My Favorite Work Spaces

As a grad student, it is crucial to have a few go-to spots where I know I can automatically get into a productive frame of mind. I call upon each of them for different reasons and at different times. Here are a few of the beautiful places that help me get my work accomplished every day:

The library

A sunny corner of my university library

A sunny corner of my university library

Soo original, I know. But my university just completed construction on a gorgeous new library, so I take advantage of it at every possible opportunity. The best part: there are private (sound-proof!) study rooms that you can reserve for a study date with friends. With whiteboard walls, people! Walls you can WRITE ON! Enough said.

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A Must-Read Book for Grad Students

… In the humanities, at any rate. A professor of mine recommended me to Eric Hayot‘s The Elements of Academic Style: Writing for the Humanities earlier this semester and I’m so pleased to have been introduced to such a gem just before starting work on my thesis.

Source: Amazon

Source: Amazon

What Hayot does in this book that is so extraordinary is make visible all of the usually INvisible conventions of academic writing. As he says, “Why write a book on scholarly writing for graduate students and faculty in the humanities? Partly because no such book exists” (7). This is true, as far as I know. In short, highly digestible chapters (helpful for easy browsing at a reader’s convenience), he tackles topics like paragraph structure, footnotes and endnotes, and the various uses of parentheticals. Moreover, he does it all in delightful prose, as when he compares being “pro-jargon” with being “pro-gonorrhea” (178). But for me, perhaps the most concretely useful characteristic of Elements of Academic Style is Hayot’s frequent analysis of examples, for instance in his discussion of standard formats of academic titles of books and journal articles. He explains the efficacy (or not) of various real example titles.

I fully expect The Elements of Academic Style: Writing for the Humanities to be incredibly valuable to my upcoming thesis work, and I also foresee its applicability to the high school English classroom as I move into my teaching career. If you’re a graduate student, especially in the humanities, this book is nothing less than a must-read!

Bonus recommendation: Hayot calls Wendy Laura Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success “excellent”; I have yet to pick it up but I plan to soon (2).

What books are essential to your grad school career? Tell me about them in the comments!



Tips from an Actor on Public Speaking

My partner is a professional actor. There are many perks to this. We get to see lots of live theatre together. Sometimes I see him naked on TV (true story). And recently, when I presented at my first conference, I learned yet another benefit to dating an actor: he has great insight into what makes effective public speaking.

In some ways, giving an academic presentation, whether at a conference or in class, is not so different from a staged performance. The speaker is definitely “acting” in some ways. She is probably highly conscious of her posture, her diction, her volume, her gestures, all the same things that an actor onstage must think about.

To be, or not to be... a public speaker. Source: Creative Commons

To be, or not to be… a public speaker. Source: Creative Commons

With that in mind, here are some of the insider tips and tricks from Paul, a professional actor, on how to deliver an engaging presentation.

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Happy World Book Day!

In honor of World Book Day (which was technically yesterday), I thought I’d share a few shelfies… aka, photos of the books that are currently on my shelf. My books are among my most treasured possessions and dearest friends, and I hoard them hopelessly. Hope you enjoy getting a sneak peek at what I’m reading.


This was my quote in my high school yearbook… not much has changed. Source:

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