Wednesday, April 28, 2010 0 comments

Old Seeds

Noah's Ark may have been found, but that's nothing. Goryeo Dynasty lotus seeds successfully sprouted. That's an old seed, buddy.
A Lotus has been grown from a 700-year-old seed which dates back to Korea's Goryeo Dynasty.
The plant has been grown in Haman County, South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea.
The flower has been grown from one of the 10 lotus seeds discovered during an excavation of an ancient castle last year.
Scientists at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, have confirmed two of the seeds to be as old as 650 years and 760 years, respectively
The county also planted the eight other seeds and three of them sprouted. (HNN)
Saturday, April 24, 2010 0 comments

Maps of War: Korea

Okay so not exactly.

I enjoy Maps of War's few but very easy-on-the-eyes flash presentations. Of notable mention is the History of Religion and the Imperial History of the Middle East. However, I always thought to myself it would be a pipe dream to have a Korean map on the site. Judging by the lack of recent updates and the "©2006" at the bottom of the site, it looked like the site is down for the count. Well, I didn't find the exact same thing but pretty close. It's not perfect; it has some empty portions that plead for you to fast forward only to find yourself overwhelmed by twenty events happening all within a year or two. It's not the smoothest ride but for being eight years old, it's not a bad presentation. This animated map spanning from 200CE to 1000CE is awesome and deserves some credit. Sit back and enjoy.

TimeMap is an open-source software that functions very similar to the maps seen at Maps of War. The particular TimeMap being mentioned was created under a joint project by the University of Sydney and the National Institute of Korean History. I would love to get my hands on more if they exist. Also of note are other animated maps on the Chinese Dynasties, the Mongolian Empire and the like. Make sure to browse the sample gallery for more. To learn more about TimeMap, check out their pdf brochure on how to get the most out of the software.


Korean Studies Survey Consultant

Something I'm not at all qualified for but still quite interesting to read about was this position to look into the affairs of Korean Studies in North America. Since I'm early in the game, this seems like a great idea and definitely worth while for the field; a real contribution. For the old timers this surely sounds like a dream. I can't imagine what it was like to study Korean history or language 30 or 40 years ago with no internet, limited contact by snail mail and just by the luck of finding other qualified people in the field by chance or by word of mouth. Oh and I believe telephones were out back then, too. It must be nice to see Korean studies get the attention it deserves. Anyways, taken from the archives:
The Social Science Research Council is searching for a consultant to
coordinate a Survey on Korean Studies in North America. The consultant
will be responsible for the development, implementation, and
coordination of an in-depth survey of the Korean Studies field in the
United States and Canada. The consultant will report to the Fellowships
The survey, to be undertaken over a two-year period, will offer a
comprehensive evaluation of the field of Korean Studies in North
America. Changes in government policy and foundation funding priorities
in the mid-1990s that de-emphasized area studies have undoubtedly had an
impact on the development of the Korean Studies field. The survey will
focus on Korean Studies at the university and college level and assess
the spread of Korean studies across disciplinary fields, faculty and
student demographics, available Korean Studies curriculum, student
interest, support and funding opportunities, and linkages with Korean
institutions through study abroad and less formal connections. In
addition to quantitative data, in-depth follow-up interviews with
faculty, students, and other relevant actors such as funders, deans, and
center directors to obtain qualitative information will be essential to
a nuanced understanding of the field. This qualitative piece will probe
issues the survey can only hint at, such as questions of why and how,
process, and intent, as well as decision making processes. The results
of the survey and interviews will be compiled in a final report and
point to a way forward for continued support of the field. The survey,
interviews, and reports will provide a clear understanding of Korean
Studies in North America.
The major objectives of the survey are to reassess the field of Korean
Studies and:
* to provide a more complete understanding of the state of Korean
Studies in North America by
documenting recent developments and current trends in the field,
identifying scholars (faculty and students) at work in the field,
and evaluating existing Korea-related programs at U.S. and Canadian
institutions of higher education.
* to offer a comparison of the state of the Korean Studies field to the
state of the Japan Studies field,
* to review the availability of funding and resources to scholars in the
* to identify the strengths, weaknesses, needs, and opportunities for
growth within the field, and
* to offer important guidance on revising priorities for funding and
support toward activities and projects that will provide the most
In cooperation with SSRC and Korea Foundation staff as well as experts
in the field of Korean Studies, the consultant will take the lead on
survey design, testing, survey implementation and the coordination of
result analysis and report preparation. In addition, the consultant will
be responsible for conducting follow-up interviews and site visits to
various institutions with strong curricular offerings in Korean studies.

