Archive for the 'publication' Category

June 21st 2010
Of fraudsters and scholars, Part I

Posted under jobs & publication & students

Notorious Ph.D. writes in a post called “No, really:  I AM a fraud” that she’s struggling with seeing herself as an expert in her field because of deficits in her graduate training in the historiography of medieval “Blargistan,” her pseudonym for her region of specialization:

I went to grad school specifically to study the history of Blargistan. I was fascinated by it for various reasons that I won’t get into here. And sure enough, I did my M.A. with a professor whose research was in the history of Blargistan. But most of his reading on the subject was a couple of decades out of date, and since I wasn’t yet savvy enough to find the best current scholarship on my own, I ended up reading a lot of the same books he had read in grad school many years ago, and little else.

For the Ph.D., I switched to work with a professor whose advising style I worked better with. It was a good choice, and I don’t regret it one bit. But this professor’s work had nothing at all to do with Blargistan. He read and wrote fluently — even elegantly — in Blarg, but his area of specialty was thematic — let’s say, for the sake of argument, scholastic theology. So, I ended up writing a dissertation (and later a book) on scholastic theology and kittens in Blargistan.

And as I’m now moving on to another project, I’m realizing that I now know a great deal more about both scholastic theology and kittens (separately and together) in the Blargistanian context than probably most medieval Blargistan historians working in this country. What I don’t have, I’m coming to realize, is a good grasp on the general literature of medieval Blargistan — all that stuff that my friends read as a matter of course in grad school completely passed me by.

Welcome to the world of writing a second book, Notorious!  I think this feeling is pretty common to most of us who are intellectually honest and have a decent grasp of the magnitude of what we don’t know.  But, were our graduate programs designed to make us experts in one tiny sub-subfield for the next forty years, or did they aim more broadly to teach us how to teach ourselves for the rest of our lives?  Continue Reading »

34 Comments »

May 22nd 2010
Book readings, your audience, and successful self-promotion

Posted under jobs & publication & weirdness

Reader John S. has a reading of his just-published book at his campus bookstore next week.  I gave a few lectures when Abraham in Arms first came out on the subject of my book–they weren’t book readings, but one was for a more general audience, in which I bombed, and two to university audiences, which were more successful. 

My lecture to the more general audience was for wealthy donors to my college, so the audience was middle-aged or older, and very unafraid to share their opinions with me.  I made a strategic mistake in my efforts to connect my ideas about warfare and gender in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century North America to today, and cited some of the gendered and sexualized language deployed by Americans with respect to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  They treated me like I was just another jerk with an opinion, rather than someone who had spent a decade researching and thinking about these issues across time.   Continue Reading »

12 Comments »

May 20th 2010
Life’s been good. . . so far

Posted under art & fluff & happy endings & jobs & publication

Here’s a little something for Clio Bluestocking. She’s got a book contract–life’s been good to her so far:

Tell me your good news. Continue Reading »

33 Comments »

April 28th 2010
What is the sound of one hand slapping my forhead?

Posted under jobs & publication & students & unhappy endings

Here’s your Koan for the day:  What if Kevin Carman, Dean of the College of Basic Sciences at Louisiana State University, were made Provost of Brown University, where the current Provost is troubled by the fact that 70% of all tenure candidates win tenure and promotion at Brown and wants to lower it?  (You’ll recall that Dean Carman is the guy who yanked a proffie out of her own course because of a high rate of student failure in her intro class.)  Would he be concerned that 30% of Brown Assistant Professors are “failing?”  Would this create a wormhole of dubious conflicting administrative initiatives?

I like this comment from Dore Levy, a professor of East Asian studies who opposes the Brown initiative to deny tenure to more Assistant Professors.  She explains why many faculty are with her:

They say that Brown is trying to provide them with the sort of research resources that are on the high end of what one could find at a liberal arts college, but then judge them by the standards of a research university. “You want us to be like Harvard? Then give us the Widener Library,” she said.

Levy, whose scholarship is on classical Chinese, said that she has spent her Brown career doing research at the libraries at Yale and Princeton Universities, which are far superior in relevant holdings than Brown’s collections. Brown can’t have it both ways, with resources not matching expectations, she said.

Sing it, sister!  Anyone who has ever visited Brown knows that it prides itself on being the Ivy with the research chops and also the character of a tony SLAC.  Continue Reading »

27 Comments »

March 7th 2010
Intellectual migrations: how and when to switch fields?

