Category Archives: graduate students

October 13, 2013, 11:52 am

Crossing on a Yellow Light: Ten Questions To Ask Prospective Graduate Students

crosswalk2-petitinventionLongtime readers of the Radical know that it is one of my policies not to write about real people, but I’m going to break that rule to make an important announcement.

I said no to writing a graduate school recommendation for a candidate applying to PhD programs in history.

That’s right, me. Me, who thinks it paternalistic to keep intelligent people out of graduate school. Me, who believes fervently that our nation would be better off with better-educated people in it (if you don’t believe this, pick any Tea Party congressperson at random and ask that person a question about the female reproductive system, what the Bible or the Constitution actually says, political history, race and/or how government works.)

Let me just say: I did not turn this student away for political or ideological reasons, or because said person does not deserve a shot at a career in history. My…

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August 21, 2013, 10:50 am

The Ten Commandments of Graduate School

reality is overratedSo you are starting graduate school, eh? Against all of our best advice here in the blogosphere, you are determined to embark on the scholarly life.  Well, you know what I have to say about that?

Good luck and godspeed! Keep your feet dry and your spectacles up to date! Cover your head when the sun is too bright! Don’t fly with ballpoint pens in your luggage! Get a cat!

As you make your way through this first year, finally acting on that sense of purpose that coalesced in your undergraduate years, know that there will be times of frustration and sorrow, but that many of us have found this to be a good life all the same. There are, as the foundations say, deliverables. There is the reading. There is the teaching (that sense that you have just taught a really good class? *Priceless*!!!) There is the blogging. There are the friends. There are the ideas. And there is the emerging…

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July 22, 2013, 9:39 am

More On The Grafton Line: You Can Play Too


L.D. Burnett sez: Bring it on, play-uhs.

We have just passed the half-way marker for summer, with a precious few weeks remaining before those emails about fall teaching start arriving.  And what to my wondering eyes do appear, as I was posting hilarious quotes about Kate Middleton’s labor on Facebook?

The Grafton Challenge.

For some time I have been following Saved By History, the blog of a certain L.D. Burnett, a Ph.D. candidate in the History of Ideas at University of Texas-Dallas. We are Facebook friends, so when I noticed comments about how generous senior scholars can be, I thought in a rosy haze, “Yes we are….but what did I do to deserve such a lovely compliment?”

Not so fast, Radical. It’s Princeton’s Tony Grafton she’s talking about.

Here’s the skinny. Yesterday, Burnett responded on blog to…

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February 29, 2012, 1:24 pm

Radical But Not Tenured: Reflections from an Unemployed ABD

By “Sam Concord”

Today’s guest blogger is a pseudonymous graduate student from a major research university and a future tenured radical. Super-qualified, unemployed, and nearly finished with his degree,  Sam reflects on his six years in graduate school and how he has practiced the art of failure.

I am crawling to the finish line of graduate school with six publications, one mostly-finished dissertation, two major teaching awards, and no job. As I wait to go on the market again next year, I’m doing my best to embrace what Jack Halberstam calls the new ways of being opened up by failure. These benefits include the time and space to figure out what I’ve been doing for the past six years.

In this spirit, I offer you four versions of this story: Superhero Sam, Naked Sam, Terrorist Sam, and CV Sam.

Superhero Sam. One highlight of graduate school was not dying when a driver …

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August 2, 2011, 9:50 am

It’s Tuesday, It’s Hot: You Need Shorts

For those of you who are new to Tenured Radical, you should know that people send us stuff all the time.  Little stuff, big stuff, stuff that goes viral as a featured post and other stuff that we just save and kick out every once in a while with other stuff we like.  So without further ado, today’s stuffed shorts are:

Moonlight, Magnolias and Marriage Myths. In today’s Grey Lady, Princeton historian Tera Hunter has a superb op-ed about the ways in which Republican right-wingers are re-writing the history of slavery to suit modern political agendas.  The excising of the 3/5th clause in the Constitution during a Republican reading of that document on the House Floor, and the outrageous assertion in a document authored by Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum “that ‘a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than…

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March 12, 2011, 1:08 pm

The Social Network: Or; Does Networking Really Matter To An Academic Career?

