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12 hours ago, calathea said:

I know there's really nothing I can do but wait at this point, but any insight people have would be helpful. 

I recommend that aspiring graduate students develop plans and contingency plans based upon scenarios with different sets of assumptions. A shared assumption for each scenario is that someone out there is going to figure out a plan that is going to get her admitted and funded at the top programs.

I think that successful plans will include research projects that can be done using primary source materials that are available digitally and/or locally.

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Just a reminder to everyone who is applying this year. You had a difficult first half of 2020. We, faculty, did too. Grad students did too (many lost summer stipends, many doing international res

Hey folks, I have gotten a bunch of messages since posting my one acceptance, asking about my application process, etc. and I am happy to provide any feedback and answer questions whenever I can (as l

Hey there, I imagine that you must be very disappointed right now. My suggestions are 1. Take some deep breathes. 2. Disconnect from social media/your phone/the internet for a while. 3. Do something t

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20 hours ago, calathea said:

Hello all! I am in a strange position, and am looking to reapply (with support from my current program) to history of science PhD programs this coming fall. I work on the history of 20th century European psychiatry and neurology, and my project deals with the functional neurological symptom in relationship to the history of the body/self-hood. I am sorting through sources from interwar psychoanalytic psychiatrists working through questions of "reductionism" in medicine and the relationship of language to (especially political) subjectivity during this period of crises in democratization.

Anyway, my plan was pretty straightforward and I had everything laid out in terms of reapplying, but the current global health crisis is worrying me (as I am sure it is worrying everybody else). Do people anticipate doctoral programs will cut admissions in the upcoming application season? I know there's really nothing I can do but wait at this point, but any insight people have would be helpful. 

Right now and through May, universities will be deciding on their budget for next year and how to cut it as EVERYONE is anticipating losses in staff, funding, and enrollment. Simultaneously, as there will be less jobs in general, more people will apply to funded graduate programs. 
 

My advice is:

1) Communicate with potential POIs early on, probably during the summer. Do not -I repeat, do not- e-mail us now. We are in the last few weeks of a very difficult semester caring for our students and our families. We are all holding our breaths waiting to hear about furloughs, cancelled research funds, indefinitely postponed leaves, and layoffs. Now is absolutely not the right time to contact your POIs, but it is the right time to do the appropriate research. I doubt anyone will be doing much traveling during the summer so most faculty would be available to respond relatively promptly.

2) Consider that most programs will be highly competitive so prepare excellent applications. To be clear: your application is NOT your GPA. Also, if you have questions about GRE or TOEFL/IELTS, e-mail the graduate administrator or the graduate school, they will have updated data. Do not email POIs about that. 

3) Do not imagine possible scenarios but prepare for them. In other words, do not speculate with “do you guys think they will take less students?” Because there is no way for anyone here can answer that and speculation can lead to unnecessary hysteria and anxiety. However, do prepare for the possibility of all programs admitting less students. Prepare applications that illustrate your resilience and your ability to work across disciplines, as you would likely TA for a course outside your field. Also follow @Sigaba´s advice on contingency plans (and I would always advice that regardless of the situation, design plans B, C, and D.I come from a country where there is always a crisis so I’m used to contingency plans). 
 

4) Psychologically, it’s very healthy to project into the future. I’d argue that it’s healthy to acknowledge the crisis while working towards your goals in the best way you can control. I have to write a book and I can’t go to the archives this summer, so I will write it with what I have. but I will write it. Similarly, I urge new applicants to continue to project your careers (in grad school or not) while maintaining an informed perspective. As historians, we are aware of the deep, rapid changes this pandemic is forcing on the world while we can also appreciate the continuities. While I’m sure you are all re-evaluating your life now, remember that faculty are working hard to keep programs open and provide continuity. 

my two cents. 

 

 

 

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25 minutes ago, AP said:

Right now and through May, universities will be deciding on their budget for next year and how to cut it as EVERYONE is anticipating losses in staff, funding, and enrollment. Simultaneously, as there will be less jobs in general, more people will apply to funded graduate programs. 
 

