Historians: I am teaching graduate historiography in the fall and would love to know: What is something you wish you had learned in the first semester of your history graduate program?
— Andrea L. Turpin (@AndreaLTurpin) July 9, 2019
Twitterstorians responded in a big way. Here are some helpful responses:
That good historians with good intentions and good research can reach different conclusions. And both can be sound.
— James Carter (@jayjamescarter) July 9, 2019
In classes like this I like to talk about HOW to read books when you have more reading to do than time in the day. First few sessions we go around the room and students say what method they used and if they think it helped them understand the book. Demystifies what profs do…
— Rachel Shelden (@rachelshelden) July 10, 2019
My advisor used to add this bit to his seminar syllabus which I found both comical and helpful. pic.twitter.com/hUgnvCLd6N
— Camden Burd (@CamdenBurd) July 9, 2019
How to read a book in one hour. https://t.co/i2wkhSyeEA
— Larry Cebula (@larrycebula) July 10, 2019
how to write a book or other (exhibition, etc.) review that is not formulaic, comprehensive, and boring. learned this late! and am still working on it.
— Nicole Belolan (@nicolebelolan) July 9, 2019
How to give helpful editorial feedback to peers’ drafts of writing
How to build cohort or network in various settings
— Jeff T (@zavoodie) July 10, 2019
Some basics on the “nuts and bolts” of the profession, including how to work with an advisor, find research grants (I didn ‘t know such things existed for grad students!), write a strong letter and vita, how the job marketS (academic and others) work, how to build a career.
— (((Daniel Mandell))) (@D_historyMan) July 10, 2019
How to read a primary text in context. A good end of course project would be to pick a primary text and examine the conditions/context under which it was produced.
— Lilian Calles Barger (@LilianBarger) July 9, 2019
It’s going to sound vague, and I’m not sure how one teaches it, but emotional intelligence and equilibrium — keeping things (scholarly and non-) balanced in your brain. I would have loved to talk honestly about self-doubt, fear, etc.
— Shawn Peters (@shfrpeters) July 10, 2019
How to manage digital and physical notes and source databases. I wish we were taken around to diff profs and had them show us their process for keeping track of their work/information.
— Petticoat Breeches (@slopclothes) July 9, 2019
Yes. In my first semester of grad school a classmate finally asked for the meaning of the word historiography & the prof refused to answer the question. I recall that among my cohort only those who had graduated from Ivy League colleges or elite SLACs had ever heard of the word.
— Catherine M. Burns (@cmburns21) July 9, 2019
The job market in all its horror, how to navigate it, and what you can do with a history degree other than teach history.
— Brendan ‘Dr.’ Payne (@brendanthepayne) July 10, 2019
Basic information about using archives/special collections, making sure the students are comfortable using these resources.
— Food and Archives (@laurakitchings) July 9, 2019
1) a lot of graduate school is performative;
2) asking questions is a strength rather than weakness;
3) we’re all expected to write historiographies but rarely taught how to write them. It would have been great to have that kind of how to early on.
— Steve Arionus (@historianed_) July 9, 2019
When starting your research project, spend the time to find the most recently published/relevant monograph and hang out with its footnotes to come up with a secondary-source reading list. (ie don’t just rely on what pops up first in the library catalog search)
— Carolyn Arena (@CarolynArenaPhD) July 9, 2019
Zotero. Note taking methods. That productive discussion/conversation is also a skill to be developed. That most of us bumble into our projects through luck & an open frame of mind (Skyping in authors is a great way to get at this). And Peter Novick’s That Noble Dream or the like.
— Casey Lurtz (@CaseyLurtz) July 9, 2019
I would have loved more about designing plausible research projects; decoding finding aids; identifying archives; adjusting sources to questions; and distinguishing between project scales: seminar paper, journal article, diss chapter, diss project, etc
— child of the lorde (@dlawhutch) July 9, 2019
close reading is a skill seldom taught, but it is essential.
— Rob Boddice (@virbeatum) July 9, 2019
That books no longer in favour with your teachers may still be worth consulting: each generation of scholars falls out of love with books *they’ve read*; the next generation misses out if it only reads the *reactions* to those books…
— Adam Mosley (@AdamJMosley) July 9, 2019
1) Everyone needs to recruit a diverse mentoring team that extends beyond their committee.
2) What Imposter Syndrome is and how to deal with it.
3) How to create an IDP (individual development plan).
4) No matter how well you know a historical language, it’s not enough.
— J.T. Daniels (@JTDaniels7) July 10, 2019
That just because they are the expert in their field doesn’t mean they get their referencing right… would have saved days in archives trying to track files down which were misquoted, mislabelled or simply missing
— Dr Alexander Clarke (@AC_NavalHistory) July 9, 2019
The role of the historian in public life. Which historians could be construed as activists, people in positions of power, etc. Was there a reason why they chose the role that they did?
— Matthew McCleary (@mdmccleary86) July 9, 2019
About how the term “biased” is near useless. I wish I had learned more about theory and history – and how often historians dont talk about the theory be they engage with because they expect you to know it. (And how that’s gatekeeping)
— Dr Samuel McLean (@Canadian_Errant) July 9, 2019
One thing I learned was how to talk about historiographical ideas without saying “this author says” and then “this author says” and how to best weave it into what your original work is.
— Michelle Renee 🍂 (@MichelleHenault) July 10, 2019
That reading outside your research interests is helpful for thinking about theory and methods. As a US historian, I have learned a lot about my craft and approach from non-US historians.
— Erika Kitzmiller (@erikakitzmiller) July 10, 2019
The difference between writing an article vs a chapter. Generally, how the field writes at various lengths.
— Robert Suits (@Robert_Suits) July 9, 2019
Actually read some old ‘outdated’ and ‘wrong’ books. I had to go and read myself what Frederick Jackson Turner, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Charles Beard, etc said because all I read was what others said about them. Sometimes it was accurate, other times it was unfair caricatures.
— Daniel N. Gullotta (@DanielGullotta) July 10, 2019
Break down of theories/theoretical framework that the author mentions in the introduction (see Ian MacKay “Quest of the Folk” intro). I’d never encountered theoretical framework in history & it was beyond intimidating to deal with
— Sarah Hart (@SarahH014) July 10, 2019
The methodology behind archival research… I feel like you’re left to figure that all out yourself, which could potentially have disastrous results.
— Miles Wilkerson (@mm_wilkerson) July 10, 2019
The politics behind historiographic trends. An example would be looking at Du Bois, Black Reconstruction as an example of black resistance to white dominated historiography. Congrats and Good Luck!
— Bob Williams (@aBobtheBob) July 10, 2019