Category Archives: Graduate Students

Call for Submissions—Living with Disability in the Time of Coronavirus

The Call: I would love to hear from any of you about your experiences surviving Covid as a student who, like me, experiences disability. If you have ideas about how your university did a great job supporting disabled students during this time, or ideas about how your university can do better in the future, now’s the time to share them! Heck, if you’d just like to vent a little anonymously, that’s fine too. I want to hear your voice.

I am inviting you to submit your blog posts to me, Ari Wolf, member of the MLA Committee on the Status of Graduate Students in the Humanities, at arwolf@alumnae.mills.edu. I want to get your work up as soon as possible so that others can hear what you’ve got to say. When people think about college campuses and disability, they often think about things like testing times or parking. The idea that disability can be a source of oppression that impacts every aspect of our lives still isn’t quite there yet. It is my wish that this project will be a small drop in the bucket that moves us all forward to acknowledging disability as a vital part of understanding diversity in all its glory, as well as all the bullying and abuses done towards those who are marginalized. I stand in solidarity with all of my “crip sibs” who self-identify as disabled. You’re not alone.


I’ve written my own blog post on this subject to kick us off:

Dear Colleagues,

I write to you today with a purpose. My purpose is borne from Covid-19, from the struggles I’ve witnessed my fellow students undergo, as well as the struggles I myself have fought through.

My purpose is simple: I wish to inspire, encourage, beg, advocate, do whatever it takes to push universities to acknowledge the needs of the growing population of immunocompromised and disabled students.

We’re here. We will enter through the front door of every college and university in this country in this fall of 2022 and beyond. We are just like every one of you reading this, with our big dreams and our dedication to working hard to achieve them. We are also very, very different.

We are different because the mandate to unmask is, for some of us, the difference between being physically able to attend college in the fall, or not.

We are different because right now, many of us are already engaged in what will become protracted arguments with departments too entrenched in their traditional and elitist vision of university life to accommodate our needs with a hybrid model of classroom attendance.

We are different because there are laws to protect us, including federal ADA standards, but unfortunately many universities do not follow them out of inconvenience or callousness.

We were here before Covid. Some of us, like myself, have auto immune diseases. Some of us had asthma worsened by raging fires or polluted skies or global warming or all of the above. Some of us had heart conditions, inflammatory disorders, rare diseases, amputations.

We were always here. You often chose not to see us. We were never invisible just because you were not always interested in looking at us.

Now that Covid has hit with a vengeance, we’re here in even more sizable numbers. Unfortunately, given the research into the symptoms of Long Covid, our numbers have rapidly grown in the past two years. Given a few more short years, we might well outnumber you.

That is all the more reason to adapt your policies now.

Colleagues, we do not demand anything from you. We are in no position to demand anything. We are sick, remember? Our lives are too often about managing drawers full of medication, hospital stays, working ahead in fear of the days or weeks when we will not be able to get out of bed. We don’t have the energy to convince you that we are worthy of being given anything.

Nonetheless, I so wish that you would consider what I have to say. Now is the time to implement solutions to the challenges we present. Be creative and be bold. Use your existing technology.

For example, schedule departmental meetings online to spare people the trek and the safety concerns. Most Humanities and Social Sciences classes can easily be adapted to accommodate a hybrid model which allows for remote attendance for those too ill or concerned about Covid outbreaks to be on campus. If you are a Teaching Assistant, normalize meeting your advisees remotely rather than in person. Practice using your voice to raise concerns about your university’s Covid testing practices or rising Covid rates or mask mandates, and find someone willing to listen to you.

We can all make campus environments safer and more inclusive. 

That responsibility falls on every one of us.

Publishing Your First Academic Article – A Roadmap

by Didem Uca, Ph.D., co-chair of CSGSH, Assistant Professor of German Studies, Emory University

So you want to publish your first academic article––but where do you start? This roadmap outlines the key stages and steps of this process, beginning with selecting a piece you have already written as part of your graduate studies through working through revisions.