2010/2011 Schedule:
Late Spring/Early Summer 2010: Preliminary research, survey site
selection, and survey development
Summer/Early Fall 2010: Conduct Survey
Fall 2010: Preliminary results and data analysis; preliminary report due
in October 2010
Fall 2010l/Winter 2011: In-depth survey analysis, follow-up research,
site visits, and development of second year proposal based on identified
needs. This consultancy will take place starting immediately and will last
through March 14, 2011 with the possibility of a one-year renewal.
Payment will be commensurate with experience.
If you were wondering who is qualified to take on such a task, here's your answer.
* PhD in a quantitative social science field
* Experience in survey design, implementation, and analysis
* Familiarity with online survey tools, such as Survey Monkey, and
qualitative data analysis software, such as NVivo.
* Excellent organizational skills with strong attention to detail,
project management experience a plus.
* Excellent writing and oral communication skills.
* Must be able to work independently and as part of a team.
* Korean language ability strongly recommended.

Please send a resume and cover letter with one writing sample via email
to: (Please put "Survey Consultant" in the title
of the email.)
The Social Science Research Council (SSRC), founded in 1923, is an
independent, non-profit organization devoted to supporting innovative
social research and solving pressing global challenges.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010 2 comments

Preservation of battlefields

Ran across something about a Wal-Mart and a battlefield today:
Preservation issues -- such as the one going on with Wal-Mart and the Wilderness battlefield -- are going to become only more contentious in coming years as suburban sprawl and economic development collide with once-rural Civil War battlefields.
It often comes down to a matter of money vs. history.
It got me thinking about how battlefields might just be beginning to be encroached in America but with Korea having less than 3% of the total land mass of America, this problem has surely been addressed time after time in Korea's population dense nation, right? What is the future of the Korean War's Iron Triangle or the Punch Bowl? The field where the Battle of Gapyong seems to be doing fine but when will that change? Hell, the whole DMZ for that matter... These are just within the last sixty years, though. I can't imagine old Koguryo-era battlefields and what they look like today. Curiously, I can't seem to find any land battle markers that predate the Korean War. Obviously hundreds exist but my internet search skills seem to be failing me at the moment. Any help from the peanut gallery? Any Japanese invasion fields I should know about? 삼국시대 battlefields?

I suppose the obvious answer has always been to bulldoze and build over any significant piece of land regardless of its past save for a few that have gone incidentally untouched. It is nice to find a particularly old timey gate being restored in its original location.
Saturday, April 17, 2010 2 comments

