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TheHessianHistorian

What are the hottest specialties in history right now?

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I believe colonial/imperial history, while definitely not new,  is a growing field. American universities are offering more languages than ever before and there are a lot of untapped questions depending on which colonialism/imperialism you are looking at. 

The field also isn't as over-saturated as others I think. The wide linguistic knowledge needed for some areas serves as a filter. 

Edited by astroid88

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11 minutes ago, astroid88 said:

I believe colonial/imperial history, while definitely not new,  is a growing field. American universities are offering more languages than ever before and there are a lot of untapped questions depending on which colonialism/imperialism you are looking at. 

The field also isn't as over-saturated as others I think. The wide linguistic knowledge needed for some areas serves as a filter. 

There is one sub-section of colonial history in which I really think there is a need for growth- New Netherland. Many people get filtered out of that one because they need early modern Dutch training and that's a language that is lacking in many programs. Their history, though, influenced Jefferson and the other founders, though, so it's something that someone needs to look at more. 

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On 1/20/2018 at 12:49 PM, TMP said:

Sadly, universities/colleges tend to disregard positions we deem important and they are geared towards student interests and ongoing international affairs, not of our own self-interest.... for whatever unknown reasons.  Especially in public universities that generally face budget cuts every year.  The battles for hires differ from one year to another depending on many factors that occur between application cycles.

This is 100% true, though I'd frame it differently than TMP did. The dean/provost has lots of requests for new positions each year and only so much money. That means that some disciplines/areas get prioritized while others do not. If you don't, then you can get a huge imbalance in workload if one isn't paying attention to that. For better or worse, many history departments and areas aren't experiencing growth in the number of majors/minors or the number of students trying to get into classes. If you're the provost and your choice is to fund a history hire that will teach ~70 students and a hire in something like environmental science that will teach ~250 students, there is a somewhat obvious choice. 

And, this is more specific to smaller schools, there's some serious consideration given and value to being able to teach outside a narrow specialization. As someone with an interdisciplinary background who very rarely (aka, once every 4-5 years!) gets to teach a course that's on the things I did my PhD on, I look askance at history and English where people sometimes claim they can only teach within a 30-50 year time period about one country and that anything else requires a new hire. If we want students to be trained broadly and be able to use their knowledge to address things they weren't directly trained about, we damn well ought to do it ourselves too. 

Sorry if that's a rant. But it is a serious issue at (S)LACs where the History and English departments might have a combined 12% of total students (majors and minors) but represent ~25% of the TT/tenured faculty. I've seen this firsthand and... well, it doesn't feel good to constantly be teaching full classes, have twice as many advisees, and more theses to supervise because your department is growing and theirs is shrinking.

On 1/20/2018 at 12:00 AM, telkanuru said:

Only if the university or department decides to replace them.

I feel like it's becoming increasingly rare for departments to get to make these decisions. In part because they all think that each hire is so damn important that they refuse to acknowledge that other departments might have a legitimate interest in a hire too. The long-term strategic needs of the university are often not a priority for departments concerned about protecting their turf/niche/battlefield.

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12 hours ago, rising_star said:

I feel like it's becoming increasingly rare for departments to get to make these decisions.

I feel like certain departments make these decisions unintentionally :ph34r: 

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