Graduate Life

Congratulations to Our Newest PhDs, Dr. Eli Anders, Dr. Julia Cummiskey and Dr. Penelope Hardy!


Notes from the Field

Our grad students don’t have to wait for ABD (All But Dissertation) status to do research. They get their hands dirty from the get-go, when required courses like the History of Medicine Survey are complemented by graduate research seminars, the main requirement of which is a written paper based on the interpretation of primary sources. These seminars are great preparation for a sustained period of dissertation research.

Archival dissertation research takes our students near and far, from right here in Baltimore to locations in east Asia, Europe and Africa. Complex negotiations for access, restrictions on use, and difficult working conditions can be a frustrating but formative introduction to a crucial aspect of historical practice. However, such frustrations are more than out-weighed by surprising discoveries, remarkable adventures, and chance meetings with fascinating people that make archival research a rich and rewarding experience.

Notes from the Field gives a flavor of our grad students’ lives in and around the archives.

The Sacred Boa

One of the rites of passage of our program is the second-year paper. Sophomore graduate students research and write a journal-article-length (and caliber!) essay and present it in our weekly colloquium. Afterward, we unwind at The Brewer’s Art and partake of an ancient ritual.

In researching her dissertation on medieval theories of circadian rhythms, Tulley Long (PhD 2011) discovered that students in fourteenth century Heidelberg donned a Sacred Boa and sat in a public fountain upon receiving their degree.

This tradition was lost to our department until the spring of 2012, when students discovered a genuine Sacred Boa in a little-known Baltimore archive called Sweet n’ Sexee. In the same institution, they also unearthed an extremely rare example of a Tiara of Erudition. It, or a similar object, may well have been used by the Chthonic people of Eruditea as late as last week. In tribal culture, men surviving to the age of thirty don the Tiara in a torchlit rite that evokes the power of wisdom and learning.

It is appropriate and good that our students don the Sacred Boa and the Tiara of Erudition to mark their entry into the ranks of those who have donned these hallowed, though not necessarily hypo-allergenic, artifacts.

Congratulations to our newest boa recipients, Sam Scharff and Jon Phillips!


Graduate Student Essay Competitions

Graduate Student Resources