My advice is:

1) Communicate with potential POIs early on, probably during the summer. Do not -I repeat, do not- e-mail us now. We are in the last few weeks of a very difficult semester caring for our students and our families. We are all holding our breaths waiting to hear about furloughs, cancelled research funds, indefinitely postponed leaves, and layoffs. Now is absolutely not the right time to contact your POIs, but it is the right time to do the appropriate research. I doubt anyone will be doing much traveling during the summer so most faculty would be available to respond relatively promptly.

2) Consider that most programs will be highly competitive so prepare excellent applications. To be clear: your application is NOT your GPA. Also, if you have questions about GRE or TOEFL/IELTS, e-mail the graduate administrator or the graduate school, they will have updated data. Do not email POIs about that. 

3) Do not imagine possible scenarios but prepare for them. In other words, do not speculate with “do you guys think they will take less students?” Because there is no way for anyone here can answer that and speculation can lead to unnecessary hysteria and anxiety. However, do prepare for the possibility of all programs admitting less students. Prepare applications that illustrate your resilience and your ability to work across disciplines, as you would likely TA for a course outside your field. Also follow @Sigaba´s advice on contingency plans (and I would always advice that regardless of the situation, design plans B, C, and D.I come from a country where there is always a crisis so I’m used to contingency plans). 
 

4) Psychologically, it’s very healthy to project into the future. I’d argue that it’s healthy to acknowledge the crisis while working towards your goals in the best way you can control. I have to write a book and I can’t go to the archives this summer, so I will write it with what I have. but I will write it. Similarly, I urge new applicants to continue to project your careers (in grad school or not) while maintaining an informed perspective. As historians, we are aware of the deep, rapid changes this pandemic is forcing on the world while we can also appreciate the continuities. While I’m sure you are all re-evaluating your life now, remember that faculty are working hard to keep programs open and provide continuity. 

my two cents. 

 

 

 

Thank you! That is all really sound advice, and definitely makes sense. I am struggling with the uncertainty right now, which makes me inclined to ask people questions as if they can predict the future. But I think you're right about projecting towards the future being healthy, even if it feels uncertain. It's easy to get caught up ruminating in unknowns, and anyway, working on making applications even more excellent will be a welcome distraction. 

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23 hours ago, bakeseal said:

I'm looking to see if anyone has thoughts on how to apply to programs for a niche and still kind of new speciality. I'm planning on applying to History PhD programs in the fall, where I hope to study late 19th/early 20th US history of diet and nutrition-- I'm interested in how rhetoric surrounding food, cookery, and domestic economy interacts with medical knowledge and scientific discourses. My undergraduate thesis is (and I really did not expect how topical this would become!) on the construction of "ethic" food during outbreaks of infectious diseases, looking at the SF plague outbreak and NYC typhoid outbreaks in Irish-American communities.

I'm a history (and classics major, so I know Greek and Latin, not that that helps me in any way) at a well known SLAC and I know my stats are good enough to get my foot in the door. I'm confident I'll have a good writing sample-- it's based on research I did with the papers of an early 20th century food columnist (I also processed the collection while working as an assistant in my college's archives, so I am quite literally the first person to use it). My ongoing worry is over the specificity of my interest--  since it is a newer field, I'm having trouble finding professors at well-resected PhD programs who intersect with my area of interest in any meaningful way, and there aren't many 'superstars' in the field yet. There's definitely a lot of great scholarship being produced on US food history in this temporal period, but most of it is coming from professors at middling state schools without funded PhD programs or other liberal arts colleges, so following the scholarship has been something of a dead end.  

