Notes from Graduate Student Funding Meeting 12/6/13 1:00pm-2:30pm

Major points

1. This year we know some solid information with respect to funding early, largely because there is not a big state budget situation

2. TA salaries going up again next fall—this changes how many TA positions we can have

3. Our cuts have been less significant than in other departments because we teach composition

4. TA salary increase, going up this fall and next fall
-this is a good thing because many of us are working extra jobs
-this may be a significant factor when we’re looking at how long it takes grad students to compete dissertation
-hopefully this will lead to more focus on the academic work
-big issue right now for faculty is time to degree
-grad students need to adhere to criteria for finishing on time

5. until recently, we’ve had almost automatic admission into PhD program from MFA and MATESOL programs

6. If you have funding in your contract, you don’t need to worry about renewal so long as you still stay on track/meet benchmarks

7. We are assessing how much the raise is based on a study of comparable schools and how much they pay their TAs

8. By January there will be another meeting. We hope to be able tell 6th year people that they will receive funding at that point—this is a hope, not a fact.

9. Graduate Studies Committee: student recruitment is being decreased, thus providing more support for students in department

10. There are 3 groups looking at same group of TA positions,
-6th /7th year and over
-incoming students
-locals, or students already enrolled, not 6th year, but without funding

11. There will be more conversations with IWP, trying to make it easier for grad students to apply to this department

12. if you are able to pick up a position outside of English, you are more likely to be re-hired within that department

13. after recession there was extra money that allowed us to make new TA appointments; that “backfill” and “temporary” money is gone; thus, there will be fewer positions than there were 5,6,7, years ago


Q: “What is satisfactory progress”

A: you must be within range grade-wise 3.7-4.0
you must meet benchmarks (letter for PhD, prospectus, exams, etc.)
Teaching evaluations

-Right now the major benchmarks are master’s essay and exams; there are two new benchmarks that will be proposed to faculty: prospectus and PhD letter. By next September the above should all be benchmarks

-On the website there is a detailed guide about these benchmarks
-eventually dissertation chapters may become benchmarks
-these benchmarks end with the prospectus;
-once you are working on the dissertation—or past “renewal period”—your dissertation chapters are major factor in determining funding

-The purpose of these benchmarks is to remind you that there is a timeline, and to help students finish the program as quickly as possible

Q: Has there been a study conducted with regards to average time to completion; and what factors tend might extend this timeline?

A: 7-8 years to completion is average; some people finish in 6; the average is pulled by dissertations that take 12 years; the average is going up; it may have much to do with “bad job market”

-We are looking at peer institutions, what they are doing: 8, 9, and 10 year students have been contacted; we are trying to figure out the roadblocks to completion; we want to anticipate the challenges that we might encounter; there is a wide range of problems that might extend the time it takes to finish

Q: is there a way to publish information with respect to how long other students have taken, and what problems they have faced so that future can anticipate potential problems

A:We have a new endowment: we can have four more dissertation quarters (a term just to write)

Q: Students coming in with MA, have four years of funding—leaving MA students with one year to dissertate

A: There are discussions happening with respect to restructuring the program; are we going to be a 5 or 6 year program? We do have a de facto 6 year program so we would like to guarantee 6th year students funding

Q: is there a way to increase transparency with respect to how the 200 level classes are allocated

A: we are given so many classes; start by assigning to 5th year students; we try to give students their top choice at least once, but it is more often the case that some specialized courses are not being offered; sometimes a lot of people all pick the same one or two classes (if you have all American lit students and only 2 American lit classes…)

-How do we make the teaching as efficient as possible for the people doing it? 1) Everyone wants to teach a course that would be exactly as you want it. 2) But it’s a myth that you will not get hired because you have not taught all the cool classes. It is, after all, hip to be square.

Q: Back to the labor issue: It’s counter-productive to teaching harder classes at the level of dissertating.

A: We will all “die” (dramatic pause) “professionally” if we don’t learn how to teach given the time we have. Not all your classes will be as good as you want them to be; that’s okay.

