Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone! My name is Krysta and I just finished my M.A. at UIUC in Latin American Studies, but my research was historical and my advisor was Dr. Nils Jacobsen. I'm starting this thread to create a space for prospective applicants to talk about the various steps in their process, but also because I'd like some input while I look for matches.

I study social/cultural history from 1850 in Costa Rica. Moving forward, I'm interested in questions of children's history, identity formation, and the evolution of notions of children's rights and agency. I'm also looking to expand into a comparative lens, looking at experiences in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.

I have the budget to apply to six programs.
So far I have picked:
1. Premo at FIU 2. Putnam at Pitt 3. Ghould at IUB 4. Wolfe/Pentzer at Tulane 5. Wills at UCRiverside (not in History, but I like him.) 6. Dávila at UIUC
Thoughts? Advice? I'm open to anything. :) Thank you!

Also, I've been looking for matches for over a year, so if anyone else is having trouble finding matches, perhaps we could mutually help each other.
 
Edited by krystasonrisa
spacing issue
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey there!

Ok, Premo is AMAZING as a professor and as mentor. I've attended several of her talks about her work and about professional development and she is approachable, nice, and very enthusiastic. Putman was the first person I thought when I read your research interests. She is a great scholar too. And Dávila, you probably know what a great scholar and mentor he is, even though he doesn't study your topic per se.

Just a word of advice: Wolfe did not write major monographs because her field is art history. Think about this if you want her to be your primary advisor. I don't know what your professional goals are but if you want to go into academia, and in history, monographs are kind of important. Pentzer is not a professor-professor, so also be careful with that. Again, it depends on your goals. That said, I am not familiar with their scholarship and by this point you know better what you want. I'm just trying to help you think long term. I'm not familiar with Wills either.

You should also contact Nara Milanich from Columbia/Barnard College. Even if you don't want to go there, she might be able to point at other faculty. Finally, you might want to talk to Christine Hunefeldt in UCSD.

All the best!

AgPm

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not in Latin American History and so am unqualified to offer specific advice on advisors/schools. But I do wonder what your post-PhD goals are. If you want to stay in academia, and particularly in a research university environment, you are probably over-emphasizing fit with a particular advisor over overall program strength/prestige. Places like Indiana and Illinois are of course quite well regarded, but for better or worse, if your PhD comes from a place like FIU, you have made the (already difficult) hunt for a tenure-track job even more difficult. I get that maybe you're trying to have a range of schools to maximize the chance that you get in somewhere, but I think you should recognize that for certain career goals, attending a couple of the programs you mention is almost certainly worse than waiting a year and reapplying (and this is not meant as a criticism of the faculty or students at those places, it's just the reality of the academic job market).

Funding availability is also something that you should be considering, regardless of career goals - my impression is that multiple schools on your list do not provide a long-term guaranteed funding package to most of their students. The financial security (and accompanying time and support for research) that comes from a guaranteed five-year (or even six at some places!) package should not be undervalued.

Link to post
Share on other sites

@pudewen is right. You're much better trying to get the FIU professor as an outside reader on your committee, and hitting up a program with a bit more institutional heft. Prestige is an awful word and it gets thrown around needlessly sometimes, but it's real and applicants ignore it at their peril.  

As for the guaranteed funding package— I wouldn't accept an offer that came without one. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

You'll also want to look at place where there is a strong program in gender/sexuality as they will also deal with the history of children and childhood.  Even if the scholar doesn't specialize in Latin America, s/he would be tremendously excited to have an opportunity to look at it comparatively with you.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On September 27, 2016 at 5:25 PM, AP said:

Hey there!

Ok, Premo is AMAZING as a professor and as mentor. I've attended several of her talks about her work and about professional development and she is approachable, nice, and very enthusiastic. Putman was the first person I thought when I read your research interests. She is a great scholar too. And Dávila, you probably know what a great scholar and mentor he is, even though he doesn't study your topic per se.

Just a word of advice: Wolfe did not write major monographs because her field is art history. Think about this if you want her to be your primary advisor. I don't know what your professional goals are but if you want to go into academia, and in history, monographs are kind of important. Pentzer is not a professor-professor, so also be careful with that. Again, it depends on your goals. That said, I am not familiar with their scholarship and by this point you know better what you want. I'm just trying to help you think long term. I'm not familiar with Wills either.

