Epistemological Impossibilities

New Writing

I finished my dissertation this spring, with the defense at the beginning of May. To finish was a big relief but in many ways it was anticlimactic. There were too many intermediate steps at which I was almost done. I never felt like I was actually done, even when I graduated. On the bright side, at each almost-done step, I celebrated. Here's a snapshot of what I did in the ensuing couple months.

I have mostly left the dissertation aside in the weeks since I finished, trying to estrange myself from it so that when I return to it to begin revisions it will not be so familiar. The other day I glanced at a page while looking for a citation. I read a sentence or two. Though extremely familiar, they did not sound exactly as I thought they sounded the first hundred times I re-read them. That is a good thing. A little while longer, and I will be ready to begin rethinking.

In the meantime, I've been doing a lot of other writing.

Gene Wise - Warren Susman Prize, American Studies Association

I presented a paper on a wonderful panel at the 2014 American Studies Association annual meeting in Los Angeles. This year's annual meeting was a special one for me personally because the president of the American Studies Association is Lisa Duggan, professor in my department and one of the primary influences for me to join American Studies. The panel was entitled "What Comes of Fury? Responses to California’s 1960s and 1970s Urban Crisis," and it was organized by Nic Ramos and also featured Aaron Bae and Ryan Fukumori. We all analyzed various aspects of state and emergent public-private responses to, and definition of, "urban crisis" in California, from policing to education to healthcare. The panel was well-received, organically cohesive, and, to my mind, fascinating. Professor Daryl Maeda chaired, and Professor Josh Sides commented.

Another highlight of the annual meeting was that I won an award from the American Studies Association for the best paper presented at the meeting by a graduate student, the Gene Wise - Warren Susman Prize.

Advice for Graduate Students: How to Win External Fellowships

This is the third and final in a series of posts on applying to and winning external grants and fellowships in the humanities and (humanistic) social sciences. In the first post, I covered why you should apply. In the second post, I covered to what and when you should apply. In this third post, I am covering the most difficult question: how to create a successful application.

Advice for Graduate Students: To What Fellowships and When Should You Apply?

This is the second in a series of new posts on professionalization for PhD students in the humanities and social sciences. In the previous post, I offered five key reasons to apply for (and win) external grants and fellowships. So that was the “why” post. This post focuses on two other important points that often fall into the category of “no one tells you because you’re supposed to know already”: what and when. What kinds of fellowships are out there and when should you apply for them?

Advice for Graduate Students: Why You Need External Fellowships

This is the first in what should be a series of new posts on professionalization for PhD students in the humanities and social sciences, based on my own experience and advice I have collected along the way. (A prior post in this vein concerned how to embark on archival research.) The meaning of professionalization can be somewhat unclear until you're actually doing it. Moreover, the reasons to do it are also often opaque: there may be no direct reward for success other than good vibes, nor a direct penalty for failure other than feeling glum. We know, in general, that successful graduate students become successful academics by adhering to certain norms and expectations, though we don't always know what they are. My focus here is one domain, however, in which there is a clear reward for successfully following the guidelines: winning external fellowships and grants.

Critically Rethinking Cold War Social Science

The historian Audra J. Wolfe has a very good article on the ongoing historiographic controversy around the terms Cold War science or Cold War social science. The controversy is over whether Cold War social science is a useful historical category. She concludes that it is. Wolfe says that political leaders “granted” science and social science “nearly superhuman” powers during the Cold War, which differentiates this intellectual agglomeration from earlier (or later) ones like, say, Renaissance science. Other historians, however, have argued that for a variety of reasons it is not a useful term. I believe Cold War social science is a useful term but for different reasons.

Advice for Graduate Students Embarking on Archival Research

After visits to over a dozen archives in pre-dissertation and actual dissertation research, I thought it might be useful to reflect on my experiences and render some practical how-to advice.* All of what I say is inherently provisional, as I have yet to produce the end product (the dissertation) that would prove my advice sound. And all of what I say relates to my own experience and is not necessarily transferable to other people or places. In particular, a few idiosyncrasies: 1) I drink coffee in the morning and I am vegetarian; 2) my research has been at archives in the United States, mostly in suburbs or college towns; 3) my project is not based on a single archive but rather requires the construction of an archive of sorts. Let me explain further why these points matter.

Two New Publications

Two articles of mine have come out in the past few days. 

New Website!

As you can see I have a new website. A million thanks to the brilliant Jill Hubley for her web design skills. I am still learning how to make all of this work, so if something is not right, please get in touch by clicking on the contact link above.

Road Trip

My pal Christy Thornton and I are about to embark on a drive across the United States. We will be chronicling our attempts to find vegetarian food, swimming holes, and foxes and/or elk here. See you on the west coast. Please have a bagel and slice waiting for me when I arrive. Or whatever it is people in California eat.

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© 2021 Stuart Schrader