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Graduate Study for the Twenty-First Century: How to Build an Academic Career in the Humanities

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  248 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Many graduate students continue to be regarded as "apprentices" despite the fact that they are expected to design and teach their own classes, serve on university committees, and conference and publish regularly. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the attrition rate for American Ph.D. programs is at an all-time high, between 40% and 50% (higher for women and mi ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 7th 2005 by Palgrave Macmillan (first published September 20th 2005)
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(showing 1-30)
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Aug 05, 2008 Jonathan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: grad students
Shelves: academia
So you're getting a PhD in the humanities. My first word of advice: flee to the hills. My second word of advice: read this book.

This is a refreshingly cold-blooded and practical look at the unwritten expectations and obligations we face. It assumes that in addition to wanting to be scholars, we also want to eat regular. In other words, this book is all about surviving our jobs as bargain-bin course instructors and positioning ourselves to compete for America's vanishing tenure-track jobs. To tha
May 18, 2009 Alex rated it really liked it
Yes I read this-- NO ONE MAKE FUN OF ME. It was actually very helpful. I have now learned that I will need to acquire a filing cabinet, and an additional five hours for each day.
Oct 06, 2012 Nicole rated it really liked it
it is a little bit of a terrifying read, but not discouraging. a necessary read for a realistic view of what your graduate experience and the beginning of your career will be like in the humanities.
Jul 03, 2014 Jerzy rated it liked it
Shelves: grad-school
p.214: "The first thing to do is have a drink."

It's a pretty harsh book. But you do need to be able to take it if you want to get anything out of grad school.
Focused very much on humanities, but still has some useful points that relate to grad school in STEM and other fields.

p.12-14: clarifies the distinctions between Assistant Professor (just started, still working towards tenure); Associate Professor (tenured); and Full Professor (promotion based on major new credentials beyond those that earn
Massanutten Regional Library
Liana, Central reference volunteer, September 2015, 4 stars:

Gregory Colon Semenza does not sugar-coat anything in this book, but for people interested in beginning an academic career in the humanities, I think it is solid, essential (if somewhat bleak) reading. While I am reading it for a graduate school course, I would totally recommend it to anyone who has interest in doing academic work in the humanities, whether it be a high school or undergraduate student, or even someone who has a friend o
Aug 17, 2015 Liana rated it really liked it
Gregory Colon Semenza does not sugar-coat anything in this book, but for people interested in beginning an academic career in the humanities, I think it is solid, essential (if somewhat bleak) reading. While I am reading it for a graduate school course, I would totally recommend it to anyone who has interest in doing academic work in the humanities, whether it be a high school or undergraduate student, or even someone who has a friend or relative who works in the academic humanities and doesn't ...more
Kathleen O'Neal
Jul 07, 2014 Kathleen O'Neal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great guidebook for the contemporary graduate student who is serious about a career in academia and most of the advice seems practical, ethical, and accessible for students at all stages of their graduate school careers. My biggest complaint about the book is that all of the author's examples are drawn from English literature and art history. It makes sense to some degree that this is the case since these are the fields the author knows best from personal experience, but as someone pu ...more
Christopher Tirri
I find it hard to rate/review a book that is pedagogical in nature because it seems like how I feel/felt is irrelevant when it comes to having actually learned something from said book. With that said, I had a pretty indifferent relationship with this book. The author presents himself in a very strange light that is at once condescending, patronizing, helpful, vaguely amusing, and sometimes slightly egotistical. However, the points he tries to and does make are invaluable to those of us who are ...more
The Awdude
Apr 24, 2011 The Awdude rated it really liked it
Required reading for grad students like me who wouldn't normally care to find out what the difference is between, say, an Associate Prof. and an Assistant Prof. Also Semenza recommends giving this book to your loved ones who, chances are, don't really know what it is you do for a living: the GF or Mom who doesn't realize that you work 65-70 hours a week with zero days off, no summer breaks or holidays (except Yom Kippur and XMas, you are expected to be writing), or that you are, like, the most u ...more
Aug 20, 2012 Deanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prof-development
The text is authored by a DGS from the University of Connecticut's English department and spends approximately equal time discussing M.A. and Ph.D. requirements and issues. I highly recommend the book as it focuses on the day-to-day issues of graduate work (time management, surviving the Graduate Seminar, teaching, etc.) specifically done in the Humanities (and has an overwhelming bias towards examples and issues found in English departments). Furthermore, it provides excellent advice for those ...more
Mar 26, 2013 Nick rated it it was amazing
Getting ready to take the plunge this Fall.