I am very committed to the study of food history-- food is the lens with which I approach everything I study, and all of my undergraduate work that's any good has been about food. I think I have some viable options for places to apply (Harvard, Yale, UToronto, Penn, Wisconsin, for starters) but even at the places with the best fit there's often a pretty significant gap between what I want to do and what any potential advisor studies, because very few of them study or teach anything related to food. Only Toronto has a dedicated food history track. I've seen a lot of people say admissions comes down to having people willing to work with you, and I'm worried my scholarly interests will make it difficult to find an advisor (especially one at a top tier school like Harvard) who would work with me over someone who did something more relevant to their work. How should I sell myself while still emphasizing my interest in food history? Any advice on applying to study a less common subfield, or even anyone else interested in studying food history out there? 

Look for a program that has a strong Environmental/Medical history field. Ohio State is one place to look at-- there are already 2 professors who have published on the history of food and several current grad students working on related dissertations.

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On 4/19/2020 at 11:13 PM, bakeseal said:

I'm looking to see if anyone has thoughts on how to apply to programs for a niche and still kind of new speciality. I'm planning on applying to History PhD programs in the fall, where I hope to study late 19th/early 20th US history of diet and nutrition-- I'm interested in how rhetoric surrounding food, cookery, and domestic economy interacts with medical knowledge and scientific discourses. My undergraduate thesis is (and I really did not expect how topical this would become!) on the construction of "ethic" food during outbreaks of infectious diseases, looking at the SF plague outbreak and NYC typhoid outbreaks in Irish-American communities.

@bakeseal - you've gotten a lot of good advice in this thread, so I will try to be brief! But I study nursing history, which is also a niche specialty, at a program without nursing historians. I find that my dissertation committee pushes me to think outside my nursing history niche— not to just laser-focus on the very specialized debates of nursing history, but to think about how nursing history can help us understand other kinds of history, e.g., British social history. I think this is what a good committee made up of cultural, science/medicine/environment, and gender (domestic economy seems very gendered to me!) historians could help you do with food history. 

Your thesis research and interests also makes me think you might be interested in some of Roberta Bivins' work on rickets, a disease also tied to diet— see Bivins, "The English Disease or Asian Rickets? Medical Responses to Postcolonial Immigration," Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 2007. You might also enjoy Lacey Sparks, "Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup," Journal of World History, 2017, which is about nutrition science in colonial British Africa. Neither article is by a "food historian" per se, so I think they might also give you a sense of how food can be incorporated into some of the broader scholarly fields you've mentioned here

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Hi, everybody. I'm sitting in on a conference call hosted by a consultancy. The topic is "Preparing Your Budget With Coronavirus in Mind."

A key take away is that the belief that COVID-19 is going to impose a new sensibility on budgeting that is generally alien to academic institutions.

The new budgeting discipline will focus on return of investment (ROI), common in the private sector, is going to push for strategic decision making at the expense of quality of programs and services. The level of analysis required will be very granular. It will focus on what can be quantified via key performance indicators (KPI). The "untangling" is going to take a significant amount of effort that has already started.

The takeaway is that I would be very careful about taking at face value comments about the continuity of funding packages and access to resources because institutions are going to be playing "catch up".

The silver lining is that the new approach will allow institutions to talk about ways to improve the services offered through better processes.

ETA. I recommend that when you're developing a list of schools, look for institutions that are focused on strategic goals. They will be further along the process of understanding their revenue streams, their expenses, and the tough choices they want to make.

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Hello, I am new to the Grad Cafe and this is my first post! I am sorry if I am repeating anything already asked.

I will be applying for Northwestern University's History graduate program this year, to start in Fall 2021. My past research experience and what I want to focus on for my second masters and PhD in their grad program is specifically related to gender and sexuality history in early 20th century USA. I like the partnership their history program has with the gender and sexualities department, and they even have a graduate cluster focusing on that. I feel like I have pretty good chances from what I read, but I am extremely nervous about a couple things.


