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pudewen

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pudewen last won the day on November 2 2018

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About pudewen

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    East Asian History

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  1. pudewen

    Applications 2019

    You do Japanese history, right? And, given your particular interest in Yale, I'm guessing you do Tokugawa/early modern? One thing I'd note in terms of there not being people with good jobs in your field who went to Yale is that Yale has only been really strong in early modern Japan for the past several years. I did my undergrad there, graduating in 2010. At the time I graduated, FD had just been hired a couple years earlier (and was still too junior to be getting grad students). DB wasn't hired until shortly after I left (I don't remember precisely what year). So the first cohort of grad students to work with the current faculty would have been applying in 2011 or 2012 at the earliest, so they're really just starting to finish now. Which means that I wouldn't treat the lack of people in your field who studied with your POI at Yale as a bad sign necessarily. The comments about the job market are still worrying, but a failure to understand the actual difficulties of the market seems to be endemic among faculty at top departments (I certainly saw it at Harvard as well). If you think Yale is the better intellectual fit for your interests, I think you should probably go there. I'm not saying that your concerns aren't valid, but I don't have the impression that one department is going to give you a clear edge over the other in terms of hiring - they both have very good reputations and some very good students in their programs. (Also, FYI, Yale just hired a new junior faculty member in modern Japanese history, starting Fall 2020, who does really cool work on Japanese empire across the Korea Strait, so that's a definite boost to the program. Of course, she did her PhD at Harvard, so not sure which way that should push you...).
  2. pudewen

    2019 Visit Days/Decisions

    EALC 10-month stipends are same as history ones. I think the people saying $35,000 are including summer funding, which does differ between history and EALC in that EALC students only get 2 years of summer funding while History students get 4 years (this is supposedly made up for by EALC only requiring 3 semesters of teaching in the 5 year package while History requires 4, but, frankly, I don't know anyone who wouldn't have traded an extra $12,000 in guaranteed funding for one more term as a TF). Anyway, unless something has changed, you should get about $35,000 the first two years (does your offer letter not say anything about summer funding? - it's been 8 years since I was in your shoes, so I can't swear things are the same). Anyway, as to practicalities, HEAL is not an area studies degree, it's a History degree from a program managed by an area studies department (it actually used to be jointly managed by History and EALC, but that changed for obscure bureaucratic reasons. Did that change make the degree less valuable? Given that I don't think anyone who's not Harvard-affiliated even knows how the HEAL program is managed, I very much doubt it). I have seen no evidence that this hurts anyone on the job market (the first word of the degree is, indeed, History, and HEAL has historically produced quite a lot of very successful historians employed in history departments). On funding. Harvard's funding is indeed not up to par with several peer programs, and my impression is that there is no money available to improve the offer (you can ask, I just don't think you should expect a positive response). In addition to the money being less, unless something has changed, there are still only 5 guaranteed years of funding as opposed to 6 at Yale. If all else is equal for you (that is, if you don't have scholarly or personal reasons to choose one over the other) then the money should send you to Yale. That said, Harvard funding is indeed enough to live on reasonably comfortably (as long as you're willing to have roommates and/or have an employed partner you can live with and share expenses with. I even know people who lived as small families on a single Harvard student stipend, though I don't think I'd recommend that). This is a different sort of choice than choosing between Yale and a place that's offering $18,000/yr and requiring you to teach all 5 years. That is, since both are viable packages with reasonable teaching requirements, I'd argue that you should choose the place where you think you will be better able to do your work. Which depends on what your work is and who you can work with at each place, your rapport with advisors/other students, etc. The money could be a nudge factor, but it probably isn't a crucial enough difference to be the main factor.
  3. pudewen

    Statement of Purpose and Plaigarism

    I'd also note that even if the OP is entirely lacking in basic professional ethics (as seems likely, from the fact that this question was asked), there are two possibilities for plagiarism in a SOP. One is that you're plagiarizing from something not very good, in which case, it won't help you get in. The other is that you're plagiarizing from good scholarship, in which case (assuming you're applying to work with people with interests somewhat aligned with yours), there's a pretty decent chance that at least one of the people reviewing your file at one of the several institutions you apply to is going to have read the thing you're plagiarizing from and so will recognize the plagiarism. In which case, you've destroyed your career before it even gets started.
  4. They charge a massive amount of tuition and offer very little financial aid.
  5. Some are, some aren't. In East Asian Studies, the M.A. program at Columbia certainly has that reputation, while the ones at Colorado and the University of Alberta have good reputations for funding students, and punch far above their weight in terms of getting students into PhD programs. Programs like RSEA at Harvard are probably in between - they are getting a lot of full-tuition-paying-professional-types (some whose tuition is paid by their government - Singapore, for instance, does this a lot), but also are reasonably good about offering funding to academic-types who want to progress to a PhD.
  6. pudewen

