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Most Recent Articles

March 5, 2012
  Control is important, we need to be able to balance a number of lives as grad students, maintain multiple fellowships and jobs, work on our research as well as ace our classes, and make a good impression in the department as well as the broader discipline. Our success comes from the close control over every aspect of our professional and academic lives: mapping out every minute of our week into our Google calendars, tracking assignments through various iPhone apps, using Zotero to organize every bibliographic reference, and keeping up with the professionals through every social media site we can think of. This is good, it keeps us grounded. So here's the problem: you can't control everything.
March 2, 2012
  This past August, I sat my doctoral comprehensive exams. It was a grueling, exhausting process, and the months leading up to the exams were some of the most stressful of my life. I don’t think that I have ever cried so much in my life; from exhaustion, stress, fear, and from the worst bout of  impostor syndrome I had felt since beginning grad school. Comprehensive exams are a massive, daunting undertaking, one that marks the transition from coursework and being a student to dissertating and being a candidate.
February 28, 2012
So, to protect my own fragile ego, I like to have practice runs of my big presentations in more casual events--but not where the entire audience is made up of my friends and family.  Brown bags are a great resource for practicing your presentation, building your confidence, and sharing your research.   We have them on campus all the time and they give you an opportunity to present your materials in a somewhat casual, but somewhat formal setting.  Sometimes you'll get some friendly and familiar faces in the crowd, but more often than not, it simulates the "real thing" in a more effective setting than sitting in front of a mirror and practicing your speech. 
February 26, 2012
Let’s face it--a lot of us in graduate school are perfectionists. I could go a step farther and argue a lot of us made it into graduate school in part because of our perfectionism. Graduate school is exactly the kind of environment where perfectionism thrives. There’s a constant striving to tackle our significant workloads without error and folly. There's the pressure to publish well and often. There's the pressure to do something that's never been done before. We’ve got lots of people counting on us--students, colleagues, professors--and of course, those same people are constantly watching us and will know when we’ve screwed up.  Comparing ourselves to others is, like biting nails, a bad and nervous habit that we could quit if we only could relax a little.
February 23, 2012
The smartphone has become a regular part of my daily workflow, and I find myself using it regularly for To Do lists, email, reminders, and keeping up to date on news and such. Recently, I've found a couple of apps that have been particularly helpful in keeping me on track, so I thought I'd share them with you all. There are some similarities in these apps: they all do one thing and one thing only, and they place a premium on doing those things as quickly as possible, so you can spend less time on your phone, and more time doing other things. Also, most of them have reminder systems built in, so you don't forget to use them to do the things you want to do. As a side note: I'm an iPhone user, and I've done my best to find alternative apps for other smartphones. Please use the comment field to add any useful alternatives for other platforms!
February 21, 2012
  The traditional model of the lecture and learning cycle has long been to deliver the lecture during class and to send students home to do homework and perhaps engage in a discussion or two afterwards. The flipped classroom flips this model on its head: through lecture capture software, lectures can be captured on video for students to watch home, freeing up class time for hands-on learning activities and discussion.
February 20, 2012
If you work in the humanities, you might want to check out the Newberry Library in Chicago.  This research library has a number of core collections in American history and culture, American Indian and Indigenous studies, Chicago and the Midwest, history of the book, and Medieval and Renaissance studies.  These collections include manuscripts, maps, images, music, and are supported by numerous secondary source materials.
February 16, 2012
In thinking about developing an online presence, participants were worried about exposure: what facets of one’s professional/academic/personal selves should be revealed online, and to what extent? Their reservations about writing publicly, particularly about their research, mirrored my own when I started blogging. I’ve figured out how to negotiate those issues, but I still struggle with an important issue related to my professional, digital presence: Do I want to make my CV available online? If yes, where should I post it, and what platform should I use? Furthermore, what version of my CV should I use? (That’s right: the academic CV is not one-size-fits-all.)
February 14, 2012
Last week, as I prepared my office for an upcoming move to another home, I had a realization: when was the last time I actually took something out of my filing cabinet? The filing cabinet sits in my closet in my home office. It include four drawers: two full of articles, one full of research notes and photocopies, and the other full of personal items, like bills and so on. I bought it during my first year of graduate school, when I realized I would be accumulating a lot of paper. This was before sheet feed scanners were popular (or affordable) or tablets or iPhones had hit the market, so reading on the computer was not something a lot of students were doing: it certainly wasn't where I was then. I used the photocopy machine. A lot.
February 12, 2012
I often wish there was a BOOK IT program for adults. I’m thinking of something different from the “grown-up” reading groups sponsored by talk show hosts where everyone, regardless of their interests, gathers to read the same chick-lit fare. And I’m definitely thinking of something different from traditional academic reading groups where copious notes and discussion questions are the norm. Both kinds of groups are well-meaning and there’s a place for them, to be sure. But really, I’m thinking of something with no guilt, no pressure, and no real agenda other than sharing and having fun.


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