Some about me, I graduated highest honors (suma cum laude), valedictorian equivalent (my school called it 'President's Award', I was my graduating class's commencement speaker), 3.98 GPA overall, 4.0 in History (darn that A- in biology).
I completed an honors thesis, presented papers at three conferences (including my own school's undergraduate research conference). I am currently in a publishing contract and write regularly for the Colorado Encyclopedia (it's all history based, but unfortunately not a peer-reviewed journal). I also have a published article/winner of the Colorado Emerging Historian's Award with History Colorado (again, not peer reviewed). I have extensive TA experience in undergrad, president/vice president of several honors societies, leadership roles in campus activist groups, and worked for the Honors program for several years. I received needs-based and merit-based scholarships every year I attended. 
I am currently in an American Studies masters program at the University of Tuebingen in Germany. I will finish my MA Thesis in May 2021. I am a graduate research assistant for one of the main professors in the department, and have received grants and scholarships from the German government.
Nobody in my family has ever gone to grad school, and we don't generally have much experience in higher education. My father and mother have bachelors they got online when I was 12, but other than that, I'm pretty much first-gen on all sides.


I attended a public school in Denver... Metropolitan State University of Denver. I chose that school because I could afford to pay for it out of my own pocket, and I graduated without debt (something I was terrified of). Also, it is a Hispanic-serving institution, also with mostly first-gen and non-traditional students. Having a diverse student body was important to me, as a diverse student. However, I am afraid this will bite me with my admission to Northwestern. MSU Denver is not a ranked school, like not at all. I've had people joke at me that I got a community college version of a bachelor's degree, or that getting a degree there doesn't count because it's "not hard". Now, the Uni Tuebingen is a top 100 global university, so maybe that will help my chances, but I am afraid that Northwestern wouldn't accept me due to not having a prestigious bachelors. I know prestige begets prestige in academia. 
I did read that half of their accepted grad students already have a masters, so I believe that will help my chances. But what do you think? Northwestern might be the only program I apply to, but I fear that I'm putting too many eggs in one basket. I am extremely bad at standardized tests, and therefore, will not be taking GREs. I love how Northwestern does not require GREs. It has been mine and my wife's dream to live in/near Chicago and go to grad school there for several years. I'm just trying to get a gauge on whether I should put all my energy into Northwestern or not, because they might look at my MSU Denver honors BA and scoff. 

 

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2 hours ago, DenverSun16 said:

I will be applying for Northwestern University's History graduate program this year, to start in Fall 2021. My past research experience and what I want to focus on for my second masters and PhD in their grad program is specifically related to gender and sexuality history in early 20th century USA. I like the partnership their history program has with the gender and sexualities department, and they even have a graduate cluster focusing on that. 

This upcoming round is going to be increasingly more competitive and your project (not your stats) needs to stand out. More specifically, the above part of your post needs to be expanded upon. What do you exactly want to research? How are you extending the current research? What theories are you employing or want to employ? Why is your MA in American Studies in Germany helpful? What languages will you need for your project and can you use them or must you learn them still?

Now, I come to something a bit personal and touchy for me. Most of your second paragraphs should go into a diversity statement, but be careful with what you exactly say. Certain phrases trigger different funding sources and programs designed for specific groups of marginalized communities. Claiming an identity when you aren't part of that group may not harm your application, but it will sour your relationship with your soon-to-be graduate students before you actually meet them. Please, feel free to PM me if you want to talk more about this point.

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5 hours ago, DenverSun16 said:

But what do you think? 

@DenverSun16

Welcome to the Grad Cafe.

I think that you would be well served by figuring out how to talk about yourself as an aspiring academic historian. Can you craft a narrative in which you talk about your areas and fields of interest, how you want to impact trajectories of historiographical debate, and how you will serve the profession? In this narrative,  you would selectively deploy elements of your personal and academic experiences for the sole purpose of making the case that you will fit into a department and that you can do the work.

Were I in your situation, I would think long and hard before detailing contributions to an encyclopedia of any kind as well as to publications that are not peer reviewed. I would clarify the nature of your work in Germany (specifically, do you speak and read German fluidly?) I would strive for a different balance in talking about the institutions I attended, with whom I worked, and how the work was financed.

