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thedig13

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So, I'll be starting the first year of my PhD program in August. I'm aware that attending and/or presenting at conferences is part of being a graduate student. However, I have a few questions:

 

At what point should I begin attending conferences? And, how should I determine which conferences to attend? Should I seek insight from my own professors, or look for departmental announcements? Will my professors approach me to recommend conferences to go to?

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You will hear about them if you want to or not. There will be frequent emails (accepting papers at upcoming X conference), students in program (are you going to X conference in the fall?), and professors (you may want to write your paper for this course for this upcoming conference), and so on. You will quickly learn what conferences are popular in your subfield. Give it six months and you will be tired of hearing about conferences. 

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Start going (and presenting) as soon as you can. This is not just so you can get feedback on your own ideas or network. The most important thing conferences allow you to do is practice giving presentations. Given the importance of the campus visit in the job hunt, conferences are a rare opportunity to practice this vital skill.

 

So: do not wait for things to come across your desk. Be proactive and aggressive in seeking out conference opportunities and travel funding. This will also, coincidentally, force you to write and research more.

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I find conferences to be invaluable for networking, even if you don't present. Like others have said, you'll see tons of calls for papers and conference announcements. Talk to your advisor about which ones you should attend, and apply for a few if you have papers that will work for them. I try to attend the major conference in my field every year (AAS) and go to smaller conferences at my university and neighboring institutions when I can. I didn't apply to any conferences during my first year, but have already applied for one for the fall now and am looking at a few others.

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How many conferences does a typical graduate student attend every year? I get that it'll vary from student to student, but I'd like a general estimate.

Edited by thedig13

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There isn't really an 'average.'

 

Grad student attendance at conferences really depends on whether they have something to present. If you have a MA or if you're in a program that encourages you to write research papers early (I'd be surprised if this was the case in most PhD programs because you need to complete coursework and do archival research, but every program is different), you might have something to present in your first or second years. 

 
I just finished my second year and just now have a paper I can work on that I plan to submit to conferences. I did research for it last summer (I went abroad, with funding), and worked on it in the last year, while I finished my coursework and began working on research grant applications.

 

If you have a big conference nearby, then you probably should attend as a spectator... the opportunities to network are important. But personally, I'd rather make a first good impression with a decent paper than sign up and make a fool of myself on a big stage. There are smaller, regional conferences that you probably could attend and use to gain experience... those tend to be more supportive. That also includes graduate student conferences. But don't stress yourself out about conferences before you even start.

 

To get practice presenting, don't overlook departmental or campus-wide colloquia. I took advantage of one and it was very helpful, as I did it a month before my paper was due and it helped me get out of a writing rut.

 

Doing GOOD work is more important than trying to present at every conference out there. 

Edited by CageFree

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You want to be strategic about conferences.  The Professor Is In offers great tips and insights on conferences.  Google her.

 

Ask your adviser which conferences are important for your field.  Consider attending the national  (or "annual meeting") conference in your major field as a spectator for the first few years so you can get a good feel for it and begin to know faces.  Once you can make friends there, at least you know that you can pull them in when you do (finally) give a paper.

 

Use regional and local conferences for your first presentations while you're still learning how to present.  Try to go for the ones that DO offer some kind of funding or does not cost you more than $200.  Don't overdo the graduate student conferences- you don't want to run out of papers before you hit the big stage.  "Recycling" papers is... not the most useful thing to do for yourself and others. 

 

I love conferences because they get me out of my department circle and meet like-minded people.  They also re-energize me and remind me of why I do what I do and love what i do.  At the moment, I do about two a year- one for giving a paper and the other at my field's annual meeting.

 

Be observant of all the unwritten social etiquette.

Edited by TMP

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Be observant of all the unwritten social etiquette.

 

Can you give me an example of what kinds of unwritten social rules exist?

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I would say, in your first year, it could be good to present at a grad conference relatively close by (no need to spend a lot of money travelling to a grad conference IMO, they are fun and useful, but don't mean much on the cv).  Most of these (outside of a few small seminars) are very low pressure, and it's a good way to get comfortable with the concept of presenting at a conference.  In general, I would suggest presenting at a grad conference first, even if you wait till your second year.  No one is going to bring up your performance at the 2015 windy city grad conference at a job talk.  Presenting at grad conferences helped prepare me mentally for speaking before my peers and superiors at the AHA, etc.

