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1 hour ago, elx said:

I don't know how to feel about these cuts. It'll be easier to accept a rejection with this in mind, but also, hot damn, cutting half a cohort? From 20 to 6? I knew a humanities PhD wasn't the safest aspiration when getting into this, but by 2020, will there even be new cohorts? By what time are people going to stop applying because admission rates will be down to 0.5%? 

It's good and bad. The good is that it shows programs pay some attention to the contracting job market, which means that there are fewer people with realistic chances at the dwindling number of tenured academic jobs. The bad side is that it's tougher to get in now to a top program than it previously was.

I also have the slightly unpopular view that the "crisis of academic labor" is somewhat self-inflicted and also less of a crisis than is usually thought, but that's a topic for a different discussion.

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23 minutes ago, psstein said:

I also have the slightly unpopular view that the "crisis of academic labor" is somewhat self-inflicted and also less of a crisis than is usually thought

I'm interested in hearing this view out. Care to elaborate?

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1 minute ago, dauery said:

I'm interested in hearing this view out. Care to elaborate?

Sure, part of it has to do with the increasing hyper-specialization of the field, to the point where the general public has significant issues engaging with any of the major literature. This is basically the case made in The History Manifesto, so I'd encourage you to read it. The general public is largely interested in questions of military history and adjacent fields. The issue, however, is that military history is in some disrepute in the professional field. I'm not a military historian, but there's a poster who is ( @Sigaba, your and Col. Tigh's presence is requested!) and can speak more intelligently as to it. In my program, which is one of the major nexi for military history, the military historians are always looked at somewhat askance.

My next point goes to that, which is that the humanities in general do a very poor job selling what they can offer. We live in a world where, to quote Oscar Wilde, man knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing. State legislatures and many people see humanities and liberal arts as "worthless degrees" or "not real degrees" because they don't provide an easily identifiable skill, unlike, for instance, computer science. The humanities provide the ability to critically engage with ideas and, ideally, the ability to express ideas in clear, coherent fashions.

Finally, there's just the brutal reality of the job market. If you want a tenured academic job, there are only about 20 (give or take 5) programs that provide a reasonable chance at that, especially if you want a tenured job at a research oriented institution. Far too many students each year graduate from middling programs who have no chance of an academic job. There may be little difference between someone from Kansas and Princeton, but, the Princeton candidate will get the offer 95% of the time. It's a structural issue that there's really no way around, despite Kansas' having an excellent historian of the US West.

 

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1 hour ago, TexasTiger said:

Has anyone gotten emailed about an Interview with Notre Dame?

I've been wondering the same...Nothing so far, though a very clear email stated that emails for interviews would be sent by today. I've already assumed I have been written-off! That, or they were more ambitious than time actually allowed in terms of review process. Regardless, fingers crossed and best of luck! 

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1 hour ago, psstein said:

Sure, part of it has to do with the increasing hyper-specialization of the field, to the point where the general public has significant issues engaging with any of the major literature. This is basically the case made in The History Manifesto, so I'd encourage you to read it. @Sigaba

 

Surely there's a better source for this argument than that book. The History Manifesto rests on a now-discredited assertion that the timelines covered by works of academic history have shortened in the past several decades, which they use as a measure for significance and public interest. Not only is this assertion false, but it's also silly: presumably the public is more interested in books about, say, the Civil War or the Holocaust than a 1000-year history of paper weights.

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1 hour ago, psstein said:

The general public is largely interested in questions of military history and adjacent fields

I'm not sure I agree with you on that. I remember that when I studied history in high school, military history was the boring part for me and for most of my classmates. Studying WWI, for example, pupils took greater interests with the psychological and cultural impact of the war than with its military narrative. But I do agree that the problem of the discipline is its failure to sell itself to the greater public, a problem that sometimes starts with selling history to history undergrads. I had a class about money in the ancient world, and instead of showing us how economic history is so important for our understanding of ancient society, culture or politics, or the intersections between economy and other fields, the instructor (a historian of the Roman economy) had us memorizing monetary systems. It was dull, sparking only the interest to never learn about the ancient economy again.

Edited by MARTINt

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1 hour ago, AP93 said:

I've been wondering the same...Nothing so far, though a very clear email stated that emails for interviews would be sent by today. I've already assumed I have been written-off! That, or they were more ambitious than time actually allowed in terms of review process. Regardless, fingers crossed and best of luck! 

Yeah, the timeline seemed really ambitious, and the timeline for academia can be quite muddled

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2 hours ago, AfricanusCrowther said:

Surely there's a better source for this argument than that book. The History Manifesto rests on a now-discredited assertion that the timelines covered by works of academic history have shortened in the past several decades, which they use as a measure for significance and public interest. Not only is this assertion false, but it's also silly: presumably the public is more interested in books about, say, the Civil War or the Holocaust than a 1000-year history of paper weights.

I'm sure there is, but I couldn't think of one off the top of my head. This may be a case of someone being right for the wrong reasons.

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20 hours ago, psstein said:

It's good and bad. The good is that it shows programs pay some attention to the contracting job market, which means that there are fewer people with realistic chances at the dwindling number of tenured academic jobs. The bad side is that it's tougher to get in now to a top program than it previously was.

 I also have the slightly unpopular view that the "crisis of academic labor" is somewhat self-inflicted and also less of a crisis than is usually thought, but that's a topic for a different discussion.

One of the programmes I applied to had a little comment on their website about the lack academic of jobs and that applicants should be aware they might end up doing something other than TT uni jobs. From there, it seemed to me that you could realistically pursue other things too (e.g. public history jobs, government, thinktanks, etc). But I guess these aren't the type of people programmes really want to fund?

