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AfricanusCrowther

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AfricanusCrowther last won the day on October 25 2016

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About AfricanusCrowther

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    Espresso Shot

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  • Application Season
    2016 Fall
  • Program
    History - PHD

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  1. AfricanusCrowther

    Emailing Graduate Students

    I think this is acceptable, and actually good practice for graduate school, where you sometimes have to email academics you don’t know (potential outside committee members, big names you want to meet at a conference, journal editors). You want to be polite (perhaps even acknowledging the awkwardness of the situation), but treat them like a future colleague. I would also make sure to email a graduate student in your sub-field, who will generally be able to give the most helpful answers to any question, and explain why you reached out to them in particular. If I were on the receiving end of this, I would be happy to answer. I think you can ask about anything germane to the program, but I would not voice any concerns about it (especially not about individuals you might want to work with). Not only is this premature, but also better saved for conversations on a campus visit. I would also try to make sure your question is relatively straightforward and best answered by a graduate student.
  2. AfricanusCrowther

    Fall 2019 Applicants

    Not if the citation is logical and appropriate.
  3. AfricanusCrowther

    The Borders of "Acceptable" Historical Method and Perspective

    I have colleagues whose primary method is historical linguistics, and they get tired of explaining to fellow historians how they do what they do and why it should be considered history. A large part of their work involves explaining and defending their methodology to non-specialists. But such is the price of getting to do the work you want.
  4. AfricanusCrowther

    Language Examination in History PhD Program

    Make sure to ask graduate students at the programs you'll eventually visit about the lived reality of the language requirement. Sometimes language requirements are more fluid than what the graduate handbook suggests.
  5. AfricanusCrowther

    Funded MAs

  6. AfricanusCrowther

    Chances of Entry?

    I think BU has always been strong in African history. They certainly have some heavyweights and I remember coming across BU graduates in some tenure track positions in that field. The USNWR rankings are useless because they cannot account for two important factors: placement within subfield (the USNWR subfield rankings are even worse) and placement by advisor (when Ira Berlin was active, the University of Maryland was a good place to do 19th century US). If the professor who works in your field told you that the top 20 was a good metric for program strength, maybe that happens to be the case in his or her subfield. But this is a distraction from your actual question, for which the answer is, your chance of acceptance depends almost entirely on the strength of your written materials and your ability to excite potential advisors who want to reproduce themselves through you.
  7. AfricanusCrowther

    Fall 2019 Applicants

    Writing samples are also very annoying to adapt if you are working from a BA thesis, another hard-earned lesson. It’s good practice for turning research papers into conference presentations, but of course the stakes here are much higher.
  8. AfricanusCrowther

    Fall 2019 Applicants

    Also bear in mind that some programs ask for different formats for the SoP from the standard two-pager. It can be hard to adapt your SOP to those formats -- which I found out the hard way when I was rejected from all of those schools.
  9. AfricanusCrowther

    Is getting a PhD worth it?

    The "struggle" of graduate school is not always a noble, dignified one. It can be humiliating, morally debilitating, infuriatingly arbitrary, and intellectually limiting, especially (precisely?) because academic work is so much more personal than most other forms of labor. I encourage you to read this classic essay by Tim Burke. As they say, your mileage may vary, and I certainly have friends who love it and are having a blast, but trust me that you cannot anticipate the ways your sense of self-worth can be destroyed in graduate school, for no good reason and by people you assumed you could trust. You need to prepare to make some provision for your mental health, beyond just dealing with the stress of being busy.
  10. AfricanusCrowther

    Is getting a PhD worth it?

    I wouldn't start a PhD program without first finding a good therapist.
  11. AfricanusCrowther

    How to organize archival materials

    How do those who work on handwritten sources or obscure foreign languages (or both, for me) work with the lack of OCR?
  12. AfricanusCrowther

    JD to PhD. I have no idea how to do this.

    I took a lot of history courses in college and my research interests came out of my BA thesis, so I might not be much help. In general, I've always come to topics through trying to understand primary sources -- and one place for you to start might be an unusual or anomalous aspect of case law. FWIW, I just went to a conference where historians complained about the lack of scholarship on medicine and the law, particularly outside the United States and issues of patents.
  13. AfricanusCrowther

    JD to PhD. I have no idea how to do this.

    In case you didn’t know, the lack of specificity of this response and the previous one would be inappropriate for an application essay. You need a much more focused set of interests, with at least a clearly defined period, region, theme, and set of historical questions. I would suggest getting your hands on some successful application essays or just (as OHSP suggested) taking to current graduate students about what they proposed to do in their applications.
  14. AfricanusCrowther

    Query Regarding South Asian History Graduate Programs

    FYI, OP, this thread is old but maybe useful as a starting point:
  15. AfricanusCrowther

    Query Regarding South Asian History Graduate Programs

    I don't think you'll find the most helpful answers to this question on GradCafe. I would try the following: 1. Ask the South Asian history professors whom you know. Presumably they're already aware that you're applying because you have already asked them for advice. A quick "Hi, just wanted to double check my list, what schools would you say were the top in the field for my specific research interests? Oh, great, that's what I thought," would help. Even if you don't want to tell them your plans yet (although you should if you're applying this year), you could say you're just curious. Ideally you would be having conversations that were much more in depth at this point. 2. This is the blunt force method: go through the top 100 research universities and see where assistant professors and young associate professors in South Asian history got their degrees. Remember that placement is just as much about the advisor; if you're scratching your head as to why a school appears to be punching above its weight, figure out whether that school had a star academic whose name could get students through the door (eg, Ira Berlin at Maryland), or if they have a longstanding institutional investment in a particular sub-field that is widely recognized (eg, MSU for my field). 3. Figure out where the scholars who publish groundbreaking scholarship teach and got their degrees.
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