 

Other than that, once I got the monkey off my back, I have presented once a year.  I am starting my fifth year, and now slowly moving towards having to thinkg about jobs (still have 2 more years of funding and am going to apply for year long fellowships again this year, come on 7 year plan), so I am going to present twice this year one at a big conference in one of my subfields, and another at a smaller seminar style conference.  Next year, I am planning on presenting at a big subfield conference which lots of publishers attend. 

 

You will figure out quickly what the main conference is for your subfield(s) by getting to know your cohort.

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Can you give me an example of what kinds of unwritten social rules exist?

 

In your case, you are going to have at least three sets of rules.

 

As a graduate student in history, you will have to learn the rules on how to ask questions, how to say "I don't know," how to say "I disagree," and when it is time to drink some STFU.

 

As a graduate student in an academically elite institution, you will have to learn the rules on how to comport yourself as a member of an intellectually elite group. Members of such groups are expected to have a certain swagger, to be very competitive intellectually, and to demonstrate their intellectual skills socially as well as academically. This is to say that you'll not only feel pressure to be up to speed IRT the course materials, but also what is going on in America and the world as if your school is the center of the universe and its alumni are titans.

 

As a graduate student at a socially elite institution, you will have to learn the unwritten rules of the dominant cohort. Beyond hoary traditions, (increasingly) anachronistic class snobbery, chauvinism centering around gender identity, cultural practices, and religious affiliations, you will encounter rules of the road that have been ingrained in some since their great grand parents went to prep school about the relationships among education, social awareness, knowledge, ethics, morality, and power.  

 

How does one from your background learn these rules? You can read books about those who have learned those rules written by individuals who have also lived by those rules. Examples include  R.W. Winks's Cloak and Dagger, John Jay Osborn Jr.'s semi autobiographical novel The Paper Chase, John Morton Blum's The Republican Roosevelt,  and Blum's memoir, A Life with History. You could also read works by those who, through their own study, have unraveled some of the mysteries. Kai Bird's dual biography of the Bundy brothers comes to mind.

 

Additionally, you can contact your school's local alumni club and see if there's anyone who can offer some pointers. You might also profit from reading as many of New England Nat's posts as you can find. Notice how her posts show little, if any, graduate student angst--no poser syndrome for her. She acts like she's the real deal because knows she's the real deal. Notice how she generally gives guidance based only upon what she has done or knows as a verifiable fact. Notice how she's tied into her department and, from there, the larger profession. That's swagger.  

 

But also, you can wait until you get there and for a period of time--weeks, months, the first two semesters, ultimately it is your call)--concentrate on being The Grey Man who hears and sees everything but says almost nothing--except during office hours, when you ask well crafted questions.

 

Unfortunately, though, you may be taught many of the rules by the harshest of instructors: personal experience. Maybe you'll get chewed out for cutting a path across a lawn. Or for making a snarky comment about public universities and state colleges. Or you might get some looks because you don't get a triple inside joke because you don't read this magazine or that newspaper. Or you may not grasp the connection between fellow student Jane Smith and Smith Hall until someone points it out to you.

 

In many instances, you may be inclined to think "screw this bullshot--this is graduate school, not high school." But before settling for this perspective, I urge you to look at the faculty lists for the departments you would like to join down the line and consider the following questions. Isn't the Old Boys' Club a thing of the past? Don't individuals get hired because of their skills as historians and their historiographic points of view? Or are graduates of the top programs hiring each other because they share common social and cultural sensibilities after spending years breaking bread and shooting the breeze with their mentors--and each other?

 

Stepping from the abstract to the concrete, IMO, you are breaking an unwritten social rule with your current profile. That is, it will be accurate to say that you're "already attending" in August, but for now you are in a liminal state. ;)

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In your case, you are going to have at least three sets of rules.

 

As a graduate student in history, you will have to learn the rules on how to ask questions, how to say "I don't know," how to say "I disagree," and when it is time to drink some STFU.

 

As a graduate student in an academically elite institution, you will have to learn the rules on how to comport yourself as a member of an intellectually elite group. Members of such groups are expected to have a certain swagger, to be very competitive intellectually, and to demonstrate their intellectual skills socially as well as academically. This is to say that you'll not only feel pressure to be up to speed IRT the course materials, but also what is going on in America and the world as if your school is the center of the universe and its alumni are titans.

