Category Archives: Professionalization

Dichos for Summer Research

by Theresa Delgadillo

For many years, members of my family often referred to my summer schedule as my “time off” or my “long summer vacation” in contrast to their one or two weeks. As the working-class daughter of working-class parents, I understand well the fascination and misunderstanding with which many view the summer life of academics. I’ve also spent many a hot summer working in a factory, mill or sweatshop or in what seemed like a hermetically sealed over-air conditioned office. From that perspective, an academic summer schedule looks pretty good. Yet, if you’re on the tenure-track or trying to get on the tenure-track, summer is definitely not playtime. It’s precious research and writing time. Here are a few notes to remind you that even though it may seem like campus is deserted or, if you’re teaching this summer, like the school year never ends, that there are many, many people, just like you, trying to get as much research and writing in over the summer as possible. Because we know that the readers of Mujeres Talk have a wealth of knowledge to offer us all, we wish you well in that work. In recognition of this seasonal shift in our collective work rhythms, Mujeres Talk will change from a weekly to a biweekly publication schedule in July and August. We will return to a weekly publication schedule in September.

“Cada maestrillo/a tiene su librillo.”

We each do things in our own way, so stick to what works for you. If you don’t know what your process is for getting to the writing and research, think back on how you’ve done it. Are you the kind of writer/researcher who needs to finish up all obligations to others (service, reviewing, reports, letters) before you can concentrate on your project? If so, create a reasonable schedule for clearing your desk of writing and work you owe others. Would making a map or list of what you’d like to accomplish this summer help you to achieve it? If so, consider penciling in some timelines or due dates for parts of the project. Do you know that support is essential to keeping you on track? Find writing/research partners. A colleague recently told me about her “writing accountability” group where everyone reports on their daily writing accomplishments. Another colleague is now away at the second two-day writer’s retreat with peers that she has organized already this summer. Do you need to have the physical stacks of books related to each piece of writing/research visible on your desk to keep you on track and moving through it? A visit to the library will get you started. Will working at the office or at home or some other third location make writing possible? I’ll never forget the poet Annie Dillard’s description of her choice of workplace and time: a deserted library in the wee hours, equipped with thermos and writing instruments.

“El comer y el rascar, todo es empezar.”

Even the shortest piece of writing, or note-taking or reading is a start, and we all have to start somewhere. Start. Begin. Are you going to start generating new text? Are you going to start revising and editing? Are you going to start by reviewing your field notes, or feedback you received at a conference or workshop? Are you going to start by reading and note-taking? Are you going to start by creating questions and goals for fieldwork? Do you need to begin interviewing or analyzing data? If starting is hard, set a shorter time period for beginning on first day and then add to it everyday until you get to your optimal working hours. Write down, every day, a short note on what you accomplished for that day. Once you really get going, it may be difficult to tear yourself away from your work.

“Más vale maña que fuerza.”

This saying cautions us to make intelligent use of our time and resources rather than muscling our way through. One way to think of this is to consider structuring your work so that you are writing and generating new text at times when you are most alert and creative, and revising and editing when you’ve temporarily run out of ideas or need a break from writing but still have time to do work. Flexibility and willingness to shift into another aspect of research/writing can work really well to complement the time you focus on writing and generating new work. This saying might also apply to establishing a regular writing practice for the summer, doing some work all the time rather than squeezing it all into a shorter period.

Reference: Bermejo, Belén. Refranes Populares. Madrid: Editorial Luis Vives, 2002. 33, 51,79.

Theresa Delgadillo is an Associate Professor of Comparative Studies and Coordinator of the Latina/o Studies Program at The Ohio State University. She has served as an Editor of Mujeres Talk since January 2011. 

