Handling Personal Crises in Academic Life

On September 19, 2016, I received news so shocking that the world stopped. I was walking across campus when the text came through. For a few seconds I am not sure what happened. I remember the sky flashing blue above me; I remember the sound of falling water from the nearby fountain. I had been [Read More…]

Starting Graduate School Well–Some Advice

I swam with dolphins last week.  It wasn’t planned–they just appeared, a mom and her calf, swimming on our beach early in the morning. The water was clear as glass. It was so clear and so smooth , in fact, that the large dark shadows of their bodies below the surface appeared almost as visible [Read More…]

How Donald Trump Is Prompting a Debate about the Practice of History

Should historians be taking sides in the 2016 election? Does our discipline give us any special insight into a candidacy like Donald Trump’s? [Read more…]

Surviving Rejection on the Academic Job Market

I still remember checking my watch and thinking vaguely about what I would eat for lunch. It was around lunchtime, so normally there wouldn’t have been anything odd about my wandering thoughts. Except that I was in the middle of a job interview for a tenure-track position. I knew from the direction of the conversation that [Read More…]

The Value of Failure in Graduate School

My husband suggested once that I have lunch with a friend. She was a graduate student, and struggling in the program. “Did you tell her I almost quit?” I asked. “Oh, yeah,” my husband said. “That is why I thought you should talk with her.” Graduate school is one of the hardest things I have ever [Read More…]

Counting the Cost of a History PhD

I still remember the day I got the letter. Five full years of support, including an additional first year award, for my top choice in history graduate school–The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I ran so fast to my undergraduate professor’s office to tell him the good news, that I tripped and spilled [Read More…]

A Pastor’s Quick Guide to Reliable Historical Research

A friend of mine was preparing his sermon. We happened to be at the same social function, and so he casually asked me what I knew about medieval illuminations (i.e. fireworks). To be honest, I didn’t know much. From my years of teaching world history I knew that gunpowder and fireworks had originated in Asia and [Read More…]

Being a Historian

James Banner’s Being a Historian: An Introduction to the Professional World of History should be required reading for every first-year student enrolled in a history graduate program.  There is no other book like it. Banner is a history veteran.  He taught at Princeton from 1966 to 1980 and then left to start the American Association [Read More…]