 

As a graduate student at a socially elite institution, you will have to learn the unwritten rules of the dominant cohort. Beyond hoary traditions, (increasingly) anachronistic class snobbery, chauvinism centering around gender identity, cultural practices, and religious affiliations, you will encounter rules of the road that have been ingrained in some since their great grand parents went to prep school about the relationships among education, social awareness, knowledge, ethics, morality, and power.  

 

How does one from your background learn these rules? You can read books about those who have learned those rules written by individuals who have also lived by those rules. Examples include  R.W. Winks's Cloak and Dagger, John Jay Osborn Jr.'s semi autobiographical novel The Paper Chase, John Morton Blum's The Republican Roosevelt,  and Blum's memoir, A Life with History. You could also read works by those who, through their own study, have unraveled some of the mysteries. Kai Bird's dual biography of the Bundy brothers comes to mind.

 

Additionally, you can contact your school's local alumni club and see if there's anyone who can offer some pointers. You might also profit from reading as many of New England Nat's posts as you can find. Notice how her posts show little, if any, graduate student angst--no poser syndrome for her. She acts like she's the real deal because knows she's the real deal. Notice how she generally gives guidance based only upon what she has done or knows as a verifiable fact. Notice how she's tied into her department and, from there, the larger profession. That's swagger.  

 

But also, you can wait until you get there and for a period of time--weeks, months, the first two semesters, ultimately it is your call)--concentrate on being The Grey Man who hears and sees everything but says almost nothing--except during office hours, when you ask well crafted questions.

 

Unfortunately, though, you may be taught many of the rules by the harshest of instructors: personal experience. Maybe you'll get chewed out for cutting a path across a lawn. Or for making a snarky comment about public universities and state colleges. Or you might get some looks because you don't get a triple inside joke because you don't read this magazine or that newspaper. Or you may not grasp the connection between fellow student Jane Smith and Smith Hall until someone points it out to you.

 

In many instances, you may be inclined to think "screw this bullshot--this is graduate school, not high school." But before settling for this perspective, I urge you to look at the faculty lists for the departments you would like to join down the line and consider the following questions. Isn't the Old Boys' Club a thing of the past? Don't individuals get hired because of their skills as historians and their historiographic points of view? Or are graduates of the top programs hiring each other because they share common social and cultural sensibilities after spending years breaking bread and shooting the breeze with their mentors--and each other?

 

Stepping from the abstract to the concrete, IMO, you are breaking an unwritten social rule with your current profile. That is, it will be accurate to say that you're "already attending" in August, but for now you are in a liminal state. ;)

 

Wow...  This is weird.

 

I know a lot of ivy league graduate students.  Most are normal people with a sense of humor and not crazy, plotting backstabber from the oldest wasp families.  I am sure that is true of some, but not everyone. I doubt they read books on how to behave like white-bred creep before entering grad school. I also know a couple of ivy leagers who really lack swagger, which always blows my mind.  Sure, already attending as your status is a bit presumptious, but you are excited and proud of where you are going, who cares?

 

One thing that did ring true, you should have swagger and confidence.  Fake it until you make it.   So many academics are socially inept and being able to carry on a conversation and occasionally discuss things other than your work will go a long way at academic social events and about 50% of conferences is sitting around chatting with grad students.  Networking is like chatting up a bird (Sorry for the ironic, british-english slang), the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Edited by Riotbeard

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Wow...  This is weird.

 

I know a lot of ivy league graduate students.  Most are normal people with a sense of humor and not crazy, plotting backstabber from the oldest wasp families.  I am sure that is true of some, but not everyone. I doubt they read books on how to behave like white-bred creep before entering grad school. I also know a couple of ivy leagers who really lack swagger, which always blows my mind.  Sure, already attending as your status is a bit presumptious, but you are excited and proud of where you are going, who cares?

 

One thing that did ring true, you should have swagger and confidence.  Fake it until you make it.   So many academics are socially inept and being able to carry on a conversation and occasionally discuss things other than your work will go a long way at academic social events and about 50% of conferences is sitting around chatting with grad students.  Networking is like chatting up a bird (Sorry for the ironic, british-english slang), the more you do it, the easier it gets.

 

@Riotbeard Hey, like, dude. What is the issue? The OP asked the following.