RASKB lecture - Contradiction of Seoul's Urban Architecture

Last week I attended another lecture hosted by the good folks of the Royal Asiatic Society - Korea Branch. From the website:
April 13, 2010 RAS Lecture Meeting
Tuesday / 화요일 Prof. Kim, Sung Hong
7:30 p.m. 2nd floor, Residents’ Lounge
Somerset Palace, Seoul
Contradiction of Seoul's Urban Architecture
Why doesn’t Seoul, a city with a history of over 600 years, look more traditional? Why is the cityscape dominated by high-rise buildings, apartments and signs? If Seoul is one of the places people most want to visit, why is it considered by many one of the worst cities? From where do these contradictions derive?
To understand Seoul’s contemporary architecture, we must review Seoul’s development by looking back to the 14th century and its evolution up to the present.
In this lecture we will look at how early industrialization, urbanization, and the industrial structure of today have shaped Seoul’s contemporary architecture. We will also look at the different issues facing Korean architects as well as their European and American counterparts, what steps they are taking and the choices they have been and still can make. We will also take a look at the exhibition “Megacity Network: Contemporary Korean Architecture,” which was held in Seoul and four cities in Europe over the past two years.
Sung Hong KIM is a professor of architecture and urbanism at the University of Seoul. He studied architecture at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, the University of California at Berkeley, and Hanyang University in Seoul. He has served as an organizer of the Korea-Germany Public Space Forum at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2005, was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the University of Washington in 2006, an organizer of the “Megacity Network: Contemporary Korean Architecture” exhibition in Frankfurt, Berlin, Tallin, Barcelona and Seoul 2007-2010, and was the provost of the Planning and Research Office of the University of Seoul 2007-2008. He has published several publications about Korean architecture and urbanism in Korean and English.
What actually transpired was a very short but pleasantly entertaining survey of the 600 year history of Seoul as told by a seemingly very nice and well-spoken Korean professor. Unsurprisingly, at the end of the lecture, there were many questions (I believe one was even from professor Stephen Epstein who happened to be in attendance) about the sheer ugliness of Seoul's urban landscape. I can't fault the speaker for avoiding the question because frankly, ascetics are not his field; modern architecture is and he certainly isn't responsible for the concrete ugliness of the post-Korean war construction boom.

However, I was able to jot down a few notes that I'd like to post. The only question I personally asked but didn't get a full response was about 한옥. I asked if there was an internal movement to preserve 한옥 or a group or company that is pushing to build new 한옥 in the old style. Professor Kim did mention that it has only been within the last ten years or so that a few NGOs have actually tried to preserve Hanok at all outside of 복촌, a section of Seoul that has a somewhat larger number of 한옥 located in the northern part of Seoul.

Anyways, here's what I learned:
- The "일산 New Town" concrete apartment complex was a five year start-to-finish project.
- Seoul was a planned city dating back to the 14th century
- The designers followed closely, but not exactly, not the Chinese principle of urban development. I didn't catch the name of it though..anyone know it? 주리?
- Unlike European cities, Seoul highlighted the government markets (시장) in the center of the city and hid the residential district behind it.
- Seoul has intentional asymmetrically designed palaces in accordance with Korean geomancy (풍수지리)
- 명동성당 was controversial for many reasons, one being that it was higher than the King's palace
- During the Japanese colonization period (일제 강점기) the city's landscape was changed rapidly
- Jongno's (종로) storefront's name is 피말기 or something like that. Something that means "even a horse would avoid it". Not sure exactly about that. Readers? * 피맛골 as per the comments. Thanks Matt!
- 1/5 people in Korea live in Seoul

Ancient Asian History Online

I recently discovered a nice list of 50 ancient history online resources. I am disappointed to not see much on Korea but not exactly surprised. The funny thing is though there exists a few ancient Korean sites and although a little propaganda-laden, they do serve their purpose. Check out for a decent rundown of Koguryo, Gaya: Culture and History for Gaya, the Society for Korean Ancient History or better yet, check out Harvard's Early Korea project.

What I would really love to see is a comparative history online site that included Japan, China and Korea. Till then, here's what I found:
Ancient China: Through this site you can learn about ancient Chinese history, culture and philosophy.
East Asian History Sourcebook: From religious traditions to Imperial rulers, this site offers a great selection of links to help you learn about China, Japan and Korea.
Mysterious Mummies of China: This site is all about the Takla Makan mummies: where they came from, who they were, and the uses of mummification around the world.
Timeline of Chinese Dynasties: Chinese culture has existed for several millennia and is divided into numerous dynasties that you can find ordered and explained on this site.
Asian Studies Virtual Library: Learn more about the ancient and modern history of East and South Asian nations through the resources on this site.
Ancient Japan: Read through this site to get a great overview of Japanese history.
Saturday, April 10, 2010 0 comments

Graduate School from Start to Finish

AHA's simple guidelines are a great place to start for any aspiring history geek. I've been reading a lot of helpful posts over at the American Historical Association's website and look forward to more.

Graduate School from Start to Finish
Early Career Professionals

Preparing for the Job Market

grad skool rulz

The full list can be found over at orgtheory. Not bad advice at all.