    Reconsidering Applying

    The funding you lay out (assuming the stipend/TA pay rate is high enough to live in the area where the school is located) is indeed not the absolute best you could get. But it also is a perfectly reasonable package that will enable you to do the work you need to do. If this school was indeed your best choice on academic grounds, I think you would be wise to stick to it - a couple extra funded summers (which you aren't even guaranteed to get - you don't know where you'll get in if you apply again) and a year less of teaching isn't worth the bridge-burning you'll be doing with people at the school that admitted you. You're being supported adequately. You can apply for additional funding from all sorts of sources to do things like summer research, a year or two of archival work away from your school (and outside the 5 years of funding it gives you), etc, and successful graduate students will generally be finding some outside funding. I think you're blowing relatively small differences out of proportion. It's not like you're going to a school where students receive no stipend (or only a token one) and have to pay tuition or where funding isn't guaranteed after the first year or where stipends aren't high enough to pay for basic necessities.
  7. pudewen

    How to organize archival materials

    In some ways, one of the greatest gifts of my main archive allowing you to receive digital facsimiles of a total of only 20 documents per research trip (defined as one calendar year) and forbidding all camera use was that it forced me to read everything I collected in order to transcribe it. I'm not claiming that I especially enjoyed spending 8 hours a day for much of a year typing out transcriptions of Chinese and Manchu documents. But it meant that when I was done, I had at least read everything that I had collected. It meant that I was more selective (so a much higher percentage of my documents were useful to my project, even though I had fewer documents). And it meant that, compared to colleagues who also do work on sources that don't lend themselves to OCR (but who were allowed to photograph whatever they wanted), I had a much easier time finding stuff in my docs. I imagine I'll be less happy about this policy if I get to the point of having an academic job and a family that make it much, much harder to spend a year living at archives in Beijing (and will wish I could just show up for five days, photograph a bajillion things and leave). But as a grad student, it was really a blessing in disguise. So thanks PRC government for your terrible policies of making archives difficult to use.
  8. Your primary advisor should be a medieval historian, preferably at a school with a strong placement record. However, it is probably wise to look into departments/schools where there are also strong faculty in disability studies who can serve on your committee, even if they don't work on your period (or even if they are in literature rather than history). Working with people who don't share your thematic and theoretical interests is completely normal at the PhD level, particularly for non-Americanists (as there are rarely more than a couple people in a particular temporal/geographical field in any given school). Your goal should be to be at the strongest school possible (in terms of placement and resources) where you can get the training you need, both in medieval history and in disability studies, not to find an exact advisor match at an institution that will make it harder to get a job. A historian of medieval medicine could be a good advisor match for you - even if they are using a different approach, the combination of field+thematic interest fit is a real positive (and you might find thinking about disability from both a history of medicine and a cultural studies perspective productive - indeed, to do good work, you will need to be well versed in both approaches, even if you mostly end up using the latter).
  9. I'm in general a big Manchu proponent - indeed I taught it at Harvard last year. And I first took Manchu from the person who will be teaching the program you would be doing (assuming you're doing the one at Berkeley that I've seen advertised), who is a wonderful instructor. I think Manchu is an extremely important language, and lordtiandao is underselling how much you would use it to do a dissertation project dealing with Manchu identity. That said, I have to agree with the other posters that Chinese is a more fundamental skill, and more important to your PhD applications. It's definitively not true that you won't be able to continue studying Chinese (Classical or Modern) after entering a PhD program. I took 2nd year Classical Chinese after starting my PhD (though I did have a year coming in), and that was not seen as weird at all. But it is true that better Chinese will do far more for your PhD applications than a year of Manchu. It's also the case that you will need good Chinese skills earlier in a PhD program than you will Manchu skills, which you probably won't be using extensively until a couple years in, whereas Chinese will be necessary for your coursework. Given the stage of Chinese you're at now, lordtiandao is right that you will struggle to produce a good writing sample using Chinese sources next year without the boost from the summer program. In addition, I'm guessing that if you're only at 3rd year level now, you've never spent an extensive amount of time in China (or Taiwan). PhD programs are likely to see that as important - I know I was asked about the extent of my experience in China by potential advisors when I was applying. Here's the good news - you will have more opportunities to learn Manchu, and probably cheaper ones. It's certainly not formally taught all that many places, but an increasing number of Qing historians know it and can instruct you in it (the good PhD programs at which you could learn it as a PhD student definitely include Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Michigan, Georgetown, Pittsburgh and the University of Washington, at the least. And if you ended up at, say, Columbia, it would be reasonably easy to commute to Princeton to study it). And any potential advisor who is interested in a student who wants to work on Manchu identity is pretty likely to be in the group that knows Manchu. I think it's great that you're enthusiastic about starting Manchu, and I certainly hope you continue in that path, but it's not worth the rather large additional expense to do it now. There will be more opportunities! Feel free to get in touch with me if you have more specific questions - I'm always happy to do what I can to encourage Manchu study.
  10. pudewen

