Category Archives: Student Life

From Perish to Publish: Writing with Papers and Scrivener

I recently started writing my dissertation. Although it’s an exciting stage of my program, when I think of the daunting task ahead of me, I often think of Cowper’s “The Castaway.” We scholars are castaways ourselves, “wretches” writing and struggling alone, drowning in piles of papers and stacks of books.

One of the most daunting challenges so far has been figuring out the logistics of how to organize–and actually write–a research project of this scale. Since I imagine many of us are facing similar challenges organizing research and writing tasks, I’m outlining some strategies that I’ve found helpful so far.

Continue reading From Perish to Publish: Writing with Papers and Scrivener

Hacking Non-Romanticism Teaching Assignments

It’s almost March. The time of year (at least in my department) that we get our teaching assignments for the fall semester. Many of us greatly look forward to this, especially if it’s our first time teaching our own courses: there’s something intoxicating about finally getting to design your own class. The possibilities are endless.

Until you read the course description of the class you’ve been assigned.

Continue reading Hacking Non-Romanticism Teaching Assignments

The Romantic Reply to the that Terrible Question: Valuing the Humanities

One option out of a wide array of graduate seminars to choose for this current Spring semester ranging from the theory heavy to the literature heavy, and usual contenders (i.e. my much beloved courses on Modernism and the 18th c. novel) stood out among the rest in sheer ambiguity: the public humanities. The seminar is an interdisciplinary course that includes graduate students from various departments. Continue reading The Romantic Reply to the that Terrible Question: Valuing the Humanities

Planning for MLA!

With winter break almost now in full swing, we have to come to a frightening realization: MLA 2016 in Austin is just 3 weeks away!

In preparation for this event, the largest of our academic yearly conferences, some of us might be sweating profusely over the idea of interviewing for those dearly coveted jobs, while others may be frantically polishing papers for our MLA debuts.

To help minimize the fury of pre-conference preparations, here below you’ll find a list of panels and events that may be of particular interest to young Romantic scholars and graduate students. Bookmark it now!

The entire searchable program is available online here. And the Committee on the Status of Graduate Students in the Profession has gathered a catalogue of important networking and social events at the conference, along with workshops and panels of interest to graduate students, which can be found listed here.

See you in Austin!!

MLA_Austin2016

Continue reading Planning for MLA!

Avoiding Winter Break Burn-Out: R&R for the Holidays

Recently, I’ve started trying to keep tabs on other academic blogs. After fumbling around with my partner to figure out how to get all (okay, most) of the posts in one reader, we finally got it to work, and I can now browse through them on my phone. In particular in the last month, I’ve seen a spike in posts dedicated to self-care. Apparently, it’s particularly difficult for academics to practice it in late November/early December—something to do with papers, grading, grant deadlines, and—oh yeah—making sure to have quality time with your family and friends on Thanksgiving if you celebrate it. To name a few posts I’ve seen: Raul Pacheco-Vega redefines academic success (in both small and large scopes)Meghan Duffy reminds us that while we are busy, we don’t actually work 80 hours a week and should stop feeling guilty if we aren’tSteven Shaw discusses realistic expectations and developing a healthy perspective (as opposed to a “tough skin”); and our own Amy Gaeta highlights self-care as part of surviving the first semester of grad school.

All of these writers give great advice, and if you find yourself in a rut, they’re worth a read. Still, as helpful as their posts are, sometimes all we can manage during the end of a semester is to go, “Right. Green tea. I should drink that instead of coffee this afternoon,” and then table the rest for when our workloads die down. But when winter break starts (or summer, or spring if you’re on a quarter system), sometimes we want to collapse or throw all caution to the wind and celebrate that we’re finally done (for the time being, anyway).

Continue reading Avoiding Winter Break Burn-Out: R&R for the Holidays

First Year Graduate School Guide: Surviving Semester One

Please allow my brief detour from the Romantic optic of the blog to offer some tips and reflections have grown out of the last few months of semester one of graduate life. I share them in hope others in a graduate program for literary studies or other related fields will learn or perhaps remember how to keep afloat in semester one.

Confession: I have yet to turn in any seminar papers and there’s still 11 days left before I can truthfully call myself a victor, but I’ve made it this far—perhaps there’s something to my method besides madness.

Continue reading First Year Graduate School Guide: Surviving Semester One

How Far Feminism?

It is rare that I ever have the pleasure of walking into my classroom to find students enthusiastically discussing our subject matter. Since for the most part I teach courses on poetry or nineteenth-century novels, my eighteen-year-old, twenty-first-century students tend not to get too riled up about the nuances of iambic tetrameter or “ye olden days” characters found in historic fiction (and can I blame them, really?).

