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MtrlHstryGrl

Where should I look?

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Hello everyone! A cohort-mate of mine recommended this forum because of my interest in a History PhD program. I'm about to start my second semester of my master's degree, specializing in European and public history. I have a slightly below average master's GPA that I hope to raise this coming semester and about average GRE scores, but I have had language training in Latin, French, and Italian and I've been working on German independently. I conducted independent research as an undergrad and will be pursuing more original research this summer, hopefully through a research funding grant. 

Broadly, my interests are in how people use and have used historical places and objects in order to connect with the past. Over the summer, I will be researching this in the context of Rome and Athens. I am also interested in material and popular culture and consumption, gender, everyday life, and wartime in Europe and America during the twentieth century and I am thinking of ways that I can synthesize my interests. I am hoping that my research over the summer and my courses this semester will help me get a more focused idea of what I want to work on. 

Right now, these are the programs that I am interested in and the people that I am interested in working with:

  • Temple (Lowe, Bruggeman) 
  • Loyola of Chicago (Fraterrigo, Gorn) 
  • University of Massachusetts - Amherst (Olsen, Glassberg) 
  • University of New England (Zuelow, De Wolfe)

It is not a very long list at the moment, but I would appreciate any suggestions that you would be willing to give! I hope to continue doing public history-related research as a career, but am also heavily interested in preservation and museum work. 

Edited by MtrlHstryGrl
added another school/more professors

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I applied to Loyola last cycle (also to work with Dr. Fraterrigo, actually)! Let me know if you have questions. The NCPH has a list of programs, by the way, so that might be helpful!

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16 minutes ago, historygeek said:

I applied to Loyola last cycle (also to work with Dr. Fraterrigo, actually)! Let me know if you have questions. The NCPH has a list of programs, by the way, so that might be helpful!

I actually used that list to help choose programs! Thank you for offering to answer any questions. I am sure that I will have them going forward.

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3 hours ago, MtrlHstryGrl said:

Right now, these are the programs that I am interested in and the people that I am interested in working with:

  • Temple (Lowe, Bruggeman) 
  • Loyola of Chicago (Fraterrigo, Gorn) 
  • University of Massachusetts - Amherst (Olsen, Glassberg) 
  • University of New England (Zuelow, De Wolfe)

As I say all the time, I'd recommend looking at these programs' placement records and outcomes. Bluntly, I don't see any of these programs setting you up for future success. Remember, getting in somewhere isn't the goal. The goal is to get a job after you complete the PhD; most people who pursue the PhD track will want an academic job and probably not get it.

I would also tell you that Univ. of New England doesn't have a PhD program.

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1 minute ago, psstein said:

I would also tell you that Univ. of New England doesn't have a PhD program.

Oh no! Yes, I am a bit concerned about the placement rates, which is unfortunate, as I feel great about the fits. 

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1 minute ago, MtrlHstryGrl said:

Oh no! Yes, I am a bit concerned about the placement rates, which is unfortunate, as I feel great about the fits. 

I'd be more than "a bit concerned." In the US, 65% of tenured/TT faculty come from 10 institutions, and something like 90% come from 20.

https://www.umass.edu/history/phd-recipients-2000

The above is a list of placements for one of the programs you've mentioned. Take a look at it. Some of them are very good, others fair, and several outright terrible. I know this is an unpopular thought, but history PhDs (and humanities PhDs, more generally) aren't tremendously useful outside of academia. That's not to say that non-academic jobs are a sign of failure, quite the opposite. It is, however, a reality that you can get the majority of those jobs without holding a PhD.

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What exactly is your end goal with the PhD, first of all? What kind of jobs do you want?

Do look into European history more generally and find folks interested in material culture and culture of memory.  There are a LOT of them out there.  Then find programs that have a "minor" field in Public History. 

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15 hours ago, TMP said:

What exactly is your end goal with the PhD, first of all? What kind of jobs do you want?

My ideal end goal is academia, though my absolute dream job is to establish a public history program at a study abroad university. I am absolutely in love with research and my research interests, so I want to continue to pursue them as much as possible. With that being said, I realize that academia has an absolutely horrendous job outlook, so I am interested in pursuing preservation jobs or museum work. 

The suggestion to look at European history more generally is a great idea, especially if I can find a program with a public history minor. Thank you for your suggestion! 

