Category Archives: Professionalization

Healing in the Flights of Uncertainty

“To be healed we must be dismembered, pulled apart. The healing occurs in disintegration, in the demotion of the ego as the self’s only authority.”  — Gloria Anzaldúa, Light in the Dark (2015)

By Erika G. Abad

On giving my class assignments at my new job, I decided to teach Light in the Dark, because in returning to the West Coast, Xicana feminist thought felt necessary. It was also, as I told students, a selfish way to share my love for Anzaldúa. Within months of teaching it, my supervisor invites me to El Mundo Zurdo Conference. I agree on a whim, excited about the possibility to learn more from other scholars who appreciate what Anzaldúa contributes to critical consciousness. Deciding to go, somehow, feels like coming full circle from the years of dismembering to heal that had taken place not only in the years I spent on the periphery of the ivory tower and the culture of academic teaching and research. The process of buying the ticket, of relying on university colleagues to share resources with me to be able to afford the trip, contrasts to the uncertainty and wounded pride/integrity with which I grappled in 2008. Continue reading

Unveiling the Secret to Tenure Expectations

picture of Tanya Golash-Boza

Professor Tanya Golash-Boza

Tanya Golash-Boza (2015 Mujeres Talk Contributing Blogger)

Imagine this: Your first year on the tenure-track, you sit down with your department chair and ask him what the expectations for tenure are. He hands you a written document that indicates that you have to publish six articles, and that you must be first author on at least four. He provides you with a list of acceptable journals and makes it clear that this is the hurdle you have to cross for tenure. You meet with other senior colleagues in your department and across the university, and everyone agrees on the research component of the tenure expectations. You know exactly what you need to do and the only thing left to figure out is how to do it.

This situation, for better or for worse, is remarkably uncommon. Most new faculty members are never told exactly what they need for tenure. Senior colleagues are reluctant to give an exact number of how many articles you need to publish, whether you need articles in addition to a book, which journals are considered important, whether or not you need a major grant, and whether or not book reviews, conference presentations, and book chapters in edited volumes count for anything. Your senior colleagues are most likely to tell you that the tenure expectations are individualized and that a wide variety of portfolios can make an excellent tenure case. They will likely tell you that they are looking for a research profile that demonstrates excellence and an upward trajectory.

As a new faculty member at a research institution, I found this very frustrating. I thought to myself: why can’t they just tell me what I need to do so that I can do it? If you are in this sort of situation, where you are not clear on what the expectations are, one thing is certain: it is in your interest to find out anyway. How do you do that?

It turns out that there are a number of ways for you to figure out what a solid tenure case would look like. You just need to approach this as you would any other research project: ask around, investigate, and look at a variety of cases. Here are four strategies for you to figure out what your research portfolio should look like.

A pen resting on top of an open journal with writing faintly apparent.

On the importance of asking for clarity regarding tenure expectations. Photo by Sebastien Wiertz. CC BY 2.0

  • Ask around at your institution. In your first semester, you should meet with your department chair and with your faculty mentor. Ask both of them to give you advice on what the publication expectations are. They might be vague, but they will communicate something to you. You also can ask other colleagues around the institution, especially if you can find people who have served on the campus Promotion and Tenure committees.
  • Look at the CVs of people recently promoted in your department. If there is anyone who has been promoted in the past five years in your department, you should look at their CV and figure out what they needed to get tenure. Tenure expectations are a moving target, so the more recent candidates are a better comparison case than your older colleagues. You may even be able to ask recently tenured colleagues to share their tenure materials with you so that you can see exactly how they put their case together.
  • Look at the CVs of people recently promoted at other comparable institutions. Most departments post their faculty members’ CVs online. And, since promotion and tenure require updating the CV, most recently tenured faculty have updated CVs online. Look at several CVs of people who were recently tenured in your field and figure out what they had that allowed them to make a compelling tenure case. If no one has been tenured recently in your own department, this strategy can be particularly helpful.
  • Develop your own expectations, and share them with a trusted mentor. After you have compiled all of this information, use it to make explicit expectations for yourself. Suppose, after this research, you determine that you would need a book published at a university press, two single-authored articles in top tier peer-reviewed journals, one co-authored peer-reviewed articles, and at least six conference presentations. Take this information back to your department chair and your mentor and ask them if that would make a reasonable tenure case in your department. Tell them that you have set these goals for yourself, and that you would like their feedback on your goals. Their responses should be enlightening.

This last step is very important. Senior faculty are often reluctant to tell you exactly what you need because they don’t want to be wrong, but also because they do not want you to limit your options. If, however, you decide for yourself what your goals are and make it clear that you want their feedback, they likely will be willing to provide it.

The quest for tenure can be stressful, and the lack of clear expectations makes it more so. Figuring out what the expectations are yourself can be one step towards achieving clarity for yourself, and, in the process, to relieving some of the stress.

Tanya Golash-Boza is a Mujeres Talk 2015 Contributing Blogger. Her academic blog site, Get a Life, PhD, has been online since 2010 and offers “how to” advice for college professors on topics such as how to write a book proposal, revise an academic article, or organize work time in a semester. Dr. Tanya Golash-Boza also leads two other academic blog sites, Social Scientists for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and Are We There Yet? World Travels with Three Kids. An Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California Merced, Golash-Boza is the author of four books: Due Process Denied (2012), Immigration Nation (2012), Yo Soy Negro: Blackness in Peru (2011), and Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach (2014). She has also written for Al Jazeera, The Nation, and Counterpunch. She has  a new book out in December: Deported: Immigrant Policing, Disposable Labor and Global Capitalism.

Writing for Mujeres Talk

by the Editorial Group

As an online venue dedicated to the publication of Latina, Chicana, and Native American Studies research, commentary, and creative work that is widely accessible to both specialist and non-specialist audiences, we’ve often been asked by potential authors to provide guidelines on how to write for this site. In answer to this request, we’d like to share our experience in writing and editing for this site, and provide a guide for authors.

The Academic Journal Article

Throughout one’s career, academics receive extensive training in how to write a scholarly article for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. That training begins with the assignment of the seminar paper in a graduate course and workshops on publishing in graduate school. As a new professor, one receives further training in the form of workshops, mentorship from senior faculty, actual peer review feedback on submissions, participation in peer reviewing the work of others, and the ongoing reading of academic journals and volumes. Through this process, one learns how to craft a publishable academic journal article appropriate to a specific field. As should be apparent, this doesn’t happen overnight. There is a learning curve. For this reason, we at Mujeres Talk are not surprised when we occasionally hear back from a potential author who we’ve invited to submit that, “I don’t know how to write in that format,” or “I don’t have time to learn how to do that.” The working conditions in higher education have, indeed, changed significantly, and it’s no surprise that many academics barely have time to do what is expected and required of them for their regular appointments, let alone a kind of writing that may have more limited impact on tenure and promotion than traditional forms of scholarly publication (books, journal articles).

The Online Academic Essay: Actual Experience

Yet, academics and non-academics alike do write for Mujeres Talk, and for a variety of reasons, including:

·      To make Latina and Native American Studies contributions to media and public policy discussions

·      Interest in online dialogue on topics of importance to academic and non-academic audiences

·      Contribute to public discussion of humanities, and research in ethnic studies

·      Promotion of a recent publication or film

·      Opportunity to analyze current events

·      Widely share “how-to” information and guidance

·      Interest in collaborating with others in co-authored pieces

·      Provide mentorship and support to Latinas and Native American women in academia

·      Report on events, conferences, lectures

·      Engage students in interactive assignments.

