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   For Graduate      Students


Prospective Graduate Students Interested in Working with Me:  

I am always interested in working with graduate students in my areas of expertise.

  1. Please note, however, that I cannot agree to direct your English PhD dissertation work, in advance, over email, before you are admitted to the program and before I have worked with you in classes and on exams. There is no need to email me or meet with me in advance; my work is widely available. Also, the graduate admissions committee in English does not ask for input from faculty; I am not involved in the admissions process. 

  2. For ENVS MA and ESSP PhD students, it is beneficial to contact the faculty you intend to work with, because the admissions process for this transdisciplinary degree works quite differently.] 

  3. For both programs, please note that I do not personally decide on grad admissions and I do not have my own funding to support graduate students. Generally in the U.S., in the humanities,  admissions and funding are through programs and centers, not individual faculty. There is no need to meet with me or directly send me your information. I am sorry that I cannot answer all the email I receive from prospective graduate students and I can't set up individual meetings with everyone. 


[From Fall of 2022 through Summer of 2025 I will be serving as the Director of Graduate Studies for the English Department. If you contact me, please be clear whether you are contacting me in that capacity or in the capacity of a faculty member in your field with whom you plan to work.]


Office Hours for Winter and Spring 2023

Week 1 to Week 10: Mondays 1-3 in my office, 205 PLC. Tuesdays 3-4 on Zoom (email for zoom link). You can stop by in-person office hours or email to reserve a half hour meeting.  If you are sick do not come to office hours in person; email me and we can zoom. Note: Some office hours may be cancelled due to graduate exams and meetings. Just email to check. If you bring your own mug, you are welcome to help yourself to coffee or tea!  I cannot meet on Thursdays or Fridays, which are (ideally) my research and writing days.

FOR CURRENT GRADUATE STUDENTS: PROCEDURES, RECOMMENDATIONS, THE JOB MARKET, ETC. (If I am directing your PhD or serving on your committee, please read all the information included here.)


Efficient, Clear, Email Communication:

Current students: check your UO email for information. Please use my official UO email address for all inquiries regarding current courses or letters of recommendation: do not use Facebook for anything professional, especially not requests for recommendation letters, etc. Please avoid multiple strings of emails: put everything you can in one clear email (e.g., the zoom link and the attachments and any other information) and use the subject line for topic, date and time. Please avoid creating unnecessary work, confusion, and unnecessary emails.

Winter "Break"/Spring "Break"

Please note that I cannot meet, read materials, or submit reference letters during our short and busy winter and spring "breaks"--please plan ahead so deadlines do not correspond with "breaks."  My schedule varies during summer break, which is roughly between mid June and mid September. 


Letters of recommendation:

  1. Dossier Service: Use Interfolio or a similar dossier service--faculty cannot write and send multiple letters. Ideally, you will be applying for 20-60 positions, since the job market is partly a numbers game. A service such as Interfolio not only makes it manageable for faculty, but it gives control to job seekers, enabling them to choose when and where the dossier should be sent, cutting down on emails, uncertainty, and stress.  Some positions make it difficult or impossible to use a dossier service, but please take advantage of the service whenever possible. If there are positions that require faculty to separately submit letters via a portal activated by an email, please let us know when this will be happening so that the request doesn't languish in our junk file! 

  2. Timing: Please allow at least three weeks for someone to write you a letter of recommendation. I cannot write letters on short notice! Please note that the only time I can write letters of recommendation for graduate programs, law school, fellowships, etc. is from September through November 20th. So plan ahead and be organized. Doctoral students going on the national job market must submit their requests for letters before August 1st of that year (see timeline below).  Please note: I CANNOT fulfill last-minute requests for letters and I will not write letters during the holidays or over winter or spring break. Please be organized, plan ahead, and do not make unreasonable requests of any of your recommenders.

  3. Materials: Be sure to provide your letter writers with relevant examples of your work such as articles and dissertation chapters, along with your job letter, cv, and dissertation abstract, as well as important deadlines--organized in a clear, logical way, in ONE email. Also include your defense date, a timeline for finishing the dissertation, and a description of the sorts of positions you are searching for.  I cannot fulfill requests that are scattered across multiple emails. It is in your best interest to help faculty write the best possible letters for you, by providing us with the information we need.  [For letters of recommendation or reference calls pertaining to other sorts of applications (not the academic job market) please send all relevant and helpful information, along with copies of your work that I have commented upon, in *one* email, with the deadline and procedures clearly explained.]

