Puget Sound English Department

December 8, 2010

Summer Teaching Opportunity

Filed under: Employment,General — ATH @ 9:03 am
Tags: ,

The Institute of Reading Development is seeking applicants for summer 2011 teaching positions at multiple locations. Teachers in their program plan and implement lessons, and work with learners from age 4 through adulthood. The Institute also offers reading support at the college level. They are looking for applicants who hold a Bachelor’s Degree and love to read, among other things. You can find more information and submit an online application via their website.


August 19, 2010

Thinking about grad school? Read this…

Every once in a while, The Chronicle of Higher Education takes a break from forecasting the demise of the Humanities, the corporatization of higher education, the evisceration of tenure, and the dire state of the academic job market (all of which are well worth bemoaning, of course), and offers something more tangibly useful. This time it’s offering a compendium of wisdom, entitled An Open Letter to New Graduate Students. As several commenters protest, and as the author(s) acknowledge, it’s a letter and set of advice tailored particularly towards those entering a full-time, conventional, PhD program, and is far less relevant to those undertaking professional degrees, terminal MAs, or non-traditional programs. But it’s pretty comprehensive and, based on my own rapidly receding experience, relatively accurate.

My off-the cuff (and, admittedly, somewhat tongue-in-cheek) responses to some of the items on their list follow [NOTE: this post does not reflect the official opinion of the English Department, or even very many of the members thereof. It’s offered merely in the spirit of dialogue. If you are seriously considering applying to graduate school in the humanities, please consult with faculty advisers you know and trust].

1. Don’t overdo the “networking” thing, especially in a traditional humanities field and especially when you are brand new at the game. Or, better, do make those connections to senior scholars and intellectual rockstars, but make them sincerely and sparingly, based on your real interests, reading, and scholarship. If you must be obvious that you are “playing the game,” do so with a dose of irony and a world-weary shrug: those of us committed enough to our discipline to pursue a degree that can take 9 years with only the slimmest chance of a viable career find such naked careerism annoying–especially when it’s unsupported by any proven excellence in research and/or teaching. We chose, all common sense to the contrary, to forsake the world of headhunters, year-end bonuses, and office Christmas parties, and we don’t want you turning our hallowed academic halls into some debased scholarly version of “The Apprentice.”

2. Internships? What’s that? The best preparation for a traditional academic career in the Humanities is traditional academic success: conference papers, publications (good ones), and proven teaching effectiveness or, more often, excellence. This is not to discourage you from creating your own path, or to suggest that for every faculty member who stuck to the straight and narrow there aren’t umpteen less direct, conventional routes. But if we’re talking basic Humanities faculty positions, there’s unlikely to be an “internship.” Two exceptions: first, the “preparing future faculty” program at most universities that allows grad students to teach at other institutions–even if you KNOW you are R-1 material, some Community College experience might be the best thing that ever happened to your pedagogy, or your career path. Second, an internship so intriguing that you can’t pass it up. No matter what it is. It might not help your academic job search, but it might save your soul, or identify a better route to a more viable career.

3. Keeping up with blogs and other contemporary media to the extent that these authors suggest is a sure way NOT to finish your dissertation. Yes, some of the most valuable and useful advice out there–and lots of community and support–is happening in the blogosphere. Inside Higher Ed has a set of terrific academic blogs and some great advice columns–especially for those about to go on the market. But there is invariably an inverse relationship between an ABD’s presence online (usually in lengthy responses to other bloggers) and his/her completed dissertation. Blogs and other online resources can be terrific, but use them like antibiotics: only by prescription, under professional supervision, and in recommended amounts. (Here the exception would be if your program/degree focuses on the nature or substance of electronic communication. At that point, it’s all data: Have at it!)

What makes a good teacher?

Filed under: General,Uncategorized — ATH @ 6:12 am
Tags: ,

The LA Times is running a series of articles that takes up this question, and uses a trendy “value-added” approach to rating individual teachers, whose names and scores it intends to publish. Unsurprisingly, teachers and teachers’ unions are objecting, some vehemently, to such individualized scrutiny, and to what they feel is a reductive approach to a complex art (to be fair, in the report I heard, one of the series’ lead reporters repeated multiple times that this is not by any means the only or best way to measure teaching effectiveness, nor is improvement in standardized test scores the full measure of any teacher).

Despite the facts–what we do at the college level is fundamentally dependent on what is happening in K-12 education; many of our alums pursue advanced degrees and careers in the field–one can generally spend much of one’s professorial life largely ignoring what goes on in public education in this country, with the exception of cocktail-party chatter about the declining state of our schools. (Of course, as with all generalizations, this generic truth doesn’t apply to certain programs, especially on a campus with a popular and effective MAT program.)

The series is fascinating (there’s also an NPR story about its methods), and raises difficult questions that are no less relevant to a discussion of university education: what makes a good teacher “good”? How much variation will we accept in effective teaching? To what extent can we isolate the teacher’s role in what is, by almost any account, a clunky, inequitable, massive, and often ineffective system, with huge variations in funding? Does an approach like the “value-added” metric (which, effectively, attributes test-score improvement or decline from a pre-established base rating to the teacher) reduce the interpersonal art of teaching to a kind of balky production line model? Is it fair to hold individual teachers solely accountable when their “raw materials” and facilities vary so widely by race, class, culture, opportunity, funding, and all the other factors that affect academic achievement? On the other hand, with the stakes so high, why not hold teachers to higher standards? Why protect weak or ineffective teachers at the students’ expense?

