Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Graduate Student Angst

Hi all! I'm joining in late, but I'd like to start with a suggestion that those of us interested share not just introductions but snippets of our Professional Statements. Though I agree with Mel's comment in a previous post about the rhetorical messiness of this idealized vision of the PS in Hall's description, I do think that a version of this kind of concrete reflection on one's goals can be helpful. I'd like to think of the PS as a quick statement I could give to someone who asks me what I do for a living. I've had professors suggest that we write yearly "intellectual autobiographies" for a similar purpose -- tracing through conceptions of our present selves as the result of our past intellectual pursuits in order to understand where to go from here.

And in part, this kind of written statement is appealing to me because some of us in my graduate program feel that the wide range of career aspirations amongst graduate students can be confusing. Some of us do want to go into teaching jobs. Others are more interested in research jobs. But we aren't really encouraged to express these aspirations because, as Hall points out, the reigning understanding is that research jobs are the "good" jobs or jobs for the "smart" scholars while teaching jobs are bad jobs for the not-quite-as-astute scholars.

My introduction: I am an ABD graduate student in UNC Chapel Hill's English program. I am a bit of a fish out of water working on an Asian Americanist dissertation in a program with only its first Asian Americanist scholar starting this coming fall. As a result of not being "trained" in my field, I've been especially conscious of trying to enter my field through conferences and e-mail communications with other Asian Americanist scholars (mostly graduate students and junior faculty) around the country.

I have found Hall's book incredibly thoughtful, and I look forward to more of discussion in the next few weeks! (Forgive me if I write about the book vaguely since I had to finish it in one sitting and return it to the library since it was on hold for another patron -- perhaps someone in this group?) I'm going to work on a PS to share here later.