The point of this retooling is that because your academic pedigree may place you at a competitive disadvantage relative toe applicants who can simply say "I studied with Professor Xavier at Happyland University you probably should spend less space making up the difference. You may be better served by focusing the conversation on what really matters -- how your experiences as a non traditional student will help you move the needle in scholarly discussions of gender and sexuality in twentieth century America. (Here you probably should say more. Which decade? Specifically which aspects of gender and sexuality? In which component of American society?)

I would rebuild my discussion of previous activism and how I valued diversity. You have an absolute right to your political beliefs and how you want to express them. And decision makers have the responsibility to ask the question "If we offer DS16 admission and funding, how certain are we that the time and money are going to be spent building an academic historian and not a graduate student who spends precious resources telling truth to power?"

This is to say that you want to send a clear and convincing message that you will serve the House of Klio with distinction and honor and that other considerations will not get in the way. (As a doctoral student, you'll learn it's not a question of  "history or politics" but of history AND politics. Believe it or not, but if you get admitted to a program and do your best to be the best person and best historian you can be, you will be advancing all of your views even if you hold them very close to your chest.)

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@DenverSun16

You've received excellent feedback and I will add my two cents. 

I understand the almost unconscious urge to outline your (great) statistics, getting scholarships, family history, and the like. But in respond to: 

7 hours ago, DenverSun16 said:

if I am repeating anything already asked.

a list of stats, grants, and achievements is not the same as an application. (I'm not saying you said that, just want to friendly remind you of that since it has been said multiple times over the years).

You are right in ticking things off the list: Having a masters, having a research project, having good numbers, "being" diverse, as you put it. However, your application should not be a picture of yourself, that's you CV*. Your application should be a narrative of how all these pieces fit together and have prepared you to (undoubtedly) become an excellent scholar. How does an education at MSU Denver and abroad prepare you to develop your research interests?

I will talk a little bit about the diversity thing since I am also "diverse". Diversity is not the same as being a diversity stat. How has your background shape your research questions? What can you contribute to the student body at Northwestern? Why would people benefit from having you at the table? The answer is not "because I went to an unranked school". The answer is "At MSU Denver, I began developing questions about X and Y as I observed the diverse, mostly Hispanic, student body around me. These initial wonderments underpinned two research projects in M and L, one of which received X grant/award". Do you see what I'm getting at? 

This is for everyone: You don't want your application to be "look at me I did all this". You want your application to be "I have very interesting questions because of all this things I did and I am prepared to try to answer them". 

Does that make sense? I'm a little foggy today. 

Anyway, hope this helps and good luck!

 

* (which you need to craft strategically so that all your accomplishments stand out. What I did when I was applying was search for grad students CVs online to get the gist)

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Dear everyone that responded to me,

First of all, wow, I am blown away at the depth of all of your responses. Thank you for spending the time to type that all out, and cater your responses to my needs. You each bring up excellent points, and have helped me reevaluate how I would present myself. Although I've tried to browse this forum over a few months, and I have seen the repeated "don't just list your achievements", I still felt pretty hung up about my bachelors degree for some reason (maybe that's impostor syndrome. I wanted to prove that I was worthy). Also, don't get me wrong, MSU Denver was the best experience of my life. It truly set me on the right path to become an academic, and gave me the real-life the tools and lenses to view my field from different perspectives. Your answers have assuaged a lot of anxiety I have, mostly because I was fixated on the simple merit aspects of an application. The ways in which you've gone about addressing the various aspects of my person, rather than merit alone, have shown me that I should be able to craft a good presentation of how I personally would help further the discussions in my field. I do feel that I have gained a lot of insight into my field through my specific personal experiences, and would contribute to the field with a sort of scholarly activism. I won't write it all here, but all the points brought up has me thinking over here... I feel like I have a lot to say that I didn't think about before (or a much better way to spin it). I'm trying to learn how to present myself as an academic.

