Category Archives: PFPS17

PFP: Jobs

For a while now, I have been hearing that full-time positions in academe have been slowly fading into part-time jobs, especially for the community college. I met a community college professor a few years back that told me not to go into the community college work force because of this impending issue. He was working part-time at two local community colleges because he could no get a full-time position. Of course, this issue is still of concern a few years after that conversation took place. The Chronicle of Higher Ed even posted a report with lots of graphs and info that suggested adjunct faculty were “dominating the work force” (Schmalz and Oh).

I would have no problem being an adjunct. It’s a “pay your dues” kind of reasoning in my mind, plus it opens up an opportunity to gain my teaching experience and experience multitasking. Adjuncts are a very important part of any English department, taking on loads of work because of the love of teaching.  Obviously though, I would eventually like to end up with a full-time, tenure-track position, like many graduate students who seek to stay in academia. A full-time teaching position means stability. It means that I can put roots in an area. It means that I can really immerse myself in the school and the community. That’s ultimately the goal. Is it attainable? Or is part-time, as Schmalz and Oh suggest, the way academia is heading? I’m not sure. I’ve been browsing the job market now even though I still have at least one more year of graduate school left, and I’m seeing plenty of tenure-track community college positions available. It’s just a matter of being willing to relocate—or at least, that’s what it appears. Here’s to hoping.

Works Cited

Schmalz, Julie and Soo Oh. “In Academe the Future is Part-Time.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 15 September

2014. Accessed 19 April 2017.

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PFP: Community

Community at a higher education institution is important. Bright-eyed high school juniors and seniors make an effort to visit their potential college campuses not just to see the campus itself, but to gage the sense of community, to see how they might fit in there, and to imagine how life would look for two or four years. It’s an important factor, not just to potential undergraduates, but to graduate students and faculty as well.

I didn’t very much enjoy my undergraduate experience for various reasons, one being that I was working too much to even think about being involved with events.  But I was walking around Virginia Tech’s campus just the other day thinking about how much more I’m enjoying my graduate school experience. Even though graduate school is stressful and difficult (as I think many students would agree), I know it’s exactly what I want to be doing right now. As I stated before, I am having a delightful experience, and I think that is largely due to the community that I have found within the English Department here and the community that Virginia Tech works very hard to foster on campus. I think this past weekend was a great example.

This past weekend at Virginia Tech was a commemoration of lives that were taken too soon exactly ten years ago. I wanted to write a blog that expressed how amazed I was at the sense of community that permeated Blacksburg Friday through Sunday. It isn’t just Virginia Tech. The community of Blacksburg showed its support for the institution in mighty ways by attending the events like the candle light vigil and the 3.2. for 32 memorial run. I was overwhelmed by the sense of solidarity that Virginia Tech and town of Blacksburg demonstrated this weekend, and this weekend is just one instance of how Virginia Tech seeks to unite its students.

I think that higher education institutions should do what they can to knit their communities together, to foster a connection and sense of home amongst their students. I also think that the institutions should be friendly and grateful to the towns in which they are located. Virginia Tech is a great example of an institution that does both of these things, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

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PFP: One Thing That Should Change in Higher Ed

I know that I have some concrete answers to this question, but I’ve been wondering what to talk about in this post for a while. The topic that glows in my mind is then topic of cost for education. I think the cost of education for students in the United States should change. I think the playing field should be level for as many people as possible, and right now, this is far from the case— for many students of any financial or racial background. I believe that if students have obviously put in effort to the high school education, they should be rewarded with affordable higher education, if they so choose.

Today, students who choose to go to a four-year institution right away accumulate a massive amount of debt. I know people that graduated with $60,000 to $100,o00 in debt from undergraduate charges alone. For students that go to community college and transfer, I know people that habe fallen within the $25,000 to $50,000 in debt  mark. I don’t think this is right. Many students take on their own higher education bills, and this debt puts them at a disadvantage from the start. When students come out of undergrad with debt the size of a luxury car, if not more so, I think this is a problem, especially since students constantly hear from different directions that the undergraduate degree is the new high school diploma. This may or may not be true, but it does not take away from the fact that this belief is being perpetrated among today’s youth and that many students that graduate with a bachelor’s degree have trouble finding a related job.

In addition to the fact that this belief is being repeated over and over, and that students continue to get themselves into debt that it will take a decade, if not more, to get themselves out of, students are also realizing, as we graduate students have heard in class these past couple of weeks, that students around the world pay much, much less for their Bachelor’s degree than do students in the United States. Regardless of why this may be, American students can’t help but wonder “What?! That’s not fair.” Granted, there may be certain reasons that certain countries have a considerable difference in college tuition rates, one being a higher overall tax rate (an idea at which most Americans would balk). But this begs the question, is that truly all there is? Do other countries only have lower tuition rates because of higher taxes for every citizen? I’m not advocating for free higher education. Not by any means. Because as the old saying goes: “There’s no such  thing as a free lunch.” I only argue that higher education  (undergraduate and graduate work) should not keep students in debt for decades or the rest of their working lives. Higher education, especially undergraduate education, while not free, should be decently affordable so that those that seek to obtain this degree can do so without the cost being an issue for several years.

