Monday, April 30, 2012

End of Semester Tips and Summer Productivity

The semester is finally over and, for many of us graduate students, the summer stretches out in front of us, promising mental recovery and long-forgotten normality. We probably all begin the summer with worthy goals in mind. We are going to do all our lesson prep in the summer, submit abstracts to 10 amazing conferences, finish that chapter, etc. However if you are at all like me, summer slowly sucks me into a state of euphoria and stupor. I find myself putting off important work because the summer seems like it will go on forever. Rather, we should be looking at it as a golden opportunity. Wrapped up in end-of-term grading, paper writing, and looming deadlines, we often take for granted what this moment has to offer. The end of the semester is a crazy time, but it is also the time to get organized, reflect, and plan. The summer is a much needed time of rest and regrouping, but it can also be the most productive period in your year. Below we have a bunch of links we pulled from the net about how to maximize your summer, starting right now with an End of Semester Checklist and Scheduling the Endless Summer.
    As these links suggest, this is the prime moment to gather any notes you took on your teaching, to go back through old files and make sure you aren't hanging on to what you no longer need, and update your own professional materials (CV, Linkedin profile, teaching statement). I also take this moment to go through the stacks of PMLA books, magazines, and articles I have collected over the semester to evaluate what I really want to keep. Find a system that works for you, but consider organizing your course work, articles, and student papers so that they are easily retrievable (and for heaven's sake - back up your files now!).
  Now many of us use the first month of summer to catch up on things we put off during the semester - the haircut, the oil change, the personal emails - this is just fine. One of the tips in Lessons for Summer Productivity is to go ahead and check items off your to-do list. However instead of getting bogged down in repainting your living room because it has been on the to-do list since you moved in, we suggest refocusing your energy to maintain momentum in May and to get the most out of the remaining summer months.
   Use this time to begin/update your CV, check out CFP sites for promising conferences (see our conference/abstract posts for some tips), catch up on important journals in your field, begin that theory reading / dissertation writing group (it may be easier to meet regularly in the summer months), prep for your Fall classes (go over your notes from the semester), catch up on some teaching tips (composition, pedagogy, and technology), create your dream-class syllabus (this will come in handy!), carefully consider your funding options for the coming academic year, and finally - take the time to peruse our blog! We have tried to collect helpful information throughout the year, and link to tried-and-tested resources for graduate students.
    Finally, we realize that some of our readers are facing a tough job market this summer, so we pulled together a few posts on how to Use Your Summer Wisely while on the market, and Making the Most of Your Off-Season Part1 and Making the Most of Your Off-Season Part 2. Some of these links are general Summer Advice for Job Seekers and some focus on How to Spend Your Summer Vacation if you already have a job lined up for fall.
   We will be reducing the number of blog posts over the summer, but please check back from time to time as we plan to post items periodically. Also, check out our new blog tabs at the top of this page (Documents and EGSA Board). We encourage you to follow our blog via email with the widget to the right, or "like" us on Facebook to receive updates. Your new EGSA board is gearing up for Fall, so stay tuned for an exciting new year.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Support EGSA - Book Sale

Please come by the EGSA Book Sale tomorrow 4/23 from 11:00am-4:00pm in the Marvin Center (first floor across from the elevators). Spread the word to your colleagues and classes. We have a large variety of books for sale ($1-$5) and all proceeds go towards future EGSA programming and events.

We would also like to invite you to attend the Postcolonial Mini-Conference Tuesday April 23, 3:30-5:30pm. For more information, take a look at the event flyer here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Plan Your PhD Documents / New EGSA Board!

Thank you to all of you who could join us for our "Plan Your PhD" event and the Elections Party last night. Congratulations to the new 2012-2013 EGSA Board! Below we have provided links to the documents and resources from the "Plan Your PhD" event, and we are always available to answer any questions that you may have.
We would also like to announce the addition of new Pages to our blog site, including information on your new EGSA board and a Documents Tab which includes links to the Grad Student Handbook and information on the Qualifying and Fields Exams. Remember you can "like" us on Facebook to receive updates or follow our blog via email to the right.