María Teresa Márquez and CHICLE: The First Chicana/o Electronic Mailing List

By Miguel Juárez

These days we take e-mail and electronic lists for granted, but imagine a world where there is no e-mail or exchange of information like we have now?  That was the world for Humanities Librarian María Teresa Márquez at the University of New Mexico (UNM) Zimmerman Library and creator of CHICLE, the first Chicana/o electronic mailing list created in 1991, to focus on Latino literature and later on the social sciences. [1] Other Chicano/Latino listservs include Roberto Vásquez’s Lared Latina of the Intermountain Southwest (Lared-L) [2] created in 1996, and Roberto Calderon’s Historia-L, created in March 2003. [3] These electronic lists were influential in expanding communication and opportunities among Chicanas/os. CHICLE, nevertheless, deserves wider recognition as a pioneering effort whose importance has been overlooked.

In many instances the Internet revolution was shepherded by librarians in their institutions. Libraries and librarians were early adopters of this new technology. Márquez used computers and e-mail in her work in the Government Information Department at UNM. However, it was in the Library and Information Science Program at California State University, Fullerton, where she first learned about and used computers in a federally-funded program in the 1970s that sought to increase the number of Mexican American librarians. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Márquez earned a Certificate of Advanced Study in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, where she learned more about computers and databases.

In April 1991, Márquez attended the Nineteenth Annual Conference (Los Dos Méxicos) of the National Association of [Chicana and ] Chicano Studies (NACS) in Hermosillo, Sonora, México. One of the panels, moderated by Professor Francisco Lomelí, University of California, Santa Barbara, presented papers on “Literatura Chicana.”  While discussing the topic, scholars raised problems encountered in communicating with each other and in sharing information on new publications and current research. Márquez volunteered to create a listserv or electronic mailing list and explained how it could be of use in keeping scholars informed. At UNM, she developed the list and Professor Erlinda V. Gonzales-Berry, then a faculty member in the UNM Spanish Department, coined its name-CHICLE (which translates into gum in Spanish). CHICLE stood for Chicana/Chicano Literature Exchange.

According to Márquez, most faculty members were not willing to join CHICLE, citing no experience with computers nor did they wish to consider its potential use in academic work. Yet, Márquez launched CHICLE with eight subscribers. She attended numerous academic conferences to distribute fliers and talk to people about the list and recruit subscribers. Furthermore, she attempted to impress upon her listeners the need to be at the forefront of technology, but Márquez said she had few takers. Believing in the importance of the list and in this new form of communication, she persevered and she states: “One day, all of a sudden, membership went up to 800!” As more institutions and faculty members started using computers, the list exploded in the number of subscribers.

The idea for the list evolved from Márquez’s work in a library setting that was used to basically communicating internally. At first Márquez sent out all of the information on the list because she had most of it. She would use librarian’s tools and lists of new books, information of upcoming conferences, calls for papers, and articles that would be of interest, but she received very little in return. The list was limited to her contributions in its early years. Later, as the number of subscribers in the social sciences increased the list moved away from literature. Numerous topics were discussed over the list’s ten–year history (1991-2001), but eventually its popularity led to its demise. Subscribers often stated that the list contained too much information and was time consuming.

Among the active subscribers to CHICLE was archivist Dorinda Moreno, [4] who later went on to work with Lared as well as with Dr. Robert Calderón‘s Historia-L. Moreno contributed history-related information. In contrast to Márquez’s effort, Calderón changed his list to a closed list with a finite number of subscribers where he posted items of interest to the Chicano/a academic community, as opposed to CHICLE which was an open forum. [5] Initially CHICLE was designed as an open forum to encourage broad participation. Dr. Tey Mariana Nunn, now Director and Chief Curator of the Art Museum and Visual Arts Program at the National Hispanic Cultural Center Art Museum in Albuquerque, played a large role in promoting the list in its early days. Nunn was a graduate work-study student. Additionally, Renee Stephens, now at San Francisco State University, then a graduate work-study student at UNM, was also editor for the list, a task inherited from Janice Gould. All these women were instrumental in the success of CHICLE. Eventually, the expansion of the Internet eclipsed Chicana/o listservs.

When CHICLE began, Márquez acted as the sole moderator, but over time, as it gained popularity, she trained students to run it. The popular list existed until her funding to hire work-study students ran out. Her institution was reluctant to provide further support. CHICLE was not considered an appropriate academic part of Márquez’s professional responsibilities. Management of the list competed with duties at the library and as subscriptions grew, it became overwhelming and difficult. Márquez who often managed the list on her own time, stated she would have continued the list but that  it would have required more energy than she was willing to invest. When Márquez decided it was time to move on and discontinue the list, she approached the UNM Technical Center to store the CHICLE files. The Center claimed it did not have sufficient storage space for her files. As news of CHICLE’s imminent shutdown spread, people volunteered to keep the list going but were deterred by the amount of work entailed.

Dr. Diana I. Rios, who has a joint appointment in the Department of Communication and El Instituto at the University of Connecticut among others, made attempts to create an archive of CHICLE.  She made copies of conversations via cut and paste. There were attempts to incorporate CHICLE into another list but Ríos did not want that to happen. Eventually, Latino literary blogs such as Pluma Fronteriza [6] and La Bloga [7] emerged to continue where CHICLE left off.

After CHICLE, Márquez took her energy and enthusiasm in supporting Latina/o students and created a program called CHIPOTLE. [8] She used CHIPOTLE to familiarize Chicana/o rural students with the academic environment and to reach out to surrounding communities. Via grant and affiliated department funded sponsorship, Márquez would take posters and boxes of books by Chicana/Chicano writers to give to students when she visited Hispanic-dominate schools. As part of CHIPOTLE, she created a forum to bring Latina/o speakers into the library and encouraged Latina/o students to utilize the research resources available to them. She directed two programs funded by Rudolfo Anaya: Premío Aztlán and Critica Nueva. Premío Aztlán recognized emerging Chicana/o writers and Critica Nueva was an award honoring the foremost scholars who produced a body of literary criticism based on Chicana/o literature. For many years, Márquez was the only Latina librarian at the University of New Mexico University Libraries. Presently, she is an Associate Professor Emerita. No Latina/o librarians have been hired since her retirement.

In the era of search engines, web browsers, blogs, wiki’s, intranets, and social media, it is important to recognize the efforts of a pioneering Chicana librarian and a pioneering electronic list that was a unique cultural creation. It was given life by so many who read it, posted on it, and worked on it. CHICLE brought many voices together and established a foundation for the future. As Márquez stated, “CHICLE was the catalyst for many things.” [9]

[1] María Teresa Márquez, interview by the author, Albuquerque, April 28, 2007.  [2] Lared Latina of the Intermountain Southwest, was established in the Spring of 1996 by Roberto Vásquez, as a World Wide Web Forum, for the purpose of disseminating socio-political, cultural, educational, and economic information about Latinos in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe Metro area and the Intermountain Region which includes Metropolitan Areas such as the Salt Lake City/Ogden region, Denver, Phoenix, Tucson, Boise, Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, accessed January 30, 2014: http://www.lared-latina.com/bio.html.  [3] Dr. Roberto R. Calderón, interview by the author, College Station, Texas, December 20, 2007. Historia-l, focused on Chicano/a history, started as “96SERADC” with 200 subscribers in May 1996 and continued through October 1997. Originally housed at the University of Washington, it helped mobilize the first Immigrant Rights March on Washington, D.C., held on Saturday, October 12, 1996. The march had upwards of 50,000 participants, half of whom were Latina/o college students from across the country. The listserv list then changed venues and was housed at the University of California at Riverside becoming “2000SERADC,” from November 1997 through August 1999, at which point the listserv list was discontinued. This twice-named listserv list project lasted three-and-a-half-years. [4] Dorinda Moreno, Chicano/native Apache (Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother) has worked bridging Elders, Women of Color, Inter-generational networks and alliances, with a focus on non-racist, non-sexist (LGBT community), non-toxic–Chicano/a, Mexicano/a, Latino/a, Indigenous communities, projects and networks that give voice to under-represented groups and enable feminist empowerment through social change networks and innovations. As an early Web pioneer and archivist, she has been actively using the Internet since 1973. [5] Calderón interview.  [6] Pluma Fronteriza began as a printed newsletter, then became a blog and currently has a companion site on Facebook:  Accessed February 8, 2014: http://plumafronteriza.blogspot.com/  [7] La Bloga hosts various bloggers who write on Latino/a literature.  Accessed February 8, 2014: http://labloga.blogspot.com/  [8] According to the Memidex Online Dictionary and Thesaurus, Chipotle comes from the Nahuatl word chilpoctli meaning “smoked chili pepper” is a smoke-dried jalapeño, accessed January 30, 2014, http://www.memidex.com/chipotles. [9] Márquez interview.