 

Can you give me an example of what kinds of unwritten social rules exist?

 

Based upon that question, I provided information on how to learn more about those unwritten rules.

 

Moreover, I think you didn't read my post carefully and/or are unfamiliar with the works I mentioned. In the case of the former, "plotter" and "backstabber" are your words, not mine. On the contrary, in my post, I indicate that once one goes beyond what is outdated and distasteful, there's remains a focus on moral and ethical thought and behavior as the springboard for social activity.

 

In the case of the latter, the works I mentioned were suggestions for someone going into a new environment. If you hold to the notion that it is "weird" to suggest that a history student can learn something of practical, everyday value by reading, please do elaborate.

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Sorry Sigaba.  In hindsight, it was unintenionally harsh phrasing on my part and I genuinely apologize, but we fundamentally disagree on how to navigate the social world of academia.  I just think you are making it seem like conferences are like some crazy, shakespearian affair.  Just be a normal, nice, and social person and you will be fine.  You don't need to read books on how to exist in academia.  Also, if I were givin that advice going into my first year it would scare all the swagger out of me.  You are right about a lot of things as far q & a.  There is nothing wrong with saying I don't know.

 

Just my 2 cents, but I think overpreparing to be a normal, social person could add a lot of unnecessary pressure to these situations.  Most professors tell me that it when comes down job interviews and campus visits, people want someone who is both smart (everyone who makes campus visits is qualified and has relatively interesting projects) and they can imagine getting a beer with, or chatting with everyday for the next 30 years.  Reading all these books seems like a recipe for becoming stiff.

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Sorry Sigaba.  In hindsight, it was unintenionally harsh phrasing on my part and I genuinely apologize, but we fundamentally disagree on how to navigate the social world of academia.  I just think you are making it seem like conferences are like some crazy, shakespearian affair.  Just be a normal, nice, and social person and you will be fine.  You don't need to read books on how to exist in academia.  Also, if I were givin that advice going into my first year it would scare all the swagger out of me.  You are right about a lot of things as far q & a.  There is nothing wrong with saying I don't know.

 

Just my 2 cents, but I think overpreparing to be a normal, social person could add a lot of unnecessary pressure to these situations.  Most professors tell me that it when comes down job interviews and campus visits, people want someone who is both smart (everyone who makes campus visits is qualified and has relatively interesting projects) and they can imagine getting a beer with, or chatting with everyday for the next 30 years.  Reading all these books seems like a recipe for becoming stiff.

 

Thanks for the clarification, Riotbeard. In retrospect I may have (probably :o  :unsure: ) read the OP's question too broadly to include the unwritten social rules of graduate school, not just academic conferences.

 

FWIW, I offered the specific guidance and reading recommendations to thedig13 because of the swagger issue. IMO, there simply is not enough of it among those members of this BB who have extraordinarily successful application seasons.

 

Circling back to my revised understanding (?) of the question at hand what follows are two suggestions for not running afoul of two unwritten rules about food served at a conference..

 

Be very mindful of how you behave IRT food. If there's a SNAFU with a meal you paid for in advance, deal with it calmly and briefly. No matter how much money you may have paid for a meal that isn't there for you to eat, no matter how hungry the conference has made you (both physically and psychologically) act as if the miscue is no big deal. Stay focused on the task of getting to know other attendees. Settle accounts later. If you manage to keep your balance, someone may go the extra mile to get you a plate. (This happened to me.)

 

As you eat or drink at a conference, do so in a way where you can quickly clear your mouth to ask or answer a question or to make a point. To be sure, you will likely be very hungry when it comes time to eat but you want to protect yourself from a situation in which one of the biggest names in your field asks you "What are you working on?" and all you can say is "NOM NOM NOM!"

 

cookie-monster-860.jpg

 

 (Of course, this happened to someone else not named me. :P )

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Oh the folly of talking on the internet sigaba :) .  We are all forever destined to misunderstand and abuse each other, haha.

 

No swagger/ confidence is so important to networking.  I see a lot of people around me (I have spent a good chunk of the year in philly for research), who are really smart and in top 10 programs but are afraid to e-mail a professor or talk to people at conferences, and I think we (grad students) can get set up to fail sometimes by too many doom and gloom lectures about the dark world of the job market or how smart other people are etc.  Most academics put their pants on one leg at a time and other such hackneyed statements. 