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PFP: Open Access Journals

Before I chose to focus on Nineteenth-Century Century Gender Studies as my open access journal after finding it on DOAJ,  I simply Googled “Open Access Journals for English Literature” and found an open access journal (English Language and Literature Studies that seemed very legit. They had a lot of information and seemed to be published by a credible company. However, I was offput by the fact that any scholar seeking to publish in the journal had to pay $300 dollars to do so if their selection were approved. While this may be a normal, permissible practice, I’d rather focus on a journal that did not charge their authors a fee for submission or publishing.

So I decided to go with the Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies open access journal. It’s on the list of open access journals on the Directory of Open Access journals, so it should be fairly trustworthy. Their website is very minimal. I believe journal is its own publisher, and it is published within the United States according to the DOAJ. However, their board of directors, editors, and advisors is huge. These positions are filled by various professors at a multitude of credible universities and the website includes bios of their founders, editors, and advisors so that their potential authors understand the credibility of those that will be reviewing their work.

The purpose of the journal is as follows:

Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies is a peer-reviewed, online journal committed to

publishing insightful and innovative scholarship on gender studies and nineteenth-century

British literature, art, and culture. The journal is a collaborative effort that brings

together scholars from a variety of universities to create a unique voice in the field. (NCGS)

The journal aims to consider gender and sexuality in a variety of context, and they publish three times a year. I like that they want to bring in a group of different voices to each issue.  The website is very welcoming to potential authors. It does not include  information on their stance on open access or their place within the movement. The website does state, “Users can use, reuse and build upon the material published in the journal but only for non-commercial purposes” (NCGS). Overall, I think the website could use some more information on the journal’s stance on open access.

Works Cited:

Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies. Edited by Stacey Floyd and Melissa Purdue. Accessed 3 April 2017.

Directory of Open Access Journals. “Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies.” link. Accessed 3 April 2017.

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PFP: Tech and Innovation in Higher Ed

For this post, I found an article by Pearson, an education and publishing group well known in the realm of  Higher Education. The group conducted a study to determine how faculty in today’s higher education circles use social media. The article is full of statistics, graphs, and charts, and it was interesting to see what group/percentage of higher education actually uses social media in their classrooms.

Before I talk about statistics and data, I’m interested in how they define social media. Usually, when Pearson says “social media,” the group means blogs/wikis, podcasts, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitterb (10). This is interesting to me because, generally, I think that media is a common resource used in classes (videos, movies, YouTube, songs, Google programs, etc.) I wouldn’t think that social media would be as commonly considered “learning tool” in classrooms. But let’s get down to statistics. As you can imagine, educators 35 and younger are more likely to use social media in their classrooms than any other age group (Pearson 16). This age group also tends to use blogs/wikis as educational material more than any other social media medium (if that’s grammatical correct). Of the 35 and younger category, 5% report using social media daily, about 17% report that they use it weekly, and 30% report that they use it monthly (Pearson 16).

But what about videos? Where do they fall? Eighty seven point five percent of faculty report that they use videos. This is an overwhelming majority that transcends all age groups (Pearson 20). But what was interesting to me was that Pearson’s data suggests that in most every instance the Humanities is the discipline that incorporates social media or videos more than any other discipline (Pearson). This data doesn’t surprise me only because the material taught in the humanities lends itself better to humanities inspired media like videos, songs, and the like.

This is all fine and good. But I’m wondering what the benefit of using social media in class actually is. I can understand the weekly or monthly inclusion of blogs, if teachers require their students to write blog posts for credit. But really, I can’t imagine bringing in Facebook or LinkedIn on the regular. I’m not sure what purpose that would serve, unless they’re showing memes every day to start the class or something. It seems like it would be more of a distraction, if anythign.  I have used videos in class. That’s not an unusual resource at all in my experience. Maybe podcasts could be a regular tool to assign as homework as well.  I have encouraged students to post surveys on their Facebook page or on the Virginia Tech class Facebook page. But other that that, I’m not sure how or why I would weekly  integrate other social media. Do you all have any use for social media? I would like to hear suggestions and opinions!

Work Cited:

Pearson. “Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Facebook: How Today’s Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media.” Pearson Learning Solutions, 2012. Accessed 29 March 2017.