You should also contact Nara Milanich from Columbia/Barnard College. Even if you don't want to go there, she might be able to point at other faculty. Finally, you might want to talk to Christine Hunefeldt in UCSD.

All the best!

AgPm

 

Oh my this is so helpful! Thank you! I'm on the fence about Tulane for other reasons, but your advice definitely confirmed I should focus on other places. 

I had the opportunity to speak with Premo yesterday, and YES SHE IS SO KIND AND ENTHUSIASTIC! Dávila did one monograph a few years ago on the intersection of identity, schools, and public health in Brazil, so it's a stretch but yes, he is an AMAZING professor and he always made me feel very confident, which I think is very important in a mentor, so I am very biased toward him. 

I've had a few advisors suggest Columbiar/Barnard and I think Milanich was one of the names, so thanks for that tip! And YAY! I have never come across Hunefledt (idk why!?), but I'm definitely partial to schools without winter because SAD.

You've been so helpful! Thank you!!

Link to post
Share on other sites
On September 28, 2016 at 10:16 AM, pudewen said:

I'm not in Latin American History and so am unqualified to offer specific advice on advisors/schools. But I do wonder what your post-PhD goals are. If you want to stay in academia, and particularly in a research university environment, you are probably over-emphasizing fit with a particular advisor over overall program strength/prestige. Places like Indiana and Illinois are of course quite well regarded, but for better or worse, if your PhD comes from a place like FIU, you have made the (already difficult) hunt for a tenure-track job even more difficult. I get that maybe you're trying to have a range of schools to maximize the chance that you get in somewhere, but I think you should recognize that for certain career goals, attending a couple of the programs you mention is almost certainly worse than waiting a year and reapplying (and this is not meant as a criticism of the faculty or students at those places, it's just the reality of the academic job market).

Funding availability is also something that you should be considering, regardless of career goals - my impression is that multiple schools on your list do not provide a long-term guaranteed funding package to most of their students. The financial security (and accompanying time and support for research) that comes from a guaranteed five-year (or even six at some places!) package should not be undervalued.

I definitely appreciate your observation and advice! I am not planning on staying in North American academia. I actually want to work in the Costa Rican academy. I really wanted my PhD from UCR or UNA in Costa Rica, but after long talks with advisors both in the States and in Costa Rica, prestige politics are what they are, and a U.S. degree holds more capital than one from Costa Rica, even in the Costa Rican market, UNFORTUNATELY. That said, a lot of the UCR and UNA faculty are coming from IUB, UCLA, and Pitt. I would apply to UCLA, but Wilkie doesn't take new students anymore and I don't know if I'm a good enough fit for their program. 

I applied to four programs last year, and I was still too early in my research process to have a super competitive application, and four programs is not a lot of applications. 

But yes, thank you for the tip to look more closely at program strength rather than topical interest matches. That said, do you think I should sort of conform my interests to fit those programs? Or just be sincere and hope for the best? Thanks!

Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, TMP said:

You'll also want to look at place where there is a strong program in gender/sexuality as they will also deal with the history of children and childhood.  Even if the scholar doesn't specialize in Latin America, s/he would be tremendously excited to have an opportunity to look at it comparatively with you.

Oh! I never thought of that, but that is clever! Thank you! 

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, krystasonrisa said:

I actually want to work in the Costa Rican academy. I really wanted my PhD from UCR or UNA in Costa Rica, but after long talks with advisors both in the States and in Costa Rica, prestige politics are what they are, and a U.S. degree holds more capital than one from Costa Rica, even in the Costa Rican market, UNFORTUNATELY. That said, a lot of the UCR and UNA faculty are coming from IUB, UCLA, and Pitt. 

If it makes you feel better, it's the same for students in Turkish studies who wish they could stay in/go to Turkey to pursue their PhDs.  They're being told to go to the U.S. if they wished to get hired in Turkish universities... and so it goes with prestige politics :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, krystasonrisa said:

But yes, thank you for the tip to look more closely at program strength rather than topical interest matches. That said, do you think I should sort of conform my interests to fit those programs? Or just be sincere and hope for the best? Thanks!

