - and some fellow academics with whom I have co-authored articles. Remember, though, we are busy, and if one is even remotely famously, one gets contacted regularly for requests. Each year, for the last five years or so, I am contacted about twice a year with offers to publish books - books I have not written or edited yet (and may have no desire to produce). Some of these are with very good Presses ... some not. But, productive scholars are in the business of having to say "no" a lot. So make it clear what you are expecting.

Jacob Joseph Andrews

anon gives good advice: You'll never find the perfect CFP. Instead of looking for conferences that hit most or all of your area, look for ones that hit just one, and write your talks in a way that uses that one as a bridge to get people interested in the others. You can use the same technique for writing submission abstracts and for pre-rehearsed little elevator pitches.

I'm on the spectrum and do pretty obscure research too. My primary research is on a little-known 13th century theologian (William of Auxerre) working on a pretty obscure question in epistemology / phil mind (whether a single proposition can be simultaneously an object of knowledge and faith). So, like yours, my research is obscure but touches on lots of well-known subfields and figures. I learned to treat each of those subfields as a target audience and to craft my talks or pitches with that in mind.

For example, if I'm at a Catholic theology conference, I might start by talking about the relation between faith and reason, the theological virtues, spiritual sensation and mysticism, etc. And that's my bridge to bring in the more epistemological stuff.

On the other hand, if I'm at a Protestant or generically Christian philosophy conference, I might start with the religious epistemology stuff, make some connections with Plantinga, and use that to make my listeners care about the historical side of my research.

But if I'm talking with more mainstream analytic philosophers, I'm going to start with what's interesting in William's epistemology and phil mind, and use that to motivate discussion of the religious questions.

You'll never find the perfect CFP, and that's actually a good thing, because it teaches you to think creatively about your own work.

Paul

Thank you all for all these good tips!

I'm trying to broaden the spectrum of my CFP researches. I think I need to see further than my PhD and start talking and writing about things related to but not completely fitting my main research.

I also cold emailed two people I respect in my field like some of you told me too. We'll see how it goes. I took an extra care to show how I was interested in their work and that I've read some of their publications - but let's be honest here, I don't have time to do more than scratching the surface of their work.

I also took new responsibilities in the department that makes me more "visible" by my colleagues and senior researchers.

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