Edited by elx

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1 hour ago, elx said:

One of the programmes I applied to had a little comment on their website about the lack academic of jobs and that applicants should be aware they might end up doing something other than TT uni jobs. From there, it seemed to me that you could realistically pursue other things too (e.g. public history jobs, government, thinktanks, etc). But I guess these aren't the type of people programmes really want to fund?

Younger faculty members, in my experience, are keenly aware of the problems of the job market. With older faculty, it's about 50-50. I've said this before, but faculty at one well-known program I interviewed with explicitly told me "we don't have alt-ac resources," just in not so few words.

Most PhD recipients won't have academic jobs, even from the best programs. That being said, you can't telegraph that when you apply. It makes admissions committees question whether you actually have the dedication to do the PhD or whether you actually need a PhD. There are very few people who go into graduate programs wanting to do anything else than become a tenured professor at a research-first institution. There are some, but the vast majority of PhD students don't enter wanting to work for the National Library of Medicine or the FDA's historical office.

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22 hours ago, psstein said:

There may be little difference between someone from Kansas and Princeton

This point gets glossed over too often because stupid people take it for elitism: there is a massive difference between someone who attended UKansas and one who attended Princeton, namely that one went to Princeton and the other didn't. Given the frankly insane differences in the resources - monetary, temporal, and otherwise - that each would have at their disposal, the UKansas student would have to be an order of magnitude smarter and more motivated to produce a CV (and a dissertation) equal to the Princeton student's. And of course if they were, why would the be at UKansas and not at least at one of those top-20 programs @psstein mentioned? And if you think that search committees at every level don't think this way, I have a little bridge in Brooklyn I want to sell. 

A lot of lower-tier PhD programs try to convince nervous prospective students that it's ok - their graduates do really well at other lower-tier schools, schools where those top-20 don't want to be and which would be nervous about taking anyway since they might jump ship fast. That might have been true 30 (or even 10) years ago, but we're in a market where Harvard grads think themselves darned lucky to get a job at Bridgewater State University, and search committees know it. And even if we leave all that aside, what those lower-tier schools are actually saying is that other schools hire their students because their students are perceived as aggressively mediocre (and unlikely to find a job at a better institution). That's their sales pitch.

As you approach graduate school, exercise critical self evaluation. If you go, what are you going to do differently to stand out from the crowd at the other end? 

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22 minutes ago, telkanuru said:

If you go, what are you going to do differently to stand out from the crowd at the other end? 

Could you say a little more about how to approach this question, or some examples of the kinds of things that make a PhD graduate stand out on the job market? Do you think about this mainly in terms of developing a useful contribution to discussions in the field?

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54 minutes ago, telkanuru said:

This point gets glossed over too often because stupid people take it for elitism: there is a massive difference between someone who attended UKansas and one who attended Princeton, namely that one went to Princeton and the other didn't. Given the frankly insane differences in the resources - monetary, temporal, and otherwise - that each would have at their disposal, the UKansas student would have to be an order of magnitude smarter and more motivated to produce a CV (and a dissertation) equal to the Princeton student's. And of course if they were, why would the be at UKansas and not at least at one of those top-20 programs @psstein mentioned? And if you think that search committees at every level don't think this way, I have a little bridge in Brooklyn I want to sell.

I agree with you. One of my professors actually said to me "someone can do outstanding work at Kansas, but have absolutely no chance of finding a job."  I also may have been a bit too generous by saying "20 programs," but that's probably sub-field independent.

As for the state of the market, a good anecdote. Indiana's HPS is one of the oldest programs in history and philosophy of science. It has two outstanding historians of science (Newman and Meli). Their placement is not good, especially in view of their faculty members' reputations.

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2 hours ago, telkanuru said:

 the UKansas student would have to be an order of magnitude smarter and more motivated to produce a CV (and a dissertation) equal to the Princeton student's. And of course if they were, why would the be at UKansas and not at least at one of those top-20 programs @psstein mentioned? 

to be clear, being in a top-20 program means being smarter and more motivated than somebody at KU? 

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Just discovered this forum and what a stress reliever and inducer it is simultaneously!

I'm currently eagerly awaiting decisions from Georgetown, W&M, Duke, NYU, Columbia, Harvard, U Pitt, Johns Hopkins, U Penn, and BU. My specialty is the 18th- early 19th c. Atlantic world focusing on the intersection of the British/American and French Atlantic. Anyone applying the same schools with similar interests? These next few weeks are going to kill me so it'd be nice to commiserate. 

Good luck to everyone!

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1 hour ago, latecalifornia said:

to be clear, being in a top-20 program means being smarter and more motivated than somebody at KU? 

If you read the post, @telkanuru is clearly talking about the perception of a job applicant with a degree from Kansas versus the perception of an applicant with a degree from Prinecton.

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6 minutes ago, Sigaba said:

If you read the post, @telkanuru is clearly talking about the perception of a job applicant with a degree from Kansas versus the perception of an applicant with a degree from Prinecton.

wasn't clear to me! 

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Just saw that someone was accepted at UT Austin's department; did anyone else receive their admissions decision from Austin and are they willing to share their research background/stats?

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6 hours ago, telkanuru said:


@psstein

That might have been true 30 (or even 10) years ago, but we're in a market where Harvard grads think themselves darned lucky to get a job at Bridgewater State University, and search committees know it.

Indeed, and the inherent structural dynamics of academia make me wonder if even this is sustainable: https://www.its.caltech.edu/~dg/crunch_art.html

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2 hours ago, ipavineri said:

Just saw that someone was accepted at UT Austin's department; did anyone else receive their admissions decision from Austin and are they willing to share their research background/stats?

Wasn't in a history department

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1 minute ago, TexasTiger said:

Wasn't in a history department

Thank you! Didn't realize UT Austin had a separate program.

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