I think you can be sincere. When you read all the posts by Americanists (and to a lesser extent Europeanists) here, you get the sense that everyone finds advisors who are a close match in place, time, and theme. That's just not the case for those of us in smaller fields. My advisor advises students with topics ranging from the medieval Silk Road, to 20th century Uyghur literature, to 17th century Chinese print culture. Now that's a broader range than even most in my field (and is in part because he is willing to advise almost any topic having to deal with the history of frontiers or ethnic identity in China), but it's quite common for faculty to advise students whose interests are fairly divergent from theirs. And this is probably particularly the case at the top programs, which are generally larger (and so can admit a wider range of students) and whose faculty often believe that they have the responsibility to train the entire range of the next generation of scholars in their field. That's not to say that you shouldn't look for connections between your work and that of potential advisors, but there's no reason to misrepresent your interests. Plus, as TMP suggested, think about faculty in fields other than Latin American history at departments to which you're applying who have thematic interests that are like yours. Then your application can say that you want to work with Latin Americanist X who will be able to give you the historiographical training in your broader field that you need (and may be helpful with contacts in research sites, knowledge about archival access, etc), but you can also work with Americanist/Europeanist/Africanist/East Asianist X who can help you with approaches to the themes you're interested in, creating comparative context, tying to a broader literature on those themes, relevant theory, etc.

Edited by pudewen
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi!

I would definitely recommend you look at UC Santa Cruz in the Latin American and Latino Studies PhD (LALS). The LALS (Link to program) department is interdisciplinary and has a lot of scholars from various disciplines.  For childhood and youth movements look into Jessica Taft. There are also various professors that focus on Central America.

Good Luck!

Link to post
Share on other sites
On September 30, 2016 at 2:35 PM, MikeTheFronterizo said:

Hi!

I would definitely recommend you look at UC Santa Cruz in the Latin American and Latino Studies PhD (LALS). The LALS (Link to program) department is interdisciplinary and has a lot of scholars from various disciplines.  For childhood and youth movements look into Jessica Taft. There are also various professors that focus on Central America.

Good Luck!

YAY! Bonus points for recommending a school without winter!! Thank you so much! 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On September 30, 2016 at 10:52 AM, pudewen said:

I think you can be sincere. When you read all the posts by Americanists (and to a lesser extent Europeanists) here, you get the sense that everyone finds advisors who are a close match in place, time, and theme. That's just not the case for those of us in smaller fields. My advisor advises students with topics ranging from the medieval Silk Road, to 20th century Uyghur literature, to 17th century Chinese print culture. Now that's a broader range than even most in my field (and is in part because he is willing to advise almost any topic having to deal with the history of frontiers or ethnic identity in China), but it's quite common for faculty to advise students whose interests are fairly divergent from theirs. And this is probably particularly the case at the top programs, which are generally larger (and so can admit a wider range of students) and whose faculty often believe that they have the responsibility to train the entire range of the next generation of scholars in their field. That's not to say that you shouldn't look for connections between your work and that of potential advisors, but there's no reason to misrepresent your interests. Plus, as TMP suggested, think about faculty in fields other than Latin American history at departments to which you're applying who have thematic interests that are like yours. Then your application can say that you want to work with Latin Americanist X who will be able to give you the historiographical training in your broader field that you need (and may be helpful with contacts in research sites, knowledge about archival access, etc), but you can also work with Americanist/Europeanist/Africanist/East Asianist X who can help you with approaches to the themes you're interested in, creating comparative context, tying to a broader literature on those themes, relevant theory, etc.

This is amazing advice; thank you! 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Premo was my MA advisor and she is the greatest! Message me if you want any specific information. But I second the idea that you also apply to the best programs, even if the advisor fit isn't quite as great. I might suggest UC-Irvine, where Heidi Tinsman works on gender and you have some other great Latin Americanists who might help (O'Toole, Borucki). Another one would be NYU where you have some people who have studied the Caribbean (Ferrer, Grandin). Zeb Tortoici in Spanish/Portuguese there does sexuality stuff.

Edited by jayray11
Changing tone
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/27/2016 at 2:49 PM, krystasonrisa said:
Hi everyone! My name is Krysta and I just finished my M.A. at UIUC in Latin American Studies, but my research was historical and my advisor was Dr. Nils Jacobsen. I'm starting this thread to create a space for prospective applicants to talk about the various steps in their process, but also because I'd like some input while I look for matches.

