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Winter Break is FINALLY HERE!

Snapshots: Fall at ND // The General Ledger // Blog Network // University  of Notre Dame

You made it. Whether you are finishing a semester of coursework, teaching, or both, you have made it. Breathe easy my friend.

Over the next ten weeks, find some time to recuperate from what has been a rough semester. Despite what tacit structures of expectation demand, you can indeed take a break from graduate studies. You are more than your CV. So, even though I am going to announce and promote our EGSA Graduate Student Symposium here, do not feel like this is something you need to start preparing for. As you will see below, we have a few events designed specifically to help you gear up for the EGSA Graduate Student Symposium on March 11 & 12, 2021. So while I hope you will start thinking about the EGSA Graduate Student Symposium on March 11 & 12, 2021, I also hope you will conceptualize it as a fun event to help you prepare a piece of writing for another context--professional or otherwise--rather than as a set piece where you are expected to perform your graduate studiousness. 

Speaking of the EGSA Graduate Student Symposium on March 11 & 12, 2021, we are in the process of securing a keynote speaker. We have decided to start what we hope will become a longstanding tradition at the EGSA Graduate Student Symposium. We are inviting a graduate from our program to return for the keynote address. We hope this will do three things: highlight the excellent scholarship that comes out of this program, provide an opportunity for our graduate’s to deliver a (named?) lecture at a time when they are looking to secure tenure, and create a space where we can ask explicit questions about life after the defense from one of our own graduates. 

Go and get some must needed rest. I know that my first impulse is to actually write some of my dissertation now that the daily grind of the semester is over. I am going to fight it. I invite you to do the same. I am going to spend some time practicing with the family band, catching up on Lovecraft Country, and daydreaming about EGSA Graduate Student Symposium on March 11 & 12, 2021. Did I mention, EGSA Graduate Student Symposium on March 11 & 12, 2021? In case I forgot, here is a link to the CfP and website for the EGSA Graduate Student Symposium on March 11 & 12, 2021. 

-- JBD

New Student Spotlight

Naima Msechu
Year One MFA Student
Department Website Bio

Q:  What/who are your influences, as a writer? (authors/books/other possible art forms)

A: It's difficult to list my influences because the list is long and ever-changing, but some of my all-time favorite authors are Lucy Corin, Kelly Link, Julio Cortázar and César Aira (especially Aira's novella, Ghosts). I also often take lines and atmospheres from songs, anything from folksy stuff like Adrianne Lenker, to poppier stuff like Sylvan Esso, to jazz rap like Noname.

Q: If you could enter a book’s world, just for a day, and explore its landscape, which book(s) would you choose?

A: This is hard, too! I feel like I want to inhabit every book I read. If I had to pick one literary landscape, the one that comes to mind first is from a short story, specifically Kelly Link's "Light," from her story collection, Get In Trouble. Technically it's set in Florida, which I could take or leave, but in the story there are also pocket universes, which are essentially small parallel worlds people take trips to. I'd like to get a group of COVID-negative friends together and enter one of those pocket universes, where all the difficult things we're dealing with right now don't apply.

Q: Where do you go to write? What are some spaces you’d haunt, if Covid wasn’t a concern?

A: I'm kind of a hermit, writing-wise. I get my best writing done at my desk at home, anyway, so this is one of the only things the pandemic hasn't ruined for me. I do like going places to gather inspiration, though, and if COVID wasn't a concern, I'd be going to coffee shops, bookstores, readings, house shows, etc.

Q: It’s 6pm in the evening. Outside, the wind picks up. Something slams on the window pane next to you. You peek through the blinds and notice two things. What are those two things?

1. It's a large bat. 

2. The bat is holding another, smaller bat. They are arguing about whether bats started the global pandemic, and whether or not they care. I don't let them in. It's not political; it's not even personal; I'm just angry, and so tired.

