Graduate Students Should Know (Recommendations)

letter-of

What I hate about graduate education and the job market for exiting graduate students is how opaque the system is and the way this opacity contributes to doubt, feelings of inadequacy, and self-loathing. I’m beginning to decide to share with graduate students those parts of my letters of recommendation for them where I conceptualize their dissertation projects for the persons to whom I’m recommending them. There are two reasons. One because the adviser’s encapsulation of the project should be part of the ongoing faculty-advisee conversation, and should contribute to the crystallization of their own conception of their work and to their own self-conceptualization as scholars. Two and relatedly, because they should all know that their work is terrific, is regarded as such, and is being presented as such to others. This goes for all of you. This should be seen as both a salve and a goad to further excellence. Also, if a dissertation project is dull, well, who’s fault is it really if not the mentor’s and the institution’s?

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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