To answer some questions y'all asked (and I of course would be much more detailed/polished in an application), I am specifically interested in queer/trans masculinities of the 1920s, especially in relation to urban, anonymous spaces (like speakeasies) and black markets. I was able to do lots of original research into that topic (broadly) while I was in Denver, and found many interesting aspects surrounding the butch and trans communities during prohibition. I guess my broader question is how anonymous, urban spaces and the black markets that sprung out of prohibition then created avenues for queer expressions and a shift in power relations for these communities in a time when trans people and crossdressing were not accepted, as well as how women/assigned female at birth people could not hold as much power as cis men and how they navigated that. I would specifically love to do this research in Chicago. I found so much in Denver archives, I'm sure a city like Chicago would be brimming with information. Not to say too much about myself, but my own lived experience would contribute to this field, in that I guess I have a lot of personal experience and investment in this research. While the field of trans men/butch lesbian/female masculinity etc. at the turn of the 20th Century in America has been written about, viewing it through the lens of prohibition has been less talked about. Queerness and an association with alcohol prohibition culture is generally  known, but I want to narrow the focus on members of my own historical community, often powerless, who were able to gain power distinctly through this unique moment in legal history (whether that be as bootleggers, proprietors of speakeasies, or what have you, in relation to illegal alcohol). Sorry if I repeated myself, I was trying to just get all my ideas down. This forum is excellent practice for before I write my application!

I feel that my international experience in Germany has brought many new experiences to the table for me, and it has also contributed to my language abilities (nearly fluent now in German). Although German might not directly relate to my field, I feel that studying American Studies will bolster my historical career, because this degree focuses a lot on culture and literature. I am able to view the communities I want to write about through a different lens than I did before as a history major. Also, the conversations in seminars we have about these topics are with students of various backgrounds that I was not exposed to in the USA. Additionally, it is eye-opening and interesting to learn about the United States from a non-American point of view, as some holes are being poked in my assumptions. It has also shown me the distinct lack of queer/gender studies outside of the USA (I know it exists elsewhere, but at my current university, for example, and in lots of Germany, it is almost non-existent! I get to forge my own path here in that way.)

And lastly, I am sticking to "only" Northwestern because they don't require GREs. Plus, it's in/near a city of great interest to my potential research, and is a good school (and they seem to have a good crossover into sexuality studies). If other US uni's did not require GREs, I would also apply there. Otherwise, I might get stuck getting a 3 year PhD in Germany in a field I'm less interested in (which I don't really want to do). Germany is amazing, but as an American, it doesn't really make sense for me to study American history over here. Plus I've been hearing some disparaging things about their higher education (as far as my job opportunities).

Again, thanks for all the thorough answers, and I'm sorry if anything I've said is naive. Like I said, I am new to this and still learning how to navigate my way through my academic journey. I appreciate the efforts to help change that for me  :)


 

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1 hour ago, DenverSun16 said:

And lastly, I am sticking to "only" Northwestern because they don't require GREs.

I think if you looked around, you'd find a lot more to add to your list.

Your project sounds really, really good, and you will have (IMO) a very competitive application. Northwestern isn't a bad school, but they're not the best with resources for their grad students, and I strongly suspect you can aim much higher.

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1 hour ago, DenverSun16 said:

To answer some questions y'all asked (and I of course would be much more detailed/polished in an application), I am specifically interested in queer/trans masculinities of the 1920s, especially in relation to urban, anonymous spaces (like speakeasies) and black markets. I was able to do lots of original research into that topic (broadly) while I was in Denver, and found many interesting aspects surrounding the butch and trans communities during prohibition. I guess my broader question is how anonymous, urban spaces and the black markets that sprung out of prohibition then created avenues for queer expressions and a shift in power relations for these communities in a time when trans people and crossdressing were not accepted, as well as how women/assigned female at birth people could not hold as much power as cis men and how they navigated that. I would specifically love to do this research in Chicago. I found so much in Denver archives, I'm sure a city like Chicago would be brimming with information. Not to say too much about myself, but my own lived experience would contribute to this field, in that I guess I have a lot of personal experience and investment in this research. While the field of trans men/butch lesbian/female masculinity etc. at the turn of the 20th Century in America has been written about, viewing it through the lens of prohibition has been less talked about. Queerness and an association with alcohol prohibition culture is generally  known, but I want to narrow the focus on members of my own historical community, often powerless, who were able to gain power distinctly through this unique moment in legal history (whether that be as bootleggers, proprietors of speakeasies, or what have you, in relation to illegal alcohol). Sorry if I repeated myself, I was trying to just get all my ideas down. This forum is excellent practice for before I write my application!

