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psstein last won the day on November 9 2018

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About psstein

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    History of Science

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  1. CalTech doesn't have a graduate program, so I won't discuss it. I'd rank MIT among the best STS/HoS programs (on par with Harvard/Penn), and their placement reflects that fact. I don't think it's any tougher to get a job out of that program, and that's keeping in mind that most historians of science are employed in history departments (including here in WI). Historically, some of the "science-oriented" universities have had exceptional history of science programs. I don't know if Cornell qualifies as "science focused," but they have an outstanding STS program and a very good, though older, historian of science in Peter Dear.
  2. psstein

    NYU vs. Oxford for Masters in Middle Eastern Studies

    The prevailing view of the Columbia MAs is that they're cash cows, with all the attending concerns (lack of real preparation/faculty attention, price tag, etc.). The NYU MAs vary in reputation, but they've a decent reputation for not being cash cows.
  3. psstein

    Entering Academic Philosophy with a Non-Phi Major

    Yes, I've read that too, especially from Edward Feser. Right, the first book you should look at is H. Floris Cohen, The Scientific Revolution: A Historiographical Inquiry (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994). I'd strongly advise not reading the whole thing, as it's often a summary of existing scholarship. I'd recommend reading the relevant sections and then examining the footnotes. That would probably be the best use of your time.
  4. psstein

    Entering Academic Philosophy with a Non-Phi Major

    No, that really helps. You might do really well in a history/phil. of science program (e.g. Pittsburgh, who have faculty who love this sort of work). Your proposed project sounds absolutely fascinating to me, as historians of science have usually assumed that Galileo's world system finally killed Aristotelianism. There's a lot of good literature to this end, most of which is tied to the Sci. Rev. one way or another. Even of the questions you've put forward, I'd encourage an even narrower dive into one, as well as situating yourself within the literature. I'm happy to point you towards works on the history and phil. of science side. There are also, generally speaking, ways to learn how to read Latin without MA coursework. I'd also point out that many, if not most early modernists, aren't talented Latin scholars. Most know enough Latin to muddle through sources with a dictionary and a grammar. If you're self-motivated, there are some great self study aids out there, and not just the rather dry Wheelock's Latin.
  5. psstein

    Entering Academic Philosophy with a Non-Phi Major

    Depends on position. It's not uncommon for a US history job to have 400 applicants, but it's also worth pointing out that US history is an incredibly oversaturated market. I don't know what the equivalent in philosophy would be. I definitely agree about this. Whether or not it's nice to say, there are far too many humanities PhD programs that cannot reasonably justify their own existence. Brian Leiter made this point years ago about Philosophy departments, but it's clearly true for history as well.
  6. psstein

    Entering Academic Philosophy with a Non-Phi Major

    The African history market is way down the last two years, too. It's pretty bad all around, even worse for students coming from programs outside the top 15.
  7. psstein

    Entering Academic Philosophy with a Non-Phi Major

    The job market comments was more based on my own understanding of the situation. The AHA has claimed that roughly 55% of all history grads end up with some full-time academic position, but they're very vague as to what that means (TT, Full Time non-TT, Adjunct, Postdoc, etc.). Brian Leiter's blog tends to be pretty good about issues with philosophy placement. Here's a recent enough (Oct. 2018) article: https://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2017/10/placement-in-phd-granting-program.html As for the MA, I'm glad we agree about the Chicago programs! I tend not to hold them in the highest regard, as I've seen woefully underprepared students come out of them.
  8. psstein

    Entering Academic Philosophy with a Non-Phi Major

    Just on a pure job market level, history's job market is better than philosophy's. I too, find intellectual history fascinating, which sort of puts us both in a tough situation. As you no doubt know, many scholars look at intellectual history with moderate suspicion. They suspect it's a way to disproportionately focus on dead European males, while Pocock and others have shown multiple ways forward. My own irritation aside, a few questions: what specifically interests you about Scholastic metaphysics? What research question would you try to answer in a dissertation, and what would your methodology be? If you're asking a historical question like "what intellectual currents caused Anscombe to meld Thomist thought with Wittgenstein's thought?" then you should be in a history department. Getting a minor, and developing a top quality philosophy writing sample would almost certainly help your case. I wouldn't go for the MAPSS. It's not cheap, and unless you've serious gaps in your preparation (e.g. you need to know Latin, but don't), a terminal MA isn't tremendously useful.
  9. psstein