"Plan Your PhD"
Graduate School is a Means to a Job
What I tell My Graduate Students
Plan Your PhD Notes and Resources

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Plan Your PhD Event Today

Please remember to stop by Rome 771 from 3:30-4:30pm today for our final professional development event "Plan Your PhD." We are going to cover all the necessary information for making it successfully and thoughtfully through our PhD program. We also have updates on department policies, a new program tracker called DegreeMap, and a group of students who want to share some strategies and tips for handling each "step" in the path to a PhD. Also, don't forget to stick around to meet your new EGSA board from 5-7 (drinks provided).

As a preview for the event, we would like to share this article from the Chronicle with some helpful advice about your Graduate experience. This article comes highly recommended by your EGSA board and GW faculty.

March 27, 2012
Brian Taylor for The Chronicle
By Karen Kelsky
One of the most common questions I hear from graduate students, whether they are in their first or their final year, is what they can donow to prepare for the academic job market.
Excellent question. As a graduate student, your fate is in your own hands, and every decision you make—including whether to go to graduate school at all, which program to go to, which adviser to choose, and how to conduct yourself while there—can and should be made with an eye to the job you wish to have at the end. 
 To do otherwise is pure madness. I have no patience whatsoever with the "love" narrative (we do what we do because we love it and money/jobs play no role) that prevails among some advisers, departments, and profoundly mystified graduate students. But for those graduate students and Ph.D.'s who actually want a paying tenure-track job and the things that go with it—health insurance, benefits, and financial security—here is my list of graduate-school rules, forged after years of working in academe as a former tenured professor and now running my own career-advising business for doctoral students. 

Early in Graduate School
Never forget this primary rule: Graduate school is not your job; graduate school is a means to the job you want. Do not settle in to your graduate department like a little hamster burrowing in the wood shavings. Stay alert with your eye always on a national stage, poised for the next opportunity, whatever it is: to present a paper, attend a conference, meet a scholar in your field, forge a connection, gain a professional skill...(click on the link to read the full article). 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Grad Student Handbook!

Here's a link for the current Grad Student Handbook.  It has all the important information you need about the Qualifying and Field Exams, as well as information about planning your graduate timeline.  Check it out at the link below!

Grad Student Handbook

Upcoming Campus and Department Events

Check out these exciting events coming up in April and May. Many of these events offer unique opportunities for academic enrichment and professional development. EGSA would like to personally invite you to two of our end-of-the-year events: "Plan Your PhD" and Elections Party. Meet your new EGSA board and get together with your fellow colleagues. We hope to see you there!

April 19 “Plan Your PhD” 3:30-4:30pm Rome 771 Come discuss the PhD program, new requirements, and helpful tips/resources for success. Light refreshments provided. Hosted by EGSA.

April 19 Elections Party 5:00-7:00pm Rome 771: Come welcome your new EGSA board and celebrate the end of another year. EGSA will provide libations, but please bring an appetizer to share.

April 20 Symposium at Maryland, Friday, April 20.  This event honors the work of Samuel R. Delany but also features a number of other invited speakers, including Robert Reid-Pharr, Tavia Nyong'o, Jordana Rosenberg, and Kevin Floyd.Note that our own Peyton Joyce is presenting in the afternoon (you can see the full program by clicking through to "program" using the link below).  Register online and you'll even get a free lunch.  Hope to see you all there.

April 25 Reorienting Global Shakespeare: Touring Productions to England, 1955-2011
Presentation by Alex Huang 12:00-1:00 pm, Wednesday April 25 2012 Board Room, Folger Shakespeare Library 201 E. Capitol St SE, Washington DC 20003

April 27-28 The UMD Graduate Field Committee in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Department of English present an interdisciplinary conference, GEOGRAPHIES OF DESIRE, to be held at the University of Maryland, College Park on April 27th and 28th. The event is free and open to the public. However, we please ask that you RSVP to by Sunday, April 22. All events will be held in Tawes Hall. Please see attached program or visit our website.

