In 2005, David Foster Wallace told the graduating class of Kenyon College a joke:
“There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?’”
By Kalani Craig
The lowly charter.
It lives in infamy, perhaps because charters—written records that cemented a variety of agreements about sales, leases, officeholders, and a host of other legal transactions—are simultaneously rich treasure troves of historical information and, when you read a lot of them in a row, sleep-inducing.
By Jared Hardesty
As I gear up for another AHA annual meeting, I have been reflecting a lot about my own transition from graduate student to assistant professor. Mostly it’s because this will be my second year staffing the “Ask an Assistant Professor” booth at the annual meeting’s Career Fair. For those who can’t make it to the booth, and are mystified by life on the other side, here are some things about becoming an assistant professor that I wish I’d known as a graduate student.
For the past 10 years digital archives and crowdsourcing have been popular forms of digital history, as scholars have harnessed the power of both massive servers and a willing public to digitize and transcribe diverse types of historical material ranging from menus to weather reports. Few have excited me as much as Colored Conventions. A work of impressive scholarship, important activism, and valuable pedagogy, the Colored Conventions Project (CCP) hits for the cycle. The primary goal of the CCP is to recover an understudied aspect of the 19th-century reform movement, black conventions.
By James Rick
While attending a panel on “the Culture Wars” in American history at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Atlanta, I was struck by something a fellow attendee said. As someone interested in cultural history, his comment, which concerned the influence of anthropological conceptions of culture on the way historians understand and employ the concept, felt important and worth wrestling with to me. I am now a graduate student, and this question, along with others that I encountered at the annual meeting, has stuck with me and often come up in the courses I am now taking.
By Jessica Derleth and Tiffany Baugh-Helton
Jessica and Tiffany
While attending the AHA’s 2016 annual meeting, Jessica and I—PhD candidates in history at Binghamton University in New York—had a revelation of sorts at the Graduate and Early Career Committee’s open forum on Career Diversity. Like many other history graduate students, we had accepted the “Plan A” culture that exists in so many institutions: “Plan A” is a tenure-track job in academia; “Plan B” is whatever we can do to avoid becoming baristas with PhDs.
By Rachel Snyder
Applying for college is stressful enough without having to pick a major. That is why after writing a personal statement, answering philosophical questions in less than 500 words, and providing character references, I wasn’t ready to click a box declaring my plan of study for the next four plus years. The decision seemed binding and final—I clicked “undecided.”
By Courtney Howell, Victoria Irvine, Luis Villavicencio, Ian Criman
Over the course of the summer, our team of eight undergraduate researchers collected data and engaged in historical research on tuberculosis, or consumption as it was known historically, in the United States. In the first post on our research, “Who Died of Consumption?” we discussed our research process and delved into the connections between race, newspaper reporting, and experiences with the disease as exemplified by tuberculosis victim and famous African American poet Paul Dunbar.