CIAMS is fortunate to be able to provide a number of research and travel grants for our undergraduate and graduate students and faculty. For the 2015/2016 academic year CIAMS granted a total of $34,941 in Hirsch travel and CIAMS research grant awards. These grants facilitate travel and archaeological field experience as well as enabling graduate students to undertake self-directed archaeological research projects. As our program expands, we look forward to promoting even more projects that benefit the field of archaeology.
Position Title: Assistant Professor – Bioarchaeology
Position Type: Tenure-track faculty
Application Deadline: November 1, 2015
The Department of Anthropology at Cornell University invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position focused in bioarchaeology. We construe bioarchaeology broadly to include a range of approaches to understanding the human body in its material setting both historically and theoretically. The ideal candidate will help to strengthen links among departmental research interests in archaeology, biological anthropology, and medical anthropology. We seek candidates who ground their biological interests in archaeological field work and whose research involves a concern with archaeological context, innovative approaches to theoretical interpretation, and sensitivity to the ethics of practice. Although we have a particular interest in applications from candidates conducting research in Latin America (including the Caribbean) and Asia, geographic area of expertise is open.
For the full listing and to submit an application, please visit the posting on Academic Jobs Online.
[Re-posted with permission from Adam Smith’s blog, Assemblages]:
Having just supervised my third year of admissions into the MA program in Cornell’s Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies, I’ve come to see the process as increasingly shaped by poor communication on both sides. We, as an institution, do a pretty poor job of communicating what an ideal application dossier looks like. And students, many of whom boast sterling credentials, nevertheless often seem to have neglected to fully consider what graduate school entails. Inspired by my colleague Sturt Manning’s post last year on graduate admissions in Classics, I digest here a few points of advice that I seem to repeat often to applicants and prospective students.
The elements of a graduate school application are relatively standard across programs and universities. Typically they include:
- Your undergraduate transcript;
- Letters of recommendation (3 seems to be the magic number);
- A writing sample (usually a term paper written for an advanced seminar);
- Test scores (usually GRE, but also TOEFL for international students);
- A statement of purpose (sometimes misleadingly called a personal essay).
Transcripts can be read in a numerous ways. A few attest to a goal oriented, highly motivated student who knew their chosen path from day 1. Some tell a story of struggle and success as grades improve and courses sharpen focus over the 4 years. Some tell of students who wander listlessly through the curriculum until they discover their passion (e.g., archaeology) and then commit themselves fully to achievement. Some tell of students who were driven into narrow pre-professional courses by social, economic, or perhaps parental forces in their freshman and sophomore years, only to find themselves miserable until a stray course in archaeology opened a new door. Other transcripts testify to students who never really clicked with anything and look to graduate school as a place to kill some more time while searching for self and future. What story does your transcript tell? How would you want an admissions committee to narrate your intellectual development?
Often times, the story of your transcript comes out most clearly in the letters of recommendation. Faculty who care deeply about their students will often tell us about the unique challenges applicants have faced or opportunities they have seized. Their testimonials can often be incredibly powerful since they have the kind of firsthand knowledge that admissions committees lack. So it is important in choosing letter writers to have established relations with faculty who a) know you and b) care about you. This means you cannot rely on the instructor in the 500 person intro class that you did well in but who you never saw again. That said, it is relatively rare that all three letter writers have the same kind of familiarity with students, but if one or two can speak knowingly of you and are committed to you, then chances are, that will be an impactful letter.
The writing sample is a complicated element of the process. Presumably by the time you graduate from College, if you were in the humanities or social sciences, you will have written 4-8 term papers, by which I mean extended writings on a single topic that muster evidence to an argument (I do not include more personal or reflective essays or fiction writing, neither of which are proper material for a writing sample in an archaeology application). I have seen writing samples evaluated generally for just two qualities. The first is the quality of composition; is it well written? The second is its use of evidence; does it understand the bases of archaeological arguments. Occasionally samples are highly original, provocative, or pioneering, but these are not the expectations for a college term paper or honors thesis and so tend not to be the expectations of admissions committees either. Of our two expectations–composition and argumentation–my experience is that the quality of writing trumps all. Hence when students ask for advice on which writing sample to submit, I always advise them to submit the one that is best written, most polished, and most edited, whether it is about archaeology or not. I would be far more impressed by a well-written writing sample about Georgian polyphonic singing than a second rate essay on excavations at Ur or Abydos.
It is important for students to realize then that at the time of application 3 out of 5 of the elements in a dossier are essentially out of your hands. Your transcript was compiled over your 4 years in college; ditto your relations with faculty who will provide letters of recommendation; and writing samples tend to be (quite wisely) recycled term papers or honors theses.