May 14  Inaugural job market 2012-2013 meeting on Monday, May 14, from 10 am to noon in Rome 663.You should attend if you're going on the market in the fall or just thinking about it.  We'll plan for the summer, look ahead to fall meetings, and, in general, explain the process of the job season, which will run through spring 2013.  The Graduate Committee and I are preparing a GWU English Guide to the Job Market.  We expect to have it ready by the meeting.
Please RSVP by April 16 (, indicating your dissertation title, the names of your committee members, and whether you've been on the market before.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Conventions, CFP web resources, and upcoming CFP Deadlines

In the past year, we have repeatedly emphasized the importance of applying to conferences. Even as a new graduate student, it is useful to apply for graduate and local conferences to get used to the process, and to thinking about your work in larger contexts. It is also useful to consider at what point you will attend large national conventions. Even if you do not have work to present, it is valuable to attend at least once to experience the convention and network. This year, the MLA is hosting its convention in Boston January 3-6, 2012. Consider attending if you can because it is so close this year and it is fairly affordable for student members (become a member as soon as you can!). We have also included links below to other large conventions, and those we know have upcoming CFPs. We also want to share two great CFP links that will allow you to stay on top of CFPs over the summer:
Penn U (a comprehensive and searchable archive of CFPs)
CFPList (allows you to sort by upcoming deadlines, location, and subject)

NEMLA - Northeast MLA with a convention in 2013 (CFPs will be posted in June)
SAMLA - South Atlantic Modern Language Association's Convention November 9-11, North Carolina. This convention features a wide variety of panels and special sessions. Deadlines range from May to July. Click on the link to access all the available information on the extensive list of CFPs.

June 1 Crossroads III: Deadends, Delays, and Detours  Massachusetts, October 5-7, 2012.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Alternate Career Session Part 2

Welcome to our final post on Alternate Careers. If you have not had the chance, check out our previous post on the panelists from the session. Here we offer a summary of the advice that the panelists offered us about preparing for alternate career options. We also include a list of potential careers and resources for exploring your career options as an academic.

All of our speakers offered great advice towards the end of the session which addressed some of the rising concerns about leaving the academy. They all encouraged us to actively combat the stigma of leaving, and the guilt of not pursuing a career in academia if that is not something we want. They also suggested to take a moment, and really consider your options. Do you like teaching? Embrace teaching at a community college if that is what it takes to do what you love. In other words, do not limit yourself with narrow-minded goals or attitudes. They also suggested that even if you are currently planning on a career in academia, to prepare yourself for other options now. You can only help yourself out by taking some of this advice: Build relationships shamelessly via events and list serves (we cannot emphasize enough how important networking is!). Finally, take advantage of your available resources. The GW Career Center offers one-on-one advice for CVs and other professional documents as well as job finding databases. Attend your EGSA professional development workshops! We cover a wide variety of areas that are designed to help you succeed whether you choose an academic career or an alternate career.

There are many professional opportunities for English graduate students, but here are just a few examples we have collected from research and personal connections:

Technical Writer
Museum Coordinator
Law (lawyer, paralegal, judge)
Elementary/Secondary Teacher
Education Administration
Creative Writing
Communication Career
Public Relations
Non-Profit Work
Non-Government Organization
Government Work

Twitter - #Alt-ac
So What are you Going to Do with That? by Maggie Debelius and Susan Basalla
Do What You Are by Paul Tiegler and Barbara Barron-Tiegler
Outside the Ivory Tower by Margaret Newhouse
What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles

Friday, April 13, 2012

Alternate Career Session Part 1

Welcome to part 1 of our Alternate Career Series. We encourage you to keep an open mind and read these posts even if you are sure that you will stay in academia. What we offer you here is valuable advice to expand your marketability, enable you to support yourself in the meantime, and open up all of your options for your future. In our Alternate Career Session, we had the privilege of meeting three extraordinary people to talk about why they left academia in pursuit of other careers, and how they transfer their experience with academia into their current careers. The following is a summary of each panelist’s career history and tips for current graduate students. Stay tuned, our second post will contain a summary of advice and suggestions from our panelists as well as a list of resources for professional development and alternate careers.

