James M. Banner Jr. is an independent historian in Washington, D.C. The cofounder of the National History Center, he is now a visiting scholar in the history department of George Washington University. Banner is a coeditor of Becoming Historians (2009), the author of Being a Historian: An Introduction to the Professional World of History (2012), and, most recently, the editor of Presidential Misconduct: From George Washington to Today (2019). Scheduled for publication in early 2021 from Yale University Press is his book The Ever-Changing Past: Why All History is Revisionist History. His play, "Good and Faithful Servants," adapted from the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson, is under development.
Designed principally as a general guide to graduate students as they commence their preparations to be professional historians, this lecture reviews the state of the discipline of history today, proposes the practices and institutions deserving of attention in both academic and public history arenas, and ends on the necessity of graduate students' charting the professional courses best for them.