    EALC 2018

    HEAL is definitely a history degree, and you are certainly encouraged to take courses outside of East Asian history and work with faculty outside of East Asian history - it's the rare HEAL student who does not, I would say. I'd say that 8 years is the upper end of the normal range. I'm finishing in 7, and I know people who have finished in 6.
  11. pudewen

    Fall 2018 Applicants

    If you've been admitted to the program, you should have no trouble getting put in touch with grad students in HMES. I recommend that you talk to them about your concerns rather than relying on an article by an undergrad based on anonymous quotes of grad students griping. I'm in a program that is sort of like HMES (HEAL - an East Asian history degree based in the department of East Asian Languages and Civiliztions), and I can imagine that an enterprising journalist could have gathered up enough griping from those of us in HEAL to write a similar article about East Asian history at Harvard, even though I genuinely think Harvard is a great place to do East Asian history. Anyhow, some of the things in that article were fixed. For instance, I didn't used to get emails about History department events either; now I do. I think the issue was that the department switched grad program coordinators and some things got lost in the shuffle. Some of them are probably just not true - one person struggling with getting some grants they applied for is not evidence of systematic bias against Middle East historians in the department. And some of them are true everywhere. As Tigla said, all history departments in the US are dominated by historians of the US and Europe, and the rest of us have to fight to matter. Incidentally, this fact is actually one reason why I've found HEAL to be a good program; we're able to have far more historians of East Asia at Harvard (both as faculty and as grad students) than at most schools because we're part of an EALC department that hires and admits historians, rather than just being a small and relatively marginalized bit of a giant history department. I don't know if people in HMES feel the same way, but again, I recommend you actually talk to some, rather than rely on random anonymous people on the internet.
  12. pudewen

    Fall 2018 Applicants

    I'm certainly not an expert on HMES, though I know a few people in it, but my impression is that students in it are treated as historians (they certainly are required to take the first year seminar that all history PhD students take), and that the degree is understood to be one that is disciplinarily in history (and will probably be interpreted that way by any search committee). I can't speak to why a writing sample wasn't required - that's definitely bizarre, but I don't think that says anything about how students in the program are treated. Faculty certainly aren't going to be looking at you as second class citizens or anything of that sort. In any case, my impression was that most, if not all, students doing PhDs in Middle Eastern history (who aren't primarily working on European empires) at Harvard are in HMES, so it's definitely a very normal thing to be doing.
  13. pudewen

    Good deal?

    Were you at a school with a grad student union? Not to get political, but there's definitely a correlation.
  14. pudewen

    Good deal?

    Generally speaking, no.
  15. pudewen

    Pros & Cons of a Mentor w/ Exactly the Same Specialty as You?

    As someone who ended up working on a topic very similar to the one that made my advisor's reputation (it's not the topic I proposed in my applications), there are definitely both upsides and downsides. On the one hand, he has all the right contacts for me, he's more invested in my project than he is in those of some of my colleagues, he can point me to specific sources that I hadn't considered, and sometimes even share his archival notes on ones that are no longer available (due to changes in the Chinese archives). On the other hand, I face both the assumption from people I meet from other universities that my scholarship is derivative of his and that I'm not really independent and creative, as well as my advisor's constant resistance to the extent to which my work challenges his (which it does in very substantial ways). So that tug-of-war is tough - it's difficult to balance asserting my own scholarly independence with keeping him as an advocate for me. (I end up leaning much more heavily toward the former, because I think it's important to have confidence in my own research and conclusions, but it definitely ups the already considerable stress of sending him dissertation chapters). In the end, I think I've ended up doing better research because of it, but I definitely worry that it hurts me in the job market.
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