Andrea Wiltse
Andrea has an M.A. in English Literature, and kindly agreed to address our session with her career trajectory and her current interests. Andrea’s initial interest in undergrad was in pre-Roman civilizations. Then she traveled to China to teach, and when she returned she began taking literature classes at the local community college. This interest developed into obtaining a Masters degree in English Literature from American University. At one point, Andrea pursued a freelance career in teaching business writing workshops. She got to travel to different places teaching 1-2 day workshops and expand her client base through networking. I met Andrea at Northern Virginia Community College where she was teaching composition and literature courses. I was impressed with her dedication to her students and passion for her classes. After teaching for a few years, she applied and took a part-time position at her current employer, The Center for Naval Analysis. Eventually she shifted into a full-time position where she edits the center’s reports, teaches writing workshops to other employees, and pursues her own professional development goals. I asked her why she decided to leave the world of academia and teaching, but she pointed out that she has not really “left teaching.” Part of the appeal, she said, of her current job is that she gets to teach on a regular basis (something she feels it would be hard not to do in some capacity). She also has time now to pursue her own writing projects including a fiction writing project and travel writing pieces. On a more practical note, she pointed out that it was refreshing being able to leave your work at work and have work-free nights and weekends (hard to do if you are familiar with teaching/academia life). Additionally, she noted that she brings something valuable to the table for her current employer: a unique perspective. She makes sure that the reports and documents are well-written, but also readable for larger audiences. She also finds that her background in academia and teaching offers the company a boon of transferable skills, including critical thinking, analysis, communication skills, independence, and reliability. One tip that Andrea shared with us about preparing for career options while in academia is to seek the opportunity to get involved in other projects (writing projects specifically). She also noted the importance of pursuing professional development in any career path – attend project management seminars/training, volunteer for new projects, develop technology and language skills, and network, network, network!

Patrick Cooper
While pursuing his PhD. in English Literature, Patrick, like many of us, taught classes on campus. Patrick quickly realized that while he was working on his dissertation he should probably broaden his market appeal, and teaching offered an opportunity to do this. He began by adding a technology component to his writing classes, encouraging them to develop a web page and cultivate their online presence. He saw it as one way to show students that they would leave the classroom with a concrete benefit in addition to improved writing skills. Soon he was branching out into the field of technology and academia, showing other teachers how to creatively use technology in their curriculums. I asked Patrick why he decided to abandon academia after finishing his degree. He said that although he had an interest in teaching, he did not have an interest in teaching writing. That combined with a tight market and no major publications would make it very difficult for him to find a long-term career in academia. He decided then to turn this “problem” into an opportunity. With his interests in teaching and expertise with technology, he applied “everywhere.” He said it was a tough experience, and he had to “anticipate rejection.” However, he was able to develop a rewarding career in technology without leaving teaching behind. He told us that he initially faced skepticism from potential employers because he was “overqualified” and, at the same time, “lacking experience.” He said that he was able to emphasize the transferable skills that his background in academia afforded: finishing the dissertation demonstrates he can handle large, self-directed projects, he can work with or without deadlines, he can teach large groups of people, and he has the skills to be a good project manager. One of his tips for preparing for career options while in academia is to learn other skills, and make yourself more marketable.

Donna Scarboro
Donna received a PhD. in English Literature and immediately started teaching at a private school. Eventually she felt that in spite of her love of teaching, she could not keep up with the hectic pace and lack of compensation of teaching there, so she taught as an adjunct professor at George Washington University. Eventually she began working part-time on administrative projects, building relationships with the administration and continuing to teach. Donna credits her success with developing an administrative career to networking (“realize the power of a nice, well-written letter”). She found that working in administration offered her the chance to work with teams, and to go abroad. This experience took her to her current post as the Associate Provost for International Programs at GWU. She noted that being a part of the international programs field allows her to still get the thrill of teaching students because “what better learning experience is there any studying abroad?” In other words, Donna has found a career path that satisfies her interests and offers exciting challenges every day. Donna told us not to underestimate the number of book lovers out there when you are on the job hunt – own your background as a graduate student and lover of literature. She also urged us to consider how much we love teaching now – if we love it now, it will be hard to have a career which does not involve some form of teaching. Finally she encouraged us to realize if we decide to leave academia that it is an active choice, not a lack of choices. 