I study social/cultural history from 1850 in Costa Rica. Moving forward, I'm interested in questions of children's history, identity formation, and the evolution of notions of children's rights and agency. I'm also looking to expand into a comparative lens, looking at experiences in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.

I have the budget to apply to six programs.
So far I have picked:
1. Premo at FIU 2. Putnam at Pitt 3. Ghould at IUB 4. Wolfe/Pentzer at Tulane 5. Wills at UCRiverside (not in History, but I like him.) 6. Dávila at UIUC
Thoughts? Advice? I'm open to anything. :) Thank you!

Also, I've been looking for matches for over a year, so if anyone else is having trouble finding matches, perhaps we could mutually help each other.
 
 

I wonder if UChicago could be a good match for your interests. Dain Borges has worked on the history of families in the Brazilian Northeast. Moreover, Tara Zahra's second book addressed the issue of children in post-war Europe and the political ideas that originated out of efforts to "reconstruct" families after the war.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/29/2016 at 9:07 AM, krystasonrisa said:

 prestige politics are what they are, and a U.S. degree holds more capital than one from Costa Rica, even in the Costa Rican market, UNFORTUNATELY. 

I strongly recommend that you avoid the practice of thinking of a component of the profession as "politics," especially in open BBs, and all the more if you're going to use your name (a practice I do not recommend). For the time being, you are reliant upon the good will of established academics who are the guardians of the historical profession. Regardless of what one thinks privately, the received wisdom is that prestige matters.

When you use a word like "politics", you leave yourself vulnerable to the interpretation that you're questioning the legitimacy of the profession you seek to enter. You may also leave yourself open to the interpretation of having green eyes. That is, if you'd gotten your B.A. at the University of Happyland at Elysium, would you be decrying the role of prestige as "politics"? These two perceptions (and others) will win you few friends in a department.

Down the line, when you've BTDT, and it is your turn to shape the rules of the road, you will have the opportunity to question the role prestige plays in who gets admitted to graduate programs and who gets hired. 

To be clear, I'm not recommending that you take a POV that's not consistent to who you are as a person. Such a practice will be sniffed out within your first month as a graduate student. I am suggesting that, at the very least, hold your POV about prestige close to your vest. Maybe wear it as a chip on your shoulder when you're in the stacks. Kick ass and take names in seminar while wearing a UIUC sweatshirt.

Ultimately, I recommend that you figure out why prestige matters--for better and for worse--and then do what you can to benefit from that knowledge. (As an example of the former, consider the possibility that the level and intensity of competition at the most prestigious schools leads students to be ever more focused, skilled, and committed.)

My $0.02/YMMV

Link to post
Share on other sites
On October 4, 2016 at 8:07 PM, navyblackmaroon said:

I wonder if UChicago could be a good match for your interests. Dain Borges has worked on the history of families in the Brazilian Northeast. Moreover, Tara Zahra's second book addressed the issue of children in post-war Europe and the political ideas that originated out of efforts to "reconstruct" families after the war.

Thank you for the lead! One of my thesis advisors went to UChicago, and I really, really admire his scholarship and the way he frames his work. :) 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 months later...

So to kind of bump this thread:

 

I ended up applying to just three: IU, Pitt, and FIU. I haven't heard anything from IU or FIU, but I landed an interview with Dr. Putnam at Pitt. 

 

Any Latin Americanists still waiting? Already accepted? :) Looking forward to reconnecting this thread. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

HI @krystasonrisa

I am not a full Latin Americanist since I do U.S.-Mexico borderlands and Chican@ histories. I too only applied to three: UC Santa Cruz, U-T El Paso, and SMU. Got accepted to UCSC and SMU. Still waiting on El Paso. Funding for SMU is amazing so I am currently leaning that way!

Good luck on your interview!

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, MikeTheFronterizo said:

HI @krystasonrisa

I am not a full Latin Americanist since I do U.S.-Mexico borderlands and Chican@ histories. I too only applied to three: UC Santa Cruz, U-T El Paso, and SMU. Got accepted to UCSC and SMU. Still waiting on El Paso. Funding for SMU is amazing so I am currently leaning that way!

Good luck on your interview!

Hey! Thank you so much! I've already had the interview, and I think it went well, but I expected to hear from Pitt this week, so now I'm a bit nervous. 

 

Congrats on your two acceptances, and early ones at that! You must be a great candidate. :) Good luck choosing programs!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.