Comments on: Art, history, colonialism, and violence: my weekend in the O.C. http://www.historiann.com/2009/05/26/art-history-colonialism-and-violence-my-weekend-in-the-oc/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Tue, 23 Sep 2014 05:33:21 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Ignatz http://www.historiann.com/2009/05/26/art-history-colonialism-and-violence-my-weekend-in-the-oc/comment-page-1/#comment-322717 Thu, 28 May 2009 01:36:01 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5447#comment-322717 My subfield of English, rhetorical history, seems to overlap into other languages all the time. First, of course, every culture and country has its rhetorics. And in the course of my own research about an erudite US rhetorician, I’ve found Italian newsletters my research subject wrote, letters to and from her in French…a little Portugese maybe. I didn’t anticipate running into Italian and French documents, but I sure find it interesting.
My grad school’s wimpy foreign language policy (which was “you spoke a lot of Spanish in your former jobs, you’re off the hook as far as we’re concerned”) hasn’t helped me a bit with this mishmash, of course.
Nor did official policy force my grad school’s medievalists through 17th century scholars to learn Latin–but the faculty did ensure that serious students grasped Latin before they got their diss done. (Tom, can you imagine Mary Blockley letting a student escape alive without decent Latin skills?)
However, I’m counting on the scholarly community to help me out. I know the foreign language departments at the research universities instate have grad students or faculty who will translate documents. So although our own translation abilities may not be good enough, I’m assuming we can do what needs to be done to produce good scholarship. And in this crazy intellectual double boiler in which we live in–pace Paul McCartney–that’s what matters, nyet?

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By: Ronald Takaki Dies « Like a Whisper http://www.historiann.com/2009/05/26/art-history-colonialism-and-violence-my-weekend-in-the-oc/comment-page-1/#comment-322606 Wed, 27 May 2009 23:35:57 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5447#comment-322606 [...] to the Supreme Court and the discussion about language requirements going on on many campuses and historiann’s blog right now. The sign of exceptional scholarship to me is always the ability to inspire, to change [...]

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2009/05/26/art-history-colonialism-and-violence-my-weekend-in-the-oc/comment-page-1/#comment-322483 Wed, 27 May 2009 17:15:47 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5447#comment-322483 Dr. Crazy–I agree with you that not everyone has the same advantages in coming to graduate school. But–in History, most Ph.D. programs require a basic competency in two languages besides English. It’s neither easier nor harder for grad students to learn new languages than it was 20 or 30 years ago, but there seems to be more resistance to it among our students. I think grad programs should hold the line on languages, *especially* when they’re encouraging students to read more broadly and to do comparative or transnational histories. Perhaps universities should think about covering summer language courses for their grad students, if so many are coming to grad school unprepared to meet the language requirements.

People who think they may want to pursue a graduate degree would do well to familiarize themselves with the requirements of the programs they’re interested in. If they’re still in college, they may be able to start on another language. (Even if they’re not, they can take some language courses at a CC to get a jump start before starting a grad program.)

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By: thefrogprincess http://www.historiann.com/2009/05/26/art-history-colonialism-and-violence-my-weekend-in-the-oc/comment-page-1/#comment-322481 Wed, 27 May 2009 17:09:03 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5447#comment-322481 Absolutely, Dr. Crazy, I certainly did not mean to use the word “willing” in a derogatory sense but more in the sense of “not willing to put up with”, if that makes sense. All the points you raise are valid and I should make clear that I am one of those students dealing with scanty familial material resources as well as emotional ones. (And also came to the humanities late after going to college to be a doctor.)

Let me see if I can make my point more clear: I’ve noticed a certain romanticization of being a “poor graduate student” among many of my colleagues, almost none of whom grew up poor/working class/nonwhite. They often seem to be more blasé about being in graduate school with little or no funding or about not having medical insurance or about adjuncting, whereas these are key issues for myself and my colleagues who have no safety net from our poor, working class, minority families, not to mention those people whose families are in different non-Western countries. It’s this latter group that seems much more concerned about time-to-completion and questions about when the money’s going to run dry. These isn’t intellectual laziness, just the reality of living without a certain kind of safety net.