  1. Identify potential piece(s) of writing you already have produced to develop for publication, as well as potential publication venues. Sometimes you just *know* something has potential, which is great, but if you don’t:
  • Discuss with professors/mentors (e.g. if you got very positive feedback on a seminar paper, ask your professor if they think it would be a good piece to develop, get advice on venues and revision suggestions). If you presented the paper at a conference and got a good reception, ask your fellow presenters or the convener/respondent of the conference panel for more feedback.
  • Notice what kinds of research different journals in your field are publishing. This isn’t so that you tailor your piece to the venue, but rather so that you choose a venue based on what piece you want to publish.
  • Think about how this project fits in with your overall research agenda (is it part of dissertation/thesis or an important subfield not in your diss/thesis?)
  1. After getting feedback from a few different mentors/colleagues, create a revision plan that answers the following questions (among others):
  • RESEARCH: What additional research needs to be done and how will I manage this (Will this require archival work? → need a summer grant? part of regular dissertation workload or a different project? → time management/balance)
  • BACKWARD-DESIGNED TIMELINE: What is my desired date of publication? For most journals, it takes a minimum of 1 year from the date of submission to the date of publication, and that’s with a very smooth process and minimal revisions. So, consider: Do you want this to come out before you go on the job market or by graduation? Or by another particular milestone? Figure out the ideal date of publication and work backwards from there to outline when you will need to complete the various research, writing, and revision steps.
  • WRITING/REWRITING/REVISING: What content still needs to be added? How many new words do you need for your argument? Be sure to consult the journal’s word count min. and max. before you start adding or subtracting words. What stylistic issues do I need to fix? These may include typos, writing style, flow, organization/structure, and adhering to the journal’s style sheet.
  1. Get writing support! (Listed as #3 but you should do this throughout the process!)
  • Organize or join a writing group with your department mates or even with people you don’t know personally. (Side note: virtual writing groups saved my pandemic sanity.)
  • Find an accountability partner (whether this is a colleague or mentor), share your timeline with them, and have them help you stick to your goals (and vice versa).
  1. Get it as close to perfect as you can––and then press send!
  • Most journals won’t even read your work if you don’t follow the style sheet or submission guidelines, so follow these closely as you’re preparing your submission.
  • Once you’ve done that, the worst thing that can happen is an outright rejection, but this can still provide helpful feedback for next time.
  1. Learn how to approach revisions and editors/reviewers to make your piece shine:
  • If you pass through the initial stage of review, you will be asked to do one or more rounds of revisions before the journal can commit to publishing your article. This is an absolutely ROUTINE part of the process and will result in a stronger piece you will be proud of in the long term, so try not to feel personally attacked by feedback.
  • Sometimes you feel like the reviewers/editors are asking for the moon but maybe it’s not *that* bad and you’re just feeling attacked, tired, or frustrated. Take a beat to try to write a list of the most pertinent suggestions and prioritize them. Or if you’re truly at a loss, share the reader reports with a colleague or mentor to help sort out the most salient points.
  • Sometimes the editors or reviewers will ask you to make changes you don’t agree with or that you feel veer away from your original argument. Have an open conversation with the editor to clarify what is required and then choose your battles (and don’t back down if the changes will detract from your vision of your work). Most importantly, make your argument coherent, clear, and bullet proof, so that you can be confident in your contribution.
  • Keep a running list of anything you do to improve and revise your submission (even if you’re using track changes). You will need to write a revision letter detailing the changes that will be sent to the editors/reviewers as part of the revisions process that needs to demonstrate that you have seriously engaged with and addressed (most of) the feedback.
  • In general (though there are certainly unfortunate exceptions), reviewers/editors are on your side and acting in good faith. They are engaging with your work to help you improve it, which is actually a really cool thing!

Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error, but if you follow this roadmap, I have no doubt that you will find success in placing your work in a great venue. Good luck!

