Guide to Studying for Comps

keep-calm-and-study-for-exams-86Comps, orals, qualifying exams…no matter what you call them, they are a source of angst for many (US) PhD students. Expectations can vary from one department to the next. Some programs have set reading lists, and a process that takes much of the guess work out of preparing for these exams. Other programs expect the student examinee to take a more proactive role. The advice herein is not exhaustive, but is geared primarily towards students who in this later situation. As you prepare, remember that thousands of PhDs have successfully passed through this process, and you can too. You just need to put in the work. Continue reading

Digital Identity in Graduate School

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Last week, the Arts & Sciences Graduate Center at William and Mary hosted a Digital Identity Roundtable to discuss the benefits, pitfalls, and protocols for graduate students who currently use social media for networking and scholarship, and for those who would like to start. As a contributing editor for The Junto, I was invited to participate in that discussion. Only after agreeing did I realize that mine would be the only graduate student voice among a group of highly accomplished professors from across the college. Being a typical graduate student, the thought of speaking with any “expertise” caused a brief panic and I turned to my fellow Junto editors for their tips and suggestions for graduate students and early career scholars about managing a digital identity. My query (really a plea for help), elicited such a big and generous response from my fellow editors that we decided to share that advice here. Hopefully, this can start a wider conversation about how graduate students should confront an increasingly vital part of our professional development. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Growing Your Wolf Pack: Why Collaboration is ‘Worth It’ in Historical Scholarship”

Guest poster Neil Oatsvall is a History and Social Science Instructor at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Environment and History, Agricultural History, Essays in History, and the edited collection Proving Grounds (University of Washington Press, 2015). His book manuscript, “Atomic Environments: Nuclear Technologies, the Natural World, and Policymaking, 1945-1960,” is under advanced contract with the NEXUS series of the University of Alabama Press. His Twitter handle is @DctrNO. 

Return guest poster Vaughn Scribner is an Assistant Professor of Early American History at the University of Central Arkansas. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Atlantic Studies: Global Currents, the Journal of Early American History, Early American Studies, the Journal of Social History, Urban History, Agricultural History, and the edited volume, Order and Civility in the Early Modern Chesapeake. His Twitter handle is @VScrib86.

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“Shipping the Sugar,” from William Clark, Ten Views in the Island of Antigua, in which are Represented the Process of Sugar Making…From Drawings Made by William Clark, During a Residence of Three Years in the West Indies (London, 1823).

While co-authoring in the sciences or social sciences is the norm (and often expected), many scholars in the humanities tend to practice the Lone Wolf strategy. We huddle in our den, surrounded by piles of books, cultivating the nagging fear that someone might be researching something too similar to us. But maybe it’s time to move on from our seclusion. Maybe, in the words of Alan Garner from The Hangover, it’s time to grow your wolf pack (link might be slightly NSFW, as it’s from a rated R film). Continue reading

Reminder to join the conversation “Where Historians Work: A View from Early America”

Do you hold a PhD titlesin early American history/literature/architectural history/art history/etc. or a related field, and have you chosen a career outside of the professoriate? The Junto wants to hear from you! There’s still time to participate in our conversation, “Where Historians Work: A View from Early America.”

Leave your stories in the comments of this post. Or, if you would prefer a less public forum, you may email The Junto (thejuntoblog@gmail.com) with the subject line “Career Diversity.” Please post comments or email by Friday, February 17. Continue reading

Where Historians Work: A View from Early America

where-historians-work_graphicRecently the American Historical Association published Where Historians Work: An Interactive Database of History PhD Career Outcomes, “the only interactive, discipline-specific, and cross-institutional database of career outcomes for PhDs.” Using data collected from AHA directories and on the web, “Where Historians Work” presents a robust statistical overview of the varied employment sought by History PhDs from more than 30 degree-granting intuitions. For those historians who have long held positions outside of the academy, the database, part of the AHA’s broader Career Diversity for Historians initiative, is a welcome acknowledgement of what many have known anecdotally for years: History PhDs can—and do!—work in an array of fields.

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Writing History As If It Matters (to Lots of People)

tennessee_gentleman_portrait_of_andrew_jackson_by_ralph_e-_w-_earlIn a series of classic science fiction stories, Isaac Asimov imagined a scientific discipline called “psychohistory”: a way to predict the future of an interstellar empire. Psychohistory could not foresee individual choices, but it could supposedly predict collective behavior over the course of millennia. At one point in the Foundation series, however, a charismatic figure named the Mule threatened to upend psychohistory’s predictions: he was a mutant, acting in ways the original model could not anticipate. In the universe Asimov imagined, the Mule alone seemed to possess true individual agency. Resisting a powerful model of human behavior, he offered instead a story about a person.

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Guest Post: Candace Jackson Gray interviews Paul Finkelman

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Photo is courtesy of Keydron K. Guinn, Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Morgan State University

Paul Finkelman is currently the John E. Murray Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he teaches Constitutional Law and a seminar on the law of slavery. He received his PhD in U.S. history from the University of Chicago and his BA in American Studies from Syracuse University. He specializes in American legal history, slavery and the Founders, American slave law, modern human trafficking, the Civil War era, U.S. Constitutional history and law, the legal history of race relations, the history of Civil Liberties, the history of the electoral college, Constitution and firearms regulation, and Baseball and Law. He is the author of more than 200 scholarly articles and more than forty books. His next book, Supreme Injustice: Slavery and America’s Highest Court, will be published by Harvard University Press in 2017. His work on legal history and constitutional law has been cited four times by the United States Supreme Court, numerous other courts, and in many appellate briefs. He was an expert witness in the famous Alabama Ten Commandments Monument Case and in the law suit over the ownership of Barry Bonds’ 73rd home run ball. He has also recently worked with HeinOnline to create a free database called Slavery In America and the World: History, Culture, and Law, which he discusses below. This interview was conducted by Candace Jackson Gray at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD on November 30 and December 1, 2016. Continue reading