Posted under conferences & European history & jobs & publication & women's history

From the mailbag at Historiann HQ, a question about working outside the historical field in which one originally trained:

Dear Historiann,

I have a question about working outside one’s dissertation field, and wonder to what extent the topic of one’s dissertation dictates the career.  Is it permanent?  I am now working on a topic largely unrelated to my doctoral work, and I have already discovered this to be less-than-an-asset on the job market.  For jobs in my dissertation field, any search committee would look askance at current project; for jobs in “current project field,” they will look askance at the dissertation.  (Think: dissertation on revolutionary France, current project on Argentina). 

To what extent are we defined by a choice of dissertation topic, even throughout our careers? I have heard people commenting about a very senior (famous) historian who wrote a recent book, saying “how can he work on Y? He’s a specialist on X!” (X being his doctoral subject). He completed his Ph.D. 30 years ago, and has written a number of books. My view is, surely he’s had time to become a specialist in some other field/s of history since then. But this view is obviously not shared by all in the discipline. Should a junior scholar wait til after tenure to bust out their “true historical passion?”

Signed,

Roving Renata

Renata, I agree with you that people in our profession can be extremely fussy and fuddy-duddy about switching fields and gaining new competencies.  (And as someone who wrote a book that wasn’t a revision of her dissertation at all but was an entirely new project–well, let’s just say that I can relate to your anxieties.)  People are unusually identified with their first books, especially if their first books were well received.  I once had a colleague who was absolutely haunted by this.  He once said to me, “it’s just agonizing to think that people will read my first book and think that that’s who I am as a scholar!”  Continue Reading »

23 Comments »

February 23rd 2010
Come on, Eileen! Publishing in journals outside of your chosen field

Posted under art & European history & fluff & jobs & publication & students

Today we have in a letter from the mailbag at Historiann HQ some interesting questions about finding appropriate publication outlets for interdisciplinary work.  We all say we support interdisciplinarity and admire it–and yet, scholars whose work is truly interdisciplinary have a damnably hard time finding jobs and appropriate outlets for their publication.  Here, a young scholar wonders about the politics of attempting to publish an article in one field when she’ll one day be looking for a job in another discipline

Hi Historiann,

I’m a long time reader and lurker.  I’m a history grad student with one toe in [a Closely Related Discipline, or CRD for short].  I did an intensive study of an unpublished collection [in CRD], which my committee is suggesting I publish separately from the dissertation because it’s heavy on details appreciated more by practitioners of CRD than history, and because getting an article out in grad school looks good. 

The problem is, while “interdisciplinarity” is all the rage, I don’t know where to publish.  I wanted to throw this out to someone outside my department and committee, because they’re starting to sound like an echo chamber.  CRD journals seem like a good fit, but I’m worried that history department hiring committees won’t know what to make of an article that’s not published in a history journal.  What kind of audience should a first article be aimed at?  Do interdisciplinary journals really live up to their goals?  Would it be better to go with a full on CRD journal and hope some historians read it, or try to pitch it to a history journal with interdisciplinary aspirations?  How does one measure the “prestige” of the journal and their readership?  (This is something my committee keeps telling me to keep in mind, but I have no idea what it means!)  How does interdisciplinary work look to hiring committees?  Will publishing in a CRD journal mark me as a bad fit for a history department hire, even if I have history conference CV lines? 

Thanks for your help,

Interdisciplinary Eileen

Dear Eileen,

First of all, congratulations on having written something that your committee believes should be published.  That is quite an achievement for a graduate student, and you should feel proud of your committee’s confidence in your work.  Secondly, I think you’re worrying yourself unnecessarily about hypothetical problems.  Continue Reading »

25 Comments »

February 3rd 2010
Hug an Editor Day: Journal of the History of Sexuality

Posted under happy endings & jobs & publication

A friend of mine submitted an article to the Journal of the History of Sexuality early in the fall semester.  Within six weeks, he received two readers’ reports and a notification from editor Mathew Kuefler of a provisional acceptance if the revisions requested by the readers were made.  Over winter break, my friend revised accordingly, and found out by the middle of January that his article was accepted.  Total time from initial submission to final acceptance:  four months to the day.

Now, my friend’s article was pretty polished–it was originally sent out to another journal, which took more than a year to reject it on the basis of one reader’s report.  (Not cool.)  Still–kudos to Prof. Kuefler for his speed and efficiency, and kudos too to the readers who must have read and responded to the article in an extremely timely fashion.  Continue Reading »

21 Comments »

January 15th 2010
Friday food fights! Plus evidence of my evildoing, with links.

