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  • Originally published 02/04/2013

    Visiting professorships take on new uses in changing market

    Stan Nadel sat with fellow historians around a lunch table as they introduced themselves one by one. His peers were greeted with warm nods and smiles, but when he stated his name, Mr. Nadel was met with surprise. The man across from him clapped his hand over his mouth."What the hell?" Mr. Nadel says he thought, recalling that moment. It was 1997, and he was attending a history conference in Oklahoma.The lunch mate had graduated from a Ph.D. program at the University of Hawaii, a place Mr. Nadel had never visited. Perhaps the young man was familiar with Mr. Nadel's publications, he thought. Maybe he was a former colleague or a student.It turned out, Mr. Nadel said, that the man had no connection to him at all. The stranger had recently accepted a one-year teaching appointment off the tenure track, which had prompted a colleague to warn him of Mr. Nadel's experience....

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Being married helps historians get ahead, but only if they're male

    Alexis Coe is a writer in San Francisco and a columnist for SF Weekly.When I was a graduate student in history, I loved to read the acknowledgements sections of books. If you looked carefully, all the trade secrets kept within the small, competitive field were revealed, from who was the most helpful specialist in an archive to creative means of financing research.Inadvertently, I also learned quite a bit about historian's marriages. Consider For Cause and Comrades, in which Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson writes, "The person most instrumental in helping me produce this volume has also been the most important person in my life for the past forty years, my wife Patricia. In addition to enriching my life every day, she has been a superb research assistant, having read almost as many soldiers' letters and diaries as I have."...Despite all this, my cohorts and I believed that we were entering a radically different kind of history department, one where women could forge their own careers, rather than merely supporting their husbands'. Surely, the changing of the guard in progressive institutions had already occurred. A new study from the American Historical Association suggests, however, that many of the field's problems remain unresolved.

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