These wide-ranging reasons for interest in our site has meant that Mujeres Talk has published several different types of short essay – “Dichos” or advice for academics; commentary on current events; personal reflections on research, community work, or current events; research in brief; biographic profiles; analyses of film or literature; and book reviews. We’ve also published three different kinds of multimedia artifacts: slide shows, graphic book; and short video. Three of our authors have used Mujeres Talk for class assignments. In one case, faculty author Ella Diaz wrote about the visit of artist Ana Teresa Fernandez to her school and assigned students to comment on their engagement with this artist and her art. In another instance, faculty author Brenda Sendejo collaborated with students in her Latina/o and Latin American Spiritualities course to co-write a piece on identity, social justice, and spirituality. In a third example, faculty author Theresa Delgadillo wrote an essay on Latinas/os in a popular television program that she also assigned her class to write, and then invited the class to engage in online dialogue on their shared assignment.

Essays that first appeared on Mujeres Talk have been republished on sites such as Share INC/Domestic Violence, Texas Ed Equity, and Puerto Rico Today. Our modified form of peer review has been cited by the US Intellectual History website. And we have collaborated in simultaneous posts with the websites HASTAC, La Bloga, and Somebody’s Children. We do not keep count of the thousands of spams and random hits the site receives, but we do track the number of page views/reads for each new post, and these have steadily climbed and now range between 400 and 1000 per post. Our subscriber list has grown to 194. Anyone can comment on our site, and we’ve received multiple comments from across the country on posts. We notify our growing list of followers on Facebook and Twitter of new posts, as well as related news. Since 2011, we have published 121 essays or multimedia presentations on this site.

Benefits of Writing for Mujeres Talk or Another Online Venue

Both academic and community authors who have contributed to our site have recognized multiple benefits from this experience, including:

·      Learning how to write for online media

·      Publicizing one’s expertise

·      Enhancing one’s online research profile or that of one’s program, department, or school so that others interested in areas you research can easily find you

·      Getting early feedback on work-in-progress.

Authors retain the copyright to the work they publish on Mujeres Talk and, with citation, may reproduce their short form research or online essay in longer journal articles or scholarly manuscripts on their research, or in other kinds of print or online publications.

Tips for Writing for Mujeres Talk

For authors interested in multimedia submissions, we encourage you to research readily available software for making short videos, graphic books, and slide shows to share. For those of you interested in learning how to write the kind of short essay we usually publish, we offer the following tips and questions as a guide:

·      Our upper word limit is 1500, and that means you can only say one or two things well. Your topic can be big, but your insight must be focused.

·      Imagine your audience. Who are you writing to? Is it a group of close colleagues? A public lecture open to anyone at your university? A conference-like gathering of people in your field? Be sure your essay addresses that audience. And then remember that your friend brought along some folks who would also like to understand your work, so make sure a non-specialist can follow it.

·      Write yourself into the essay, making apparent your investment, interest, and/or personal experience with the topic. This is especially important if you are writing a personal reflection or personally inflected commentary. It might be important if you are writing a review, but this advice is less likely to apply to essays that present research in brief.

·      Be generous to other Latina/o and Native American scholars and students.

·      Pose a question in your essay. This is a good way to invite readers in to dialogue.

·      Provide citations, references, shout-outs, and links where appropriate.

·      Save some good stuff for the peer review journal article that will carry greater weight in tenure and promotion.

If you’re interested in writing commentary about a current event or reporting on a lecture, conference, or concert, you might begin a draft of your essay by jotting down some short answers to these questions:

·      What event are you interested in writing about?

·      Why is this event important to Mujeres Talk audiences?

·      Do you want readers to do something about this current event or do you want them to know something about this event? If you answer “do something” explain what and provide links. If you answer “know something” explain what, and include citations.

·      If there is currently public discussion about this event, what are the views currently circulating? How is yours different?

·      How did you become interested in this event? What personal experience do you have with this event?