Q: But if our evaluations are part of how we are being judged/hired…
A: Once you’re 6th year or higher, you’re really being awarded funding based on performance not so much your teaching evaluations. Also your teaching evaluations are averaged, so your lowest score may not matter

Q: for local TAs (in related departments, e.g. rhetoric) what counts as progress?
A: benchmarks across disciplines are fairly equivalent

Q: teaching different 200 level class every term makes it hard to progress
A: we can adjust the preference form so that people can indicate if they would like to repeat classes in a year while teaching at the 200 level

Q: 1-does progress mean a history of progress, or just hitting one benchmark at a particular time
2-less comfortable with rankings; even less comfortable without public rankings; what’s the possibility of making those rankings public?
3-dept. ought to be more up front with students with regards to funding; what can we realistically expect in terms of funding

A: #3 is the whole point of current discussion; we’re not entirely happy with how funding has unfolded, but much of the blame goes to the state budget—but we are past the budget crunch
-Rankings are not going to be published;
-according to Graduate Studies Committee: if you are meeting benchmarks within renewal period, you’re not in jeopardy with respect to losing your funding. But once you are no longer within the renewal period, progress is how you are being evaluated (see emboldened above)

-Part of the problem is that we have had only two benchmarks for years, but they have not been enforced; if you get behind, you will have to catch up to where you are supposed to be according to your year, not according to your own personal dissertation vacuum.

-With respect to being more “up front” about funding: the local students are the ones who receive the “murky” answer; up until a couple years ago there were good chances that local students would get funding the second year if they could demonstrate progress

-next term we should be having conversations about going to a 6 year program structure (see above)

Q: given statistically that only 1 in 5 of grad students will get a tenure track position in our field, is the department doing anything to prepare students for non-academic jobs?
A: the numbers, in the long run are closer to 50%. The number of people teaching part-time jobs is going up
-We tend to place students more often in tenure track jobs than other schools; not always R1, but usually UW does a “pretty good job” of helping students place in tenure track positions
-There is a national discussion regarding how to train students in English departments for non-academic jobs when that is not what the faculty is trained to teach

Q: We could make public data regarding what non-academic jobs our students are getting (5+ years after graduation);
A: we will build that into our website
it might also be useful to post schools that tend to hire UW English students (while you’re still dissertating)

Q: different ways the dissertation could be written given non-academic career goals
A: We can do workshops; send ideas to Juan, complaints to Anis (laughter ensues)

Q: thanks for the transparency; can we have a dissertation committee (like the placement committee)…the cohorts fall apart after 131 training; should we institutionalize support?

A: finding human resources is part of the problem; committee is trying to consider whole system, and hopefully such committees (like the jobs placement committee) can be integrated into that system

We are trying to build a mentoring guide, so that students and faculty know what their responsibilities are in this student/supervisor relationship

Exeunt English department.

- Thanks to Aaron Ottinger for taking these!

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EVENT: Kylee-Anne Hingston, “‘As Seeing’s Believing’: Illustration, Focalization and Disability in Victorian Children’s Literature,” Feb. 22, 12-1:15 PM, SAV 408

Please join us for the second UW Disability Studies brownbag talk of the Winter quarter:

Kylee-Anne Hingston, “‘As Seeing’s Believing’: Illustration, Focalization and Disability in Victorian Children’s
When: Friday, Feb. 22, 12-1:15 pm
Where: Savery 408

Abstract: This presentation combines formal narrative analysis with the lens of disability studies to expose what
Victorian children’s literature tells us about the Victorian concept of the disabled body. Using as a case study
Dinah Mulock Craik’s fairytale “The Little Lame Prince: A Parable for Young and Old” (1874), Hingston challenges
previous critics’ readings of disability as a code for gender struggles in Victorian children’s literature;
instead, she argues that examining the role of disability in “The Little Lame Prince’s” illustrations and narrative
focalizations (that is, the point of view from which the story is told) reveals the complicated, and at times
incongruous, Victorian understanding of disability. Indeed, although the novel’s narrative structure suggest an
understanding of disability as abnormal and in need of compensation if not cure, in contrast, the illustrations and
focalization destabilize the notion of physical aberrance.

Biographical Sketch: Kylee-Anne Hingston is a PhD student at the University of Victoria, where she is writing her
dissertation on focalization and disability in Victorian fiction. She has published on disability and L.M.
Montgomery’s novel “Blue Castle” and has published articles on disability and Victorian fiction in the journals
“Victorian Literature and Culture” and “Women’s Writing.”

