Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Discussion is the spice of life.

There was lots of this going on yesterday in the history department and at Massey College. The third job candidate gave his research talk in the morning, and sparked a lively (of sorts) discussion afterward. I learned a few important lessons from the experience: (1) When giving a job talk, make sure to speak directly to larger historiographical, methodological, and theoretical issues. You must do this to show intellectual depth and engagement with the broader world of historians (beyond your subfield) and because most of the people in the room won't know or care much about the details of your research. (2) If you're questioning someone in a professional setting, and the person being questioned isn't understanding you, you can reformulate your inquiry in an attempt to get an answer, but there's no point doing this more than once or getting upset about the other person's inability to respond adequately.

After the job talk I had lunch at Massey. I tried my best to ignore the lawyer talk going on beside me, and eventually found myself surrounded by intellectual types. Yay! Much interesting discussion ensued. Back at the department for coffee, I had a great chat with a fellow historian. He told me a little about being an Aboriginal historian (as in, a historian who studies early Canada, or whatever I should call it). Cool. JT and I then had our interview with the candidate, and then some more history talk before class. After the lecture, I dashed home for a bit to drop off my stuff, and then went back to school to give my lecture at Massey. I was slighly worried because I hadn't prepared much, but it went ok. But the discussion afterwards was awesome! I do like some of those Massey people. I think I will go back there today for lunch.

1 comment:

Rufus said...

re: 1: Yes! We had a job talk the other day in which the fellow had done great research and explained the research to us, and then failed to explain what his larger point was! None of us could figure out the significance of his research, even though it was clearly good. Even worse, we all asked questions that amounted to; "Okay, so what's your point here?" and he had no idea. I'm going to use him as a teaching example for what my students shouldn't do in their essays.