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22 hours ago, MtrlHstryGrl said:

Right now, these are the programs that I am interested in and the people that I am interested in working with:

  • Temple (Lowe, Bruggeman)

It is not a very long list at the moment, but I would appreciate any suggestions that you would be willing to give! I hope to continue doing public history-related research as a career, but am also heavily interested in preservation and museum work. 

@MtrlHstryGrl So Temple's public history program, run by those two, is only geared towards completing a Master's and the aim of their program is to train people to work for museums/centers/etc that struggle to gain attention/funding. Their program is designed to help the small house museums of the world that get passed over, not your Natural History Museums or popular historic landmarks (think Independence Hall). Temple's History PhD program is really geared towards military history and the trans-Atlantic 17th-18th centuries. Also, Temple does not provide funding for all of their History PhD students and their criteria is based on your GRE scores and GPA (though this may have changed, but speaking as a current Temple student and friend of several current and former Temple History PhDs, that's how they did/didn't receive funding).

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1 hour ago, historyofsloths said:

@MtrlHstryGrl So Temple's public history program, run by those two, is only geared towards completing a Master's and the aim of their program is to train people to work for museums/centers/etc that struggle to gain attention/funding. Their program is designed to help the small house museums of the world that get passed over, not your Natural History Museums or popular historic landmarks (think Independence Hall). Temple's History PhD program is really geared towards military history and the trans-Atlantic 17th-18th centuries. Also, Temple does not provide funding for all of their History PhD students and their criteria is based on your GRE scores and GPA (though this may have changed, but speaking as a current Temple student and friend of several current and former Temple History PhDs, that's how they did/didn't receive funding).

Interesting. I have talked with a few current PhD students who have all told me that the PhD program does support public history doctoral students. I will hopefully be visiting and will obviously be speaking with these professors so hopefully they can help me further, but I will keep this in mind!

Editing to add that, should I not receive funding, I will not be accepting an offer of admission. 

Edited by MtrlHstryGrl

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Out of curiosity, would anyone happen to have any suggestions for programs or potential advisors? I know my description is a bit vague.

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2 hours ago, MtrlHstryGrl said:

Interesting. I have talked with a few current PhD students who have all told me that the PhD program does support public history doctoral students. I will hopefully be visiting and will obviously be speaking with these professors so hopefully they can help me further, but I will keep this in mind!

Editing to add that, should I not receive funding, I will not be accepting an offer of admission. 

Sorry, I should have said that the two you mentioned are hyper-focused on the Master's program, not that the History program itself doesn't have public history doctoral students. Honestly, you'll probably get the answers you need when you visit and I hope it helps with your decision!

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3 hours ago, MtrlHstryGrl said:

Out of curiosity, would anyone happen to have any suggestions for programs or potential advisors? I know my description is a bit vague.

Truthfully, if you believe that your description is too vague when there are well over 200 European historians in various PhD programs, no one can really answer for you.  Use the search function for "how do I find an adviser?" and the like and there have been excellent suggestions such as looking at whose books you're reading and enjoying thinking about. This is a very good exercise for developing independent research.

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On 1/11/2020 at 1:08 PM, MtrlHstryGrl said:

Broadly, my interests are in how people use and have used historical places and objects in order to connect with the past. Over the summer, I will be researching this in the context of Rome and Athens. I am also interested in material and popular culture and consumption, gender, everyday life, and wartime in Europe and America during the twentieth century and I am thinking of ways that I can synthesize my interests.

How far away are you from defining yourself as a historian by method, area of focus, and time period? The description in your OP is very broad

Do you classify yourself as a social historian or a cultural historian? Is your area the United States or Western Europe? Narrowing your focus will make you a more competitive applicant because you'll be able to identify more efficiently programs and professors that may consider you a good fit. And, as importantly, you'll be able to write more compelling SoPs.

(In any case, it seems that tourism, fashion, re-enactment, and fashion centered around wars, battles, and battlefields may offer ways to square the circle.

If your focus is more on cultural history, you could look at the pattern in which combative sports and/or alpine-ism become fashionable in countries that are emerging from embittering wartime experiences. Do these activities allow participants to rehabilitate a sense of lost masculinity? Do these activities serve as an outlet for militarism? Do these cultural practices impact the domestic electoral politics of practicing nations? [Is there a relationship between "cross fit" and the resurgence of populism?]

Another possibility is to study how historical pilgrimages centered around wars are increasingly in films, television shows, graphic novels, and games.)

 

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