In early March 2013, I attended the 1st Biennial Latina/o Literary Theory and Criticism Conference at John Jay College in New York. I presented a selection from Chapter 2 of my dissertation (you can see an early draft of that here) and was very excited to share my work with other Latina/Latino studies scholars.
I had some writer’s block recently, a particular kind of writer’s block: I was trying to revise a short section of my dissertation to present at a conference. I spent the whole month of February and part of March thinking about it, but it wasn't until the conference was a week away, that I realized that I have a case of academic writer’s block.
As I drove home from work a few weeks ago, I listened to a podcast episode of Writer’s Voice where the show’s producer Drew Adamek interviewed Junot Diaz. The focus of the interview was Diaz’s latest book, This Is How You Lose Her, and his process of writing the book. Anyone who knows me knows I am a big fan of Junot Diaz, and I recently finished This Is How You Lose Her. I also enjoy reading and hearing about the writing process of others, not just because of my job but because you can tell so much about a writer by how they approach their writing, and this particular podcast episode did not disappoint in that regard.
I received an email from MLA recently addressed to “Professor Silva.” It made me smile, but immediately after that it made me furrow my brow. Professor Silva? Who is this Professor Silva? Nothing in my past emails indicated I was a professor. I put it away, thinking it may have just been a mistake. But it bothered me a little: I did not want to claim “Professor” when I am not one.
In August, Amy Rubens (@ambulantscholar on Twitter) posted a thoughtful post on her personal blog about her plans for the semester and how to continue her research agenda while teaching (and also adjusting to a new town and new school). Amy and I met via Twitter some time in the past year when we were trying to finish our dissertations, balance work along with dissertating, and blogging about our phd exploits. We both graduated last May, and are embarking on new jobs this fall. In her post, Amy pointed out that in order to get her conference presentations done in time she will be blogging about her reading; it's a way for her to stay accountable and to digest the information on a long-term. She also discussed how she thinks of her blogging as a form of public scholarship, an idea I sympathize with.
Last May, Inside Higher Ed reported that Russell Berman, past president of the Modern Language Association (MLA) and Stanford University professor, has put forth a proposal together with five other Stanford colleagues to rethink the humanities PhD there. They tackled the question of whether and how to make the humanities PhD relevant today. In order to accomplish this, they posit that time to degree must be reduced and students should be trained for a diversity of career tracks, not limited to the traditional tenure track career path.