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  1. I am a current PhD student at a UK university in my first year, studying Russian history. I am enjoying it, getting good feedback and am making good progress with the language. However, over the last 8 months due to travels in the Middle East and reading several works on Byzantium and the Crusades I have been feeling anxious that my heart might be elsewhere. I studied the ancient and medieval periods in my undergraduate and masters and have taken a very wide variety of courses during my studies. I thought I had put ancient/medieval stuff to bed and realised I was most suited and intellectually interested in Russia. I feel as if I'd see the grass as greener no matter what I was studying and I can remind myself of all this but still struggle to shift the feeling that I should be doing something more along the lines of ancient/medieval history, though I have no idea what exactly. I'm plagued by questions of whether I've made a mistake, would I ever really consider dropping out, what if it continues etc etc. I am fundamentally drawn to write about grand narratives of war, politics, intrigue and so forth and that's the sort of history I like to read. Russian history interests me in a more academic sense and I'm excited by most of the debates in the field, while a glance at a seminar programme listing topics like Byzantine coins only makes me roll my eyes. I know writing about battles and high politics all the time is not the reality of these medieval/ancient history as an academic pursuit. I sat down and thought about these practicalities carefully before making my choice to study Russia. For instance, I prefer working with large amounts of information rather than arguing over the interpretation of the two or three written accounts available for a given medieval period. I also wanted to have the Russian language as a useful skill if I were to find academia were not for me, or they didn't want me (more likely). I'm also conscious of my tendency to develop an intense interest in something and then for it to wane as I find a new obsession. From my the final year of my undergrad, I was pretty set on Russia as being an option and it stayed that way through my MA so I feel as if it is tried and tested. What is to be done? The idea of stopping what I'm doing fills me with dread and I'm very conscious of the additional language(s) needed to change my area. Fundamentally, I'm not dissatisfied by own field but attracted to something else. Do some people move into earlier history as post docs or after? Do you think this will pass? Has anyone had a similar experience? I would like to hear if so.
  2. Hi all, I am in the process of trying to move from European history to U.S. History as my main field. This is, in part, because the prominent British historian in our department recently left the university and also because I have been interested in US and considering switching for a long time. However, departmental politics have made it really hard for me to leave my current advisor (she has a lot of pull on the tenure committee and Americanists don't want to "steal" me from her). I have spoken with my advisor and she has given me the all clear to take U.S. coursework and make that my primary field, but others are still hesitant to work with me. How do I navigate this situation without stepping on any toes? I hate politics and red tape, and I've been in advisor limbo for the entire semester. I need to get this sorted out, so I can go on with my life. Edit: Also, I am still in my first year, so things are early for me. I know I don't have to declare an advisor and major field at least until May. Has anyone else been in similar situations? What should I do? Help!
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