Miguel Juárez is a doctoral student in Borderlands History at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). He has a Masters in Library Science (MLS) degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a Masters of Arts (MA) in Border History from UTEP. In 1997, he published the book: Colors on Desert Walls: the Murals of El Paso (Texas Western Press). Miguel has curated numerous exhibits, as well as written articles in academic journals, newsletters, and newspapers focusing on librarianship, archives, and the cultural arts. From 1998 to 2008, Miguel worked as an academic librarian at the following institutions and centers: State University of New York at Buffalo; Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona; Texas A&M in College Station, TX; and the Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC) at UCLA. He is also co-editor with Rebecca Hankins of the upcoming book Where Are All the Librarians of Color? The Experiences of People of Color in Academia, part of the Series on Critical Multiculturalism in Information Studies of Litwin Books. The author would like to thank María Teresa Márquez, Dr. Roberto Calderón, Dorinda Moreno, Dr. Tey Mariana Nunn, Renee Stephens, Rebecca Hankins and Dr. Diana Ríos for making suggestions and recommendations for this article. This work is part of a larger body of research on Chicana/o electronic and digital projects during the advent of the Internet.

Finishing the Dissertation

stream of colored lights
Energy Stream (1/5) by Flickr User Joe Skinner Photography
CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Advice from Graduate Students To Graduate Students on Finishing Your Dissertation

by Yalidy Matos

Graduate school can be an extremely isolating and lonely experience for many  students. It is hard to make time to join social organizations, or for anything other than courses or your dissertation, thus, adding to the isolation and loneliness of it. However, one of the main factors that has helped me is the support from other graduate students. Their friendship and advice has been instrumental to my success in graduate school.

Writing a dissertation can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. It can very easily overwhelm you to the point where you feel immobile; you’re not sure where or how to start. The following is some advice from women graduate students who are either working on or have successfully finished the dissertation.

First, remember that “You can’t eat an elephant in one bite.” Writing a dissertation is a process, it needs to be taken one step at a time. Many of the graduate students emphasize pre-planning, outlining chapters, daily scheduling and writing, weekly goals, and making a dissertation calendar as some of the most important ways they were able to write and ultimately finish their dissertation. Setting feasible weekly goals such as “draft literature review section,” or “edit introduction to chapter x,” are both feasible weekly goals. Each goal focuses on a section of the dissertation, not the entire dissertation or even an entire chapter. Feasible weekly goals allow you to actually meet those goals and reward yourself for it.  Another bit of advice from graduate students is to reward yourself for completing a milestone and/or your weekly goal. One of the graduate students, for example, treated herself to a movie when she finished a weekly goal. You are your own cheerleader and advocate!

