In a recent e-mail exchange with Squadratomagico, we discussed something that relates very closely to the subject we’re exploring here in this space, namely, feeling like an untrained fraud when you move on to another book project and/or contemplate retraining yourself in another sub-field (or even an entirely different discipline). In a recent conversation with a senior person in her field, she said that his advice about moving into a new project (with whatever reading and/or retraining that might require) was not to be too intimidated by the existing literature in a given sub-field. His advice was to learn from that literature, but not to get stalled there or let it talk you out of pursuing your own ideas.
This is very much related to a conversation I had over a decade ago with a senior scholar in my field. When I expressed wonderment at keeping up with all of the new books and articles published in our field (because 3 years out of grad school, I was already far behind. Three years!). He said in response, “there are two kinds of historians: Continue Reading »