The Rule of the 20th Century (The Shape of Academic History, Part II)

My last post looked at the geographical focus of academic historians in Canada, and found that it was predominantly Canadian and European. This was not too surprising, though it does make media laments about the neglect of Canadian and "Western" history by the academy seem uninformed if not simply dishonest. But what motivated me to … Continue reading The Rule of the 20th Century (The Shape of Academic History, Part II)

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The Shape of Academic History, Part I: Geography

I used to open my introductory course on pre-modern European history (c.400-1789) with an image that I have come to think of as "History Goes Boom." It's evidently from the cover of a History Book Club magazine or catalogue, though when or where it was issued is more than I've been able to figure out … Continue reading The Shape of Academic History, Part I: Geography

Loyalty

In light of this recent Chronicle Vitae piece by Jonathan Rees, on the ethical dilemma posed by leaving a job, historian and blogger John Fea asks about the limits of faculty members' loyalty to their institutions. I started writing a response to his post, but one thought followed another until I'd written more than a "comment" should … Continue reading Loyalty

Saying Yes to Academic Service

A distinguishing feature of academic life is the sense that one's job and one's work are in perpetual conflict. This is most obviously and damagingly the case for the vast majority of part-time or adjunct academic staff, whose jobs are insecure or insufficient to make ends meet (let alone pay for research or time to write); … Continue reading Saying Yes to Academic Service

Crisis and Elitism in Graduate Education

When I started this blog, late last March, I was just wrapping up a three-year term as Graduate Program Director in a middling-to-smallish history department at a large, urban, public university in Canada. Many of the problems associated with that kind of job, and with graduate training more generally, were fresh in my mind. Joining … Continue reading Crisis and Elitism in Graduate Education

Skills, Knowledge, and (Not) Selling History

Why study history? What can I do with a history degree? Why is the history major in decline? These three questions, or variations of them, seem to have been with us forever, or at least as long as I've been studying history (taking in college, that's about twenty years). They're the titles of campus workshops. They're … Continue reading Skills, Knowledge, and (Not) Selling History

Not that kind of doctor: questions about the history PhD from near-ground level

One reason that I feel free to try my hand at blogging all of a sudden after all these years on Earth is that a great weight is about to be lifted from my shoulders: the weight of being my department’s graduate program director. When I agreed to take on the job just over three years … Continue reading Not that kind of doctor: questions about the history PhD from near-ground level