Friday, April 9, 2010 0 comments

Careers for Students of History

AHA's Careers for Students of History is conveniently available online. Unlike my summary post about Becoming a Historian, I'll hold off on giving my two cents here and there. It basically answers the question: What can I do with a history PhD? Selected chapter listing is as follows will guide anyone interested:

Careers in History: An Introduction

Historians in Classrooms: Schools, Colleges, and Universities

Historians in Museums

Historians in Editing and Publishing

Historians in Archives

Historians in Historic Preservation

Historians in Federal, State, and Local History

Historians as Consultants and Contractors

Resources for Further Exploration

I like the breakdown. I'm a big category guy. This is a very valuable resource so get strapped in for a while if you plan to read all of it. I don't have as much to highlight this time around because on the tail-end of this whole journey I already plans but this is still well worth the time to check out. Overall, I'm left with a positive outlook and a hope for the future; wehereas I am left a little less optimistic from this well-meaning post. Some nuggets of happiness include:
In the Fall you will be off to graduate school, filled with the hope that you too someday might be able to emulate the professors you admire so much today. Although you won't want to hear it, you should know that the chances of that happening are pretty small. It's not that you're not intelligent and hard working, but that you have decided to embark on a journey akin to the trials of Hercules and to set yourself against unbelievable odds. The country is littered with the broken dreams of grads and even PhDs who gave it their all and still couldn't make it.
In the coming years there will be more hoops to jump though than you can possibly imagine. You will have to prove yourself in your seminars, you will have to convince your advisor that you are worth her/his attention, you will have to pass comprehensive exams, and you will need to research and write a book-length dissertation. At each step the herd will be culled mercilessly. The majority of your peers coming into graduate school this year will not make it to the doctorate. A sizable percentage of those who earn the doctorate will not find tenure-track jobs, even after years of trying. Many of those who attain tenure track jobs will have to take employment in undesirable locations and/or with ridiculously heavy workloads. Your chances of having exactly the kind of position you envision having are almost non-existent.

Becoming a Historian (an in depth look)

Can of worms indeed. Okay so the Becoming a Historian ebook is gold. Where have you been all my life? Why weren't you in my undergrad advisors office? Oh that's right...I studied music theory and ESL. Nevermind. The Canadian version is the only one I can seem to find online at the moment, and lo and behold, it's actually relatable to an American. Imagine that. I wonder if they eat hamburgers over there, too?

Before I go on, I want to list the chapters for those who would like to read on their own:

Really though the book is full of incredibly helpful advice for someone in my position. It assumes virtually no prior knowledge which I appreciate because frankly I have none. It mentions how to pay for school, what to expect in terms of social life and teacher-student relationships, when to have children (no joke) and other useful tidbits that we've all thought about. It also looks like I'm not the only one who finds this a helpful guide.