Recently, however, I witnessed what other courses with more obviously controversial material might be experiencing on a more regular basis: my students were animated—and not just animated, but even aggravated!!—by the readings for their latest assigned task. They were asked to compare Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman and her fictional Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman with a few contemporary articles. These latter essays suggest that women who choose today to “opt out” of the work force for the sake of raising children are still, at heart, somehow in line with the feminist agenda.

When I stepped into the room, the students were arguing about just how far—or not—feminism has come.   Continue reading How Far Feminism?

Romantics, they’re just like you and me: Health fads of the 18th and 19th centuries

If there was one thing* I was completely unprepared for in my pursuit of a PhD, it was the toll grad school would take on my body. After working for several years post-college, I found returning to student life more physically draining than I expected: I hadn’t fully anticipated that my slightly older body would need more sleep and better food than it did in college, that the fonts on my computer would require some magnifying, or that my right wrist would come to demand the support of a carpal tunnel brace. While I realize the hardships of excessive sitting pale in comparison to, say, those of transportation to Botany Bay, that awareness couldn’t fully stop me from dwelling on the chair-bound grad student lifestyle’s surprising tendency to hurt, in places expected…and unexpected.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that as I learned how to take better care of myself as a grad student, I found myself gravitating towards health-related topics in my research. Or perhaps I simply felt vindicated by medical opinion new and old, both of which emphasized the evils of too much sitting. Indeed, Swiss physician Samuel August Tissot’s Essay on Diseases Incident to Literary and Sedentary Persons (1768; translated into English, 1769) would not seem out of place among the numerous recent articles detailing the threat posed by chairs, comfy and otherwise. Tissot’s medical advice is far from the only text that calls to mind current health preoccupations. In this post, I want to highlight a few of my favorites:

Continue reading Romantics, they’re just like you and me: Health fads of the 18th and 19th centuries

A Graduate Guide to Guest Lectures, III: Making the Most of the Visit as a Student (especially a new one!)

This post is part of the “Graduate Guide to Guest Lectures” series, a collaborative endeavor by NGSC bloggers Deven Parker, Grace Rexroth, and Conny Fasshauer, all Romanticist graduate students at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Drawing on our collective experiences organizing guest lectures at our university, our aim for this series is to offer advice and tips for NGSC readers hosting visitors at their institutions or attending one of these events.

“New” is relative—we’ve all been students for a long time, in some form or another. But when you’re a graduate student who hasn’t yet taken their exams, or you don’t have as firm a handle on your dissertation project as you’d like, it can be easy to make excuses for yourself that allow you to avoid interacting with visiting scholars. Here are some ways to combat those insecurities. (A note: I’m using CU Boulder’s recent set up for Michael Gamer’s visit—a seminar, a talk, and a few social events. Your university may have different opportunities, so substitute those in wherever appropriate.)  Continue reading A Graduate Guide to Guest Lectures, III: Making the Most of the Visit as a Student (especially a new one!)

A Graduate Guide to Guest Lectures, II: Networking or “Relationship-Building” on the Road. Literally.

This post is part of the “Graduate Guide to Guest Lectures” series, a collaborative endeavor by NGSC bloggers Deven Parker, Grace Rexroth, and Conny Fasshauer, all Romanticist graduate students at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Drawing on our collective experiences organizing guest lectures at our university, our aim for this series is to offer advice and tips for NGSC readers hosting visitors at their institutions or attending one of these events.

“Networking” is a word I dread more than laundry day.

Because I wandered through the corporate world for several years before finally deciding to go to grad school, the term “networking” conjures up myriad awkward experiences – themed cocktail parties, company logos, uncomfortable seminars where strangers assess the grip of your handshake…it’s not my idea of a fun Friday night.

…and yet…

With English department sizes shrinking, enrollment numbers dropping, and an ever diminishing job market (thanks NY Times op-ed), networking is arguably a skill we need now more than ever. So, in addition to preparing for comps and formulating a prospectus, “networking” has joined the inner sanctum of my PhD goal list. Practically speaking, this means that, in addition to attending conferences (those hallowed networking meccas), I actively seek opportunities for building relationships in the field. “But how does one go about ‘networking’ outside of a conference?” you may ask. The glib answer: become a chauffeur.

Continue reading A Graduate Guide to Guest Lectures, II: Networking or “Relationship-Building” on the Road. Literally.