Graduate Study for the 21st Century

SemenzaDuring my down time I’ve been paging through Gregory Colón Semenza’s Graduate Study for the 21st Century: How to Build an Academic Career in the Humanities (2005). It is an ideal book for the graduate student. It covers topics such as the culture of graduate programs (teaching, research, and service), the politics of academic life (the “high priests” and “priestesses,” the “deadwood,” the “black sheep,” the “careerists,” the “service slaves,” the “curmudgeons,” the “young Turks,” the “hall-talkers,” the “theory boy or girl, “the “long-life learners,” and “everyman” and “everywoman”) organization and time management, outlook of the graduate seminar, the seminar paper, teaching, comprehensive exams, the dissertation, attending conferences, publishing strategies, service and participation, and prospects of the job market. Written with enthusiasm and much wisdom,  Semenza’s book should be the premier textbook for any graduate student in the humanities. What I found particularly insightful were his chapters on the dissertation and publishing. His recommendation that “you think of your dissertation as a book and that you write it in the form and style of a published scholarly monograph” was both enlightening and necessary.

Although amusing and entertaining in many places, Semenza’s book is not for the faint at heart. It is a heavy book, in the sense that it unabashedly reveals the intensity of the graduate program in the humanities. The onerousness and rigorousness of the graduate program is, however, made less burdensome thanks to the guidance and insights of this book.

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