Please Don't Ask Me About My Dissertation: Dispatches from the Academic Trenches

Eloisa Valenzuela-Mendoza's picture

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Call for Papers
January 3, 2019
United States

While there are many "how-to" guides on completing an advanced degree program, there are few collections that center on the grad student experience from graduate students themselves. The purpose of this collection of essays is to share honest and humorous perspectives on the experience of completing an MS or PhD program (a degree that may or may not lead to a career in academia) while offering practical knowledge that could help other graduate students in successfully navigating multiple levels of academia. 

Potential Essay Themes: 

Being a “bad feminist” in academia

Directing your dissertation director

The dystopia of a dysfunctional committee

(Trans)Women surviving the academic patriarchy

Deadlines, paperwork, and sleep deprivation

Intimacy, alienation, and mapping personal relationships

Inhabiting the body of the so-called Other in academia

Teaching fails and successes

Research fails and successes

Completing the dissertation while navigating the job market

Losing yourself in the chaos of high expectations

Prioritizing (or not) self-care

Remembering why you chose to attend graduate school

Grieving while dissertating

Figuring out professional relationships: mentor, advisor, employer

Financial stress, ruin, and redemption(?)

When leaving academia is the only (sane) option

Learning to compromise while maintaining your vision

A good dissertation is a done dissertation

The struggle is real: imposter syndrome and self-loathing

Finding a community beyond the university  

Trying to explain your work to parents, siblings, and extended family

First generation graduate student blues


Autobiographical essays will be the main feature of this work, but creative expressions such as the poetic essay, poetry, and illustrations will also be accepted. 


For consideration:

1. If submitting an essay, send a 500 word abstract and a 250-300 word bio. 

2. Illustrations and poetry should be sent in their entirety along with a 250-300 word bio.

Contact Info: 

Eloisa Valenzuela-Mendoza, PhD

Contact Email: