This colloquium, given every other year, is designed for Ph.D. students in the third and fourth years of their program. The colloquium is concerned not only with refining research methods but, more centrally, with maximizing opportunities for producing original scholarship and exploring various means for disseminating one's work. One concrete objective of the course will be planning, producing, or refining (in consultation with advisors in the student's field) a dissertation prospectus, with special attention to the question of how (and whether) to write the dissertation with eventual book publication in mind. (It is understood that students will be at different stages in the dissertation planning process.) In addition to the dissertation/book, we will discuss producing and placing journal articles and proposing and submitting scholarly talks and panels, and will practice writing abstracts, cover letters, and responses to reader's reports. The course will also cover grant-writing and funding opportunities, such "minor" academic genres as book reviews and entries for reference works, and various ways of entering into productive exchange with scholars at other institutions, through individual contact, attending conferences, taking advantage of local seminars and lectures, and computer networking.
There will not be a great deal of reading or written work required in this colloquium, which will in many ways resemble a workshop more than a formal course. Readings will include selections from The Academic's Handbook (Deneef et al.), An Author's Guide to Scholarly Publishing (Derricourt), the MLA Career Guide (Showalter), and a select list of articles from Scholarly Publishing and other journals. Students will be asked to produce sample or (better yet) actual cover letters, grant proposals, abstracts of conference papers, and other relatively short written assignments for circulation and mutual critique in the colloquium. Each student will also be expected to have, by the end of the semester, sent out at least one article for publication, conference paper/session proposal, or grant application: we will be discussing not only how to best pursue professional activities but that one does pursue such activities and that one's professional life begins in graduate school. The colloquium will give students a structured and supportive environment not only for refining their dissertation plans but for planning beyond the PhD as well, envisioning an early career trajectory and preparing to meet the demands (and harvest the rewards) of professional life.