Category Archives: the graduate experience

follow-up to my intro to doctoral studies bleg, pt. iii

Since Kelly and others were so generous with their comments, here’s a preview to the course-blog I’ll be running for my ENGL 7390 Intro to Doctoral class.  I’ve got 23 students registered, with people from Creative Writing and Literature, Literary Studies, and Rhet/Comp PhD programs or concentrations.

Weirdly enough, as it stands, there are practically no “literary” readings in this, but quite a bit of institutional history, and lots of opportunities for students  to pursue their specialties in their own research and writing.  If anything interesting drops out of discussion, I’ll report back.

Thanks for your suggestions and advice.  The blog will be closed down to outside traffic by Monday.



asecs graduate student caucus: new blog in town!

Kelly Centrelli, who has popped up on this blog a few times lately, has just announced a new blog that will serve as a communications hub for the ASECS graduate student caucus.  Ms. Centrelli is the webmaster for this new initiative.  Here is part of her description about how she and the GSC envision the blog working:

My hopes are to invite postgraduate (PhD) candidates to write on the blog—about their research, writing process, teaching, etc. Posts would only need to be a few hundred words, but will hopefully pose a question that would invite discussion on the site. Please make your students aware of the site and the opportunity to write for it. Moreover, if you have any links you feel should be on the site (e.g. journals, conferences, research sites), please let me know off-list.

The site can be found here:

There’s interesting stuff there, especially in terms of research and writing advice, which I think will be very helpful for graduate students making their way through their seminar papers, comprehensives, and dissertations.  Superannuated folk like myself might also learn something from their posts, as well.  Please check it out, and consider contributing to their blog.


another blegging question, part two: possible readings and assignments for an introduction to doctoral studies course?

Thanks to everyone who responded on- or offline to my last blegging question about teaching an Introduction to Doctoral Studies course for the first time.

The suggestions I’ve received here and elsewhere focus on providing good, pragmatic advice on issues like presentations, publishing, job market, and so forth.  There were quite a few suggestions to introduce students explicitly to academic genres of writing (lit review, book review, seminar paper, article, etc.) so that students understand the expectations surrounding these forms.  I also received a number of suggestions that students would appreciate at least a brief refresher in using the library and its resources for grad-level assignments.

Now here’s a follow-up question, for any of you willing to share what helped or would have helped, in this phase of your studies.

Would you have any suggestions, first of all, for readings about questions like research, specialization, academic culture, the future of the humanities, or the job market? These would need to be accessible and current. Since the course will have a mixture of literary studies people, rhet/comp folks, and creative writers, I don’t want to hammer them with something maximally alienating, the way my instructors did in my first-year classes.

Secondly, what would your recommendations be for essays or assignments devoted to key academic genres of writing? All comments or suggestions gratefully accepted.

Thanks again,


introduction to doctoral studies bleg?

BLEG: (Internet slang) To create an entry in a blog requesting information or contributions.

I’m hoping to get some guidance from the readers of this blog.

I’ve just learned that I’ll be teaching our department’s Introduction to Doctoral Studies class for newly admitted PhDs in the Fall. This is a course in which the overall set of topics is established by an Instructor/Facilitator, so that other faculty can come in to discuss their particular research specialties with the students. This kind of class seems to be fairly standard, at least among American PhD programs, for the first-year of graduate school.

In our department, one of the biggest challenges will be that literary scholars, creative writers, rhet/comp scholars, and possibly even linguists will be represented, both in terms of the students and the specialties.

So here’s my question:

If you’ve taken or taught such a course, would you be willing to share what you liked, disliked, or would have changed in your course? Any and all suggestions for readings would be appreciated.

And if you’ve taken such a course, I’m particularly interested in hearing about the specific readings or topics that you found useful for your long-term development as a professional scholar and teacher, for whatever reason.

Many thanks in advance,