As a sort of summary rundown, let's start at the beginning. It even mentions how long is grad school:
Each program in history is different, but there are basic similarities. Some history departments in Canada, and almost all graduate programs in the United States, admit students to the PhD program directly from the BA. Stand-alone Master’s programs usually demand a year of course work and either a major paper or a thesis. If you want to end your graduate education at the Master’s level, a one year program without a thesis is likely sufficient. If you would like to pursue a PhD, a two-year program which requires a Master’s thesis will prepare you well for the rigours of PhD work. Even in a one-year program, however, you can use the MA research paper to get you into the archives and produce an original – and potentially publishable – piece of scholarship. Both routes will get you into a doctoral program and help you learn critical skills directly related to PhD work.
Doctoral programs usually involve a year or two of courses; six months to a year devoted to studying for a set of comprehensive examinations; and then full-time attention to researching and writing a dissertation. The last phase may take two to four or more years to complete. These days, many Canadian graduate schools talk about "a four-year PhD." Public funding for graduate education is increasingly tied to enrolment numbers and degree completion times, so graduate schools want students to finish faster, and administrators worry about students "lingering" in graduate school. In many schools, students are rushed through the PhD, and it is difficult to secure funding after four years. Clearly, it is better to finish sooner rather than later, but realistically few students finish a history PhD in four years. You will need to juggle various commitments, such as teaching and research work, and you may need to work outside of the university in order to survive. In addition, some dissertations simply take longer than others to complete. In an era when many candidates want to have a "publishable" thesis to help them crack the job market, there is serious pressure to write an "important," not merely competent, thesis. You will need to work efficiently and effectively. (emphasis mine)
Answers that now, doesn't it? Here's something regarding Comps or Comprehensive Exams:
In most programs, doctoral students usually complete their comprehensive or qualifying exams at some point during their second or third year of study. [...] Faculty are looking for intelligent reflection, not quiz show answers. Of course, you will be asked to read and comment on historical developments or scholarly works that do not reflect your particular interests, but if you are going to claim expertise in an area of history you need to master the broad parameters of the field. And, if you get a teaching job, the chances are that you will be required to cover events and literatures outside the narrow confines of your specialties. The major objective of the comps is to give you breadth and prepare you for teaching. So, try to enjoy your reading, concentrate on what you do know, and avoid panicking about what you have yet to learn. And remember that almost everyone passes on the first attempt.
There's even some golden bits about the MA thesis and PhD dissertation:
[...] the MA thesis or research paper, or PhD dissertation, is the most important part of graduate study in history. The completion of an interesting, well-executed MA thesis or PhD dissertation is a significant accomplishment and should be a source of great pride and satisfaction. It is your PhD dissertation, moreover, that will define your career and determine how others in the historical profession will see you. Your dissertation is where you make an individual mark as a scholar. No matter how impressive your seminar performance has been, no matter how disappointing you found your comprehensive exams, your PhD dissertation will most directly determine your success on the academic job market. [...]
When choosing a dissertation topic, try to select a subject that fits with current scholarly trends but also strikes out in some new directions. The best topics are those that break fresh ground through new empirical discoveries, new modes of conceiving questions, or interpretive innovations. However, it is sometimes difficult to find support for topics that are out of the ordinary. It is a good idea to select a topic with potential for publication as a book (or article, if you are working on your Master’s), but choose something that interests you, as it will dominate your thoughts for a long time. It is also important to make sure your topic is “do-able,” in the sense that you can find and access sufficient primary sources. Your thesis should also be of a manageable size for a project that must be completed within a specific time frame, generally between two and four years for a PhD. [...]
When you have chosen a topic, your graduate program will submit it to the [...] American Historical Association for inclusion in their databases of history dissertations. [...] You can also use these databases to find out what topics are already being studied when you are in the process of choosing your own dissertation topic. (emphasis mine)
Take a look at the 125 entries just using the keyword "Korea". I am surprised to see so much about the Korean War, slavery and Japan colonization. Surely there's more to Korea than these three things? It reminds me of something Peter Bartholomew casually mentioned once. Once all the older scholars who focused on pre-1910 Korea history retire, who is going to replace them among the Women's Rights and North Korean historians? Something to think about.

The chapter on picking a school offers some great advice about being open minded and basing the decision not on prestige but on an individual professor and if the department matches your particular interest. Good advice but for someone like me who has no specific field yet it proves a bit frustrating. I know what I'm not interested in so maybe I should work backwards. Sounds like a good post for later.

As far as paying for school, a few questions to ask a potential school:
[...] tuition costs and financial aid [...] vary tremendously between schools and even between departments. Find out if financial aid is channeled through the department, or if you need to apply separately to a different office. Some important questions to ask include: is the financial aid package only for the first year or does it cover subsequent years of graduate study (and if so, how many)? Do you have to pay tuition out of your stipend or is it covered as part of your funding package? Must you pay tuition over the summer and when you are no longer taking courses? Does the financial aid package require you to work as a research or teaching assistant (or in another capacity), or is it an outright stipend? Is it contingent upon performance? Is there additional funding for travel to archives or conferences?
Also, some notes about full-time versus part-time grad school:

Although most financial aid packages require you to enrol as a full-time student, some people go to graduate school part time for economic or personal reasons. Being a part-time student does not mean that you are less committed to graduate study, and part-timers have the right to the same education as full-time students. Besides, "full-time" does not mean "all-the-time." Many full-time students have family responsibilities, have to work for wages at some point during their graduate education, or are engaged in activist pursuits outside the academy.
Graduate study does require a big commitment, however. It is not easy to do graduate course work and exam preparation on top of a long commute or another job, and it is even more difficult (though not impossible) to successfully complete a dissertation part-time. You will not be able to earn a PhD "on the side" if you already have a full life in another city or a demanding career. Moreover, you may miss the intellectual community of graduate school if you are not at the university during the day. 
 A mention on the application process caught my eye:
Unlike law schools, history departments do not receive thousands of applicants for admission. For this reason, try to pare down your choice of schools in advance of applying. Each application will cost you well over a hundred dollars, particularly when you factor in transcripts costs. Make multiple applications, but remember that well-qualified applicants will usually be admitted to one of the schools that peak their interest. One rule of thumb is to choose two or three programs that interest you most – including one ‘safe school’ – particularly if you have contacted potential supervisors in advance.
It is appropriate to discuss briefly how you became interested in history and to include something about your long-range career goals. Explain how your undergraduate reading, research, and course work have shaped your particular interests and prepared you to pursue them further. Avoid mention of extracurricular activities and achievements, no matter how outstanding, unless they have a direct bearing on the professional field to which you are seeking entry.
Your statement of purpose should sum up your scholarly interests and immediate academic objectives in a clear and straightforward fashion. Be as precise as possible about the time period, geographic region, research themes, and kind of history you want to study, and perhaps even the topic you wish ultimately to investigate. You must convince the readers of your application file that you are capable of developing a research project that is original, realistic, and appropriate to your level. At the same time, it is important that your focus not look too narrow. The first years of graduate education primarily involve general training rather than specific research. Therefore, your statement should convey your openness to acquiring a wide range of historical knowledge and research skills rather than a fixation on a single narrow topic.