Meet the Committee

Thais Rutledge (2021-2024)

My name is Thais Rutledge, and I am a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Texas at Austin. After a rewarding teaching experience, I decided to return to school to become a professor. I work primarily with Modern British and Brazilian literatures with a transnational and multilingual focus. I am interested in narrative forms, cultural history, space, trauma, and memory — all of this through the context of intersectionality where race, class, gender, and ethnicity meet. I have a Master’s degree in Literature from Texas State University. I joined the MLA many years ago, and now I have the privilege to be part of the Committee for the Status for Graduate Students where I hope to advocate for inclusion, equity, and diversity in the academy. My article “Woolf’s Feminist Spaces and the New Woman in To the Lighthouse: The Cases of Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe” was published in the South Central Review (2020), which focuses on women and gendered spaces in Woolf’s’ To the Lighthouse

Kay Sohini (2021-2024)
I am a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellow and a fifth year PhD candidate in English at Stony Brook University, where I am currently drawing her doctoral dissertation as a comic. In both my creative and academic work, I focus on how comics can be utilized by scholars and artists alike in ethnography, in narrative medicine, in public health discourse, in resisting disinformation, and in espousing an equitable future for all. 

My work on comics has been published in The Nib, Graphic Mundi’s Covid ChroniclesAssay: A Journal of Non-fiction Studies, Women Write About Comics, Solrad, and Inside Higher Ed, Handbook of Comics and Graphic Narratives, amongst others. Apart from MLA’s Committee on the Status of Graduate Students in the Humanities, I serve on the editorial team of The Comics Grid, in the Executive Committee of the International Comic Arts Forum (ICAF), and I am a member of the Feminist Leaders Council at Feminist Press

Nina Ellis (2021-2024)

I am a third-year PhD candidate in American Literature at the University of Cambridge, where I am researching twentieth-century short fiction under the supervision of Dr Kasia Boddy. My academic interests range widely — but my doctoral thesis is a critical biography of the American short story writer Lucia Berlin, funded by a Full Studentship from the British Arts and Humanities Research Council. I am Co-Representative to the AHRC Student Liaison Group; and I was Graduate Representative to the Faculty of English from 2019–2020 and Co-Convenor of Cambridge’s American Literature Graduate Research Seminar from 2020–2021. I also teach undergraduates at Cambridge, and have supervised dissertations on a wide range of American literatures. 

Prior to PhD study, I gained my BA at Jesus College, Cambridge in Archaeology and Anthropology, and my QTS and PGCE (British secondary school teaching degrees) from the Institute of Education. I taught English Literature in a London state school for five years, and I completed my MA in English and American Literature at University College London. I have written about Berlin for Granta, and I am a regular columnist for Review 31. My short stories have appeared in Ambit, American Chordata, Granta, The London Magazine, 3:AM and elsewhere, and I recently won an Editors’ Choice Award in the 2021 Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. I am currently working on my first novel.

Mario De Grandis (2020-2023)

My name is Mario De Grandis. After receiving my Ph.D. at the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at The Ohio State University, I have joined the Irish Institute of Chinese Studies at University College Dublin (Ireland) as an assistant professor/lecturer. My research focuses on ethnic minority literature (shashu minzu wenxue) and its filmic adaptations. I am also active as a translator and I’ve subtitled documentaries and translated fiction from Chinese into Italian. Among these translations are documentaries by Ai Weiwei and works by Alat Asem, Chen Xiwo, and Lu Min.

Viana Hara 

My name is Viana Hara, I am originally from Panama, but I consider my hometown Durham, North Carolina, since I have lived there for 18 years before moving to Portland, Oregon. I hold a M.A in Foreign Language and Spanish Literature from NC State University.Currently, I am a first year Ph.D. graduate student in the Department of Romance Language ( Spanish and Portuguese) at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Before coming to Portland, I taught upper-level undergraduate Spanish courses at Duke University under Dr. Walter Mignolo. Then, in Portland, I taught lower-level Spanish classes at the University of Portland as an adjunct instructor. 

My research interest is Panamanian Caribbean Narratives: the traces of Colonialism( race, sexism, nature abuse, control of knowledge/Subjectivities), Post-Dictatorship, Present Democracies with the theory of Coloniality, Decoloniality. I am also studying for a certificate with specialization in translation studies.

I have worn many hats in my career journey: I was in U.S Army Reserve for eight years, worked at a hospital as a phlebotomy technician ( while studying for my bachelor as a nontraditional student), and was a flight attendant in my natal country before coming to the U.S. I  love to share this knowledge and life experience with my students because I wholeheartedly believe that motivation for learning and intellectual curiosity comes from within. It does not depend on circumstances; learning is a never-ending process, and life is not in a straight line.