If you’re interested in writing research in brief, consider which piece of your ongoing, original research you want to publish in this format. Like academic journals, we seek unpublished, original work. Unlike academic journals, we only publish in short format. Keeping that distinction in mind, consider writing about a concept in your research, or how that concept has been critically regarded, or one example of the kind of analysis you are engaging, or a small piece of your findings. The short form research essay will not be as extensive or as complete as the academic journal article, but it does need to be as rigorous and engaging as any more extended work.

Since this is a distillation of our experience, we thank all the women who have ever served on the  Editorial Group of Mujeres Talk and all the authors who have published on this site. A special thank you to Diana Rivera of Michigan State University who recently completed a one year term on our Editorial Group for her wise advice and guidance in creating mechanisms to ensure the continued success of the site.

Reports from “Imagining Latina/o Studies: Past, Present, and Future”

“Imagining Latina/o Studies”: Perspectives on the First International Latina/o Studies Initiative Conference

It’s not everyday that new professional and academic organizations are formed. That’s why the decision to join together in a new association, made by over 500 scholars gathered in Chicago for the “Imagining Latina/o Studies: Past, Present, and Future” Conference on July 17, 2014, was a historic moment. As the Program Committee, composed of leading scholars in multiple fields from all regions of the country, stated in the program:

With this conference we hope to spotlight the dynamic work being carried out in a range of disciplines with a particular focus on the interdisciplinary impulse that shapes and motivates work produced under the banner of Latina/o Studies. We recognize the decades-long history and crucial work of national-origin studies, such as Chicana/o Studies and Puerto Rican Studies, from which many of us have emerged; and we further ask how might we conceptualize the field so that it reflects the complex histories, social formations, and cultural production of Latinas/os even while seeking to imagine a larger sense of belonging that might transcend nationalisms?

Fourteen sessions, with eight to ten panels in each session, took place over the three days of this gathering, providing a wealth of rigorous and creative scholarship as well as insights on pedagogy in this interdisciplinary field. The growing establishment of Latina/o Studies Departments in colleges and universities across the country was evident at the gathering, as well as valuable regional networks of Latina/o Studies scholars in many parts of the country. Another indication of the significance of this professional gathering was the participation of eleven academic presses and four academic journals in the book exhibit. Eighteen (18) of the forty-one (41) ads in the program booklet were from Latina/o Studies Departments, programs, journals and presses based in the Midwest, representing a significant new trend in the field. Conference organizers allowed all participants to join in the work of creating a new association by scheduling business meetings over the lunch period. Participants either picked up something to go or took advantage of a limited number of conference free lunches and joined in the business discussions, voting to form a new association, discussing possible names for the new group, deciding on an initial leadership and governance structure, and establishing a Coordinating Committee to guide the next steps. The new Coordinating Committee includes: Elena Machado, Carmen Lamas, Deb Vargas, Raúl Coronado, and Isabel Porras. Along with Frances Aparicio and Lourdes Torres, who will not continue on the Coordinating Committee, this group worked together to organize the events.  Included here are some of the comments and observations of those who participated in the conference. The colorful notes/doodles on conference sessions of Brian Herrera, in Theater at Princeton University – used with his permission — also provide additional commentary here.

From Adriana Estill, English, Carleton College, Minnesota

On Thursday morning, July 17, 2014, I was one of “those people” — the members of the audience in a conference session that get thanked because they came out so early. (In this case at 8:00 a.m.) But on that Thursday morning, “those people” were out in droves. The excitement was palpable at the session “Latina/o Representation in Mass Media and Popular Culture,” not only because the papers were riveting and engaging, but because we knew — I knew — that this was a historic moment. The energy at the Palmer Hotel in Chicago was unflagging, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Even our business meetings occupied a crowded Empire ballroom. Things that I deeply appreciated about the inaugural conference of a new Latina/o Studies Association:

  • feeling like I was “at home,” that people could understand the basic motivation for my work and that, maybe more importantly, they saw me;
  • hearing exciting new ideas insistently framed in relation to past Latin@, Chican@ and Puertorriqueñ@ scholarship. There was no amnesia here;
  • the sense of empowerment. Here, in this space (unlike at my home institution), it felt like our ideas, our curricula, our Latina/o Studies initiatives, and our scholarship could, should, and can matter. Part of this feeling stemmed from hearing about the amazing work that colleagues are doing, but part came from feeling heard in a number of different arenas.