On that note, get rid of any “negative energy” and speak positively about your dissertation. Getting rid of negative energy can mean many things. Negative energy can come from others, but it can also come from your inner critic. If you have other graduate students who are always speaking negatively about you or your work, make an attempt not to have conversations with them. Always do so politely and professionally. As graduate students we should be able to choose not to have any kind of negativity around us; it hinders our own progress and work. It is the case, however, that we can be our own worst critic. Find a way to release negative energy (exercise, yoga, meditation, counseling, graduate student support groups), and surround yourself with people that cheer you on and love and support you and your work. On a related note, make use of university resources. If your university offers counseling services or graduate student support groups, join! There is no shame in wanting a supportive group of people to talk to and with which to share experiences. Additionally, if your university or department does not offer these types of services, then take the initiative and create a dissertation workshop/group where you only have supportive positive graduate students. Such a group can serve many purposes; it can be a writing group or more of a support group.

Finally, seeking positive energy includes having a supportive dissertation committee. The dissertation process is already difficult and time-consuming; you want your committee to be supportive of you and your work. Committees are not set in stone until you turn in your paperwork to graduate to the graduate school.  Seek mentorship from other faculty members with whom you feel comfortable. At the end of the day your dissertation committee should be a group of people who believe in you and push you to be and do better. The relationships with your committee members will not always result in happiness (dissertations are hard work, after all), but they should always be a relationship marked by professionalism and guided support.

Thank you to the following faculty and students who generously contributed tips and advice to this essay: Devyn Gillette, PhD, Post-Doctoral Researcher, UNC-Chapel Hill; Danielle Olden, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Utah, Department of History; Desiree Vega, PhD, NCSP, Assistant Professor, Texas State University, School Psychology Program; Delia Fernandez, PhD Candidate, Ohio State University, Department of History; Gisell Jeter, PhD Candidate, Ohio State University, Department of History; Tiffany Lewis, Graduate Student, Ohio State University, Arts Administration Education & Policy.

Suggested Additional Resources:

Books:

Single, Peg Boyle. 2020. Demystifying Dissertation Writing. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Miller, Allison B. 2009. Finish Your Dissertation Once and for All!: How to Overcome Psychological Barriers, Get Results, and Move on With Your Life. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Evans, David., and Paul Gruba. 2002. How to Write a Better Thesis. Australia: Melbourne University Press.

Blogs:

Get a Life, PhD at http://getalifephd.blogspot.com

The Thesis Whisperer at http://thesiswhisperer.com

Yalidy Matos is a graduate student in the Department of Political Science at The Ohio State University. Her dissertation focuses on the dynamics driving public opinion on U.S. immigration policy. Matos is currently a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.

Call Me “Doctor”?

People sitting in Occupy Movement protest.Photo by Flickr User Steve Rhodes, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

by Erika Gisela Abad 

This past summer, a call center coworker of mine joked that I should have clients call me “Doctor,” because, having recently graduated with a PhD, it was my professional title as well. As we laughed, I recalled graduate school conversations where the title ‘doctor’ or ‘professor’ was not a laughing matter, especially among women and peers of color. Many of us believed that the title could reinforce what respect and authority we had earned. “Doctor” conversations in both graduate student cubicles and call center cubicles reflect how each environment perceived power, authority and, more specifically, respect. As I compare blogs and academic journals that discuss the nature of how faculty are treated to the perceived experiences of customer service workers, and undocumented workers to which they are compared, I ask myself: when did I begin to equate educational training with earned respect?

In attempting to address the question, I bear in mind compared expectations and value assessment in each position. While the comparison warrants longer conversation, I had to come to terms with the reality that the skills of a person with an advanced degree are more transferable to other forms of white collar and or middle class labor than those within other professions. The way some adjunct faculty have reflected on their experiences, it is easy to forget the extent to which one with a master’s or doctorate can apply their literacy, writing and reviewing skills to other professions. While it is an injustice that adjuncts who rely on teaching as their sole income do not make a living wage nor have access to affordable healthcare, it is important to re-examine the context in which the aforementioned concerns are discussed. Particularly that the focus is on one profession which experiences these economic limitations instead of the general limitation as a whole.