In addition, in my experience test scores tend to be a secondary data point in admissions. They might reinforce a sense conveyed by transcripts or they might force a second look if not in keeping with the impression conveyed by a writing sample and essay. But it is rare that I’ve seen test scores work as a determining force of any kind on an admissions decision when the preponderance of other evidence points in a different direction.
So that leaves just the statement of purpose as the critical contribution that an applicant can make to a dossier at the time they are considering graduate school. As a result, it is to my mind the most consequential piece of the application. And yet it is also the portion that students often seem to have the most trouble with. So let me set out what I think a statement of purpose should do.
- It needs to clearly define a research project. Graduate schools is primarily about training you to do research–what will it be about? But this is tricky. If your proposed research project is too narrow (level 3 courseware sherds from site X) then you run 2 risks: a) no one who reads the essay is all that interested in level 3 coarseware sherds from X (or alternatively, only one person is and that is not enough support) or b) faculty will see the project as so fully developed that they have nothing to contribute. If a proposed research project is too vague (“I think I’m interested in ancient religion or maybe politics”) then admissions committees will immediately conclude that you are not sufficiently prepared fro graduate education. So research projects need to thread the needle between being too vague and too narrow.
- It needs to answer the question: “Who cares?”. It is not enough to simply have a research interest of your own, you need to make an argument for why anyone else should be interested. Such an argument might appeal to wider anthropological theory (e.g., this project will inform accounts of state formation), or to historical questions (e.g., the data collected will clarify the political economy of late Classic Maya polities), or to specifically archaeological concerns (e.g., innovations in method, practice, theory, etc).
- It needs to explain why you want to come to Cornell (or anywhere else). Applications are not just presentations of your work and interests, they are arguments. You are making an argument as to why you should be admitted to a program. Hence you must explain why that program can cultivate the research you plan on conducting. This can and should involve key faculty (never cite just one potential interlocutor, you will need at least 2 and maybe 3). It can also include material resources (e.g., collections, archives, etc.). But it should also appeal to the curriculum since that will shape most of your experience as a graduate student. You cannot take courses from just one or two faculty, hence you need to point to ways that the curriculum as a whole can advance the method, theory, data and conceptualization of your project.
What is not on this list to be included in a statement of purpose is a personal story of your budding interest in archaeology since you first found an old spoon in your grandparents’ back yard when you were 9. Those almost never work. Also to avoid: that time you saw a discovery channel show on dinosaurs, a general love of working outside, and, most of all, Indiana Jones. Such appeals appear with alarming regularity–at least twice each admissions season. Students should know that these are not read as charming, but as vacuous platitudes that do nothing to help us understand what you want to study and why we should care. The essay, regardless of what universities might call it, is not a personal essay. It is a statement of purpose that defines a sphere of interest and describes the graduate training you seek that will help advance that work.
One element of your experience that does fit into a statement of purpose is field experience (if you have any). Discussing the intellectual impact of field experiences is an excellent way to show the admissions committee that not only do you have a strong sense of archaeological practice, but you have also reflected on it in a way that suggests it was not simply a lark, but a transformational educational experience.
If you can avoid the pitfalls of the overly personal and make a clear case for a compelling research project that fits well with the faculty, then your essay will have made a pretty compelling case.
This is not to say that there is not a place for a personal essay in the graduate school application process. It is a very good idea for you to write a brief essay entitled “Why I Want to Go to Graduate School”. In it, you should be candid. Are you motivated by a thirst for knowledge, a sense of fulfillment that comes from empirically engaged field research? Or are you thinking of grad school because you can’t think of something else to do? If you can’t come up with a reason that truly convinces you that research is a calling, then you can stop right there. If you can, then graduate school probably is for you. And you can now get to work on crafting a compelling statement of purpose. And you can file away the personal essay for those times down the road once you are in graduate school when you find yourself wondering, “Now why did I do this?”
–author Adam Smith is the Chair of Cornell’s Anthropology Department and blogmaster of Assemblages
TO: Humanities Graduate Students
FROM: Timothy Murray, Director
RE: Call for applications for 2016/17 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Graduate Fellowships at the Society for the Humanities
The Mellon Foundation has made available two fellowships for graduate students to become Fellows of the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University during the 2016/2017 academic year. Graduate Fellows will not teach courses. Graduate Fellows will be invited to all events at the Society for the Humanities. The Fellowship includes a College of Arts & Sciences graduate tuition waiver, a $26,000 stipend, and health insurance. The two Graduate Fellows will share an office at the A.D. White House during the academic year.
Cornell University graduate students in the humanities who are working on topics related to the year’s theme (description below) are invited to apply. Applicants must have completed the A exam and all requirements for the degree other than the dissertation before the application deadline on November 1, 2015. Awards will be restricted to students entering their 4th, 5th or 6th year of study at the time the Fellowship begins.
