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Ph.d programs in radical right wing history


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Hey all! Returning poster coming back for some much-needed advice.

It's been about a year ago since I stopped visiting Gradcafe regularly. Since then I have entered and completed the first half of a dual masters program in History and Baltic Sea Region Studies. It's been a very stressful time but I am planning on continuing my studies into doctoral work. I have a list of situations/questions that I would very much like your feedback from as I feel a little rudderless at the moment.

1. I am interested in, as the title of the post suggests, radical ideologies. In particular fascisms. I think the term itself is quite foggy and defining it is elusive yet fascinating to me. Are there any schools out there that are noted for their good intellectual/political history programs or with particularly well known historians of fascism? Unfortunately most of my readings are now a little dated - Ernst Nolte, Sternhell, Griffin, etc. and I'm not really sure how to begin looking at what's new in the field.

2. I have been having trouble narrowing down a thesis topic in part due to some complications between my would-be advisor and his specialties as well as the nature of my program. Basically, I want to write a thesis that will hopefully "wow" whatever ph.d program I apply to and so if I can I want to do something that in some way contributes to a historiographical debate. I had planned on writing about the Black Hundreds, a Russian group in the early twentieth century, but my supervisor here, hitherto unbeknownst to me, is a Central European expert who does not really deal with the Russian Right. Similarly, my own Russian is too weak to really read many of the primary sources. My plan was to place the Black Hundreds into the debate about what is fascism (a debate that may or may not be dated itself and if you know that it's not much of an academic issue any more please tell me hah). But nevertheless, I am fascinated with the various historiographical debates surrounding how we define fascism and Griffin's categorization of right-wing movements is particularly interesting to me. Therefore very simply I was thinking about writing about this debate, on fascism's relationship vis-a-vis modernity and using a couple of groups as "case studies" while constructing my own criteria for what constitutes fascism. Does this sound doable, sexy, and able to "wow" a committee or is it boring, and done?

3: Sorry for the block o' text and thanks for any feedback!

Edited by Derfasciti
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Fascism is several centuries beyond me, but the writing sample you submit should be based mainly on original research of primary sources, as should a history thesis-level project of any sort (IMHO on the latter; TGC wisdom on the former). Why not make one group (a "case study" as you call it) the focus of your paper, and use what you discover about them to situate yourself in the historiography on fascism? That way, original research is your focus and your way into the topic. Maybe it will, maybe it won't have something to do with the modernity/fascism conversation...let your sources be your guide. :)

If you're hunting about for a topic, why not get up to speed on the recent historiography of fascism? (Try browsing the bibliographies of recent dissertations on fascism in ProQuest, or the couple most recent books in the library; you could also search "fascism historiography" on JSTOR et al to see if anyone's done a historiography piece or section of article recently). Usually some sort of idea will pop out as a hole to be answered--a part of the debate that isn't (yet!) up for debate, the pieces that everyone just assumes while concentrating on another topic.

ETA: A Google search for "historiography fascism" turns up academic-level work from 2005+ on the first page of search results...

Edited by Sparky
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Several issues here:

1) You *should* use Russian in your writing sample to demonstrate your comfort with handling sources in the language, even with just a paragraph. It just shows the adcoms that you're not afraid. That's part of "original" research.

2) It is very true that a Central Europeanist would be uncomfortable dealing with a topic in Eastern European or Russian history. Do you have another faculty member interested in European politics or Russian/Eastern European history?

3) It sounds to me that you really need to update your historiography. You'd be amazed how much difference it makes in the way you think about earlier works. Take the time to do the literature review before really settling on this Black Hundreds topic.

4) Be realistic about your skills and choose an appropriate topic that fits what you have, or will acquire over the year.

5) As for fascism, you may want to check in on Germany history- there are some new works on fascism in Germany. They may be worth looking into for models and methodologies for your case study.

5) Unfortunately, you may have to check in with Russian language secondary sources to see what has been written for fascism in Russian history. I am so fortunate that my adviser's fluent in our primary research language and can tell me what's happening within the scholarship in that specific language while I'm still working on it. Hence, try to network with a Russian scholar with similar interests as you.

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