Basic procedures for MA thesis and dissertation writers:

  • Name your files with your LAST NAME first, concluding with a number indicating the revision or version. On the first page include "submitted [date]" or "revised [date]." (In other words, please keep things clear and organized for your readers. It is confusing if we have 13 files on our desktop all named "Thesis" or "chapter 3".)

  • Always include page numbers and a bibliography with everything you hand in. Please include a table of contents of the entire dissertation along with every chapter you submit. Electronic copies are preferable, since they save paper. 

  • If I am directing your work, I need to approve drafts before they are sent to the rest of the committee. If I am not directing your work, please do not send me drafts until your director has approved them.

  • Revisions: If you are handing in revised versions of a thesis or dissertation chapter be sure to include a summary of the comments you received from all your committee members as well as a detailed summary of the revisions that you made, noting page numbers where the revisions occur.

  • Time. Be sure to allow at least two weeks for your committee to read a dissertation chapter, three weeks for an MA thesis, and a month for an entire dissertation. When planning your defense remember that you will need time to make required revisions before you defend--do not schedule things too tightly or the defense may not go well. 

  • Check: official graduate school and departmental deadlines! 

  • Dissertation prospectus: Your dissertation prospectus should include most of the following categories: title of thesis/project; a list of 3-7 keywords;  an introduction to the topic; a statement of the problem and its significance;  description of the project; the working questions and/or hypothesis; a brief literature review (discussion of previous scholarship you will build on);  description of theory and/or methodology;  feasibility statement; chapter outlines;  timeline; initial bibliography; and any appendices, graphs, illustrations, etc.  In the timeline, be sure to include: chapter completion dates, time for revision, research trips, deadlines for grant proposals, IRB deadlines when necessary, conference dates, submission of publications (one from the dissertation + others), other professional training and credentials, digital or public humanities projects, etc. 

  • Regardless of other requirements, it is best to hold a 1 hour dissertation prospectus defense, and then later,  a meeting with your entire committee to discuss your first chapter. Both of these meetings will help  you get off on a good start and ensure that all committee members are on the same page.

  • Scheduling defense: Once you have a defense date determined, please send a microsoft outlook email calendar invitation to everyone on the committee so that we all have the same date and time on our calendars. Be sure to schedule everything well in advance, and avoid scheduling summer defenses, or having faculty sign forms in the summer, when faculty may be out of town. Send everyone the final, defense draft of the dissertation, three weeks ahead, as one document with continuous pagination, page numbers, notes, and the bibliography.

Timeline for the national job market:

[Do not wait until September to begin this process! You and your committee need months, even years, to prepare!]

  • 0. Consider your comprehensive exam areas and your dissertation topic in terms of how it they will play out on the job market. Plan to become legible as an expert in more than one field or area. Seek out advice. Start reading the job lists before you  take your comps. Consider alternatives to academic careers and seriously consider obtaining the experience and credentials for those alternatives. Reconsider a tenure-stream career track if you are unwilling to move to a place where you don't want to live. The tenure stream academic job market is a national and international job market--geographical mobility is key.  If you would like to choose where you live, consider community college, high school, or alternative career tracks.

  • 1. Before going on the national job market you should have published two peer-reviewed articles in scholarly journals, presented papers at a few conferences, accomplished a bit of professional service, developed your skills and experience as a teacher, and have most of your dissertation written and approved by your entire committee. 

  • 2. Consider developing expertise in the digital humanities and creating an offshoot or version of your dissertation as a DH project. Take advantage of workshops and other training sessions on DH at the MLA or locally. Develop technical and creative skills. Craft your digital presence.

  • 3. Consider creating a public humanities event or an innovative service learning or community engagement project. 

  • 4.Take advantage of the many teaching workshops and professional education programs at U of O and put them on your CV once completed. 

  • 5. Consider getting experience teaching at a community college, in case you would like to teach at a community college in the future. Community colleges often prefer to hire people with experience teaching at community colleges.

  • 6.  Arrange for your dissertation director and  one other person to watch you teach during your penultimate year in the program, or prior to that, when you are teaching a course most closely linked to your field.

  • 7. Write your dissertation abstract, job letter, and c.v. the summer before the market and give them to as many faculty as possible to critique by July 1 . Ask for and expect harsh critiques. Revise. Revise again. If you take a course on preparing for the job market, you should take that, at the latest, during the spring term before you develop your materials. 

  • 8. Polish your writing sample and develop a teaching portfolio and a DEI statement. Have these ready by the end of September. Check all your social media accounts for anything that might disturb a job search committee. 