Things that I hope we’ll work on in this new organization:

  • I saw the photo of our amazing conference organizers recently. Out of 10 (?) people, only one was cisgender male. I’d like to make sure that service to our association doesn’t fall primarily on cisgender female shoulders, given historical imbalances in that arena.
  • In that vein, a number of sessions that I attended that had “feminism” or “Latina” as one of the organizing rationale drew mainly cisgender women. Two thoughts: men involved in Latin@ studies should care about these issues; are we thinking deeply about masculinities?

Last but not least, a number of scholars used twitter at this conference, mainly to help get out the word on the sessions they attended. It was exciting to watch the ideas circulate not just in the rooms they were uttered, but out in “the open,” ready to be engaged by wider publics. And Iván Chaar López has archived our #LSCHI2014 in order to preserve those conversations for the archives.

From Luz Baez, M.A., Studies of the Americas, CUNY/City College of New York

First, I congratulate the Conference organizers for coordinating, what was in my estimation, a very successful event. Each panelist was distinguished and presented research in their field of study passionately and eloquently. It was enlightening to hear about the research each is conducting in their field.  There were several that resonated loudly and peak further interest in the subject matter, specifically how the construct of race has evolved and developed in a different space as Latina/os migrate to the South specifically Alabama, Mississippi and Florida; how inequality in media representation distorts the Latino/a image, and creates identity confusion and economic disparities; and, finally, the impact that the Treyvon Martin and George Zimmerman case had on the Latino/a community.  The benefits I received from attending the conference are countless and will further assist me in the development of my research.  Thanks again to the Organizers.  I look forward to the next Latino/a Studies Conference.

From Diana Rivera, Librarian and Archivist, Michigan State University

I attended the Latino Studies Conference in Chicago from July 17 to July 19, 2014.  It was the launching of the Latina/o Studies Association; an idea discussed throughout the previous year at national-origin studies conferences (whose focus are Latin American Studies, Puerto Rican Studies and Chicana and Chicano Studies) and the American Studies Association, the Modern Language Association, the Organization of American Historians and the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage conferences.  The new organization will meet biennially and discuss the shifting landscape of Latina/os (including Chicana/os) in the humanities, social sciences and professional schools. My presentation, in a roundtable/workshop on Mujeres Talk, discussed Chicana and Latina blogs generally, and the work I have done as an associate editor of Mujeres Talk, which is a unique format with a two-editor review of submitted and solicited posts.  Ohio State University Libraries is the hosting institution for the blog. Sessions I attended included:

  • Latina/o Representation in Mass Media and Popular Culture
  • Roundtable on Latina/o History in the American Midwest
  • Roundtable on Libraries, Institutional Pressures and Cultural Politics
  • Latin@ in the Upper Midwest and Canada
  • Printing Latinidad: The Power of Paper in Latina/o Art
  • Roundtable – La Bloga Contributors in Person: Talk about Blogging, Writing, Publishing
  • Theorizing an Alternative Ethos of Preservation: Land, Space and Place in Latina/o Literature and Culture
  • Roundtable – Archive as Social Practice, Contestation, Queer Gesture, and Chisme

Librarians from Stanford University, UC San Diego and I moved a motion forward to have librarians as part of the executive leadership structure of the new organization to educate, improve and establish a continued library/archives use among the new faculty entering the ranks of academia. It was a conversation that was well received.

To reach the Coordinating Committee for a new Latina/o Studies Association use the Contact Form on their website, or look up “Latina/o Studies Initiative” on Facebook.