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Sparky

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Sparky last won the day on September 25 2017

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About Sparky

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    History-ish PhD

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  1. Regarding interdisciplinary programs: I am a historian in one, with a background not in history. From that perspective, they can be really good and we can be *very* attractive applicants. However. You want to be really sure that the program you select--especially an interdisciplinary one--both aligns with your goals for the PhD, and **has a PROVEN, RECENT track record** of placing its graduates into that career path. In 95% of cases, maybe more, an interdisciplinary degree makes it much, much harder to get an academic job, because academic departments run along disciplinary lines. There are a few programs out there that have astounding success for their graduates on the academic job market (insofar as any department's success can be "astounding" today). If you want an academic job, be sure to get solid data from current students, not just the dept's blithe promises that "all our graduates who want academic positions obtain them." (That means nothing.) Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely, 100% in the right program for me. I enjoyed my interdisciplinary coursework, *loved* having one non-history field for my exams, and really appreciate that I've got a lit person on my dissertation committee (yow). My department has excellent success in my Plan A and Plan A-Prime career paths. (Plan B is also showing promise in the last two years, but that was unexpected on everyone's part.) But there are some hefty potential costs, and you need to be aware of them upfront if this is the path you choose.
  2. Sparky

    Book recommendation - C20 Chinese history?

    Thanks, hj and kdavid! My school's library has been useful on all fronts. Now I can get on feeling like less of an ignoramus.
  3. Sparky

    Studying for Comps

    Write practice exams. Even if they're long and sprawling and on ridiculously broad "questions." ("America was colonized. Discuss.") That did more to help me get my thoughts in order than all the rereading of notes in the universe. For each book, I made sure to get down: 1. author 2. argument (thesis) 3. background historiography/significance of argument 4. method 5. sources 6. outline (generally chapter by chapter breakdown) of argument Does your department circulate a list of previously asked questions by each prof? We do, and it was SUPER helpful. Even if you don't have a list, ask some senior students who've done lists with some of the same profs. They'll have advice not just on what the questions might entail, but also on what the profs might be looking for.
  4. Hey, y'all, What is a good, introductory book on twentieth-century Chinese history? I asked a couple people in my department and got a list of, like, thirty bricks. I'd love to, but, you know. I am interested in learning about primarily post-WW2/PRC era. Undergrad textbook-type stuff is not preferable, but is okay. I'd love something that centers on social and/or cultural history but has enough context for orientation for a complete beginner, if that's possible. (If not, bring on the politics!) I stress again "beginner." Pretty much everything I know about Chinese history involves Mongols or Jesuits. Thanks!
  5. Sparky

    South Bend, IN (Notre Dame)

    IIRC, the windows in OG won't work with a window AC unit. And really, I wouldn't trust the electric systems in the townhouses to handle them! The Fischer apts, however, are not cold in the winter unless you turn the thermostat down. FOG has 24-hour quiet hours. The most disturbance you'll get, barring a truly disastrous roommate situation (and the RA's are very good at mediating, apparently), are the business students who tailgate in FOG on football Saturdays! Yeah, I really, really wish they allowed pets.
  6. Sparky

    South Bend, IN (Notre Dame)

    Pretty much all the apartments right around campus are undergrad-heavy, which means LOUD. Also that thieves *will* break in and steal things over school breaks. There is the Foundry, which is quiet, although that is upwards of $1000/month. If you are set on living off campus, the University Park apartments are something to check into. A decent grad student population, quiet, and located on the bus route to campus. The other option for living close to campus is to rent a house, which seems to be at least what most people in my department do. You'll generally pay more the closer you live to campus. The landlords have a lot of experience with student rentals and will actually usually advertise on their websites which houses are appropriate for grad students/visiting faculty (i.e. which ones are in quiet neighborhoods versus undergrad party areas). I, personally, am a huge fan of grad housing, at least if you can get Fischer (the air-conditioned, 2-person apartments). They are *super* nice and *super* quiet, plus you're RIGHT THERE. O'Hara-Grace is a little rougher; they are older, the furniture is kind of grungy, no AC, the circuit breakers trip a lot, and four people sharing one freezer is...not easy. Both years I had fantastic roommates. People are generally pretty chill. FOG is very heavy on international students (understandably); my first year I had 3 roommates from various parts of China! So we had a lot of fun Netflixing every bad American teen movie you can think of to work on their English and knowledge of American culture. I'd be happily living in FOG still, by the way, except I wanted a dog. She is way worth the commute. I now rent a house, which is a little pricier than I'd like but quiet, convenient, and very much worth it. If meeting people is your primary goal, live in FOG. They do *tons* of community programming, including weekly summer cookouts and schoolyear breakfasts!
  7. I agree with the others that "well respected in the field" and "good at advising" are two different things, probably BOTH of which, together, make up A Good Adviser. For the latter, you pretty much have to ask current grads (or if you are close to a new prof who is a former advisee!). I am certainly *always* thrilled to talk about how awesome my adviser and not-quite-co-adviser are. For the former, you could look at things like: book awards, how often their books get cited, whether they get mentioned in historiography articles, whether their articles are field-shaping in any way, how your current profs react when you suggest you might be working with Doctor Who next year. Are they fellows of prestigious organizations or have they held leadership positions in them. Some department-subfield combos are name-brand enough that everyone they hire is already well respected, but that might be a little hard to figure out until you're somewhere and you get to watch job searches happen. It is a weird, weird time for us.
  8. Sparky