Posted under American history & Gender & jobs & publication & students & unhappy endings & wankers & women's history

What’s your pleasure?  There are lots of snarling fights all over the place these days:

  • Tenured Radical returns to the U.S. from her travels and mulls over the question, “How Should Graduate Schools Respond to the Bad Job Market,” and gets accused of and blamed for all sorts of crimes she never committed and things she never said.  (So does Historiann, in the comments!)  Yeah–because Tenured Radical has never, ever offered any helpful advice or a sympathetic ear (or shoulder) to graduate students negotiating the job market.  What a horrible, horrible person!
  • Katherine Franke at Feminist Law Professors, in “Marriage Equality:  The Old Fashioned Version” schools us on what’s wrong with feminism today:  “Among the things that drives me to the highest levels of frustration when I consider the state of feminism today is the way in which women, particularly mothers and wives, have given up on men. Not so long ago we had a rich, systemic and unrelenting critique of the ways in which fathers and husbands felt little or no obligation to do domestic work – whether it be taking care of kids, maintaining the household – even clearing the table – or other “reproductive” work. The fact that men felt entitled to and received a free pass when it came to this work received a thorough working over by those who cared about dismantling the second class status of women.” Continue Reading »

84 Comments »

December 8th 2009
Best books of 2009: No girl writers allowed!

Posted under American history & art & book reviews & Gender & publication & wankers

he-manUPDATED BELOW

Many of you are probably making your holiday gift lists, and checking them twice, and I’m guessing that some of my smarty-pants readers are interested in gifting (or being gifted) some of this year’s best new titles, in both fiction and non-fiction.  Well, here’s a funny coinky-dink, courtesy of reader Kathie who tipped me off last month:  all of the very best books this year were written by men!  It isn’t just the STEM fields anymore, girls–apparently, we are clearly inferior at every professional and artistic endeavor:

  • In “Why Weren’t Any Women Writers Invited to Publishers Weekly’s Weenie Roast?” The Green Lantern Press writes, “Publishers Weekly recently announced their Best Books Of 2009 list. Of their top ten, chosen by editorial staff, no books written by women were included. Quoted in The Huffington Post, PW confidently admitted that they’re “not the most politically correct” choices. This statement comes in a year in which new books appeared by writers such as Lorrie Moore, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Mavis Gallant, Rita Dove, Heather McHugh and Alicia Ostriker.”  (Who??)
  • Publishers Weekly explained, “We ignored gender and genre and who had the buzz. We gave fair chance to the “big” books of the year, but made them stand on their own two feet. It disturbed us when we were done that our list was all male.”  But–we didn’t give it a second thought, beyond this odd acknowledgement of the bias of our list!  (Which implies somehow that in years before, when “gender and and genre” were not ignored, the ladies were the beneficiaries of some kind of literary affirmative action.)  Boys rule, girls drool!  Let’s take a closer look at that top 10 list, shall we? Continue Reading »

55 Comments »

November 30th 2009
To blog, or not to blog? That’s the question.

Posted under jobs & publication

hamletskullTenured Radical had a provocative post last week about blogging before tenure.  (I suppose we could extend this to include before employment, for all of you graduate student and adjunct bloggers out there.)  She writes:

3. Do you think that blogs should be considered, in any respect, when a professor has yet to attain tenure?

Since the discipline in which I hold tenure (history) has barely dealt with electronic publishing at all as part of the promotion process, and also has a mixed record on how it regards pre-tenure scholarship published to a trade audience, I would hope that we would not start having a conversation about blogs that was not preceded by one that addressed these other critical issues. But I should think that participation in group blogs that serve a field or a discipline should be taken into account as much as book reviews or encyclopedia entries, which everyone lists in endless, boring detail on their vitae as if they took more than a day to write.

Good point.  A former colleague of mine once called those things–book reviews and encyclopedia entries–”salad,” as in, you won’t get much credit for doing them, but you should do them to contribute to the profession and, in years in which you don’t publish a prizewinning article or book, to show that you’re doing something.  Here’s where the whole question of peer review comes up, though–it strikes me that a group blog that focuses fundamentally on scholarship (like our pals at Religion in American History) could make a more than reasonable case for including their blogging in their scholarship.  This blog, on the other hand, isn’t going on my annual evaluation, although I publish from my position as “Historiann” and not (for example) as a parent (if I am one), pet owner, running enthusiast, NASCAR fan, or whatever.  (The reasons for this are explained in more detail here and here, with help from my old friend GayProf–it’s a personal preference, but realistically, blogging ain’t going to get me my final promotion, so why bother?) 

Here’s where la Radical gets more spicy: Continue Reading »

36 Comments »

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