    Applications 2019

    I made the point really as part of a bigger contrast. Employment prospects in law aren't phenomenal (in view of the debt incurred) outside of T14 schools, and even some of them have problems (e.g. UVA), but they are far, far better than any academic history employment prospects. The vast majority of law jobs will pay better than the vast majority of academic jobs.
  10. psstein

    Applications 2019

    As I usually bang on about, keep in mind placement and funding sources. Four years TA-ship is unfortunately quite common, but it also delays research productivity.
  11. psstein

    Applications 2019

    More significant than you'd probably hope. He sounds like a great guy and a good advisor. There are two very significant concerns here: 1. Will you be able to get the type of support you need from an absentee advisor? Are there other faculty you can lean on at Penn? Just anecdotally, a friend finished his PhD last May. His advisor had recently retired and was in the middle of doing other things. He said that it was impossible to get in contact with the guy-- it took weeks to get comments on drafts and feedback. Nothing to do with ability, but a lot to do with availability. 2. Do you need a JD? Graduate programs already take an inordinate amount of time (6 years is a floor at most universities). A JD/PhD will only extend that period. I also want to say that a JD is, in a very real sense, a far more useful degree than a PhD. The job market for law is bad. The job market and long-term outlook for academic history is nothing short of miserable. This is nothing short of an absolutely giant red flag. A lack of a proven track record of success, combined with a nonchalant attitude to the job market should set off a very loud warning klaxon. The market is brutal, even for someone from a top-tier Ivy. As I've said many, many times, the point is not to get into graduate school. It's to find a job after graduate school.
  12. psstein

    Applications 2019

    Do this. Pay attention to what you hear. Faculty tend not to be incredibly direct, but if you keep hearing the same thing, you need to take it into consideration.
  13. The US News and World Report's rankings are worthless. You should go to School A. Your advisor's reputation will follow you long after s/he dies. Think about Prof. B's time constraints. Running academic institutes is time consuming. My advisor is on multiple committees and it can be a chore to meet with her at all. You should also look at placement. Having a "star" advisor is worthless if s/he can't place students.
  14. psstein

    Which languages should I focus the most on?

    I would encourage you to refine specifically why you want and need the languages you're taking up. I understand @telkanuru's point about German, but I'm not sure I agree with him. Certainly some sub-fields benefit very much from having access to German language sources, including my own (history of medicine). With other sub-fields, however, focusing intensely upon French and Latin will prove far more useful. German history of science literature, for example, heavily focuses on late 19th/early 20th century physics and the development of disciplines like physiology, biology, and organic chemistry. I do echo his call, however, about finding a very specific time period and framework. For example, my MA project is about attempts to control syphilis, focusing on human medical experimentation, in both the US South and one Latin American country between 1945 and 1965. My SoP discussed French Jesuits in the New World and their role as knowledge producers and circulators. My question for you is, precisely: what do you want to do and why do you want to do it? You don't need to have a completely articulated, entirely set out framework, but it does help to understand precisely what you want to look at and why it matters. I would suggest that even your current interests are far too broad. Obviously, some of the work of the MA (and PhD) is about refining and narrowing your interests, but as you show below, you have a lot of interests. I'd strongly recommend choosing one and really digging into it. Maybe it's my own work showing, but the intersection of religion and public health sounds fascinating. I can think of many profitable ways you can go with that topic alone (e.g. church attendance as a form of medical surveillance in 15th C. Vienna), but the overarching point is that you need to become more of a specialist, rather than someone with diffuse interests. By the way, having diffuse interests is not bad, but you need to focus very heavily on one, without seemingly overly narrow. You should have a significant amount of intellectual curiosity, but you should also read with what one of my professors calls "active plunder," how a book allows you to do what you want to do.
  15. psstein

    Which languages should I focus the most on?

    I'd add that comparative approaches to medieval Europe and the Islamic World seem far more popular and marketable, today especially, than more Europe-centered work alone.

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