Resources for Graduate Students

This page will be updated in ongoing fashion (as I have the time!) with resources for graduate students, for women in academia, and for medievalists, in that order. Please bear in mind that my focus is the humanities in general, and English/medieval studies/gender studies in particular, although I think graduate students in any discipline can benefit from looking through the materials on the general lists. These lists are based on my own reading and study; if you have suggestions for other resources I can add to them, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below! The goal is for this to serve as a helpful go-to starting point for anyone just entering the profession or thinking about entering the profession, although experienced scholars may find useful materials as well.

What Every Graduate Student Should Know

Books you should read (Graduate School, Graduate Study, Academia)

START HERE: Gregory M. Colon Semenza, Graduate Study for the Twenty-First Century: How to Build and Academic Career in the Humanities (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2005). If you are or want to be a humanities graduate student and you only ever read one book on graduate school, this should be that book. Quite simply the single-best single-volume resource available on the subject.

James Axtell, The Pleasures of Academe (Nebraska UP, 1998)

Read it going into graduate school. Re-read it whenever you get bogged down in negativity and pessimism. Axtell reminds us that what we do IS important, relevant, meaningful, and JOYFUL work.

Joan Bolker, Writing your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day (New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1998)

I keep loaning this to  friends who are currently writing their dissertations. They keep not returning it. It must be helpful!

Jorge Chan, PHD: Piled Higher and Deeper: A Graduate Student Comic Strip Collection (Los Angeles, 2006)

Because you need to cultivate your sense of humor about yourself as a grad student — and these comics are hilarious (there’s also a website; see below.)

William Damon, Greater Expectations: Overcoming the Culture of Indulgence in Our Homes and Schools (New York: Free Press Paperbacks, 1994)

Sadly, as dated as this book is, you need to read it in order to understand your students. Actually, you might even recognize yourself in there, a little, if you’re honest about it.

Leigh Deneef and Craufurd D. Goodwin, The Academic’s Handbook (Duke UP, 1995)

If you have ever wondered what is really the difference between a CC, an SLAC, and an R1, a flagship versus a regional university, or similar questions, the first chapter on taxonomies of colleges and universities is helpful. The rest of the book is organized into relevant sections — issues in the academy, graduate school and job search, teaching and advising, funding research, publishing research, and academic community and administration.

John A. Goldsmith, John Komlos, and Penny Schine Gold, The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career: A Portable Mentor for Scholars from Graduate School through Tenure (Chicago UP, 2001)

This is a general overview of the process of professionalization, from graduate school through acquiring a job after graduation. It’s organized in a Q-and-A format that is engaging and lets you skip around to topics of particular import to you, rather than reading through everything.

Donald Kennedy, Academic Duty (Harvard UP, 1997)

A thoughtful discussion of the duties and responsibilities of a University Professor. The book is dated a bit now, but still very relevant in terms of the issues it covers (Hey, what can we say? Academia changes sloooooooooowlyyyyyyyyyy….)

Carol M. Roberts, The Dissertation Journey: A Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Plannning, Writing, and Defending Your Dissertation (London: Corwin Press, 2004)

A well-organized and comprehensive look at the dissertation components and process.

A. Clay Schoenfield and Robert Magnan, Mentor in a Manual: Climbing the Academic Ladder to Tenure (Madison: Atwood Publishing, 1994)

This one’s dated, but WOW is it thorough. Got a question? Consult the manual!

Paul J. Silvia, How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Academic Writing (Washington: American Psychological Association, 2007)

ESSENTIAL. How to be the most productive writer you are capable of being. And trust me, if you want to be an academic, you have to be a productive writer.

Books you should read (Teaching/ Developing Teaching)

Ken Bain, What the Best College Teachers Do (Harvard UP, 2004)

Bain visited several college campuses and watched several award-winning professors at work. This is the summary/synthesis of what he noticed about good teaching. Take notes.

James M. Lang, On Course: A Week-by-Week Guide to Your First Semester of College Teaching (Harvard UP, 2010)

This is hands-down one of my favorite introductory “new teacher” books. Lang’s tone is informal and accessible, he gives a lot of good, solid advice grounded in experience, and he makes you feel like you can do this, Man, you really can, and even better, it can be fun! Which as far as I’m concerned, is exactly how teaching should be. It’s organized on a week-by-week basis, but I read it in one sitting and return to it regularly.

