Saturday, April 25, 2009

Questions, Please

I have questions I'd like help with.

First, we have a small MA program here. I'm wondering if anyone knows a good book for folks entering a grad program to give them a real sense of what's expected in terms of revision, independent reading, and so forth.

Second, it's been an age since I read much Spenser's FQ, and I'm thinking of rereading (over the summer) to teach some. But, my old Roche edition is in pieces. Can anyone suggest a good edition these days? (I could just borrow the department's Hamilton, but it's been a long time, and surely there's a really good edition available now?)

Thanks, all!


  1. I'm in a Spenser (graduate) seminar this semester, and she's assigned as our must-have text the second edition of Hamilton. If that's any help.

  2. Hamilton's a great reference and probably still the go-to scholarly text. . . but I never found it a great reading experience (in terms of font size, layout, portability, etc.).

    I'm very impressed with the multi-volume Hackett edition (general ed., Abraham Stoll), which I use with my undergrads and think would be appropriate with graduate students as well--great notes and introductions, and in a very readable format.

  3. I've never seen anything like what you suggest for newbie grad students. Maybe you should write the article?

  4. Is this the kind of thing you're thinking about?

    "Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student's Guide to Earning an M.A. or a Ph.D." by Robert Peters. (I gave away my copy after I graduated so I don't remember the writing aspect of it...)

  5. Hmm, from what I remember of the Peters book, I'm not convinced it would be ideal for MA students in the humanities. I got the impression that it was really geared toward PhD students in the sciences who wanted a high-powered research career, and while the book offers some advice that would apply to students in any field, I'm not sure Peters has a really good grasp of disciplinary differences. (In particular, his advice that grad students should teach as little as possible strikes me as disastrously wrongheaded for anyone facing the academic job market in English.)

    I really loved Lesli Mitchell's The Ultimate Grad School Survival Guide, but it seems to be out of print.

  6. Oh, and as for the grad handbook: I also have the Peters, and have recommended/loaned it to students considering PhD programs as well as MA programs. I've been meaning to get and read (but so far have not) Greg Colon Semenza's Graduate Study for the 21st Century, which I've heard really good things about.

  7. My first semester of grad school we read Semenza's Graduate Study for the 21st Century (sorry, I seriously don't know how to get it to italicize) and while I admit we poked a little bit of fun at it, at the time (i.e. "What would Semenza do?" on watching movies, attempting to have a social life, or NOT reading Middlemarch in our free time). Looking back, however, it was spot on in many places. It is a foreboding but pragmatic book that tells you what to expect from gradschool, from the type of workload to prepare for, some of the politics involved, and even the different "types" of people you'll encounter in the department. It reads in a very conversational tone, from what I recall, which was helpful.