My sabbatical year: swimming pools, movie stars!

2014-15 is going to be a pretty sweet year for me, as I’m going to be a long-term fellow at the Huntington next academic year!  Yes, from August 2014 until June 2015, I will hold the Dana and David Dornsife Fellowship there.  (I’ve known for over two months now and have been waiting for the Huntington to update their website, but I just can’t wait any longer to share the good news!)  That’s right, friends:  it’s swimming pools & movie stars for Historiann next year, at least on the weekends.

Here’s what the entire famille Historiann will look like on our way west this summer:

Lest you think my success this year was a coup de foudre, I’ll have you know that I have applied unsuccessfully for a long-term fellowship at the Huntington four times in the previous five years!  I’ve also applied for long-term fellowships in those years at the Massachusetts Historical Society (one rejection, one application withdrawn because of the Huntington offer), the Harvard Divinity School’s Women’s Studies in Religion research associate program (two rejections), and probably some others I can’t quite remember.  Senior scholars have told me time and again, and it’s finally starting to sink in:  fellowships are a numbers game.  You have to apply apply apply and apply again when you’re rejected again.  Who knows?  It just might work out for you like it did for me this time around.

If you’ll be at the Huntington for a fellowship or a conference or just for fun, come find me and we’ll have lunch in the tea house by the rose gardens. Or we could take a walk in the fabulous gardens, or visit one of the many museums on the grounds. Or if you’re like me and you prefer funky to fancy, we could always head up to Roscoe’s in Pasadena for some chicken and waffles:

31 thoughts on “My sabbatical year: swimming pools, movie stars!

  1. Congratulations on the fellowship, Historiann! I hope you’ll have a wonderfully restorative and productive year.

    I have a question for you and other readers about reference letters. I’ve heard the advice before about apply, apply, apply, but as someone who now writes a lot of reference letters for students, I can’t get over feeling guilty about asking people to write letters for me year after year. Is there anything I can do besides 1) get over it, and 2) send thank-you gifts to my references?


  2. If you’re asking mostly the same people each time, it’s not a big deal for them to refresh their letters with your new accomplishments & send them on. (And happily, most fellowships either have electronic submissions or at least will accept letters of recommendation via email, so your referees don’t have to bother with printing up a hard copy and writing out an address.)

    I have never bought my referees gifts, but I surely write them emails to thank them & let them know the outcome of my applications. (That’s all I ever want to hear from the people I write for, anyway.) I guess I’ve just assumed that a) I end up writing a lot more reference letters for students, friends, and professional acquaitances than I’ve asked for letters on my behalf, and b) letters of reference are just a part of our obligation to each other and to our profession.

    So, yeah: it stinks to have to ask, but if someone doesn’t want to write letters for you, then they will likely just say no. If someone says “yes,” take yes for an answer and keep paying it forward.


  3. Enjoy! I did a dissertation fellowship there and it was glorious. I firmly believe that if there’s an academic heaven, it must be the Huntington.

    I’ve never pursued a sabbatical residency elsewhere – it’s a very complicated prospect, especially with Autistic Youngest and pets, to contemplate picking up and moving our household for a year or even a shorter span of time. I’d love to hear how you all handle the relocation (because even with the swimming pools and movie stars, San Marino and environs is going to be a lot of work to shift into and out of for la famille Historiann).


  4. Ah, but nice work if you can get it, right Janice?

    La Famille is happily small & very excited about our upcoming adventure. Our biggest worry at this point is our 16-y.o. cat, and how she’ll take the move and the change. After going back and forth on this, I think she’d rather be with us than stay at home in Colorado with our housesitter.


  5. Congrats! Fabulous news; the people I know who’ve done it all rave about how great it is, so I’m sure you’ll have fun! I certainly enjoyed my much shorter stay last year and am fantasizing about a return trip/


  6. Thanks, everyone! I’m aiming for “deliriously productive,” but I suppose I’ll settle for “ridiculously productive.”

    I had a sabbatical 7 years ago that mostly involved me working at home in my bathrobe all day long. I got a lot done, but I’m thinking that showering, getting out of the house, and having an office to go to will likely enhance the productivity. (And unlike home, there will be no dishes, laundry, or tiding up for me to worry about at the Huntington. I’ve long thought that “A Room of One’s Own” is more effective when it’s not in one’s own house, for all of those reasons & more.)


  7. Well done and well deserved, H’Ann.

    I don’t mind writing support letters repeatedly. It says to me that a person is serious and doing what is required to get where they want to go. I agree about applying and reapplying too. When it comes to grants and fellowships and so on, the way you get money is by asking for money.

    Sabbatical away from home is excellent (if you can make it work). I went to a world class university, got out and about on campus to learn what was going on in all those other departments, and it rekindled my love affair with the academy. Our family had lots of adventures, in town and out in the wild, and the children amongst us got an idea that the world is big and interesting.


  8. Congratulations! And W00T!

    And I’m definitely using this as an excuse to drive out there and pester you. I’m only about fifty miles up the road, so we’ll be next-door neighbors. In the Los Angelenian sense.


  9. What everybody above said! Great piece of work, Historiann!! I had three months there many years ago, and I still haven’t gotten it out of my systeme. You can go to lunch, walk in the garden, not come back that day, and then just double down the next day and not lose any productivity at all. Do wish this was happening to me!!


  10. Congratulations Historiann! Have a productive visit to the library…

    and I hope you and the family get to enjoy the rest of LA! Its a culinary wonderland! Plus there is the Getty and a host of other museums that get short shrift in comparison with SF and NYC.

    I remember a grad school adviser telling me that a fellowship was not just a promise of more productivity, but also time off from the routine and a reward to be enjoyed. Have fun!


  11. Thanks, Matt & all. Don’t worry: I’m determined to have fun too: Roscoe’s, Disneyland, and oh yeah, we’ll go to the Getty too. (Although the “new” Getty seems to be a building in search of an art collection. Seems like the New York & Chicago money picked off most of the good stuff before the Gettys got into the game.)

    My idea museum is the Frick in terms of both a cool building and a really worthwhile collection (heavy on the books, natch), but I do love the setting & design of the “new” Getty.


  12. Wow! That is fantastic. Visited the reading room at the Huntington twenty years ago and was quite impressed. We’ll try and swing by while visiting family fifteen miles down the freeway. Sunday brunch at the Burger Continental in Pasadena is a must. Congratulations!


  13. (Although the “new” Getty seems to be a building in search of an art collection. Seems like the New York & Chicago money picked off most of the good stuff before the Gettys got into the game.)

    – Its tough been “new” money. All the good stuff has been looted already!


  14. The art at the Getty is pretty good, but we usually go for the gardens, the architecture and the view.

    next time we’re in LA the spouse and I want to see the Richard Neutra (VDL) Research house in Silverlake.


  15. I’ve just learned about Neutra b/c his Cyclorama recently was torn down after many years of controversy and neglect. I’ll have to check that out on an architecture tour of the city!


  16. Pingback: Crossing over, part I: What is my book about? | Historiann

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