Ariadne Wolf (2019-2022)

Hello! I graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College, where I now sit on the Board of Governors, in 2019. I earned my Master’s in English from the University of Rochester in 2021 and moved immediately into my present role of Women’s Center Coordinator at Colgate University. My professional advocacy extends to my role with the MLA, where I focus on protecting the minimal rights of Master’s-level students and trying hard to ensure that the needs of marginalized students are recognized. As an academic, I am most interested in Performance Studies, Whiteness Studies, and other elements of Cultural Studies that I hope to see come to fruition in the near future.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ariadne-wolf-73a341180/

https://ariadnewolf.com

Didem Uca (2019-2022, co-chair)

I began my time on CSGSH while at the University of Pennsylvania, where I received my Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literatures in 2019. After spending one year as Visiting Assistant Professor at Colgate University, I began my current role as Assistant Professor of German Studies at Emory University. My research analyzes post/migrant cultural production within an intersectional framework and through a variety of media, including the Bildungsroman, multilingual hip-hop, and transnational social media movements. My research has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Monatshefte, Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies, and Die Unterrichtspraxis/Teaching German.

I love teaching and developing inclusive pedagogies, which led to my contributing to the new intermediate German language textbook Impuls Deutsch 2. In 2020, I was awarded the Goethe-Institut/American Association of Teachers of German Certificate of Merit. As a Turkish-Arab-American from Long Island, New York, I became fascinated by Turkish-German cultural production as an undergrad, because it was the first time I saw representations of Turkish diasporic identity. I am now co-editor of Turkish-German Studies Yearbook and translate from German and Turkish into English, with translations forthcoming in TRANSIT and SAND. I truly enjoy the translation process and am grateful whenever I have the opportunity to make someone else’s words accessible to a new audience.

G. Edzordzi Agbozo (2019-2022)

I joined the committee as a graduate student in the interdisciplinary humanities program at Michigan Technological University from where I received my PhD in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture. Prior to my doctoral studies, I received a Master of Philosophy degree in English linguistics and language acquisition from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and a BA in English and Linguistics from the University of Ghana. Currently, I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. I am also a Junior Fellow at the Pan-African Scientific Research Council. 

I work at the intersections of Scientific, Medical and Technical Writing, Critical Discourse Studies, Rhetoric of Health and Medicine, and Applied Linguistics. My recent publications appeared in Applied Linguistics Review, Journal of African Rhetoric, Current Issues in Language Planning and Programmatic Perspectives, and forthcoming in Technical Communication.

You can see more on my work at https://sites.google.com/view/edzordzi/home. I am a recipient of ​​the Barbara Heifferon Graduate Students Fellowship in Rhetoric of Health and Medicine, CPTSC Diversity Scholarship Award from the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication, Graduate Research Award from the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing, Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship, and Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award at Michigan Technological University among other recognitions. I am currently co-editing two books on cross-cultural communication of Covid-19, and election rhetorics in West Africa. 

Applying to Present at an Academic Conference in the Humanities

By Didem Uca
Assistant Professor of German Studies, Emory University
CSGSH Co-chair

The calls for papers (CfPs) for next year’s MLA have been posted, which means that the sessions are currently seeking abstracts. If you have never applied to present at a conference before, this post covers the essentials, including why you should present at a conference, how to find and select a panel, how to write an abstract, and how to submit it.

Why Present?

If you are passionate about the topic you are studying and researching, chances are that you enjoy sharing your work. But you may feel intimidated by the formality of a conference session or feel that your work is not ready to be judged by others. From personal experience, I have felt that most conference audiences are friendlier and more constructive (not to mention much smaller) than your panic dreams may lead you to believe. The oft-feared question and answer session is an opportunity to receive valuable feedback from others working on similar topics, which ultimately helps push your project further.