Fred Stephenson, Extraordinary Teachers: The Essence of Excellent Teaching (Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2001)

These are essays by winners of the University of Georgia excellence in teaching award, so you know these professors know how to teach. Some of the essays are a little clunky, but I LOVE those by David R. Schaffer (“Crucial Lessons I Learned From My Least and My Most Inspiring Instructors”); Dean G. Rojek (“Responsibilities of a College Teacher”); William G. Provost (“The Joys of Teaching English”); Shawn M. Glynn (“The Psychology of Teaching”); Lief H. Carter (“Teaching Tricks”); Genelle G. Moran (“‘Laughter Holding Both His Sides’: Humor as a Welcome Guest in the Classroom”); Ronald L. Carlson (“Teacher Burnout”); Brenda H. Manning (“Inspiring Students to Excel”); Dan T. Coenen (“Teaching ‘Outside the Box'”); Carmen Chaves Tesser (“Great Myths of Successful Teaching”) and Sharon J. Price (“What I Wish Someone Had Told Me: Advice To New Teachers”).

Books you should read (Job Search)

Dawn M. Formo and Cheryl Reed, Job Search in Academe: Strategic Rhetorics for Faculty Job Candidates (Sterling: Stylus, 1999)

Dated but still relevant. VERY useful overview of the job market and your role in it, what to do to prepare for it, and how to handle interviews.

Helpful and Important Articles

Websites to Visit

Chronicle of Higher Education, especially the “career Confidential” and “Career Talk” advice columns:  (scroll down to the middle for these columns)

PhD: Piled Higher and Deeper Comics:

Funny and irreverent comics chronicling the academic career of a graduate student in the sciences at an R1 institution.

Organizations to Join

What Every Female Graduate Student Should Know

Books You Should Read (whether or not you plan to have a family)

Paula J. Caplan: Lifting a Ton of Feathers: A Woman’s Guide to Surviving the Academic World (Toronto UP, 1994/5)

This book is essential reading, because Caplan really gets to the heart of the female experience in academia and gives you a ground floor to build from. Most important is the constant reminder that it’s not you, and it’s not just you — academia really is stacked against women in many ways both overt and covert, and while things have improved, there are still myriad ways you can sabotage your own career without even realizing you are doing it. Here is solid, grounded, reasonable advice to avoid that.

Constance Coiner and Diana Hume George, The Family Track: Keeping Your Faculties While You Mentor, Nurture, Teach, and Serve (Illinois UP, 1998)

A collection of personal essays chronicling life as a graduate student, new hire, and tenured professor with family; includes sections on children with disabilities and caring for elderly parents as well as work/life balance with babies and young children.

Rachel Connelly and Kristen Ghodsee, Professor Mommy: Finding Work/Life Balance in Academia (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2011)

Really thoughtful and thorough chronicling of the various stages of academia and the issues you want to consider both as a mommy-to-be and a young academic with a young family.

Judith Glazer-Raymo, Shattering the Myths: Women in Academe (Johns Hopkins UP, 1999)

An important look at women in academia, grounded in feminist theory and focused on helping women understand why things are the way they are, and what they need to consider while navigating an academic career.

Emily Toth, Ms. Mentor’s Impeccable Advice For Women in Academia (Pennsylvania UP, 1997) and Ms. Mentor’s New and Ever More Impeccable Advice For Women and Men in Academia (Pennsylvania UP, 2009)

Because…. because…. MS. MENTOR. And if you are a woman planning on going into graduate school or are already in graduate school, how can you NOT KNOW about Ms. Mentor? Get these immediately, and check out her column on the Chronicle of Higher Education website (free access to advice columns!)

Helpful and Important Articles

Websites to Visit

Chronicle of Higher Education, especially the advice columns Balancing Act and Ms. Mentor:  (scroll down to the middle for these columns)

Organizations to Join

Resources For the Graduate Student in Medieval Studies

Books you should read

Helpful and Important Articles

Websites to Visit

Organizations to Join

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