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laleph last won the day on August 15

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About laleph

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    History Ph.D.

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  1. Fall 2018 Applicants

    You are certainly more of an authority on these matters than I am! I'm relaying what I heard from one prof at UofC. To be clear: the prof didn't say that an applicant is automatically considered for MAPSS after having been rejected from the PhD program – but in practice it has happened more than once (it happened to me, and I know of a couple others). Your comment about performing well, establishing solid relationships, and finishing a project that fits with the department's interests is almost word-for-word what I heard from the prof. Of course there's no guarantee that you'll get into the PhD program if you do MAPSS, but I get the sense it does markedly improve your chances if you tick the above boxes – AND if you make it clear that you will attend the PhD program if admitted. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I was told that UofC has had some bizarre admit years. Not last year but the year before, too many people accepted the offer. As a result, the incoming year's cohort size was cut dramatically. It seems the committee is choosing to err on the side of caution. Knowing that a student who's performed well in MAPSS will commit to attend must be some kind of a plus for them.
  2. Fall 2018 Applicants

    Heh well then Europe seems like it's out! Looks like a partially or fully funded masters is the way to go if you don't get accepted to PhD programs this cycle. Absolutely agree with @Sigaba's suggestion to figure out what history means for you. I wouldn't be overly worried, though, about the (admittedly touchy) subject of interdisciplinarity. Some programs (Cornell's, to take one example) actively encourage working with scholars outside the Department of History. Others are known for their strong departments in other social sciences, and are known for blurring disciplinary boundaries in innovative ways (anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Michigan Ann Arbor; sociology at the University of Chicago). Just be judicious in where you send your applications -- avoiding cranky cranks. As for readings: I'd start with the classics (outdated in some ways, but they'll give you lots to chew on): March Bloch, Apologie pour l'histoire ou métier d'historien, 1941 (trans., The Historian's Craft, 1953) R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History, 1946 E. H. Carr, What is History?, 1961 Then some newer books/articles: Various books and articles by Reinhart Koselleck (many have been translated into English) François Hartog, Le Miroir d'Hérodote. Essai sur la représentation de l'autre, 1980 (trans., The Mirror of Herodotus: The Representation of the Other in the Writing of History, 1988) Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History, 1995 William Cronon, "Why the Past Matters," 2000 François Hartog, Régimes d'historicité. Présentisme et expériences du temps, 2003 (trans., Regimes of Historicity: Presentism and Experiences of Time, 2015) A couple textbook-like resources on historiography: Caroline Hoefferle, The Essential Historiography Reader, 2011 Eileen Ka-May Cheng, Historiography: An Introductory Guide, 2012 My absolute favorite is a book that hasn't been translated into English: Antoine Prost's Douze leçons sur l'histoire (1996, revised 2014). It's a wealth of resources on the practice of history, history's relationship to other disciplines, trends in Western historiography -- and it's written in an accessible, often droll style. If you get less terrible at reading in French, give it a try! I can't recommend it enough.
  3. Fall 2018 Applicants

    Regarding MAPSS: it's my understanding that full funding for MAPSS is most often offered to those who don't get into the PhD program the first time round. MAPSS is a well-known stream for entering the University of Chicago's PhD program -- the idea is that you'll apply only to Chicago after finishing MAPSS. U of C doesn't have a waiting list for the PhD, so admissions folks are keen to admit only people they have a pretty sure idea will enroll. As for the steep price of a masters: I second @Tigla's advice. I've mentioned this in posts before, but it is relatively simple to get accepted to French masters programs if you have a decent language level (B2, also known as advanced intermediate, usually suffices). Tuition is 500 or so per year (and you get health insurance!). Of course you gotta pay your living expenses, but that's manageable if you tutor expat kids studying for the SAT/ACT. There's good, easy money in that. Given your interests in psychology, sociology, and history, the EHESS sounds like a good fit. The school was founded to support interdisciplinary projects and is known for its high percentage of foreign students. Perhaps those with expertise of other European countries or of programs in English could weigh in as well? I'm familiar only with the French system.
  4. French Renaissance/Early Modern France MA (in Paris?)

    Depending on how good your French is, you can apply directly to the French university system. It is not that difficult to get accepted if your French is good enough. Here are the medieval and modern Europe masters programs on offer at Paris 1, for example. The EHESS is also a good option, especially for foreign students. It costs about 500 euros per year for your "inscription," which includes healthcare. Of course you'll have to pay for living expenses. On a student visa you are allowed to work 60% of the legal hour limit per week. If you get involved in the well-paid tutoring racket (SAT, ACT, TOEFL, IELTS, etc.), you can get away with tutoring 10ish hours a week. You can make ends meet that way. Don't do it if you don't have the language level, though.
  5. While I'm sure this varies a bit by program, I was wondering if the more experienced folks could chime in about whether it's possible to (somewhat seriously) pursue other interests while in graduate school – in my case, music. I've spent most of my life wavering between academia and the professional music world. For more than 5 years, I've worked as a full-time teacher, and haven't had much time for performing music, but I still compose regularly, and currently have a project that might lead to a series of short tours sometime in the next couple years (the project is a collaboration with a professional musician). I don't expect to launch a career as a full-time professional musician while in graduate school, buuuttt… I'm wondering if I'll have to put my project completely on hold. I've heard varying opinions from grad students at the school I'll be attending. One person told me explicitly: you will not have time for any outside activity for at least the first two years. Others have said that's an exaggeration. Would love to hear your thoughts.
  6. Fall 2018 Applicants

    @VAZ Perhaps my examples (France and Ireland) confused things. I picked the first example that came to mind of a field with few historians in the States working on it. But I could have chosen a much wider geographical territory -- let's say Europe -- but a more specific topic, such as folklore in the early Renaissance. In both cases, your options for advisors are going to be limited. As others have said, 6-8 schools is already a good list. That seems to be the average number of schools people apply to.
  7. Fall 2018 Applicants

    @VAZ, if you're in a "thin field," then your options for programs to apply to will be thin too. (I'm aware I'm not saying anything mind-blowing here.) My point is that you should apply only to the programs that have at least 2 people willing to "sandwich" you, as you put it -- or 1 person who works specifically on the "thin field" you're referring to. I guess I'm struggling to understand how you are both in a "thin field" AND interested in so many different topics that you feel it might be necessary to tailor your application to each and every prof you're interested in working with. Taking the example of a social/cultural historian of early modern France: if that's the "thin field" you want to work in, then apply only to schools that have someone who works on that. You'll have a lot of options. (I'd even argue that most wouldn't consider the social/cultural history of early modern France to be such a thin field...) Perhaps you'd have to consider folks who are more interested in economic or political history, or who are experts on the French Revolution but not so much on the 17th and early 18th centuries -- but those people could potentially be fine advisors. If, however, your "thin field" is sixteenth-century Ireland, you're going to have a harder time finding experts on this side of the Atlantic.
  8. Fall 2018 Applicants

    In my experience, the advisors who push you intellectually are those whose students aren't cookie cutters of themselves. It follows that tailoring your application to fit the exact interests of the advisors you're considering might not be the best idea if your goal is to break new ground in the field. If you applied with any of the topics you listed above, a social/cultural historian of France who studies the period you're interested in (give or take a few decades) will be able to advise you. No one expects that the project you propose in your application will end up being your dissertation topic (though that does happen sometimes). One of the highest compliments I heard a graduate student give about my advisor is that she explicitly seeks out students whose interests "ven diagram" with her own. When I spoke with her, she echoed the sentiment: "I want my students to teach me something. It's boring otherwise." A very high bar to clear, indeed! But personally I'd rather try to get up to that bar than spend my graduate career as a disciple.
  9. Condensing WS vs Giving page numbers to read

    As @AP said, follow the instructions. Don't submit more pages than the application asks for. The adcom is going to be reading other applications whose submitters followed the instructions and were able to say what they needed to say in 35 pages. You will stick out, and not in a good way. I condensed a 50-page paper to around 30 pages for the application -- but I also provided a link to the original in case someone was curious. I'm assuming no one was curious, but it made me feel better to know that Enquiring Minds could seek it out if they really wanted to.
  10. Has your friend scoured Worldcat or reached out to current graduate students to ask about what the prof is currently working on? It does, but maybe not in the way that your friend expected. The lack of recent publications could be a warning sign, or it might not be. It depends on the person and the kind of work s.he has been or is doing currently. Field also matters. Some fields just publish more than others. Anecdotes to illustrate: A tenured prof at an Ivy League school with an impressive publication record given his age – 2 monographs before 50, multiple articles in prestigious journals, a couple of edited volumes – but he's not around much for his graduate students, and his placement record is not what it "should be." Graduate students attribute that to the fact that he has taken on too many advisees given his professional responsibilities and personal research goals, and is therefore less available to them when they need someone to pick up the phone and call committees on their behalf. A tenured prof at another Ivy League school with a shorter publication record to above, slightly older (mid-50s), but who has an excellent placement record (the majority of her students have gone on to TT positions or prestigious post-docs followed by TT positions). She is known for being hands-on when it comes to career development. A much older, tenured prof at an Ivy League school who publishes like a house on fire and is somehow also highly engaged in his students' careers. The great majority of his students have gone on to illustrious careers – not just because of his name – but because he is a born pedagogue, and seems to take genuine pleasure in helping his graduate students professionally. A very recently tenured prof at a highly regarded school (not Ivy League, but in the top-15) with a shorter publication record than the three above, but a similar pace of publication. By the time he's their age – he's currently pushing 40 – he'll have a similar record. As a young prof, he's experienced the pain of the current job market and is highly aware of what his students need to do to get themselves into the best possible position by the time they graduate (doesn't mean, of course, that all of them will get jobs at the end of it). He's a 5-year plan kind of guy (in this case it seems to be a good thing). His first student just graduated and got a prestigious post-doc. Another young, recently tenured prof at another highly regarded, non-Ivy League school, has been flirting with the idea of moving to the Ivy League for a couple years now (he's been described as a "hot commodity" that many schools have been courting). Similar publication record to above. By all accounts, he's a great teacher – when he's around. A recent student of his got a prestigious post-doc, but his current students are worried about what the future will hold if he decides to leave the school and dedicate more of his already limited time to his research career. I could go on… In the end, the message is: consistent publication record does count for something – it's an important part of why the folks above teach at top programs – but what matters (even more) when it comes to choosing an advisor is their reputation as teachers and career advisors/advancers. That prof your friend is interested in might have a great placement record, despite a thinner publication record. As I considered different programs, I talked to lots of graduate students. They're the ones with the inside scoop. I also looked at the AHA's Directory of History Dissertations to get a sense of the placement record of advisors I was considering.
  11. Fall 2018 Applicants