Take it from someone who learned the hard way. As a graduate student, you will be much better off if you can tether your research interests to established trajectories of historiography. (The more, the better.)

In your case, I recommend that you consider the benefits of building a conceptual matrix centered your primary fields of interest that help you answer the question "How do your research interests help us to understand better X, Y, and Z." In this formulation, X is your interests narrowly defined, Y is early twentieth century America, z is broader still -- the history of sexuality in the modern world.

This exercise, or, better yet, the one you devise, will help you to talk about your areas of specialization to a wider range of people -- not the least, academics in a room during a job talk who want to understand what classes you could teach and if you can fit into a collaborative departmental culture.

 

 

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Thanks again for the thoughtful responses. I'm glad I have time to work on this stuff.

I was reading another thread that most history PhD programs don't look too closely at GRE's, or at least they're not a huge part of their decision process. Is that generally true? Out of all my application materials, I can guarantee that will be the worst (my math skills are abysmal. Written/verbal I could do great on I'm sure though). That being said, I might consider taking it after all (it seems they are offering an at home/online version due to COVID, which actually makes me happier).

Would anyone have suggestions for PhD programs (GRE's required or not) that would fit well to my interests and needs? I think I may still apply at Northwestern, but I've received some great advice from different people to try elsewhere/aim higher/find a place that suits my research interests better. I will continue to do my own research, but maybe someone has personal experience with a university that would be a good fit for me?  :)

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6 hours ago, DenverSun16 said:

Is that generally true?

It's true in my experience. And regardless of how consequential GRE would be (it's not that consequential), don't allow a standardized exam dictate the directions of your entire career. Don't give GRE that power! It's not worth it! Confront it! You don't want to look back at this year a decade later and realize you did not do what you should have done to make yourself a great/better historian simply because of the GRE. :P 

Well, I just realized I was also trying to talk my procrastinating and unproductive self into working by thinking of taking GRE as dealing with COVID-19 lockdown in NYC... [the difference is, COVID-19 is consequential]

Anyways, good luck!

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I did atrociously on the maths section of the GRE (only prepped for verbal, and when I say atrociously, I mean atrociously) and it didn't impact my applications. GRE results are extraordinarily unlikely to make or break an application. If you do reasonably well on verbal/AW nobody is going to give them a second glance. Concentrate on your statement of purpose and your writing sample start many months ahead of time and be sure to get the best references you possibly can. Those are the variables that convince professors to want you as a student, not whether you did well on the GRE. If you only apply to programs that do not require the GRE then you are legitimately shooting yourself in the foot.

Cornell has some grad students focusing on queer history & we just hired somebody who specializes in it (Stephen Vider), so you may want to check us out

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7 hours ago, DenverSun16 said:

I was reading another thread that most history PhD programs don't look too closely at GRE's, or at least they're not a huge part of their decision process. Is that generally true? 

Yes, with the caveat that they are often used to assign a higher tier (university vs. dept.) of funding at many state institutions. This can often be a difference of $10k.

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7 hours ago, DenverSun16 said:

 I think I may still apply at Northwestern, but I've received some great advice from different people to try elsewhere/aim higher/find a place that suits my research interests better.

Northwestern has a strong PhD program and is a fine university.

