Posted by Whit Barringer , Saturday, January 02, 2010 11:14 PM

Why History? What was so appealing about it to you that you decided to get a graduate degree in it?

I've responded to this in a more general and idealistic way on both Tumblr and BlogSpot, but I cannot say my reasons were entirely general or idealistic. It's easy to look at my graduate degree as a natural extension of my B.A. in History. Even though I had more options than most other history majors straight out of college, grad school seemed like the most logical next step. So for a leap in logic, to get to the root of the manner, we must look not to the grad applications of October through December 2008, but to the Fall and Spring semesters of my 2005-2006 freshman year.

I came in the door of the advising center thinking that I was going to be a Religious Studies and, if I remember correctly, psychology double major. I had enjoyed psychology in high school, and religious studies was something that had fascinated me on a personal level, as I had begun losing my faith in high school. Between the two, perhaps I would have studied the effect of religion on people.

But after I took a history course and had been bombarded by religious and philosophical studies in my first semester of Honors, I realized that studying religion and philosophy was not a goal in and of itself for me, but could be a means to understanding other things.

I was definitely a liberal arts kind of person, and the one study that could envelop every single other liberal art, whether wholly or in part, was history. It's the all-purpose major. I think in the end, that's why I majored in it. I wanted to do a science or math-based major, but I saw my limits before I committed to something that would have ultimately been foolhardy for me.

Anyway, I am in grad school for history because I realized, as most people do either when they're applying for grad school or the moment they step through the door, that I had learned just enough to know I knew nothing. And I cannot stand knowing nothing.

I think that's why I'm here, anyway.

Ask me anything

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