Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bated Breath, Pins and Needles, Fingers Crossed

No no, not waiting for grad school application responses YET, though there was some progress in the transcript department.... after giving me a new, 7-digit student number, which also didn't work in the online payment system, they finally realized I've been out of school so long that my shit isn't digitized. So, they will let me use the old-fashioned telephone to pay for my transcripts.

Anyway.... the pins and needles, etc.

I've been having several discussions with people regarding grad schools. Where is good, thoughts on statements of interest, picking advisors, that sort of thing. In one conversation with a colleague, zie mentioned that it is good to go in with a site, rather than taking what they give you, or doing a non-site degree (i.e., analyzing stuff that others have dug up years ago, and which is now mouldering in storage).* The reason zie gave is one I didn't actually consider: once done with PhD work, and on the job market, hiring schools generally want their archaeologists to hit the ground running with a field school. You cannot hit the ground running without a site; so, in a case of all-else-equal, an applicant who can guarantee a field school in Summer 1 will get the job over an applicant who could probably pull something together for Summer 1. Makes total sense, and I filed this tidbit under "things to fret quietly about."

I have ideas of things I want to study; broad brushstroke-y things In A Particular Theme. Within that Theme, there are various Big Questions that I find interesting**. And then there is a particular research question staring me right in the eye (it's all very cross-disciplinary too, which is exciting, though I'm not sure how the Historians will feel about it; hey, I'd let you present at my conference...). But, I do not have a site.

Then. Yesterday. I receive an email out of the blue (yes, handing out your business card to anyone who will stand still long enough to take it, pays off). What would be involved in doing an archaeological dig at OMGSuperCool site?

So, I explained what's involved... lots of little holes, a few bigger holes, lots of bigger holes, possibly heavy equipment, you know, depending. And I explained that hiring someone to do it can be costly (though there are grants available, especially for OMGSuperCool site).

Or, I explained, someone could do excavations as research for their PhD. And then I mentioned that I am applying for my PhD. And that I would LOVE to dig up OMGSuperCool site, because it is OMGSUPERCOOL *and* fits perfectly with my Particular Theme and Big Questions. Not so much with the beady-eyed research question I have in mind, which continues to stare me down, but I can bat that sucker around elsewhere. So, I explained, the PhD route is cheaper, invariably will involve public archaeology/field school, is grant-fundable, but will also take longer than hiring someone. And then I said that if they're interested in pursuing this to let me know, that I'd love to discuss it further.***

And now I am waiting. Impatiently. And hopefully. Did I mention it would be SUPERCOOL?

Tangent Storage For The Very Tangential:
* Artifacts mouldering in storage totally need to get analysed and written up. There is no point excavating stuff if you're not going to do anything with it. But colleague makes a good point.

** Big Questions in Historical Archaeology include: why do people buy what they do? How do we (or is it even possible to) identify ethnicity in the archaeological record? What about gender? Class? What happens when two groups of people meet? How does the individual interact with society and what does that look like in what they leave behind? What can I tell about these people, who I cannot find in the documentary record? What does their voice tell us about the world?

*** I would be STOKED if I could mention the possibility of digging at OMGSuperCool site on my grad school applications. Which I can't do, unless OMGSuperCool site people express an interest.


Ink said...

Wow! The universe appears to be aligning things for you. Supercool indeed!

Is the site in the near proximity to where you would go to classes? Or do you take sabbatically things to do both?

"I filed this tidbit under 'things to fret quietly about.'" = pretty much describes my whole life, feels like.

Digger said...

Update: OMGSuperCool site is interested. Possible initial meeting pending for early October to possibly discuss the possibility.

Inky: the site is not close to any of the schools I am applying for, but isn't super far either (except for School On The Other Side of the Country). Distance probably ranges from 4-10 hours drive, depending. Fieldwork is generally done over the summers when classes are out; OMGSuperCool site is in an area that gets Real Winters, so Mother Nature limits field time also. If I had my druthers, I'd like to get the documentary research done during the coursework years, but archive visits would be as I could get there, depending on finances, classwork, jobs, etc.

I need to chill a bit and try hard not to jump the gun too badly; I don't even have a school yet!