A big thanks to our panelists for sharing their experience and advice with our graduate students. Stay tuned for the next post in our series with links to valuable resources and a summary of advice from the panel. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Funding Your Dissertation

Recently, the Office of Graduate Student Fellowships and Grants hosted a "Funding Your Dissertation" talk with a lot of helpful information for funding your program at different stages. It may be that you have department funding for tuition, but there are other great opportunities for funding both pre-ABD and for your dissertation research. Here are the major highlights from the talk along with some helpful links to their Fellowship finding databases (Note: you must be on campus or logged in through the VPN to access them). Start thinking about this now (and over the summer to make the next round of deadlines) because some funding opportunities require a year in advance. Also, make sure you drop by the OGSAF to pick up their handouts - they have helpful lists with funding requirements and deadlines. Feel free to post other resources that you find, or any questions that you have.

I.                   Types of Funding
a)      Tuition (i.e. Phi Delta Gamma, Scottish Rite, D.A.R., Liebmann)
b)      Basic Necessities (like photocopying, travel, equipment): i.e. Cosmos, Economic Club, Consortium Research Fellows Program.
c)      Overseas Research (i.e. Fulbright, Boren) and Language Acquisition (i.e. CLS)

II.                Tips
a)      Look for funding at least one year in advance of when you need it.
b)      Make sure you read the elligability requirements very carefully. Some funding is only for students at a certain stage in their program.
c)      Read the literature supplied by the institution. What is the mission of the agency?
d)     Make sure you have all the necessary documents for each submission
e)      Give Faculty plenty of time for letters of recommendation, and send helpful reminders
f)       Many funding deadlines are in early fall or early spring
g)      Ask people in your department for other funding opportunities

III.             Examples of Support
a)      Travels to Collections (i.e. Loughran-Oxford, Mellon Fellowships for Dissertation Research in Original Sources, The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library Dissertation Grants)
b)      Pre-Dissertation (i.e. SSRC Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship)
c)      Dissertation Writing (i.e. Spencer Dissertation Fellowship Program, GW Dissertation Fellowship)
d)     Dissertation Research (i.e. NPSC Dissertation Support Program, Jack Kent Cooke Dissertation Fellowship Award, White House Historical Association Research Grants Program)

IV.             Finding Funding (Note: All of these must be accessed on-campus or through the GW VPN because they are subscriber-only access)
b)      The Illinois Research Information Service (IRIS)
c)      Community of Science Funding Opportunities Database (COS) (Note: This database is for all disciplines, not just science)

V.                Help from OGSAF
a)      They will read drafts of your proposal
b)      Make copies of your application and proposal (as well as scan items)
c)      Consult on specific fellowship questions
d)     Publish your accomplishment on their website

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Queer Chronocities and Structures of Unfeeling: A Short Review of Elizabeth Freeman's and Lauren Berlant's Recent Talks in DC

It's been an exciting few weeks on campus, as we had Elizabeth Freeman give a talk called “Queer Chronicities” at Georgetown and Lauren Berlant give the keynote for the GW American Studies “Collected Stories and Twice-Told Tales” conference, titled “Structures of Unfeeling in Mysterious Skin” (or something like this).

Freeman’s talk was heady, elegantly self-contained, and generated a lively Q and A.
Bringing Queer Theory and Bioethics together, with an eye to the conjunction of chronic diseases and modernization-industrialization, Freeman treated the audience to a facile reading of Gertrude Stein’s “Melanctha” as a story of depression and addiction written in a chronic Steinian style, placed alongside Freeman’s compelling reading of the “chronic” as an etymological and conceptual site where Biomedicine meets sexology in a possible ontology of queer subjecthood.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Upcoming CFPs for April and May

A few more CFPs have come across our desk with deadlines in April and May. Remember that these are not organized by conference date, but by Abstract Deadline date. Click on the links for more information about the CFPs. Please let us know if you have a CFP to share! Also, we will be posting the notes from our Alternate Career Session this week and from Funding Your Dissertation, so stay tuned for those as well as a guest post from one of our own Graduate Students. Remember to "like" us on Facebook to receive updates, or follow us via email. 

