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The Zamani Reader

On Atlantic Africa and the British Empire (1655-1807)

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Personal Reflections

Reflections from a PhD History Student (Part Two) — Why is Graduate School so Hard, Especially in the First Year?

Well, I have officially finished my first year of the PhD History program at UC Davis. To be more precise, I finished my first year a couple of months ago, when I turned in the last of my final exams for Spring Quarter around the second week of June. I meant to write these reflections immediately after finishing the school year, but then I got caught up with other obligations and I was, frankly, pretty tired of writing. I took a job right after school ended, teaching another course at Solano Community College. The new dean of the college called me up and offered me the opportunity to teach a summer course before Davis had ended. Because Davis is on the quarter system, and SCC is on the semester system, that summer class began only one week after my graduate classes finished. In fact, I was planning the summer course at SCC before I had finished my classes at Davis.

Continue reading “Reflections from a PhD History Student (Part Two) — Why is Graduate School so Hard, Especially in the First Year?”

Reflections from a PhD History Student (Part One) — What is it like Coming to an Large, Public Research Institution?

This past December concluded my first quarter as a PhD History student at the University of California, Davis. I handed in my final papers the first week of December, and I went on a short-lived winter break, from which I have already returned. Even though I had been on the dreadful “quarter system” (as opposed to the more ideal “semester system”) for my undergraduate studies at DePaul University, the timing was a little different there. At Depaul, students had a lot more time off for winter break. Our classes ended before Thanksgiving and returned after the winter holidays, during the first week of January. This gave students over a month off. At Davis, we did not get out until the end of the first week of December, leaving us about three weeks of break. But this really becomes more like two weeks because you have to discount the final week of break, which students spend doing homework in preparation for the first class of the next quarter. Sigh.

Continue reading “Reflections from a PhD History Student (Part One) — What is it like Coming to an Large, Public Research Institution?”

Reflections from an Adjunct History Instructor (Part One) — What are the Benefits and Limits of Being an Adjunct?

Well, my first semester as an adjunct History professor ended less than a month ago. The students in the course that I was teaching, HIST 037, “Women in American History,” took their final on Monday, December 14, and I spent the next few days grading those exams and submitting their scores online. Now that a few weeks have passed, I wanted to start a new series of blog entries that would do two at least things. First, extend my gratitude to everyone who makes these courses possible, from the staff and faculty of Solano Community College (SCC) to the maintenance crew, and to the students themselves, who gave me the benefit of the doubt when I was less prepared than I should have been, and who extended excellent feedback during our last seminar. Second, share some initial reflections about life as an adjunct (part-time) professor at a community college generally, and as a teacher of “Women in American History” specifically. This blog post is intended to start an ongoing exploration of these topics. I plan to follow-up with more posts throughout the year.

Continue reading “Reflections from an Adjunct History Instructor (Part One) — What are the Benefits and Limits of Being an Adjunct?”

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