    MAPSS vs. MTS

    What is your goal for the M* program? Is it just something to do before the next round of PhD admissions? Or do you have something specific in mind that would make you a better applicant next time, like "more advanced language work" or "more manuscript skills"? Do you *want* a broader basis in religious studies, in addition to history of religion? As far as input wrt medieval, and medieval history--one of the medieval historians in my cohort has an MTS from Harvard and obviously succeeded in PhD admissions with it. (PM for more details if you're interested.) I recall that my app year, someone who specialized in modern history blamed the MTS instead of a specifically history background for not getting her into her top choice program (but was accepted to several great schools, go figure). And yeah, the lack of history might hurt you at some places, but I don't know how the MAPSS holds up in that respect, either. But Harvard Div has several important religious medievalists who are well known in history, which helps. I don't know anyone here, in any department, who has come through MAPSS, but we are only one school. On the other hand, it *can* look better to do a master's somewhere besides your undergrad, to show you can work in multiple environments and that your success is not linked to your school. Yet, my BA and MA (theology, by the way) are from the same school, and I also did all right for myself. I will say that *I* think I am a better scholar because of my religious studies background, and my advisor agrees. But I don't know if it was a disadvantage in PhD admissions.
  9. Besides the obvious (laptop, clothes, etc): e-reader, 2 nonleaking coffee tumblers (one for home and one for campus), Gore-Tex outerwear including running shoes, extra laptop power cable for campus, enough emergency money set aside to replace any broken electronics, and a dog.
  10. Sparky

    Anyone studying religious history?

    I started off in theology (BA, M*), and am now working on a PhD in history. "Once you start down the dark path" &c. (See also my signature.)
  11. Sparky

    Where should I go? (Duke, Chicago, Princeton)

    If your goal is a PhD in philosophy, why not check with each program to see what kind of PhD placement its students obtain? I agree with coffeekid that a religion M* might not be the best path to a philosophy PhD in many cases. My very vague impression of philosophy PhDs is, somewhat like coffeekid, that there are a handful of "top" MA programs and that's pretty much it. (Heh--like theology!) That said, two things about Duke: 1. Hauerwas has just about got to be retiring soon. If he's the main draw, make sure that's not, like, this semester. 2. When I did my master's, the PhD students (basically the rest of the cohort...it was an interesting experience) with the best philosophical background had done M*'s at Duke. Seriously. They really, really knew their stuff. I followed the money rather than academics/faculty rep and things have worked out fantastically for me, but in religion I'm not sure this is always the case.
  12. tl;dr: It is program-specific; check the policies of your specific department. My (humanities) program grants a master's degree along the way. Most people arrive with one or more M*'s already. We have 2, or really 2 and a half when you count summers, years of coursework. If you have an M*, you are allowed to transfer in up to two classes. Most people only bring in one, typically a language class. Two years of coursework is pretty standard, as I understand things. I can think of a couple of English programs where students coming directly from a BA are given an extra year of funding with the assumption they will need extra coursework. However, in general, in an American PhD program is a professional program, so your degree will represent that your academic training comes from that school--including during coursework.
  13. Sparky

    Fall 2013 Applicants?

    Rejections usually go out through the grad school, not individual departments. And the grad school in the past has preferred to operate in clumps of departments rather than individual ones.
  14. Lyrus, that's brilliant. (I've known German for awhile, so I have a decent grasp of the incidentals and their shades of meaning/emphasis). Since Middle English and Middle German are closer than the modern vernaculars are, I bet you're right on. Thank you! DontHate ~ lol, who's to say I didn't? I must admit that being told it's acceptable to use an edition with a facing page translation if I'm having trouble with the Old French (HAHAHA right.) was not exactly the answer I was looking for. I will confess that I was sort of also thinking that medieval lit is awesome and maybe getting any medievalists here a chance to, y'know, talk about medieval lit outside a classroom context would help release some of the pressure of this time of year, because when I was applying every opportunity to do so helped me out emotionally, and I thought maybe it could be the same for someone this year. I'm sorry for intruding. Thanks again, Lyrus!
  15. Sparky

    Fall 2013 Applicants?

    People wondering about NYU: In the past, NYU has held an interview weekend fairly late (sometime in March, IIRC). It is a strange beast, as interviews go. Not everyone who gets invited to interview, ultimately gets in. On the flip side, not everyone who is ultimately admitted gets an interview! It doesn't seem to break down evenly by subfield, either. So, no news from NYU when other people are hearing back about interviews is not necessarily time to give up.
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