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About Graduate Studies: A Blast from the Past

Two days ago someone asked me about doing graduate studies.  He had a master's degree and was wondering about whether to do a PhD.  I told him that if he could imagine doing something else with his life, he probably should do so.  Doing a PhD is just too painful.  It's long (in my field it typically takes about 6-8 years *after* doing a Masters; lots of students take longer), it's really hard, it's really painful, and there's no guarantee of a job when you 're finished.  If it's your passion, and you can't imagine doing anything else, you should do it (I told him).  But otherwise ... not so much. Looking back over old blog posts, I see that I talked about graduate studies almost exactly four years ago today.  Here is what I said then: ****************************************************************** I teach one undergraduate and one graduate course a semester. Teaching undergraduates is a passion of mine. I love doing it. These are nineteen year olds who are inquisitive, interested, and interesting. I enjoy lecturing to a [...]

Why Scholars Aren’t Trained To Write Trade Books

In yesterday’s post I talked about how books for a general audience -- trade books -- get their titles.   I’ve decided that I want to say something more broadly about the nature of trade books, and I’m going to do so in a rather circuitous way, by talking about why most scholars don’t (and can’t) write them.  It’s not at all a bad thing that they don’t, in my opinion.  We only need so many books for non-specialists on the Big Bang, the Civil War, and the historical Jesus.  All told, we probably have more than enough. Moreover – and this will be the point of this post and probably a few more to come -- trade books are not what scholars are trained to produced.  Scholars are trained to write serious research for other scholars.   And that’s what they spend their lives doing: advancing scholarship for experts in their fields.  That’s not only what most scholars want to do.  In many ways, it is the only thing they are actually trained to do. My [...]

2020-04-03T03:12:59-04:00August 11th, 2016|Public Forum, Reflections and Ruminations|
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