The statement of purpose is also the place for you to address briefly any anomalies or ambiguities in your record, such as poor grades, course content that may not be clear from the transcript, or a health problem or disability that affected your grades. Do not appear defensive or apologetic; offer a one-sentence explanation of your situation and move on. If your undergraduate background in history is weak, or you have been out of school for a long time, you need to demonstrate that your commitment to the academic discipline of history is now firm. (emphasis mine)
Funding the courses, easily my biggest concern at the moment (hence the title of the blog) is adequately addressed in chapter three:
Many graduate students get university funding for all or part of their graduate education. The support, however, rarely comes from one source. You actively need to research and apply for a wide range of funding sources, from research, travel, and dissertation writing awards to various jobs on the university campus and beyond. [...]
You will need to consider not only fellowships and department-sponsored employment but also jobs outside the department and university. Your search should start early, before you enter a program, and it should be wide-ranging. Consult your university research and employment officer, graduate director, PhD supervisor, and other students who have won awards and secured jobs. [...] if at some point you find yourself in dire financial straits, there is nothing wrong with going to your supervisor or graduate director and simply saying, "I'm broke … is there any work I can do?"
Your department may offer you part-time academic employment. The job titles will differ from research assistant, to teaching assistant, to sessional instructor, but all fit the category of graduate student employment. The offer may come as an inducement to enter a graduate program, or when you accept admission into the program, or later, in your second or third year. [...]
Research assistantships help to build valuable skills and can allow for more flexible work schedules than teaching assistantships. As a research assistant, you may work for one professor or a faculty headed research team [...] You may undertake one or two of the following tasks: gathering statistical data, helping to edit a manuscript, arranging an archival collection, creating a website, drawing up the index to a book, photocopying published articles or primary documents, conducting or transcribing oral history interviews, or mounting a museum display. At some universities, research assistant jobs are given primarily to MA students, while teaching assistantships are reserved for PhD students. At other universities, you may have a choice between a teaching and research assistantship. If possible, pursue a research assistantship at least once in your years as a graduate student to develop your research skills. Students interested in a career in public history will particularly benefit from such jobs.
When you are hired as a research assistant you are most likely being paid out of funds awarded to a faculty member or group of faculty members. In other words, the faculty are investing their own research dollars in training you. [...] Usually, professors with funds to hire research assistants do not openly advertise this fact. Some faculty members may wish to support their own students, or they may approach a student in their course who has impressed them. But many are also open to the idea of hiring students who need the money. All this means that you need to make your desire for such a position known to your supervisor and other faculty members. Ask around to discover who has grant money and might be hiring.
As well as providing essential help to faculty, teaching assistantships are designed to provide you with teaching skills. Like an apprenticeship, a "TA-ship" affords you an opportunity to learn under professional guidance. You can gain experience in courses outside your particular field. It is a good idea to TA for several different courses. Obviously, it is less work to TA for the same course a number of times, and this may be the better strategy depending on where you are at in your own dissertation research or writing. If possible, make strategic choices.
There are at least two types of TA work: marking student assignments and leading small group discussions, or tutorials, within a larger class. A teaching assistantship will usually involve both sets of tasks. By contrast, a marker-grader has the more limited role of grading student assignments. [...] When you work as a TA in a course directed by a faculty member, that course instructor is in charge of your professional conduct in the course. Therefore, the instructor will likely stipulate the assignments for your students (for instance, weekly tutorial readings and essay topics) in whole or in part. The instructor will come to one of your tutorials to observe you and may also evaluate your abilities as a marker. You might be asked to explain to the instructor why you've assigned a particular grade for a paper and the instructor may ultimately revise the mark. Treat all of this as a learning opportunity. 
However, you do not need to TA in every year of your graduate career. Keep your eyes on the prize and get your dissertation done! While TA-ing is rewarding work, it is also demanding and time-consuming. Of course, certain teaching weeks will be more demanding than others, and teaching a course for the second time is easier than teaching it for the first time, but do not make the mistake of spending most of your work week on a part-time job that pays on the basis of 10 or 15 hours per week. 
In addition to external funding, university research and teaching assistantships, and course directorships, jobs are available for graduate students outside of teaching and research, and even outside the university. Your university may offer history-related jobs in the archives or library or, alternatively, in university offices, including graduate student associations or unions. Similar jobs might be had off-campus  (emphasis mine)
I couldn't believe the "when to have a baby" issue was included; I suppose it was naive to assume that I was the only one thinking about it:
Many graduate students wonder about the “best time” to have children. Some begin graduate study with young children or other family responsibilities that take time away from writing and studying. Others who do not have children when they begin their program start a family before finishing the PhD. If you have children, you will undoubtedly need some form of child care and a lot of support from family and friends. Having a baby is absorbing and may be intellectually isolating; you probably can’t attend many lecture series or social events, and you must make an extra effort to maintain friendships and intellectual bonds with grad student colleagues. Children also provide a quick lesson in the importance of managing your time. If your baby is napping or with the babysitter, take advantage of your “free” time to write that paper or work on your dissertation; it won’t last long, and you want to enjoy your child when she’s home and awake! Some student-parents treat graduate school like a conventional job and put preschool children in full-time day care so they can concentrate on writing or researching; others use part-time babysitters or trade off “time to work” with their partners and friends. There is no single “best time” to have children; you have to find what works best for your personal situation.