{ahem, academic speak time}

I have been seeking a tome of this nature for a while. The abstracts (not to mention titles) for reference materials such as 'How to Survive Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School' did not inspire a great deal of confidence in their usefulness in my particular situation. Not having begun my graduate education as of yet I cannot fully speak to the relative accuracy of the advice dispensed but I do feel somewhat less
Sep 15, 2009 Dave rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
If nothing else, Semenza is honest. I plan on keeping this book with me throughout graduate school and (surreptitiously, of course) tucked in my desk as I start work in some remote community college. Lots of solid advice, but be sure to check with professors and professionals who share your point of view. If you're not a gung-ho research uni or nothing kind of person, Semenza's opinions might not be as applicable. Especially useful are the appendices with examples of CVs, teaching portfolios, co ...more
Mar 12, 2008 Roopsi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: academia
A must-read for anyone considering graduate school in English. There is a lot of really helpful information about how departments work, and the book is written in an engaging style. Do not skip the section where the author goes into the archetypal characters that haunt graduate school in the humanities, as this is absolutely hilarious and all too true. Ultimately, no one can prescribe a course of action, since everyone has to forge his or her own way. But this book contains frank and instructive ...more
Michael Hattem
Jul 21, 2010 Michael Hattem rated it it was amazing
If you're insane enough to pursue a PhD in the Humanities, then do yourself a favor and get this book. So much of the ins-and-outs of navigating a graduate program is unwritten protocol and procedures... until this book. Learn what to really expect from coursework, learn to how to draft a teaching statement, a CV, a syllabus, etc.... If you've read this book, you have no excuses for pleading ignorance when it comes to graduate study. It is as close to "graduate school handbook" as has ever been ...more
May 14, 2008 Jason rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: graduate students
Recommended to Jason by: Professor Nestingen
My mentor suggested, nay, assigned this book to me. He highly recommends it.

Scary and challenging. It reminds me why I am going to graduate school, but it is very sobering. Semenza answers my burning questions about academic life for the graduate student. The chapters on time management and organizations and on seminars are detailed: what to do and what not to do (in line with each individauls personal tweaks).
Jan 29, 2014 Melissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: academia
This book ought to be read by everyone who is contemplating or currently attending graduate school in the humanities. Straightforward, comprehensive, and insightful look at what you need to do in order to get the most out of your experience and how best to position yourself for a career in the humanities.
Sep 04, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: academe
Should be recommended reading for all humanities grad students. Includes chapters not just on getting into grad school or writing your dissertation but also on choosing classes and developing professional relationships with faculty and peers. One of the few self-help books that I've actually found helpful!
Jun 12, 2008 Beth rated it it was amazing
Wow, this book was helpful. I particularly think the appendix was well-thought-out and completely useful. I also really liked the chapter on organizational strategies. I have a tendency to want to throw things out wily-nily, so Semenza's organizational tips will help me avoid the desire to clear out and clean out at the end of every semester.
Jul 25, 2011 Karen rated it it was amazing
An absolutely fantastic reference that should be required summer reading for all incoming humanities Ph.D. students. I will be constantly pulling this off my shelf for the next 5 years as I progres...
May 23, 2013 Allison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grad-school
One of the best - if not THE best - resource to prepare and streamline your graduate career, especially in pursuing a PhD.

Semenza guides you through each year of school, points out what to concentrate on during this time, and how to market yourself wisely.

Highly highly recommend.
Jun 12, 2013 Jimmy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent advice manual with lots of practical tips for graduate students. My only criticism is that it's directed towards PhD students in the Humanities. Would love for something equivalent for students in the social and natural sciences; and also for terminal MA students.
J. Alfred
Jul 07, 2016 J. Alfred rated it really liked it
Teacup, prepare for firehose. Yet know, teacup, that you are reinforced for firehose strength.
This is a bracing and hopefully helpful primer in what grad school and post-grad school life will probably look like. Time for some praxis, people. Gird up thy loins.
Rebecca Cantor
May 09, 2009 Rebecca Cantor rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is very helpful. Easy to read, insightful and even inspirational. Semenza does a great job of making the huge tasks (read dissertation) feel manageable. He also has great advice about publishing, quals, dealing with advisors, teaching, and the dreaded job market.
Nov 30, 2009 Rachel rated it liked it
Recommends it for: graduate students who want to become professors
I didn't really like reading this book, but I recognize its potential usefulness. By far the most entertaining part was the professorial and student stereotypes (who is our program's "theory girl"?). I wish that there weren't so much "guild knowledge" that this book would be necessary.
Brady Jensen
Sep 11, 2014 Brady Jensen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very helpful to anyone in or around graduate programs in the humanities.
Left me feeling like I had a plan for everything. Good stuff!
May 12, 2013 Colin rated it it was amazing
very useful
Maggie G
Feb 09, 2008 Maggie G rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Pretty good advice, including some things that I wouldn't have thought of myself.
Jim Welton
Dec 30, 2012 Jim Welton rated it it was amazing
Required for a course. Very nice information for the beginning grad student, especially in the humanities.
May 01, 2009 Tina. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2009
Such a helpful, down-to-earth book! I'm glad I read it. Will be returning to this one frequently over the next five, six years.
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