  • 9. The DOSSIER: In the summer, ask your dissertation committee, the person who supervises your teaching, and perhaps one or two other people to write job letters for you--these letters will be your dossier. Submit an organized set of materials to your letter writers by August 1st. Send us one email that includes your job materials (letter, cv. dissertation abstract, research statement); copies of articles; dissertations chapters or the entire dissertation. We will need to consult these materials to write detailed letters. Arrange your Interfolio account or similar dossier service.  Faculty cannot/will not send or email letters for specific jobs, as candidates should be applying for 20-50 positions each year. Faculty are responsible for submitting one letter to Interfolio. In some cases, say if you are applying for different sorts of jobs--research oriented positions vs. community college positions, or some jobs in English and some in Environmental Studies, you may want to ask that your committee submit two different letters to Interfolio. Your dossier should be ready by September 15 or whenever your first dossier will be due. (Some jobs and postdocs do not allow the use of Interfolio, making it more difficult for everyone. Just sent us an email (one email with all of them listed in order) as a heads up that those requests will be coming directly from those institutions. 

  • 9.5: If you have trouble figuring out Interfolio, ask a graduate student who was on the market the year before. Faculty do not tend to know how the system looks like from the graduate student's perspective.

  • 10. Study the  MLA JIL, The Chronicle job lists, web sites and other information from professional groups in your field (e.g, ASLE, SLSA, MSA, DSA, etc.), and apply for positions in September and thereafter, carefully crafting each letter for each position, and following the directions. (Curse the committees who ask for special, strange things! But plan on needing time do do those "special" things.) Be aware that new jobs and postdocs may be posted from August through the next summer! Keep applying. 

  • 11. Send out dossiers and writing samples as requested in October, November, December and beyond.

  • 12. In October do mock interviews with faculty, preferably faculty who are not on your committee. Ask for criticism and suggestions. If mock interviews are not scheduled, ask the DGS and your Advisor to schedule them.  Before the mock interviews, be sure to have your advisor, other members of your committee, the Placement Officer, the DGS, and/or others, provide a one hour session on what questions are likely to be asked, what you should prepare, and other advice. 

  • 13. Hope for interviews, which usually happen November through March, and which will often be on Zoom. Craft  your wardrobe,  background, lighting, perspective, and sound for a Zoom interview. Ask who will be interviewing you. Prepare for interviews by diving into the work of the faculty and information about the college, department, and the programs. Reread the job ad, brainstorming about what specific questions they might ask. Look at the letter you sent and circle things you think the committee may ask you about and prepare responses. 

  • 14. Prepare talks and questions for winter or spring on-campus visits.  Present a practice on campus talk for other grad students, if you can. If you are fortunate enough to get to the final stages of the interview process for any position, inform your references, and prepare us for potential telephone interviews.  The search committee may call your committee members--the more information we have in advance (packaged in *one organized email* the better.)

  • 15. Keep applying for the post-MLA jobs through the spring and even the summer. [Then begin again: it usually takes a few years to obtain a tenure-stream position.]

  • 16. Apply for postdoctoral fellowships,  NEH summer seminars, archival research grants, and other forms of support that will enhance your scholarly credentials and improve your work. 

  • 17. If you are fortunate enough to land a tenure-track position, start a filing system before you begin the job, keeping paper and electronic documents related to research, teaching, and service, for use in your tenure case and third-year review. Save everything until you get tenure. If you are offered a job, try to get your previously published work to count for tenure during negotiations.  And get all promises in writing!!--always. Administrators come and go; verbal agreements and memories vanish into the air. 

The wretched state of the Academic Job Market

All graduate students should be aware that it is extraordinarily difficult to obtain a tenure-track job, especially in the Humanities. Be sure to research the academic job market years in advance of your search, making use of the MLA, the MLA joblist, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the AAUP, and U of O faculty as sources of information about preparation for your job search, job market procedures and timelines, and the reality of the academic market. All PhD students should make realistic plans at the start of their graduate work. No matter how driven you are to secure a tenure-stream academic position it would be prudent to formulate a back-up plan. Community college jobs are plentiful, for example, and some of them pay more than other academic positions. And the great thing about community college jobs is that you may be able to live in the geographic region you'd like to live in--which is extremely rare for the national job market. Getting experience teaching at community colleges, while you are a graduate student, could help you land a community college job later.The brutal academic job market has generated the "alt-ac" track. Researching the "alt-ac" track would be a good idea. My own view is that while many people, in nearly any profession would benefit from an MA in English, there are very few people who should be pursuing a PhD at this point, given the wretched academic job market in the humanities and the daunting, formidable intellectual focus and time commitments a PhD requires.


