Old Man RiverIt's another anniversary for the Rhine River, and another birthday for me! I've written a lot of posts in the past twelve months, including those from my research trip to France. Perhaps I'll draw up a list of highlights later on, but for now, let me draw your attention to a bit of academia truth and inspiration from Kevin Boyle, formerly my grad school chair:
Historians tend to think of themselves as working in splendid isolation. We spend huge swaths of time sitting alone in archives. When we write we shut ourselves away, banning the kids from our studies, locking office doors. When we get the courage to let others see a chapter or an essay we've been laboring over, we often restrict its distribution to a tight circle of associates with the stern warning, "Do not circulate" typed in capitals on the cover page. Our work is our own, after all, our singular creation.
But of course it isn't. Many of us - most of us -- couldn't make it through the profession's incessant demands without the support of a vast network of people. I owe an incalculable debt to the friends who pulled me through grad school, despite my mediocre performance. Again and again colleagues have offered me their time, their connections, and their advice. It's impossible to count how many times my wife - a far better historian than I am - carried me through one crisis or another. And I like to think that I finished that chapter, that book, because my eight year old was willing to pass up her after-school snack so she could listen to her daddy's problems."
Amen! I hope that E_____ (the baby we're expecting) will be as supportive as my wife in my endeavors.