    I don't do Chinese history, but I had the chance to chat with Tobie Meyer-Fong at Hopkins when I was considering the school. She's whip-smart and hilarious – great sense of humor, very approachable, frank. Her work is in Late Imperial China – not sure if that'd work for you – but she might have recommendations.
  12. GRE "Splitters"

    As others have mentioned (page 1 of this thread contains a lot of good info), quant is much less important for history programs than is verbal, especially at private schools. It comes down to whether you want to expend the time/money/effort to retake the exam given that your verbal score is within the range of acceptable for the schools you're considering. You might try perusing the gradcafe results page to see what scores applicants who were accepted to the programs that interest you earned. But srsly, the GRE is WWAAAYYYY down the list of priorities, as @hats recently pointed out. If not retaking it will give you a good chunk of time to work on your SOP or fine-tune your writing sample, don't retake it. Those bits are so much more important to admissions teams than is your quant score.
  13. Marxist Departments?

    Following from @RageoftheMonkey's good points, I'd say look out for departments that have at least a couple people working on labor history, working-class history, or the history of capitalism. I dunno what your geographical/temporal range is, but here are a few folks whose work is in conversation – sometimes in critical conversation – with Marxist ideas: Brown (Alex Gourevitch, Seth Rockman, Lukas Rieppel) Columbia (Betsy Blackmar, Barbara Fields, Eric Foner and Bill Leach – although neither are taking students anymore) Cornell (Ray Craib, Larry Glickman, Claudia Verhoeven) Georgetown (Joseph McCartin, Michael Kazin) Harvard (Sven Beckert and others associated with the Program on the Study of Capitalism) University of Illinois at Chicago (Leon Fink – probably not taking students anymore, Susan Levine, Jeffrey Sklansky) University of Chicago (Amy Dru Stanley, Jon Levy) University of Pittsburgh (Niklas Frykman, Michel Gobat, Markus Rediker) (A fair number of these people have written for either Jacobin or Dissent.)
  14. GRE "Splitters"

    Statements of this sort crop up too frequently on the forum. If a certain milieu has a bad rep -- here, it's the idea that academics are dismissive and prone to quick, unfair judgment -- there's no obligation to confirm the stereotype. Instead, we can emulate the kind of academic (one would hope) we all encountered at one point or another in our careers: the experienced big-shot who took the time to listen to our sloppy, naive questions and gently but firmly point us in the right direction. It's like saying: - Art gallery receptionists have the reputation for being snooty. - I have a job at as at receptionist at an at art gallery. - I shall habituate art newbies to the ways of the art world by being snooty. It is possible to strongly disagree, to critique -- even to criticize -- with indulgence (even if just in the manner of formulation). Finally, it seems to bear stating again that stellar GRE grades neither ensure you a job (which I don't think anyone on here has ever defended), nor do they have zero effect. As historians we know there's never one cause. GRE scores are less important than other factors, but they are not unimportant.
  15. When and how to contact POIs

    Bump to @nhhistorynut's post, and a response to the quoted bit above: professors who take the time to write back – even a short, generic response – are the kind of people you want to work with. Don't buy the argument that professors get too much email and therefore hate getting emails from lowly prospective students. Everyone gets too much email. Professors who care about pedagogy write you back – maybe not right away, but they write you back. Those are the people you want to learn from.