 

Honestly, naivety has gotten me a long way in academia.  I naively picked a massive source base that took way longer to go through than I ever imagined, but people liked the hard work and I haven't gotten some big grants and fellowships. Lack of knowledge of a certain subfield in my diss. lead me to ask different questions (now I can contextualize my ideas better with having read more books).  So many grad students are scared little lambs, beaten down by their professors and it does not serve them in networking. 

Edited by Riotbeard

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I naively picked a massive source base that took way longer to go through than I ever imagined, but people liked the hard work and I haven't gotten some big grants and fellowships.

 

Oops.  I meant to say I have gotten a big grant and fellowship.  In isolation it really looks like a humble brag, but whatever.

 

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This seems a bit over the top, in my experience. Point by point:

 

In your case, you are going to have at least three sets of rules.

 

As a graduate student in history, you will have to learn the rules on how to ask questions, how to say "I don't know," how to say "I disagree," and when it is time to drink some STFU.

 

Agreed, but this kind of applies to all of life in general, doesn't it?

 

As a graduate student in an academically elite institution, you will have to learn the rules on how to comport yourself as a member of an intellectually elite group. Members of such groups are expected to have a certain swagger, to be very competitive intellectually, and to demonstrate their intellectual skills socially as well as academically. This is to say that you'll not only feel pressure to be up to speed IRT the course materials, but also what is going on in America and the world as if your school is the center of the universe and its alumni are titans.

 

Yes, your circle will be very smart. You will be around people who can speak three languages fluently and like to watch Werner Herzog. On the other hand, other members of your cohort probably relax by watching hockey.  It's a matter of preference, and I've not found any judgement over it. 

 

By and large, about half of the people I know are entirely ignorant of contemporary events.

 

As a graduate student at a socially elite institution, you will have to learn the unwritten rules of the dominant cohort. Beyond hoary traditions, (increasingly) anachronistic class snobbery, chauvinism centering around gender identity, cultural practices, and religious affiliations, you will encounter rules of the road that have been ingrained in some since their great grand parents went to prep school about the relationships among education, social awareness, knowledge, ethics, morality, and power. 

 

Yeah, no, not really. I mean, I may take certain things for granted because I am a white male from the middle-class, and there are certainly people who are very comfortable with the kind of confluence of influence and money you  find at an Ivy, but I've found the background of any graduate group to be very diverse. However, your professors are guaranteed to be very good at playing The Game, as it were, and would not be where they are if they would not. If they are good teachers they will actively show you how they do it; if not, you would be wise to pay attention. Having said all that, a lot of what you've said is still somewhat prevalent among the undergraduates you'll be teaching.

 

How does one from your background learn these rules? You can read books about those who have learned those rules written by individuals who have also lived by those rules. Examples include  R.W. Winks's Cloak and Dagger, John Jay Osborn Jr.'s semi autobiographical novel The Paper Chase, John Morton Blum's The Republican Roosevelt,  and Blum's memoir, A Life with History. You could also read works by those who, through their own study, have unraveled some of the mysteries. Kai Bird's dual biography of the Bundy brothers comes to mind.

 

Yeah, no, I wouldn't put any stock into any of that.

 

Additionally, you can contact your school's local alumni club and see if there's anyone who can offer some pointers. 

 

I wouldn't do that.

 

You might also profit from reading as many of New England Nat's posts as you can find. Notice how her posts show little, if any, graduate student angst--no poser syndrome for her. She acts like she's the real deal because knows she's the real deal. Notice how she generally gives guidance based only upon what she has done or knows as a verifiable fact. Notice how she's tied into her department and, from there, the larger profession. That's swagger.  

 

I'm not sure what you mean. That's competence, introspection, and intelligence - attributes which correlate to top programs but do not have a causative relationship to them.

 

But also, you can wait until you get there and for a period of time--weeks, months, the first two semesters, ultimately it is your call)--concentrate on being The Grey Man who hears and sees everything but says almost nothing--except during office hours, when you ask well crafted questions.

 

It's true that you never have to retract something you've never said, but you can't learn if you're never wrong, either. Ignorance should never keep you silent, in graduate school or elsewhere, because revealing ignorance is the best way to no longer be ignorant.