At the core, though, the question boils down to this: is teaching a “science,” an “art,” or some combination thereof?

May 1, 2010

More on this year’s graduates, and those from the past…

Filed under: Activities off Campus,Alumni News,Graduate School — ATH @ 5:54 am

Alex Thomas (’10) will be attending the MAT program at Willamette University to pursue her Master’s in Teaching and her credential–which she is planning to use to teach high school English!

Greta Lindquist (’10) will attend the Denver Publishing Institute–an intensive, graduate-level summer course that devotes itself to all aspects of book publishing, with workshops and teaching sessions conducted by leading experts from all areas of the field.

And Kristen Proehl, (Puget Sound ’02; MA ’04 and PhD ’10 [exp] William and Mary) will join the faculty at Clemson University this fall.


April 27, 2010

Current Students: Writing Internship Info Session TODAY

Don’t forget to stop by Trimble Forum, today, from 6-7 to find out about internship options and the valuable role they can play in career preparation. Professor Mita Mahato and current members of English 497 (the internship course) discuss the process, placements, and rewards of this important component of our program.

And yes, of course there are refreshments!

April 23, 2010

Writing Internship Info Session

Filed under: courses,Employment,Events on Campus,Uncategorized — MM @ 9:24 am

Life after graduation can be a scary thing. And as students who study English, we’re often confronted with the daunting question, “What do you DO with a degree in English??” The answer is: PLENTY! The Writing Internship course (ENGL 497), which requires students to obtain and complete a writing-related internship off-campus (for credit!), helps to answer and deal with this question and more.

The next session of ENGL 497 will be offered Spring 2011, but it’s not too soon to start thinking about the course now!

Please join current students of ENGL 497 to hear about their experiences interning and ask questions about becoming an intern, taking an internship for credit, the value of the course, how to make the transition from college to the world “out there,” etc. Professor Mita Mahato (who will be teaching the course next year) and Leah Vance (from Career and Employment Services) will be on hand to help field questions.

Tuesday, April 27th
Trimble Forum
6-7 pm

April 4, 2010

National Poetry Month

Snow on Lilacs

Snow on Lilacs

April may or may not be “the cruelest month,” but it is National Poetry Month. Inaugurated in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, the designation serves to “celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture.” In honor of National Poetry Month, then, we offer you the following link to a collection of “Poems for April” from the Electronic Poetry Center, as well as a cool hypertext site for T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922), which is, of course, the source of that “cruelest month” crack at the beginning of this post. The site integrates Eliot’s own notes on the poem alongside the text, and includes as well commentary from other scholarly sources. And finally, on a less serious note, a link to the website PoemHunter.Com, where you can search for poems about April, poets named April, quotations including April, etc., etc., etc.

March 30, 2010

What To Do With An English Major?

Filed under: Employment,General — ATH @ 10:38 pm

Here’s one possibility: public interest work. Information on jobs and internships with USPIRG below. Deadline for submitting a resume is Thursday, April 1:

A Message to Graduating Seniors:
You are no doubt trying to decide what you will do next year, or even for the next 5 years. I want to let you know more about opportunities in the public interest field.


U.S.PIRG is a federation of state-based public interest advocacy groups. This year we are hiring 100 graduating college students to determine where this country is going: to solve our energy problems; to reform the campaign finance system; to fight for banking reform and fix the financial crisis; to fight hunger and homelessness; and make an impact on many other public interest issues.

We are currently accepting applications through Thursday, April 1st. Please send your resume to ijeon@washpirg.org and make sure to include your contact information for a brief, follow-up phone interview. For more information I invite you to check out our website, www.uspirg.org/jobs.


Irene Jeon
Program Associate, WashPIRG
1402 3rd Avenue, Suite 715
Seattle, WA 98101
(o) 206.568.2854 x2007
(f) 206.568.2858

March 8, 2010

Help out an alum

Ryan Honick (’09) is currently pursuing a degree in public communication at American University, and has requested our help with gathering data for his capstone project on the ways undergraduate and graduate students use social media (yup, Facebook). If you are a current student or graduate student and are willing to take a few minutes to support the continued academic endeavors of one of our own, you can find a link to Ryan’s short survey and more information here. Ryan’s hoping to get at least 200 responses by the end of March, and we’d like to show him that Puget Sound takes care of its own. In return, he offers the chance to contribute to the furtherance of human knowledge, and the possibility of an Amazon.com gift card.

Here is Ryan’s request:

As many of you know, I am conducting my graduate capstone research on the way undergraduate and graduate students use Facebook. As part of that research, I have created a survey online and I am looking to gather as many responses as possible. You may also feel free to encourage your friends to participate in the survey.

The survey should take no more than 5-10 minutes to complete. If you do decide to take it you will have the opportunity to enter yourself in a drawing for a $50 Amazon.com gift card as my way of saying thank you.

If you would like to take the survey, visit


Thanks for all of your help. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


March 3, 2010

Seattle Metropolitan Magazine: Summer Internships

For interested juniors/seniors/alums in the Seattle area, Seattle Metropolitan magazine is looking for editorial, web, and art interns for this summer. The deadline is March 15th for all internships. (They are unpaid, unfortunately.) Good luck, everyone!

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