Publication Date

December 3, 2018

Perspectives Section

Perspectives Daily


  • World

We don’t believe in astrology either, but we can’t resist a good personality diagnostic. And no, this column won’t become a regular Perspectives feature.

Aries (March 21–April 19)

The stars say: Ruled by warlike Mars, you use your talents in military history, the history of imperialism, or the history of state formation, with a sideline in quoting Nietzsche. In the classroom, you’re known as a passionate (some would say scenery-chewing) teacher. Luckily, you’ve tamed your instinct to monopolize meetings and fume when the votes don’t go your way.

In the archives: You demand to see unprocessed collections. You’ve got to be first!

Your annual meeting forecast: You’ll be tempted to stump an annoying panelist with an aggressive question.


This is the planet Mars. It tells Aries what to do, apparently. ESA & MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA/Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Taurus (April 20–May 20)

The stars say: You show up and get the job done, and you’re admired for rising above workplace toxicity and politics. Your ruling planet, sensual Venus, decrees that your research involve material culture, animal history, or the history of consumption. Students appreciate your fair grading rubric (self-devised, of course) and the fact that you don’t spill coffee on their exams.

In the archives: You remember to bring a sweater.

Your annual meeting forecast: You’ll tour a historic mansion and ask how much the workers who built it were paid.

Gemini (May 21–June 20)

The stars say: They should call you the alt-rogue-historian for your quirky blog, snow globe collection, and obscure tattoos. Students line up for your office hours, if only to glimpse your office, which is stuffed with gewgaws from your travels. With messenger Mercury as your ruling planet, you obviously study the history of media, popular culture, or migration.

In the archives: You take pictures of everything, because it’s all so interesting!

Your annual meeting forecast: All the digital history sessions. All. Of. Them.

Cancer (June 21–July 22)

The stars say: Hard on the outside but soft on the inside, Moon-ruled Cancers make ace researchers of domesticity, food, or palace intrigue. You get to know your students individually, because you want them to do great things (and they do). If an administrative role comes knocking, make sure everyone knows they’ll have to submit to your vision—it’s for the best.

In the archives: By your last day, you know all your fellow researchers’ projects.

Your annual meeting forecast: You’ll bring doughnuts to the interview suite. Anyone going to eat the bear claw?

Leo (July 23–August 22)

The stars say: It’s no surprise, since you’re ruled by the sun, that you’re one hot historian: your research in big history, global history, or environmental history will spawn a journal or three, which you’ll edit simultaneously. No matter your position in the hierarchy, you’ve secretly named your own chair. Your lectures leave students rapt—Leos inspire!

In the archives: You want the most famous collection. It’s been picked clean, but your analysis will be brilliant!

Your annual meeting forecast: It’s standing room only at your session, and a pithy remark of yours goes viral on Twitter.

A star cluster in an emission nebula.

NASA calls this star cluster Pismis 24. We just call it part of the constellation Scorpius. NASA, ESA and Jesús Maíz Apellániz (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain). Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin (ESA/Hubble)/Wikimedia Commons

Virgo (August 23–September 22)

The stars say: With your high standards, knack for clarity, and steel-trap memory, you’re an in-demand peer reviewer. Your planetary ruler, precise Mercury, commands you to study the history of technology, science, or economics. Since you can’t imagine a world without exams, your expertise in pedagogical research helps you devise the best assessments.

In the archives: You’re there first thing in the morning, after you’ve gotten a workout in.

Your annual meeting forecast: Since you speak in complete paragraphs, you’ll wow an acquisitions editor.

Libra (September 23–October 22)

The stars say: Genuinely interested in all angles of any debate and being fair in the end, you lean toward legal history, social history, and borderlands history—anything that lets you juxtapose different voices. Libra-led class discussions are always full of light-bulb moments for students, because empathetic Venus makes Libras great listeners and critical thinkers.

In the archives: You’re going to donate your oral history recordings to a community museum.

Your annual meeting forecast: You’ll de-escalate an incipient bar fight between empiricists and theorists.


By Jove, it looks like Jupiter is lording it over Sagittarius again. NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute/Wikimedia Commons

Scorpio (October 23–November 21)

The stars say: You sport elbow patches of black leather, and your office looks like a satellite branch of the Bodleian. Trained in religious history, the history of sexuality, or ancient history, you once considered becoming a blacksmith, like your ruler, Pluto. Because you’re a demanding teacher, you’re the one students remember. Your digressive endnotes launch dissertations.

In the archives: You once found a strange object in an unmarked folder that wasn’t listed on the finding aid.

Your annual meeting forecast: You’ll find another historian who can trace their academic lineage back to Herodotus.

Sagittarius (November 22–December 21)

The stars say: Your curiosity is as expansive as your ruling planet, Jupiter, so you’ve naturally got a touch of scholarly wanderlust—think maritime history, cultural history, or urban history. Your flair for writing leads to success on op-ed pages. As the only one of your colleagues who listens to the same music as your students, exercise caution using their slang in meetings!

In the archives: You taught yourself the basics of a language to fill out the visa paperwork. Now you’re fluent!

Your annual meeting forecast: You’ll go to research sessions that are nowhere near your own specialty.

Capricorn (December 22–January 19)

The stars say: Your advising gives students confidence to take on massive challenges, whether it’s an ambitious dissertation or National History Day. Like authoritative Saturn, you aim to know what makes the world go round, so you prefer diplomatic history, labor history, or the history of capitalism. But hey, share the wealth with all those prizes you keep winning!

In the archives: You’re nonstop, thanks to all your productivity apps. Bring on the boxes!

Your annual meeting forecast: You love that new business card smell. It’s time to find more collaborators!

Crab Nebula

Sorry, Cancer, the gorgeous Crab Nebula is part of the constellation Taurus. NASA, ESA, J. Hester and A. Loll (Arizona State University)/Wikimedia Commons

Aquarius (January 20–February 18)

The stars say: The Aquarian teacher is famous for squeezing Paulo Freire and bell hooks into the graduate pedagogy seminar. Under rebellious Uranus, you drift toward interdisciplinarity, queer history, and theory, and every now and then you quake that your pathbreaking publications in “studies” journals won’t get you tenure. At least you can blow off steam on Twitter!

In the archives: Derrida caught archive fever from you.

Your annual meeting forecast: You’ll Instagram the hotel lobby: Louis XIV by way of Breuer. Interesting.

Pisces (February 19–March 20)

The stars say: With ocean-deep Neptune as your ruler, you float toward book history, medieval history, or the history of emotions. Students fascinate you—you’re always learning from them, even when they mess up. New methodologies don’t scare you, but you have a soft spot for outmoded tech, like that replica Gutenberg press you’ve been building in your “spare time.”

In the archives: You bring your laptop and camera but get distracted by the sheer aura of your documents.

Your annual meeting forecast: You’ll seek out sessions in rooms that are too big and treat grad students to coffee.

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