The reason one applies for food stamps, could have barely afforded adequate health care insurance, or worries about their economic stability has less to do with education and more to do with both national and regional policies of what we allow a living wage to be for anyone. Those of us who are underemployed or who, despite our training and skills, do not have full time teaching positions, are a testament that professional degrees do not, by default, create a demand to match the supply. As we vocalize our gendered and raced subordination within the profession, it is critical we bear in mind the national policies and practices that shape limited access to education, adequate health care and affordable housing. Moving beyond the disappointment that advanced degrees do not guarantee the higher quality of life expected, what critical lessons are we learning from the economic recession?

I will answer that question specifically focusing on the women of color narratives I have begun to review so far. Women of color, who speak from a position of recognized institutional marginalization, frame their narrative cognizant of how their gendered and raced social locations create student-teacher/teacher-administrator/supervisor tensions (Turner, Harley, Maisto). Such testimonies and theoretical discussions had initially framed the reliance on “Doctor/Professor” as a symbol of authority and respect, especially on campuses whose towns and cities featured fewer middle class and politically organized people of color. Solely relying on resilience built from my graduate school experience tempted me to forget the manners in which working-class women/women of color in my family and former client bases have worked to assert their respect because of their right to human dignity and community empowerment. As much as I worked to resist institutional xenophobia and the resulting micro-aggressions I encountered along the way towards my PhD, my self-righteous resilience transformed into a meritocratic ethos that overlooked the womanist, mujerista ethos that shaped my intellectual and political communities.

At the core of that ethos lies the understanding that formal education is but one avenue by which we can address social disparities. While reflecting on the pressures and stresses experienced as a result of departmental hierarchies and policies, it is imperative to remember the professional and skilled position from which we speak. Many of the readers of and contributors to Mujeres Talk use our position as educators and advocates to disrupt the insular culture of the ivory tower. As we do so, we risk a great deal because of how our commitment to serving students and our greater communities is pitted against our institutions’ expectations of production. As my academic generation negotiates the double-edged sword of cultural capital and racial profiling, how are we coming to terms with the vulnerability of critical pedagogy and the prestige of our formal training? How do we not internalize racial micro-aggressions by presuming our mixed-class position should be the foundation of our economic security?

Returning to my coworker’s joke, a title or formal training does not guarantee the recognition of human dignity, nor should they be required to acknowledge it. I do not ignore the grave concern around society’s devaluing a liberal arts education nor am I ignoring the worth of the time and effort I put into my projects. As we work to call attention to the degradation of liberal arts higher education and to social justice oriented pedagogy and scholarship, what would it look like if we addressed those concerns within the greater injustices experienced by those whose labor in literal and figurative ‘service’ work is undervalued?

References

1) Firmage, Ed. “Wage Slaves in the Ivory Tower.” UVU Review the Student Voice. 26 March 2013. 2) Harley, Debra A. “Maids of Academe: African American Women Faculty at Predominantly White Institutions.” Journal of African American Studies 12 (2008): 19-36. 3) Leonard, David. “Adjuncts Aren’t Slaves. Let’s Stop Saying They Are” Vitae 4 December 2013. 4) Maisto, Maria. “Adjuncts, Class, and Fear.” Working-Class Perspectives. 23 September 2013. 5) Snodgrass, Langston. “Adjuncts: The Slave Labor of Higher Education.” Langston Snodgrass. May 2013. 6) Turner, Caroline Sotello Viernes. “Women of Color in Academy Living with Multiple Marginality.” The Journal of Higher Education. 73.1 (2002): 74-93.

Erika Gisela Abad received her PhD from Washington State University’s American Studies Program in May 2012. Her work and poetry have been published in Diálogo and Mujeres de Maiz, and she has work forthcoming in Latino Studies and Sinister Wisdom. An alumni of AmeriCorps and long-time volunteer of organizations serving Latino youth and their families, she does her best to maintain communities ties that foment a theory in praxis. Since finishing graduate school, she has been supporting the Latino community of her North Portland parish, running between the kitchen and the food pantry, going to where she is needed.