Furthermore, speaking at a conference can motivate you to meet your project’s benchmarks in a timely manner and speaking about your research insights can help you gain confidence as a scholar. A presentation can often lead to other opportunities for professional development, such as publication or future collaborations. All in all, attending and presenting at conferences allows you to connect with colleagues and potential mentors around a set of shared interests, allowing you to exchange ideas with others in a meaningful dialogue while supporting your scholarly development.

Finding and Selecting a Panel

There are two main ways to find out about conference panels. The first is by signing up for various email listservs related to your discipline or subfields, such as through H-Net, or, similarly, by following the social media accounts of professional organizations. You can also check out UPenn’s CfP repository for a searchable list of humanities CfPs for a huge number of conference sessions. By being plugged into these networks year-round, you have the best chance of learning about opportunities out there to share your work. The second way is by checking out the conference’s calls for papers portal, which sometimes requires a membership login. On the portal, you can search for calls based on keywords or other specifications.

Once you have found a few panels that interest you, try to think about papers you have written for seminars or concepts that have been important for your research and decide which panel might be the best fit. This may not actually be a panel topic where you have already done the most relevant work, but rather the topic that best matches the direction you would like your work to take. A common misconception is that you should have already written a paper before applying to a conference, but that is definitely not the case! The conference will likely take place 6-10 months after proposals have been chosen, so you will have plenty of time to write your paper in the interim.

Note that while for some conferences, you may be allowed to apply to an unlimited number of sessions, at others, you may only be allowed to apply to one or two. Make sure to read through the submission guidelines or conference FAQ before submitting.

Writing an Abstract

Once you have selected a panel or panels to which you would like to apply, you should start crafting your short proposal, or abstract. An abstract is generally 200-400 words (NB: the length varies, so follow the conveners’ instructions) in which you briefly summarize the argument your presentation will make. This can be tricky if you are writing a proposal for a new project rather than one based on a paper you have already written. But it is actually okay if your paper’s final argument ends up being somewhat different from what you propose, as changes during the research process are to be expected.

When writing your abstract, it helps to decide on your paper’s scope. If presentations will only be 15 minutes long, you won’t be able to discuss 6 epic novels or summarize the findings of your entire dissertation or even one entire chapter. I think that the most successful conference presentations are when the presenter addresses a specific and narrow research question that serves as a microcosm of a larger issue. The presenter draws you into their argument through careful analysis of a case study and successfully articulates the project’s stakes by suggesting what broader implications such an approach could have. Another important factor for selection is how well your contribution would fit on the panel, so make sure to reread the panel description as you are crafting your abstract and consider including relevant keywords or concepts from the description to underscore your project’s suitability. If you are able to articulate all of these aspects in the abstract, you will have a good chance of being selected. And don’t forget to give your paper a strong title! 

Once you write your draft abstract, you may wish to share it with your advisor or another mentor for feedback. This is why it can be helpful to plan ahead and give yourself enough time for them to read it and then to incorporate their suggestions. However, you should also not feel obligated to ask for feedback if you feel confident with your proposal.

Submitting your Abstract and the Selection Process

Once you’ve written your abstract, be sure to follow the submission guidelines from the CfP. For MLA panels, you are asked to send your abstract and a short professional biography to the organizer(s) via email, and the deadlines for submission vary based on the panel. For some other conferences, you have to submit your materials through the conference portal. Once you submit your proposal, the organizer(s) will often send you a confirmation of receipt and then it will generally take 1-3 weeks after the deadline until you learn whether or not your proposal has been selected. If your proposal is accepted, you will receive more information about the conference, format of the session, and any associated deadlines, so be sure to keep an eye out for those correspondences. If you were not accepted, don’t be discouraged! Oftentimes sessions receive 2-5 times the number of proposals they can accommodate. Other factors, such as how well the papers fit together or your institutional context (for example, the MLA has a limit on the number of speakers that can be from the same university), might have edged you out. Sometimes you may even be able to submit the same or a slightly revised version of your abstract to another conference session, so keep a look out for the next opportunity to share your work.

Good luck, and be sure to check out the CfPs for our committee’s two sponsored sessions: “Building Your Scholarly Identity: How to communicate your brand in a Remote World” and “Mental Health and Wellness in Graduate School,” both due by March 15!