One of 17 ways to visualize Twitter.

Why do we tell young scholars to “network,” and what  do we mean by it?

As I was finishing up Samuel Delany’s Times Square Red, Times Square Blue (1999) last night, I came across this gem of a quote on p. 138:

I feel that my career benefits regularly from the results of my networking.  My ultimate take on networking is, however, this:  No single event in the course of my career that I can cite has been directly caused by networking.  Nevertheless, the results of networking have regularly smoothed, stabilized, and supported my career and made it more pleasant (there is that term again) than it would have been without it.

In general I would say (and I would say this to young writers particularly):  Rarely if ever can networking make a writing career when no career is to be made.

Delany, as many of you know, is a queer science fiction writer who has also…

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July 22, 2010, 4:04 pm

She’ll Always Be A Player On The Ballfield Of My Heart: Tenured Radical And Historiann Wrap Up Their Conversation About The Professor

This is the Part III, and the conclusion, of a discussion between Tenured Radical and Historiann of Terry Castle’s “The Professor and Other Writings” (HarperCollins, 2010 — if you are new to the party, you may wish to begin with Part I.) Yesterday, at Historiann, we discussed the themes of desire and longing that suffuse Castle’s narrative about her emergence as an intellectual who has to cross class lines to chart her own path to become an adult, a feminist, a lesbian, an artist, and a deeply original and critical thinker.

Today’s post consists of a single exchange in which we historicize the role of suffering in this story. We end with the question of whether, in a day and age in which sexual relations between students and teachers are widely perceived as harmful (and often proscribed by universities), whether the suffering of graduate students has been ameliorated, or it has just…

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June 4, 2010, 4:51 pm

Oh, The Joy Of Political History! Day 2 at Policy History Conference

Why do we go to conferences? Most of us end up asking this question, perhaps as we are finishing up a paper or a comment later than we wanted to, or packing hastily the night before a flight that is too early. I was certainly asking myself why I ever leave home for any reason as I contemplated the fact that, for the second morning in a row, I had no hot water at the Holiday Inn. Fortunately it is summer, and becoming chilled first thing has no lasting effects; my spirits were raised even further by unexpectedly locating a branch of Au Bon Pain a block and a half away where I could have a nicer breakfast than I had had yesterday. (“Do you know that the graduate students at Harvard refer to your chain as A Big Pain?” I overheard a senior scholar who was trying to arrange a table for twenty ask the manager conversationally. “No, I didn’t!” the cheerful Midwesterner replied, as if my…

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July 27, 2009, 3:35 pm

A Meditation on Recent History, Belonging and Endurance

I was trying to think of something clever to add to Historiann’s list of things to pack as you prepare to take off for graduate school. Medical marijuana? Nicotine patches (especially if you do not already smoke)? Extra courage?

And then I remembered this. In a collection of lectures entitled Writing in an Age of Silence (New York: Verso, 2007), crime novelist Sara Paretsky writes about entering the University of Chicago’s Ph.D. program in history:

When I started my doctoral work, the head of the European field committee told entering students that women could memorize and parrot things back, but that we weren’t capable of producing original work. In his history of Western Civilization, he included no accomplishments by women.

Thirteen women started the US history program with me in the fall of 1968. I was the only one who returned our second year, and that wasn’t because I was a be…

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July 7, 2009, 1:21 pm

More Annals of the Great Depression: Whither The Conference Interview?

In my opinion? It’s on its way out. For what Zenith spent on searches this year, we could have hired a bunch of visitors, or two tenure-track faculty. Or we could have given the faculty we have a weenie little raise. Just a weenie one, but a raise all the same. Or not cut the library budget. Or….or…..

Budget cutting is no reason to end a tradition permanently if it is valuable, but I predict that budget cutting will jolt universities to some useful reforms. Replacing the conference interview with the phone interview is one of them. We had this conversation in my department recently, and I have had it with a Zenith administrator on two separate occasions. Perhaps I have fallen out of love with the conference interview because I am finishing a book on the early years of the historical profession. I know, for example, that the origins of the conference interview are exactly the …

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