For more information, contact Joanne Woiak, jwoiak @

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CFP: “At Face Value: Re-thinking Surfaces,” Friends of English Southland Graduate Conference, UCLA

Friday, May 31, 2013 at UCLA
Keynote speakers: Professor Rachel Lee (UCLA), Professor Daniel Tiffany (USC)

Sir Peter: Aye, ever improving himself!–Mr. Surface, Mr. Surface…Well, well, that’s proper;  and you make even your screen a source of knowledge…
Joseph Surface: Oh, yes, I find great use in that screen.
–Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The School for Scandal (IV.3)

What does it mean to take something “at face value?” Recent literary scholarship has attempted
to reclaim the notion of “surface” in the face of critical tendencies to relegate surface to the
superficial and therefore the inconsequential. Such scholarly approaches have taken a number of
different forms, ranging from post-suspicious inquiry (Felski) and reparative reading (Sedgwick),
to distance reading (Moretti), object-oriented criticism (Latour), and systems theory (Luhmann).
Inspired by this recent critical turn, this conference proposes a reorientation of our cultural
predisposition towards depth. “Resurfacing” the surface seeks the destabilization of binaries
such as true/false, spiritual/corporeal, eternal/ephemeral, complex/simple. Surfaces have been
relegated to the realm of the slight, the shallow, the casual or unexamined, the insignificant. We
ask: how can we challenge, disrupt, and reconfigure the idea of the surface as we have come to
understand it, and what implications for the field of literary study would such a critical move

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CFP: Queertopia!, Northwestern’s Queer Pride Graduate Student Association Conference, Apr. 12-14

Call for papers: Conference on ”Philosophical Investigations into Sexuality”

Northwestern’s Queer Pride Graduate Student Association (QPGSA) is hosting its sixth annual conference, Queertopia!, on April 12-14, 2013. We invite papers and panels from graduate students and advanced undergraduate students that pose philosophical questions concerning sexual orientation, sexual practice, sexual identity and expression, as well as gender and sex. This year’s keynote is Patricia Marino of the University of Waterloo (, who primarily works on ethics, philosophy of sex, and epistemology. For more details, visit our website: 

Call for performances for an interdisciplinary performance event

Northwestern’s Queer Pride Graduate Student Association (QPGSA) is hosting its annual performance night, Queergasm! on April 13, 2013, as part of our academic conference weekend. We are looking for debaucherous, political, satirical, poetical, and philosophical performers who can intrigue and entertain. We are hoping to pull together a night of thought-provoking performances based around themes of stigma, forced morals, taboo, and our rejection of them. Please visit our website for more information:

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February Castalia Reading, 2/5, 8 PM, Richard Hugo House

The University of Washington’s

Creative Writing Program


February Castalia Reading

featuring UW alumni Rachel Welty & Anca Szilagyi

and current MFA candidates Kristine Greive, Jay Yencich, & Derek Robbins

WHEN:        Tuesday, February 5th at 8:00 pm

WHERE:      Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Avenue, Seattle

ADMISSION: Free (with cash bar and books available for purchase)

Castalia is a monthly reading series curated by students of the University of Washington’s MFA program. The series has been running, in one form or another, since 1970. Now in its 42nd season, Castalia provides a link between the university’s writing program and Seattle’s rich literary community.



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Upcoming Fellowship Deadlines

1)       UW Retirement Association Fellowship in Aging, deadline February 8, 2013, 12 noon:

2)      Fritz and Boeing International Research or Study Fellowships, deadline February 11, 2013, 12 noon

3)      Bonderman Travel Fellowship, deadline February 11, 2013, 12 noon:

4)      Huckabay Teaching Fellowship, deadline March 1, 2013:


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CFP: “Encounters With(in) Texts,” (dis)junctions, UC Riverside, Apr. 5-6, 2013

Encounters With(in) Texts
20th Annual (dis)junctions Humanities and Social Sciences Graduate Conference
University of California, Riverside
April 5-6, 2013

Encounter: transitive verb
1 a: to meet as an adversary  b: to engage in conflict with
2: to come upon face-to-face
3: to come upon or experience especially unexpectedly

In our contemporary situation within media-saturated, cosmopolitan modernities, we “come upon” texts and Others so frequently that “encountering” with its unanticipated and oppositional valences has become the norm.  This year’s (dis)junctions conference invites papers that contribute to conversations around notions of “encountering,” with particular focus given to the operation of texts, understood as representational media objects, within “scenes of encounter.”
To articulate both the continued utility and the potential limitations of our critical literacies in a world of encounters, this conference examines the impact of situatedness, unexpectedness, and/or unpreparedness on “face to text” encounters with media objects, embodied encounters negotiated through or overdetermined by texts, and representations of “encountering” within texts.