One perhaps mercenary way of locating programs is to start with a list of the best universities in terms of recent job outcomes for 20th century US history, then look at the Americanists on the faculty and see if any share your historiographical interests and inclinations. You can also look at databases like the AHA Dissertation Database to track the fortunes of a professor's students.

Edited by AfricanusCrowther
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2 hours ago, AfricanusCrowther said:

Northwestern has a strong PhD program and is a fine university.

One perhaps mercenary way of locating programs is to start with a list of the best universities in terms of recent job outcomes for 20th century US history, then look at the Americanists on the faculty and see if any share your historiographical interests and inclinations. You can also look at databases like the AHA Dissertation Database to track the fortunes of a professor's students.

One could also read the acknowledgements in works by faculty members and its graduates. Are POIs thanked for significant contributions to a work? Are POIs heaping praise upon colleagues and graduate students? Are there signs of life changes that may impact a scholar's life for years to come?

How about book reviews? Are POIs appropriately professional or a bit too personal when writing about works they don't like?

You  could also check CVs. Do POIs serve the profession? Earn teaching awards? Present too much or just enough? Are they in a phase of their careers in which they're really going for it? (And what is the "it"? Popular works that are accessible to broader audiences? Master works of synthesis designed for academic audiences?)

IMO, worrying about standardized test scores and GPA is bass ackward thinking. Don't self select yourself out of opportunities to succeed. A year from now, a newly admitted graduate student is going to be saying "I didn't think I had a chance to get into Happyland University! My GPA...my test scores..." Why can't that person be you?

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5 hours ago, AfricanusCrowther said:

 

One perhaps mercenary way of locating programs is to start with a list of the best universities in terms of recent job outcomes for 20th century US history,

I wouldn't call that mercenary so much as I would call it understanding the challenges and issues of the existing system. The COVID-19 crisis is going to further squeeze academia, which will likely lead to a small number of programs producing an ever more disproportionate number of TT faculty. Getting ahead of that curve is not a bad idea.

@DenverSun16, I would aim to do as well as you possibly can on the GRE. Score above the 90th-95th percentile for verbal, 90th-95th on the analytical writing, and do your best on the quant section. Some programs do use it to make funding decisions, but, for your peace of mind, you don't want to worry about your GRE score potentially holding you back.

(This doesn't apply to most applicants: GRE quant matters for HoS students interested in a math heavy field, like history of the physical sciences, or students in economic history)

Edited by psstein
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18 hours ago, psstein said:

The COVID-19 crisis is going to further squeeze academia, which will likely lead to a small number of programs producing an ever more disproportionate number of TT faculty.

My diss committee has called this nothing less than the death throes of academia as we know it, which was a cheerful thought.

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On 4/26/2020 at 9:50 AM, telkanuru said:

My diss committee has called this nothing less than the death throes of academia as we know it, which was a cheerful thought.

It's not necessarily a bad thing for the existing system to burn down. But, knowing what we do about college administrators and the neoliberal university, I doubt they'll rebuild academia in any sort of positive way.

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38 minutes ago, psstein said:

It's not necessarily a bad thing for the existing system to burn down.

Sure, if you're not one of the tens of thousands of people caught in the blaze. 

But I'm staring down the barrel of the job market next year, looking at the hiring freezes, closures, and the like, thinking: I've gotten myself all worked up for the worst case scenario, that the system will break.

But what if something even worse happens: the system doesn't break?

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1 hour ago, psstein said:

It's not necessarily a bad thing for the existing system to burn down. But, knowing what we do about college administrators and the neoliberal university, I doubt they'll rebuild academia in any sort of positive way.

If the comments and questions on the aforementioned symposium/video call are any indication, the decision making process may allow for a rebuild that helps in the long run. As an example, if return on investment (ROI) is increasingly determined by key performance indicators (KPI), professors who put their feet on their desks for decades may be asked to retire in favor of academics who publish, teach, mentor, and, most importantly, participate in the stalled project of making academic history more relevant to everyday life.

 

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