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By: Dr. Crazy http://www.historiann.com/2009/05/26/art-history-colonialism-and-violence-my-weekend-in-the-oc/comment-page-1/#comment-322476 Wed, 27 May 2009 16:52:23 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5447#comment-322476 but rather is about lack of resources – sorry about that sentence making absolutely no sense :)

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By: Dr. Crazy http://www.historiann.com/2009/05/26/art-history-colonialism-and-violence-my-weekend-in-the-oc/comment-page-1/#comment-322475 Wed, 27 May 2009 16:50:33 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5447#comment-322475 I just want to pick up on what TFP says about how class/ethnicity plays into how one approaches issues related to time to degree and language acquisition, and I’d dispute that wanting to shorten the time is about a lack of willingness than about lack of resources and support – material (immigration status for int’l students, needs to support oneself and potentially family members for int’l, working class, other minority students) as well as emotional. I’ll also go one step further: people from many backgrounds are also often less likely to get significant encouragement toward (and sometimes are actively discouraged from) picking up multiple (or even one additional) language in high school or even undergrad. Often people from such backgrounds find their way to the humanities late – having started first in their educations toward more “practical” or “applied” or “technical” fields that may not have any language requirement – which puts them behind even those unfocused students who at least begin college as history or English or philosophy majors.

I’m not sure what the answer to all of the above is, but I suppose I’m bristling a bit at the idea that people who are concerned about the costs of remaining longer in a graduate program – who choose the “easy way out” by opting out of second or third languages – are in some way resistant to learning or that they aren’t deeply committed to their disciplines or to broad intellectual inquiry.

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By: Bertiewooster http://www.historiann.com/2009/05/26/art-history-colonialism-and-violence-my-weekend-in-the-oc/comment-page-1/#comment-322473 Wed, 27 May 2009 16:40:24 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5447#comment-322473 My sense — from my university, which I realise isn’t coming off very well here (nor should it) — is that the ‘time to degree’ criteria has morphed from something that was intended to be helpful (‘why do so many ABD candidates go AWOL and never finish?’) to something more mercenary. An advanced (fifth- to eighth-year, say) graduate student presumably costs a university more to have around as a TA, for example, than an adjunct, who don’t require tuition remission and probably don’t get benefits. So the backhanded policy becomes, ‘tell the grad students that they need to finish as quickly as possible if they want to look good to hiring committees’, and replace them where possible with adjuncts, or even undergraduate TAs. And this seems to be a serious impediment to getting a job (as if it weren’t hard enough already), for the reasons Historiann explains.

By the way, in reply to Susan above, I wasn’t suggesting that it isn’t possible to skim books in French — I imagine that French people do it all the time! As do I, in fact, but not with the same level of comfort and efficiency (or perhaps ruthlessness) as I do with books in English. The detailed tables of contents are very useful for getting the overall sense of a book, although the lack of indexes tends to make looking for particular topics more difficult.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2009/05/26/art-history-colonialism-and-violence-my-weekend-in-the-oc/comment-page-1/#comment-322463 Wed, 27 May 2009 15:58:25 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5447#comment-322463 thefrogprincess–I should add that when I say “depth of experience and training,” I don’t mean to imply that it all has to be in grad school. Teaching somewhere else, doing a semester at a foreign university, etc.–all of these things add to a job candidate’s ability to jump into our pool and swim fast.

I don’t know where this mythology got started about hiring committees being worried about time-to-degree. Maybe this was a concern several years ago, but it’s never been an issue in my department. (Others may disagree.) So long as it looks like someone was being productive rather than being a dissertation dilletantte, we don’t care.

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By: thefrogprincess http://www.historiann.com/2009/05/26/art-history-colonialism-and-violence-my-weekend-in-the-oc/comment-page-1/#comment-322457 Wed, 27 May 2009 15:42:47 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5447#comment-322457 Historiann, thanks for giving us graduate students that insight into hiring. I certainly was under the impression that hiring committees looked unkindly at people who had taken “too long” but that could just been the partial view from my own institution. It does strike me, though, that the longer someone takes to finish, for whatever reason, the more financially precarious their situation is likely to be. That has all kinds of consequences but, from my very limited experience, I’ve noticed that graduate students from poor/working class backgrounds, certain ethnicities, and some international students are less willing to be on a graduate stipend or less for much longer than five or six years.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2009/05/26/art-history-colonialism-and-violence-my-weekend-in-the-oc/comment-page-1/#comment-322441 Wed, 27 May 2009 15:00:36 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5447#comment-322441 Sq., that’s been my experience too (although I am not nearly as erudite as you are!)

I certainly appreciate the points raised about how language training extends the time and cost of grad school. But–let’s consider the costs in a longer-term framework. I’ve never seen a job candidate rewarded for getting a degree in 5 years or less–what impresses the people in my department is depth of experience and training, not speed, and there are several non-U.S. historians who look for languages on CVs with hawkeyes and judge accordingly. (I’m convinced that I got a look here because I have 3 foreign languages on my CV in an application to be the colonial American historian.) No one has ever said, “well, we can’t hire hir because ze took 7 or 8 or 10 years to finish hir degree.” We have indeed rejected or ranked lower candidates who offer us less.

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