Please visit for specific panel CFPS, as well as a fuller theorization of the conference theme of “encountering.”

SUBMISSIONS:  As always (dis)junctions welcomes panels and papers from all areas of the humanities, social sciences, and creative disciplines, as well as panel proposals from our colleagues in the physical sciences.  Abstracts and panel proposals should be submitted through or emailed to no later than February 11th.

KEYNOTE:  We are proud to announce this years keynote is Dr. Nicholas Mirzoeff, professor of visual studies in New York University’s Media, Culture and Communication department.  The editor of both editions of Routledge’s Introduction to Visual Culture (2000, 2009), as well as the Routledge Visual Culture Reader (2002), his current work in visual studies focuses around three major areas: developing a genealogy of “visuality”; developing visual culture as a fie3ld of study and a methodology; and working in conjunction with creative visual artists and media practitioners.  His most recent book is The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (Duke, 2011).   In addition to being a premier voice in visual culture scholarship, he is a contributing editor for the Media Commons online project, and is a co-PI in the development of the multi-media, digital-born authoring software, “Scalar.” Currently, he is working in conjunction with Islands First on a project that explores the visual culture of climate change.

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Idle No More Teach-In, 1/28, 6-8 PM, Sieg 134

Monday, January 28th from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, at Sieg Hall Room 134.

The Idle No More movement originated in Canada with their indigenous people in reaction to omnibus bill C-45. The Canadian Parliament passed legislation to terminate First Nations’ environmental sovereignty on their reserves, with special attention to the Canadian Tar Sands Development. However this is no longer just about Canadian environmental legislation but is a global movement of Indigenous and environmental activism. This legislation and movement can and will affect the daily lives of every American and these actions are
extremely detrimental to the environment.

First Nations @ UW will be hosting a teach-in with speakers from the UW American Indian Studies Department (AIS) and members of the Seattle Native American Community. First Nations would like to extend an invitation to our teach-in Monday, January 28th from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, at Sieg Hall Room 134.

“Idle No More” Flashmob at University of Washington Seattle

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CFP: “Southern Writers/Southern Writing,” University of Mississippi, July 18-20

Southern Writers/Southern Writing
Graduate Conference
2013 Call for Papers

The 19th Annual Southern Writers/Southern Writing Conference is a University of Mississippi Graduate Student event held in conjunction with the university’s Annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference. Participants are encouraged to remain in Oxford after the SWSW Conference to attend the Faulkner Conference. More information about the 2013 Faulkner Conference will be available at

The Graduate Students in the Department of English invite you to submit abstracts exploring Southern literature and writers. Accepted submissions will be presented in Oxford, Mississippi, 18-20 July 2013.  The keynote speaker will be Dr. Thadious M. Davis, the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of English at The University of Pennsylvania and most recently author of Southscapes: Geographies of Race, Region, and Literature.

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Danz Lecture 2013: Geoffrey Pullum, “The Scandal of English Grammar Teaching,” 2/12, 6:30 PM, Kane 120

The Scandal of English Grammar Teaching: Ignorance of Grammar, Damage to Writing Skills, and What We Can Do About It
Geoffrey Pullum
Feb 12, at 6:30 PM in Kane Hall, Room 120

The grammar instruction that survives in modern America amounts to little more than uncritical repetition of 200-year-old classifications that make little sense, plus a few lists of unexplained prohibitions: Don’t do that, this is an error, beware of the passive. Worse, those who purport to know English grammar use it primarily to nitpick: The surprising and engrossing business of exploring sentence structure is perverted into a source of cheap points in a game of Gotcha. The victims of this grammar bullying end up in a sorry state: insecure about their linguistic abilities yet clueless about what to do. Writing abilities suffer rather than being enhanced. This lecture surveys the situation, and offers not only some warnings but also some remedies.

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