If you are pursuing an MA or PhD in the interdisciplinary field of Environmental Studies, it would be best to consider the many possible career trajectories in that field and tailor your coursework, publications, technical and field skills, volunteer work, internships, and other professional development opportunities toward the positions that you seek. There is rarely a direct line between an academic field and a career path--so it is important to research the possibilities and put yourself in the best possible position to pursue them. 

 I wish you well! 

Past Graduate Courses: 

Fall 2022: English 690: Introduction to Graduate Studies (16235)

 Spring 2022: ENG 607 (33666) Graduate Seminar:

Posthumanism, Race, and Indigenous Thought.  

This seminar delves into the intersections, tensions, and alliances between environmentally oriented posthumanisms, recent race theory, and indigenous thought.  What are the convergences and frictions between the “nonhuman turn” and theoretical work in indigenous studies and black studies? How is the (white, Western, settler colonialist) “Human” transfigured by these fields? What are the consequences of this thinking for environmentalism, animals, and plants as well as for social justice and indigenous sovereignty?  How are these scholarly areas being configured and why do their parameters and their relations matter? How can each of us, from our own subject positions and disciplinary areas, respectfully and ethically navigate these volatile terrains? Readings will include Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass; Rosi Braidotti, Posthuman Knowledge; Cary Wolfe, Before the Law: Humans and Animals in a Biopolitical Frame; Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies; Zakiyyah Iman Jackson, Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World; along with other essays and experimental writing.  Requirements: active participation, one short paper and presentation, one medium-length seminar paper and presentation. Please be prepared to discuss Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, U of O’s Common Reading, for the first class. 


Spring 2022: 

ENVS 510 (30947): Ocean Conservation

Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:00-11:50, COL 142
Many threats to ocean ecologies and marine life are distant, complex, and difficult to imagine. So how can literature, visual art, and other media portray the threats to ocean ecologies and possible solutions in accurate and compelling ways? What is the relation between science and the arts in ocean conservation movements? This class will begin with an introduction to marine biology, then outline some of the key threats to ocean ecologies, along with frameworks for ocean conservation, including those of indigenous marine conservation or (TEK). The second half of the class will focus on ocean conservation in literature, art, film and visual media, analyzing representations of the science, ecological visions, ethical and political implications, and the ability of literature and visual arts to capture, portray, convince, and inspire. Readings include two books, Philip V. Mladenov, Marine Biology: A Very Short Introduction, Nancy Lord’s short novel, ph; and a selection of articles, essays, poems, theory, and science writing, along with art, video, and film.

Winter 2022: ENG 419/519: Contemporary Literary Theory:  Animal Studies/Plant Studies

Beginning with and featuring the U of O Common Reading, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer and concluding with Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ experimental work Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals, this class will ask what it means to write about plants and animals, to embark on speculative forays about their perspectives, to place other species at the center of our stories, to learn from them, to creatively engage with scientific knowledge about them, and to expand the human scope of ethical consideration to include them. We will read and discuss literary criticism and theory in animal and plant studies, such as that by Jakob Johann von Uexküll, Michael Marder, and Donna J. Haraway, along with some poetry and short stories. The final project will bring the theoretical perspectives to one specific plant or animal of the student’s choice, will include a creative option.

Spring 2021 Graduate Course: 

ENVS 633: Environmental Studies Thesis Development. Mondays 2:15-3:45 

"Interdisciplinary readings in environmental studies focused on topics chosen by each student in consultation with instructor. Preparation for presentations at the Joint Campus Conference."

Fall 2020: Graduate/Undergraduate Course: 

ENG 469/569:    Literature and the Environment: Ocean Life in Literature and Film

Although environmental studies has focused on terrestrial environments, the concern for ocean ecologies and the interest in ocean life—from jellyfish to octopus to whales—is rapidly expanding, in the burgeoning field of the blue humanities. This class will explore ocean life in literature, film, and theory, from monstrous figures in classical mythology, through Jules Verne’s 19th century novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, to the  surrealist short films of Jean Painlevé, to Nnedi Okorofor’s Afrofuturist SF novel Lagoon, to contemporary poetry, film, and popular science.   We will discuss the environmental implications of how marine species are depicted—for example, as monstrous, alien, aesthetically breathtaking, or extraordinarily intelligent—as we attempt to imagine and think with some of the most captivating creatures from the sea.   Graduate students will have additional theoretical and other scholarly readings and write a final paper. 


Spring 2020

Graduate Seminar: ENG 615: Advanced Study in Lit Theory: Environmental Theories 

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