Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cold (or lukewarm) calls

     I would never make it as a telemarketer.  I am not fond of the telephone and particularly dislike talking to people I don't know.  Even when the format is clear (for example, a cocktail party or an awards reception), I find it stressful.
    In that context, being a historian has a lot to recommend it:  you go to the archives or library and sit with books, articles, and ideas all day.  You don't really have to talk to many people (except perhaps a librarian or archivist, especially if you need special permission or an unusual document) and the people you're researching are long past talking back.
    The Fulbright meetings, however, reminded me that I'm really not just here to spend time at the Bibliothèque Part Dieu (as awesome as their collection is for me) or other archives (ditto).  I'm also here to make connections.  I have done some of that, but I heard the encouragement to do more and I know that it's a good thing to get in touch with more people (or to email the people that I contacted once but never really connected with because my arrival coincided with summer's slow-down).
    I think that's probably important in any location and field of study, but it's especially true in France, where personal connections can make the difference between access to an archive or no access at all.
    So today, I had a meeting with a friend of a friend.  I don't really need anything from him, but I had been given his name and there is potential overlap in our interests.  We sat and chatted for about an hour, so now he knows who I am, if I need to contact him.
   What this reminded me is that A) my French is improving and B) I am really glad that I don't have to talk to my sources on a regular basis!

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