 

Unfortunately, though, you may be taught many of the rules by the harshest of instructors: personal experience. Maybe you'll get chewed out for cutting a path across a lawn. Or for making a snarky comment about public universities and state colleges. Or you might get some looks because you don't get a triple inside joke because you don't read this magazine or that newspaper. Or you may not grasp the connection between fellow student Jane Smith and Smith Hall until someone points it out to you.

 

This is not unfortunate; this is learning. The most important thing is to listen, digest, and apply these corrections when they are given. I have found my professors greatly respect students who quickly apply their advice so as not to make the same mistake twice.

 

In many instances, you may be inclined to think "screw this bullshot--this is graduate school, not high school." But before settling for this perspective, I urge you to look at the faculty lists for the departments you would like to join down the line and consider the following questions. Isn't the Old Boys' Club a thing of the past? Don't individuals get hired because of their skills as historians and their historiographic points of view? Or are graduates of the top programs hiring each other because they share common social and cultural sensibilities after spending years breaking bread and shooting the breeze with their mentors--and each other?

 

A bit of both, actually. To imply otherwise would be to ignore the fact that the bulk of T1 graduates are not employed by T1 institutions. 

 

YMMV.

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My replies are below, highlighted in blue.

 

 
Agreed, but this kind of applies to all of life in general, doesn't it?
 
I don't know. My experiences as a student of history have taught me not to make totalizing statements about "all of life in general." My personal and work experiences have taught me that in some situations, one is expected to do a lot of talking and in other situations to say as little as possible.
 
By and large, about half of the people I know are entirely ignorant of contemporary events.
 
Maybe this issue is field-specific. For better (but mostly worse) students and practitioners of military and diplomatic history are often encouraged to understand the contemporary policy implications of their work. This dynamic seems to have been especially true of the academics I've met who learned their craft at Ivies.
 
Yeah, no, not really...Yeah, no, I wouldn't put any stock into any of that.
 
What is the deal with your increasingly dismissive tone when you're replying to posts that express POVs that differ from yours? If that's the direction you want to go in your interaction with me, so be it. I will pick up what you put down. That being said, I very prefer the sensibilities you brought to this BB as recently as late May of this year.)
 
Yeah, no, I wouldn't put any stock into any of that.
 
Okay. Have you read any of the aforementioned works? If so, what are your specific reservations? If they are not worth reading, could you provide some insight as to why Ivy League-trained academics suggest some of the works so that non IL-ers can understand that environment?  Do you have alternate recommendations? And also, are there specific reason why you would discourage an aspiring Americanist from reading the memoir of a historian who studied and taught American history at Yale? (You do know that established Americanists teach graduate students the craft by encouraging them to study the works and lives of accomplished historians?)
 
I wouldn't do that.
 
Okay. You've invested a lot of effort attempting to argue that my recommendations are not sound. What then, are yours?
 
I'm not sure what you mean. 
 
No offense, but that's why I recommend NEN's posts and not yours. To be clear, nothing personal: she's just been on the path longer than you have and, therefore, a different range of experiences and skills than you presently posses.  
 
That's competence, introspection, and intelligence - attributes which correlate to top programs but do not have a causative relationship to them.
 
Then why do you want to continue your graduate education at a top program if there is not a "causative relationship" between the traits you mentioned and the quality of education one receives? Is your position on this issue connected to  your previous comment about "The Game"? That is, you want to go to a top school because you want to get a job at a top school?
 
It's true that you never have to retract something you've never said, but you can't learn if you're never wrong, either. Ignorance should never keep you silent, in graduate school or elsewhere, because revealing ignorance is the best way to no longer be ignorant.
 
Bluntly, you did not read my comment carefully. Please show me where I suggested that thedig13 should remain silent. Please show me where I did not say thedig13 should remain relatively quite--not silent--for a period of time of his choosing. Please show me where I did not say that  thedig13 should go to professors' office hours and ask questions.
 
Moreover, where is this "elsewhere"? (Again, the perils of totalizing statements.) Some of the most skilled individuals I know learned their trade learned not by subordinating themselves to intense training regimens that focused on what they were learning, not "revealing ignorance."
 
This is not unfortunate; this is learning. The most important thing is to listen, digest, and apply these corrections when they are given. I have found my professors greatly respect students who quickly apply their advice so as not to make the same mistake twice.
 
