Confessions of a Grad Student: I (Still) Don’t Know What These Words Mean

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I am two seminar papers and one e-portfolio away from finishing my first year of graduate school, and that seems significant. But while reflecting on all the fulfilling, thrilling, liberating, and life-altering stuff I’ve learned this year, I can’t help but think about all the stuff I still don’t know. In fact, I’m beginning to think that the point of education is to teach you things you didn’t know that you didn’t know.

I never knew there were so many things I didn’t know.
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An Interview with Kari Moffat about the Film, “Mentored: Sexual Misconduct in Graduate School”

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History / Lehigh Culture & Community / Literature & Social Justice / Politics
Mentored Poster

Hi Everyone!

In advance of this Thursday’s screening of the film (4:00 pm Drown 210), Mentored: Sexual Misconduct in Graduate School, I’m sharing a conversation I had with Kari Moffat, a member of the production team behind the documentary. The film is written, directed, and produced by Lehigh University students and in its promotional materials, Mentored is described as exploring “the dark side of graduate school”. The film “focuses on how the relationship between graduate students and their faculty mentors can lead to sexual misconduct. With misconduct cases being widespread at universities across the country, Mentored examines why these relationships can be so toxic and why it is still a commonly occurring situation.” As someone who is interested in the intersections of gender and education more broadly, I sat down with Kari to ask her some questions about the film team’s choice of this topic during the ongoing coming-to-terms with our own campus’ recent stories of sexual misconduct. We focused on the interview process and how she might imagine other projects continuing the work of this film.

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Year in Review: Gothic Reading Group

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Lehigh Culture & Community

Gothic Art

One of the most interesting and exciting parts of being a grad student at Lehigh are the groups that convene outside of the classroom.  The Gothic Reading Group exists to explore the strange, the macabre, the sublime, and the horrific.  This year the group has jumped into multiple examples of Gothic materials and come out the other side frightened and paranoid.  To sum the work of another year of the group, we asked two new members to describe their experience.  Shelby Carr and Ethan Robles are both current scholars in the Gothic and horror genres and are two of the newest members.

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Female Friendship in the Academy

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Sometimes I wonder if there are any spaces conducive to positive friendships between women. I will not presume to speak for all women, but I have always recognized that genuine friendships between us can be tough to navigate. We are socialized to see each other as competition—for the man, the clothes, the jobs. And the media loves to portray female friendships as catty, competitive, and dramatic. I learned this at a young age; I watched Mean Girls when I was ten years old. Now, as a twenty-something, all the drama, fighting, and gossiping seems to me as intent on keeping women in constant competition with one another. To distract us? From what?

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Dr. Kirkland’s Truth: A Reflection on the Keynote Address for the 2018 Literature and Social Justice Graduate Conference

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Literature & Social Justice / Teaching

Written by Joanna Grim

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In his Keynote address for the fourth annual Literature and Social Justice Graduate Conference, titled “The Truth That I Owe You: Understanding the Social Contexts of Race and Gender in Literacy Education,” Dr. David E. Kirkland, Associate Professor of English and Urban Education at New York University, shared about his youth in order to illustrate one of his main points, that the literary and literatures are about people. This truth should be a common place. However, in the context of academia, it is radical. It is also not a truth that I have always been prepared to hear. In my own youth, reading and writing provided a retreat from the social, from spaces in which I felt trapped by the expectations of family, friends, and teachers about how my body should look, feel, and move through the world as a girl. I did not think of reading and writing as being about people, but as ways to protect myself from them. I did not go to books in search of different ways of being or to affirm my emerging queer identity, but to hide from myself and others. I am happy that this is no longer my relationship to the literary. It hurts to remember what for me was once true.

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Restorative Practices and Literature: An Interview with Lehigh Ph.D. Candidate Sarah Heidebrink-Bruno

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Lehigh Culture & Community / Literature & Social Justice / Teaching

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Editorial Note: In my original questions, I conflated the terms “restorative justice” and “restorative practices,” which Sarah clarified for me in her responses. Many thanks to Sarah for educating me on these distinctions.

Where did you first hear of Restorative Justice?

I first found out about RJ when doing research for a seminar paper a few years ago. I happened to stumble upon the website for the International Institute for Restorative Practices, a local organization that trains facilitators in RP.

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(Throwback Thursday) Getting In and Fitting In: First-Generation Students in Graduate School

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Advice

As a college education becomes more financially feasible and socially expected for a greater portion of the population, historically disadvantaged students and those from working class families are entering colleges and universities at a higher rate than prior decades. Though school officials offer varying definitions of what it means to be a first-generation student, many agree that first-generation students tend to feel unprepared and under-supported for the many challenges that college entails. As such, universities, such as our own, are starting to implement more programs specifically designed to recruit, support, and retain first-generation students, by building community, offering practical studying and time management advice, and helping students stay on track with their academic and personal goals.

the struggle

Admittedly, my alma mater did not have a LUSSI (Lehigh University Summer Scholars Institute) program, as Lehigh students do. In fact, I was not aware that such programs existed, much less that I might have benefited from knowing that I was not alone, as I struggled to not only adapt to college, but also, to learn the inner mechanisms of higher education that other students seemed to anticipate. Although it sounds unfathomable to me now, it wasn’t really that I started applying for graduate schools and researching stipends that I realized what being a first-generation student actually meant to me. Read More

PhD Program Applications: More Advice

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Advice

Others have written before on Drown Unbound with advice about the process of applying to PhD programs, here and here. Jimmy, Kyle, and Megan offer excellent advice in these posts; however, I’m writing to add one or two additional and, I think, crucial pieces of advice.

  1. Start Now

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If you are a first year MA student and you have already decided you want to pursue a PhD (a difficult decision in itself, particularly given the abysmal state of the job market), start researching schools now. Talk to the profs in your field, particularly the person with whom you’re writing a thesis, and ask their recommendations for PhD programs strong in your research field. Look at some of your favorite scholarship, and take note of where the authors teach. Read through your chosen departments’ websites, looking for potentially good fits. Using all of this information, develop a reasonably expansive list of schools where you might want to apply, and do so this semester.

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Imagining the World We Want, Together

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Lehigh Culture & Community / Literature & Social Justice / Politics

This article is cross-posted from Southsider article published March 6, 2018. Southsider focuses on celebrating the local vibrant arts district, reporting on arts and culture programming in Bethlehem’s South Side. For more information about Southsider, visit them online.

On Wednesday, February 14, Tackling T.I.N.A. hosted the first of three public conversations scheduled this Spring. Themed around the idea of “Storytelling as a Strategy for Change,” Lehigh students and faculty joined together with Bethlehem community members to imagine how narrative frames and cultural myths shape our social and political realities.

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Advice to (not) Follow: One Way to Get Through the Reading Semester

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The first bit of qualifying exam advice is not to follow anyone’s advice.

If you are reading, prepping to read, procrastinating reading, complaining about reading, behind, ahead, or on schedule for reading, then you are probably already in the whirl of veterans telling horror stories of broken computers, interrupting undergrads, crying, absurd laughing, and days of either sleeping too little, or far too much. This is often paired with the sage and almost deranged eye-twitchingly paradoxical comments, “It’s the best time!” or “You are going to feel the smartest you’ve ever been!” and, my personal favorite, “You get paid to read books for a whole semester (if not more)!” So, adding one more voice into the mix, writing a post reflecting on my personal experience through qualifying exams is not going to offer anything else other than options to consider in tandem with the battleplan you and your committee drafted.

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