April 27
April 27
May 4
May 4
May 4
May 4
May 4
30 May
International Seminar on Ethnicity, Identity, and Literature 11-14 October 2012 in Sibsagar College, India.  Follow this link for conference and abstract submission guidelines.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Alternate Career Session Today!

Please join us for the Alternate Career Session today at 5:30pm in Rome 771. EGSA and the GW Career Center are hosting this event where you can learn about alternate careers for English Graduates, where you will learn how to transfer your skills in an interview and on a resume, and where you can speak with a variety of professionals who have English Graduate degrees. Please come and support EGSA and your fellow graduate students. Light Refreshments will be provided.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mark Your Calendars! April Campus and EGSA Events

We know this time of year is crunch time, but we have a long list of exciting events coming up this month. EGSA would also like to add that elections are coming up, so stay tuned for Election information concerning your 2012-2013 EGSA Board members (and we will be having a party!). We hope to see you at some of these events - remember that taking a break is necessary, and networking is helpful! 

April 5 Alternate Career Session 5:30-6:30pm Rome 771 Meet our panel of professionals who took their English Graduate degrees and turned them into awesome, interesting careers. Learn about transferable skills and how to make that CV work for you in the professional world. Hosted by EGSA. Light refreshments provided.
April 7 9pm-12am Please join us for night-caps and scamels as we launch the Luminary Tempest at the Shakespeare Association of America in Boston.
The Charlesmark Hotel lounge, 655 Boylston Street,  Boston, MA

April 9 Thomas Bisson “Crisis in Early Ducal Normandy: Some Conjectural History” 2110 Taliaferro Hall; Refreshments 4:00, Seminar 4:30pm.

April 13 Please join us for our last event of the spring semester: a breakfast seminar with Danna Agmon (History, Virginia Tech). We begin at 9 AM in Rome 771 (801 22nd St. NW). Breakfast will be served. Her paper is pre-circulated; please RSVP to me [] and I will send you a copy. 

April 14 Hear great poetry from exciting DC writers and help women in your community--come to Will Read for Women, the first poetry reading/pantry drive of its kind! 

So to Speak, a feminist literary journal, will host our first reading drive to benefit a local domestic violence shelter. The reading will feature poetry by Sarah Browning, Joe Hall, Kateema Lee, and Meg Ronan, with an open mic to follow. Audience members are asked to bring toiletry items and other pantry necessities to donate to the shelter, Bethany House. The list of suggested items follows.

The reading is scheduled for Saturday, April 14th at 8:30 p.m. in the Johnson Center Bistro, a cafe on the first floor of the student center at George Mason's Fairfax campus. Parking is available nearby in the Mason Pond, Shenandoah, and Rappahannock parking decks. We'd appreciate your support in reaching out into the community and getting this event off the ground! Contact us at with any questions. 

April 19 “Plan Your PhD” 3:30-4:30pm Rome 771 Hosted by EGSA for current PhD students. Come learn about new department policies, check out DegreeMap, and get a chance to ask advanced PhD students all the questions you might have about your program. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Preparing for your Qualifying or Field Exam

The semester is almost over, which means that it's time to start planning for your Qualifying or Field exam.  Make sure you check the grad handbook for specific information regarding these tests.  For your enjoyment (and benefit) the EGSA blog will be hosting an archive of previous lists and rationales so that you have an idea of the many ways other students have tackled these projects.  These can be accessed through the links below (and hopefully more permanently in the information to the right). Thanks to the grad students who have agreed to share their work here. 

Qualifying Exam Lists and Rationales

Field Exam Lists and Rationales