I also appreciate the "life happens" comment:
Sometimes “life happens” and your carefully-laid plans for taking MA courses or writing your dissertation go astray. You may find yourself unexpectedly pregnant, your partner might get a dream job and want you to move to another city, or you might face a financial downturn, family crisis, or major health problem of your own. If an unforeseen event gets in the way of studies that you want to continue, don’t simply give up your plans. Talk to your supervisor, graduate program director, and/or TA or student union representative to find out your options. They probably have lots of experience with students in similar situations, and most will be happy to advocate on your behalf.
Occasionally, even the most carefully chosen path needs to be revised. Old interests wane, circumstances irrevocably alter, or you find your program unsuitable or unbearable. If this occurs, consult with relevant faculty, graduate students and academic advisors about the possible ramifications of changing fields, programs, or institutions. Will your progress be delayed, and if so, by how much and in what way? Through serious consideration, you can decide whether the extra burdens associated with a major shift are worth enduring. Do not, however, confuse discouragement for failure or incompatibility with the historical profession. If you have feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, or if you feel like an “imposter” just waiting to be “found out” and kicked out of school, know that you are not alone. Your feelings indicate the need for many more support systems for graduate students at every stage of their careers. (emphasis mine)
The lecture circuit chapter is a little eye opening, too:
Historians do not spend all their time in the archives, library, or microfilm room. They also communicate their findings to other historians and scholars, to students, and the general public. [...] You should go to conferences but don’t fall under the mistaken assumption that you need to attend many of them. Nor should you be giving hastily written papers to umpteen conferences without informing your supervisor – who is actually well-qualified to help you decide whether this is the right paper, right time, and right venue! Presenting at two to four conferences during the course of your PhD studies is certainly sufficient. For senior PhD students nearing completion of the thesis or new scholars, delivering papers at one or two conferences each year is plenty. (Increasingly, MA students deliver papers based on their master’s research at graduate student conferences, which can be an important learning experience in giving a public presentation.) Conference papers should evolve into dissertation chapters (or vice versa), or eventual publications, especially for newly minted PhDs and untenured junior professors. Avoid the trap of writing many conferences papers that then end up in a drawer or a pile on your study floor. Keep in mind that you do not have to write a new paper for each conference. Most historians present papers based on current research; they are "works-in-progress" that might eventually become a scholarly article. It is acceptable to present the same paper in a revised form to several conferences as it develops into a dissertation chapter or publication. But don’t do this more than two or three times. Delivering papers that are already very familiar to the audience is usually frowned upon. So, too, is presenting a paper that has already been published. Nor should you deliver a paper that is too sketchy and lacks sufficient evidence to make your case.
Attend a few conferences before actually delivering a paper at one of them, and choose conferences carefully. Make sure that those you attend are relevant to your field of study and will allow you to network with colleagues and senior scholars in your field. The first few conferences may be intimidating. Most historians can tell tales about their early experiences: about finally getting introduced to that prominent historian in your field and then being too nervous to say anything; about convincing yourself you had destroyed your "career" by "putting your foot in your mouth" while talking to an influential scholar; or about simply feeling embarrassed about all those interrupted conversations with people who seemed more keen on talking to someone else. [...] As a novice, you're supposed to make yourself known to established scholars in your field, but no one knows quite how to do it. It can be as simple as approaching more senior scholars and indicating that you enjoy their work. Ask them about their current research interests. Draw parallels with your own scholarly interests, if this is relevant. Many senior scholars are interested in knowing about graduate students’ work. But keep in mind that a conference is not a place for long leisurely conversations: that senior historian you want to meet is extremely busy, so keep it brief and don't be mortified if your conversation ends abruptly. Many established historians make a point of talking to graduate students and junior colleagues, but they may need to hurry off to business meetings and are also seeing friends and colleagues whose company they rarely get a chance to enjoy. Don't be scared off by the few unfriendly ones; they are in the distinct minority. And giving a paper means you may be in the same session as established scholars in your field, which can act as an effective ice-breaker.
There are many practical ways to reduce tension. Attend the first few conferences with a friend, colleague, or group of graduate students. That way you will know some people, can discuss papers and sessions you've heard, and perhaps be emboldened to approach senior colleagues. I[...] Attending graduate student events at large conferences offers an excellent way of meeting your peers and future co-presenters. Taking time to do at least one or two activities unrelated to the conference – such as visiting a local museum, taking a walk, or even having dinner alone – can also help diffuse stress and make the overall conference experience more enjoyable. Some people thrive amidst the social interaction at conferences and others don’t. Whatever your personality, keep it in mind that it will get easier as the conference rituals become familiar. And veterans might well bear this in mind when encountering novices at conferences. (emphasis mine)
I don't have much to say about the last few chapters about publishing work, delivering my own original content and postdoctoral research because at my stage in the whole process, it's pretty far off. I'm still getting to know the players of the past and just trying to feel my way through. Once I get there, though, I'm sure that those chapter will prove to be helpful.