It is unfortunate if the price of learning a lesson through direct experience is making a critical or unrecoverable error.
 
Also, when you read threads on this BB in which your peers discuss horrific experiences in which they're harassed by POIs, or get their legs taken out from under them by their fellow students, or navigate the perils of educating undergraduates, or go through any number of life-altering, time-consuming, savings-draining, soul-crushing experiences, do you really say "That's not unfortunate, that's learning?" 
 
A bit of both, actually. To imply otherwise would be to ignore the fact that the bulk of T1 graduates are not employed by T1 institutions. 
 
Again, you have not read carefully. You are attributing your inference to something I did not imply. That is, please show me where I mention T1 institutions.

 

 

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Edit: Never mind, I misread a post. 

Edited by L13

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My replies are below, highlighted in blue.

 

(etc)

 

I don't think it's particularly productive to go back through that point by point. It's mainly getting caught up in details and, specifically with respect to tone and reading comprehension, I think it's quite possible neither of us is conveying precisely what we want.

 

It boils down to this: at this point, I have spent five years in various roles at an Ivy league (the Ivy league?) university, as an undergraduate, a graduate student, and a research assistant to three different professors, inter alia. A nice brag, yes, but I want to make clear where I'm coming from when I say that the world you described in your original post had hints of familiarity but the overall sense you convey is, based on my experience, incorrect. The depiction you gave seems to posit world that is significantly more Machiavellian than the one I have encountered. This may indeed be due in part to differences between various historical fields - I don't think the job market is as harsh on medievalists as it has been on other parts of the humanities. However, I've not seen it in my encounters here with people outside my immediate interests, either.

 

So, that being the case, what has lead you to construct the narrative above?

Edited by telkanuru

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It seems to me that this thread has gone wayyyyyy off the OP's original question. Just sayin'....

 

A keen sense of the obvious is also an important ability every graduate student must master  :P

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A keen sense of the obvious is also an important ability every graduate student must master  :P

 

Hey, whatever it takes so I can put off reading for comps or working on fellowship apps.  :lol:

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Entire post.

 

You are trying to have it both ways. You started this exchange by parsing a post of mine in this thread. Yet when I engage you in kind, you don't have the time to answer direct questions with honest answers. You say what you want to say, expect others to take you seriously, but when someone does just that, you want to shut down the conversation. 

 

Bluntly, the timing of your "I've been in this environment for five years" rings more like an attempt to dodge the direct questions I've posed to you, especially given your post on 28 May 2014 << That is, in the space of about sixty days, you have gone from not having your shoulders over your knees IRT taking the next step in your graduate career to being a person who has things so figured out that, on your say so alone, people should follow your guidance.

 

Here's the thing. Today, you want readers to believe that you're wired in, that your experiences and insights trump, among other things, those of John Morton Blum and Robin W. Winks. (It is a good thing, I suppose, that I didn't mention Natalie Davis.) Yet, this past spring, you flat out admitted that you weren't wired in--not just by asking the question you posed, but also by posing it here, among faceless strangers on the internet rather than asking your peers and professors at Harvard.

 

Make no mistake, when you asked the question during the spring, the considerable respect I had for you at that time grew significantly. The earnestness of your question seemed to reflect a level of humility and generosity of spirit that you'd brought to many of your posts. 

 

Now, in light of your recent posts in this thread and elsewhere on this BB, in particular the thread about writing one's own LoRs, I'm wondering what is going on with you. What has sparked this apparent reversal? Then again, in retrospect, your post of 23 March 2013 << is instructive, all the more when taken in the context of the discussion of an article posted on The Atlantic's website last September <<LINK>>.

 

An additional point. You continue the unfortunate practice of putting words in my posts. Machiavellian is your word, not mine. You are the one who wrote "However, your professors are guaranteed to be very good at playing The Game, as it were, and you would not be where they were if they would not."

 

On the contrary, the works I recommended stress the extent to which institutions such as Yale and Harvard stress values. A persistent theme of those works is how students and alumni sought to square what they learned with the demands of their careers and the trajectories of their lives. That is, the works I mentioned, among other things, explore how alumni of elite academic institutions use the knowledge and character they developed to have confidence in how they deliberated and executed the choices they made. You, based upon your experiences, see this dynamic in a different light. That's your choice. But then why are you attempting to make that choice for others by discouraging them from consulting other sources and other people?

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