The following application materials must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by November 1, 2015. Please email materials in a single PDF in the order below with the subject line “GRADUATE FELLOWSHIP APPLICATION_Last Name”.
Order of Materials:
- A cover page with:
– Full name and net ID
– Home department
– Proposed project title
– Recommenders’ names and emails
- A curriculum vitae.
- A one-page dissertation abstract in addition to a more detailed statement of the research project the applicant will pursue during the fellowship year (1,000-3,000 words).
- A Cornell University etranscript (for instructions, visit http://transcript.cornell.edu/ ).
- One writing sample (published or unpublished) that is no more than 35 pages long.
Sent under separate cover:
6. Two letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation should include an evaluation of the candidate’s research proposal. Please ask referees to send their letters directly to
email@example.com. Letters must be received on or before November 1, 2015.
For further information:
Awards will be announced by the end of December 2015.
Note: Extensions for applications will not be granted. The Society will consider only fully completed, emailed, applications. It is the responsibility of each applicant to ensure that ALL documentation is complete, and that referees submit their letters of recommendation to the Society before the closing date.
FOCAL THEME 2016-2017: SKIN
The Society for the Humanities at Cornell University seeks interdisciplinary research projects that reflect on philosophical, aesthetic, political, ecological, religious, psychoanalytical, and cultural understandings of skin. Thinking skin calls upon cultural horizons, religious traditions, flesh, haptics, signs, texts, images, biopolitics, screens, sounds, and surfaces. From the earliest writings on medicine and religion to more recent theories of race, sexuality, gender, class, and ethnicity, how might thinking or making skin inform the global cultural experience from North to South, East to West, South to South. We invite research projects across historical periods, disciplinary boundaries, geographic territories, and social contexts.
For classical traditions, skin plays a role in representing the breadth of mythological empowerment, from the Occidental classics and Ancient Egypt to Navajo culture. Theoretical and philosophical approaches might dwell on the contrasts between tactility and opticality or as the membrane of intersubjective and global connectivity. Psychoanalysis theorizes skin as the figure of touch, desire, trauma, and “the skin-ego,” while theorists of affect and haptics might study configurations of aging, sexuality, gender, queer and transgender studies.
Also welcome are biopolitical considerations ranging from torture and subjugation to race, eugenics, and genomics whose representations have been central to the arts. Scholars of the arts and technology might emphasize tattooing, surface architecture, technoskins, prostheses, nanotechnologies, and the touch of mobile devices, connectivity, gaming, and mobile media.
Scholars of “medical humanities” might study questions of the complex place of skin in disease, contamination, and contagion, just as these problematics are important in the history of travel literature, geopolitical tensions, and literary and artistic fascinations with the viral.
The CIAMS faculty and staff wish all the best to Cornell students being graduated with Archaeology Majors and Master’s degrees in Spring 2015
The Undergraduate Majors are Morgan Michel-Schottman, Alexander Morgan, Eliizabeth Napper, and Zachary Peterson.
And the Master’s in Archaeology are William Breitweiser, Cynthia Kocik, Nicholas Lashway, and Katherine Seufer.
Congratulations, and good luck to all of you!
From Gonzalo Linares, Oxford
The International Journal of Student Research in Archaeology-IJSRA (link to flyer) is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal, edited by a team of students from more than 30 top institutions in 13 countries. The aim of this publication is to be a global reference point in archaeology, as well as to serve as an international forum for the exchange of excellent scholarship in an atmosphere of constructive dialogue and inclusivity. Ultimately, we aim to enhance the academic experience, scholarly presence, and recognition of students worldwide. This Journal accepts papers addressing any topic and time period of archaeological interest. Research may be based in any geographical area, engage with any methodological and theoretical framework, and include integrative insights and evidence from any discipline.
This Journal aims to foster global participation and to attract the submission of the best student research in archaeology, regardless of academic institution, nationality, gender, ethnicity or religion, in order to enhance international cooperation and mutual understanding. Therefore, this Journal does not charge submission or publication fees. Assistance with academic English of those publishable articles written by non-native speakers will be provided.
The intellectual property of anything published in the Journal remains the respective authors’, who are free to reproduce it in whatever way, upon acknowledging this Journal as the first place of publication.The publication of previously unpublished data should be authorised by the relevant academic tutor/supervisor.