Professional Development

Thank you to everyone who filled out the winter term survey! The results helped us develop asynchronous support for our third-year students as they prep their prospectuses, and will inform winter term professionalization programming. 

We are currently in the process of planning a (virtual) winter writing retreat and manuscript exchange, as many of you expressed interest in that type of event on the survey. We’re hoping to run this event the week of January 18th, with more information to come soon.

We also have some exciting events on offer in the spring semester, but the first thing to mark your calendar for will occur in the first week back. In order to prepare for the 2021 EGSA Symposium, we will be hosting an abstract workshop on Friday, February 5th at 11am. Again, more information to come closer to the event!

Quality of Life

The last GSC meeting took place on Friday, October 23 via Zoom. I circulated a summary of the recent EGSA survey on graduate seminars in advance of the meeting, though a full discussion of potential changes to course scheduling and distribution was tabled until after the next department meeting.  I expect graduate courses and updated mentoring guidelines to be a point of discussion again in the future. 

Much of our discussion in the latest meeting focused on recruitment, which is coming up soon. Applications for the MA and PhD programs are due on December 15, and applications for the MFA program are due January 2.  

The GSC will tentatively meet again before the end of the year.  If there is anything that you'd like the Committee to consider, please send me an email at

GSU Updates

The GSU is working with the graduate school to improve grad students’ well being and assist with mentoring relationships with faculty. You can see the latest recommendations and how they have been implemented here.

EGSA Symposium

The Symposium is a fantastic opportunity to receive feedback from peers and faculty in the English Department as you prepare your work for other conferences, the dissertation, or journal submissions. It is also a wonderful chance to learn what those outside your main area of research are working on.  Since this will be a virtual symposium - this also gives you the opportunity to practice giving your work in a new format compared to the traditional conference paper.

Similar to last year, our CFP will have two different links as we are allowing panel proposals. If there’s a topic you particularly want to see being discussed in this year’s Symposium, and you have identified students who share your same research interest across periods/areas of studies, we encourage you to organize and propose a themed panel along with your peers. This is a great opportunity for interdisciplinary collaborations! We will be selecting two student-created themed panels, one for each day of the Symposium. In your proposal, you must list at least 3 participants (including who will be chairing, if the chair is also presenting a paper) and the information regarding their respective papers (title and abstract for each one).

Lastly, in an effort to make the abstract submission process as stress-free as possible, this year our wonderful EGSA Board Officers have agreed to participate in abstract workshops where we will be offering help in brainstorming and drafting abstracts. We will be hosting an Abstract workshop on February 5th at 11:00 am (more information to come out later in the next newsletter).

IMPORTANT: The CFP portals will be open until Sunday, February 14th at 11:59pm. We will not be accepting abstracts after this date, to allow for a better and smoother organization of our Symposium.

If you are submitting an individual presentation, please access the following portal:
Individual Presentation Proposals
If you are submitting a themed panel, please access the following portal:   
Graduate Student Panel Proposals

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our President, Julian Dean (, or reach out to any of our EGSA Board Officers. 

We want to hear from you!
Do you have any announcements or messages you would like to share with all of us? Send our President, Julian Dean (, a quick email so we can feature your announcement in our next newsletter.  
Also, don't forget to visit our website! Here you will find information about our goals and even a copy of our constitution, keep up-to-date with our events by following our Google Calendar, find incredibly useful links and resources shared by our different chairs, and more!
EGSA Website
Those are all our announcements for now. If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to reach out to us any time. Follow us on Facebook too, where we will be posting updates and pictures of our activities. 
We hope to see you in all our events! 

The English Graduate Student Association Board
President: Julian Dean
Vice-President: Oliver Ortega
Treasurer: Joshua Wright
PhD Professionalization Chair: Sara Judy
MFA Professionalization Chair: Valerie Vargas
Quality of Life Chair: Jake McGinnis
GSU Representatives: Marie Burns & Kyriana Lynch
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