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Historical Arch - Early America


HorseNerd
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I've been waffling back and forth about whether to do history or anth for my entire post-secondary career, but one area I've been exploring lately is historical archaeology. I don't know why, but in the past I've always brushed it off for some reason. Now that I'm thinking on it harder, I feel like it might be the perfect mix of material culture, written sources, and theory for me. I've been looking at the Society for Historical Archaeology's listing and trying to find schools that fit my interest (colonial/early America) and so far I have:

  • William and Mary
  • Cornell
  • Brown
  • Boston U
  • UPenn

My worry is a lot of the people in my area of interest at these schools are older and more likely to be retiring soon, and therefore less likely to be taking students. Does anyone have any other suggestions/ideas or just notes/thoughts on historic arch?

Also, stats if they helps:

BA in Anth/Classical Studies with a minor in History, GPA 3.95/89.9% (Canadian school)
MA in Anth in progress, received a CGS-M (Prestigious national level scholarship) for funding
GRE: 168V, 150Q, 5.0AW

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1 hour ago, HorseNerd said:

 Now that I'm thinking on it harder, I feel like it might be the perfect mix of material culture, written sources, and theory for me.

It is important to have a high level of investment in one's interests.

It is also important to understand that what is right for you may not be right for the gate keepers of an academic profession who make decisions on admissions, hiring, publishing, and so forth.

What kinds of works are practioners of historical archeology writing? Can you see yourself contributing or expanding the debates their works address? Are these academics getting jobs? Are they getting promotions?

Also, a lesson I have learned / am learning the hard way -- sometimes the leading edge of a new trajectory of scholarly inquiry is the bleeding edge. Is the work you're thinking about now a project you'd be better off addressing in thirty years instead of three, four, or five? Something to keep in mind -- the past isn't going anywhere.

Recommendations.

  • Discontinue for the time being the focus on your stats.
  • Curtail asking how schools / departments / academics "fit" into your plans.
  • Focus on defining how the work you want to do fits into existing fields of scholarship.
    • This focus can take the shape of writing down on a few pages of paper the kinds of questions your fields seek to answer and how your approach can move the needle in getting them answered.
    • This exercise can be performed during or after you take a deep dive into materials that will help you understand the state of art in your fields of interest.
      • You can plow through, cover to cover, ten years' worth of three or more prominent journals in your fields. (I recommend physical copies, if it is possible to do so safely.)
      • You can "read selectively" the key prize winning books in your fields/areas of interest.
        • If you do this for history, you should probably also look at general prizes as well.
  • Figure out how hard you're willing to push when you start hearing "no" from scholars -- especially those you think "fit" in your interests.
  • Study how trail blazers in history and anthropology shifted the boundaries of scholarship.

 

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13 minutes ago, Sigaba said:

Recommendations.

  • Discontinue for the time being the focus on your stats.
  • Curtail asking how schools / departments / academics "fit" into your plans.
  • Focus on defining how the work you want to do fits into existing fields of scholarship.
    • This focus can take the shape of writing down on a few pages of paper the kinds of questions your fields seek to answer and how your approach can move the needle in getting them answered.
    • This exercise can be performed during or after you take a deep dive into materials that will help you understand the state of art in your fields of interest.
      • You can plow through, cover to cover, ten years' worth of three or more prominent journals in your fields. (I recommend physical copies, if it is possible to do so safely.)
      • You can "read selectively" the key prize winning books in your fields/areas of interest.
        • If you do this for history, you should probably also look at general prizes as well.
  • Figure out how hard you're willing to push when you start hearing "no" from scholars -- especially those you think "fit" in your interests.
  • Study how trail blazers in history and anthropology shifted the boundaries of scholarship

 

Hello again! All of your advice is just as good here. I really do need to focus more on exactly what I want to research/theoretical lenses (which I would be much more familiar with if I went anth rather than history). Our library is currently closed, with the only exception being picking up books that aren't digitized anywhere, so I'll have to go on a JSTOR plunge. I'll admit, I worry too much, and think too many steps ahead. I will try to focus on narrowing things down and refining research questions, and also on chilling out a little :) )

Sometimes I need a bit of a reality check, or someone just telling me to stop being a dingbat, which is of course extra difficult when we're all locked up inside. So, thanks again 👍

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Sigaba already gave great advice.  All I'd like to add is if you haven't already, I would strongly suggest doing a field school that has a lab component. Even if you like studying the material, you may not like the field or lab work, and that would dictate whether you should transition into archaeology or not. Also, museum studies programs might be up your alley as well?

Good luck, it sounds like you have a good background.  You'll figure out what you like once you dig into the research!

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