The deadline for submissions for the first issue is September 1st 2015. E-mail for submissions:firstname.lastname@example.org
Call for Papers available here: https://www.academia.edu/12218246/I_Call_for_Papers_-_International_Journal_of_Student_Research_in_Archaeology
More information is available in our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ijsra
Executive Editor of the International Journal of Student Research in Archaeology
BA Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Oxford (UK) https://oxford.academia.edu/GonzaloLinaresMatás
As many of you will know via messages from various societies, next week Congress will debate a bill – America Competes Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806) – which if it were to become law will cut NSF social sciences funding – i.e. including archaeology – by 45%, i.e. destroy its support from its already rather pathetic level. This is back to the issue of the past 18 months and is again led by Lamar Smith (R, Texas).
Please voice your opposition by calling or writing your representative; you can also send a message to Congress here: http://www.cossa.org/advocacy/take-action/.
[You will know this worked when you receive a form-letter response from your Congressman]
Some information via the Consortium of Social Sciences (COSSA) is available at: http://www.cossa.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/House-COMPETES-Analysis-April-2015-2.pdf?utm_source=Need+for+Immediate+Action%3A+Potential+NSF+Cuts&utm_campaign=NSF+eBlast&utm_medium=email
As last time (late 2013-2014) we should all look to find ways to oppose and to ARGUE why this is bad thing – versus just be against or say ‘bad Republicans’. In particular we should advocate ‘why Archaeology’ as our part of this campaign.
Please write to your Representative.
Last year this worked for our local Republican. Doing nothing will only assist in the destruction of what little federal support there is for archaeology – so please react.
With the generous support of the Hirsch family, this Spring CIAMS awarded over $15,000 for archaeology-related travel to Cornell undergraduates and graduates, and over $15,000 to graduate students for archaeological research projects. These funds will help Cornell archaeology students work around the globe, in New York, Belize, Italy, Georgia, Israel, Tunisia, and Cyprus. Congratulations and good luck to all awardees.
CALL FOR PROPOSALS: BRETT DE BARY INTERDISCIPLINARY MELLON WRITING GROUPS
The Society for the Humanities administers the Brett de Bary Interdisciplinary Mellon Writing Groups, generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Faculty and graduate students are encouraged to submit applications for this program. Funds for Interdisciplinary Writing Groups are intended to encourage activities related to writing and publication, to be carried out throughout one academic year by groups of faculty and graduate students in the humanities.
Two grants of up to $5,000 per year will be made available to groups of 5-7 participants, working in at least two different humanities departments, who can demonstrate that their research interests productively converge. Applications should present a schedule of meetings to be held in the course of the academic year, which would necessarily include presentation to the group of a work-in-progress by each member. Such sessions should offer substantive response and discussion, by the group, of each individual paper. Groups may schedule other, optional activities, as desired.
Each group application should include a budget. Funds may be used to provide dinner and/or refreshments on the occasions of paper presentations, as well as to provide research support for each group member. Alternatively, funds could be pooled to bring a visiting scholar to Cornell for a workshop or retreat focused on writing projects of participants, or to support manuscript preparation or other costs associated with publication of work of participants in the group.
Brett de Bary Interdisciplinary Mellon Writing Group Application Guidelines
Applications for de Bary Interdisciplinary Mellon Writing Groups should be submitted by two co-organizers (faculty only) representing different departments or fields within the humanities. Each writing group should consist of 5-7 members, including faculty and graduate students.Applications should be submitted electronically (preferably in one pdf file) to Mary Ahl (email@example.com) at the Society for the Humanities by April 17, 2015.
Applicants should submit the following materials:
1. A statement of no more than 1,000 words describing a rationale for linking the work of participants from different disciplines. The statement should show how each participant’s perspective would contribute to elaborating and enriching a common context for research. Priority will be given to groups who demonstrate how their activities might benefit from the presence of visiting scholars at the Society for the Humanities during the year of the grant. The Society’s focal theme for 2015-16 is “Time.”
2. A one-paragraph description of a writing project from each participant, including plans (imminent or long-term) for publication.
3. A CV for each member of the group.
4. A schedule of meetings and activities for the coming year. (A series of meetings organized around the circulation, presentation, and discussion of a work in progress by each member is the basic requirement. Other activities are optional.)
5. A brief budget. Funds may be used for the following four categories: a.) dinner and refreshments at the time of paper presentations, b.) up to $1,000 in research funds per member of the group (to be reimbursed, not transferred to research accounts), c.) bringing a visiting scholar to Cornell to conduct a workshop or retreat for the group, d.) supporting manuscript preparation costs for a collaboratively produced volume.
We invite humanities faculty and graduate students at Cornell to collaborate on applications for these grants. Applications by groups involving faculty and graduate students should be authored by two faculty co-organizers representing different departments or disciplines. Co-organizers will be responsible for administering funds transferred to their departmental accounts.
Please note: applicants should not propose dissertation writing groups for which the Society hosts a separate funding competition.
Applications should be delivered in electronic form to Mary Ahl (firstname.lastname@example.org ).