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PFP: Privilege

I appreciate the different links to the different types of privilege. For the most part, I was aware of the groups that tend to have more privilege than do others, but for some reason, I hadn’t heard the term “cisgender” before. I found “30+ Examples of Cisgender Privilege” to be informative in the sense that it’s written in the second person (you), but doesn’t sound overly accusatory or harsh (Killerman). It effectively demonstrates what a person who is not cisgender might encounter on a daily basis—and these attitudes and situations are definitely not ones anyone would like to encounter. It’s always helpful to reminded of a viewpoint that is not my own; this article truly gets its readers to consider what its like to be in another person’s shoes.

I also appreciated “Male Privilege Checklist.” As a woman, I’ve heard plenty about male privilege, but I don’t feel like I’ve been actively discriminated against in my life. Granted, I don’t see what goes on behind the scenes of a situation where discrimination might actually be possible, so maybe I have been discriminated against and don’t know even know it. All in all though, I haven’t seen overt male privilege in my own life. Perhaps I’m very lucky.

However, after reading the “Male Privilege Checklist, ” I actually agreed with most of what it had to say regarding Male Privilege, but there were some points with which I did not agree. I liked that it was written in first person, demonstrating that a male could be admitting these things to be true (but it was written by a woman which make the dynamic here a littler more controversial and interesting).  Number 15 was spot on: I was having this conversation with my roommate the other day: “My clothing is typically less expensive and better-constructed than women’s clothing for the same social status. While I have fewer options, my clothes will probably fit better than a woman’s without tailoring” (SAP).  I don’t know what the clothing industry is trying to say by making women’s sizing so drastically different from brand to brand. It’s absolutely frustrating to never truly know what size I am.

I also liked the points that had to do with a woman being called “selfish” for choosing to work rather than be a stay-at-home mom (that is a great choice as well!), though I feel this is becoming more socially acceptable now (SAP). In some communities, it’s still an issue. Men also never have to take their wives last names (though I’ve seen it happen once) while women are often questioned and criticized for choosing to keep their own last names (SAP). It’s something I’ve given thought to doing myself, but wonder how people in my life would take it. In certain situations, women tend to have “what other people think” in the back of their minds. Overall, I appreciate the argument of this checklist. While equality for women has progressed greatly, there’s obviously still some work to do.

Works Cited:

Killerman, Sam. “30+ Examples of Cisgender Privilege.” It’s Pronounced Metrosexual.

MIT School of Architecture and Planning. “Male Privilege Checklist.” MIT.



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PFP: Real World Consequences for Unethical Activity

I posted previously on ethics, but the concept of punishment for infractions interested me this week. This past week, when my group was asked to select a case from the ORI Case Summaries section, we picked the one on Meredyth Forbes who “intentionally fabricated and/or falsified data for zebrafish embryogenesis and oocyte polarity” in two papers and two different presentations. She also worked magic with photoshop to show her results in selected pictures (ORI). Basically her punishment was that she wouldn’t be able to work for or with the government on any studies or publications for three years (ORI). Granted, she wasn’t working on a project that concerned the welfare of human beings, but generally, the consensus at our table was that the punishment was fairly lenient.

I would suspect that the punishment for anyone willingly and knowledgeably endangering human life would be greater than that of someone photoshopping a picture of a zebrafish. But at the same time, our group seemed to think that it was the principle of the thing that matters. Forbes willingly engaged in unethical activity in order to get published, knowing that falsifying data for any reason was wrong. This is wrong. To our group, it seemed that once a name disappears from ORI Case Summaries section, the consequences don’t appear as visible. Forbes could easily get a job again, or so it seems.

I also wonder if academia should believe in the idea of second chances. Everyone makes mistakes, and there’s a saying in culture that like to remind us that everyone deserves a second chance. Should this apply to those that unethically alter data in order to advance their name in their realm of studies? This is a hard question. Based off of what we discussed in class, the concept of second chances in academia seems to depend on the severity of the infraction.


Works Cited:

The Office of Research Integrity. “Case Summary: Forbes, Meredyth .” The Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed 15 March 2017, link.

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PFP: Code of Ethics

After searching the Virginia Tech Department of English website, I couldn’t find a code of ethics for our discipline. The website does link to the graduate handbook, which I’m sure has a section on academic integrity. Since I couldn’t find anything specific on our site, I decided to look to the Modern Language Association (MLA), a giant association that caters to the humanities. They’re kind of really important. The MLA offers a Statement of Professional Ethics that would definitely apply to students, GTAs, and faculty in Virginia Tech’s English Department.

This statement has sections entitled “Preamble,” “Ethical Conduct in Teaching and Learning,”  “Ethical Conduct in Service and Leadership,” and “Conclusion” (MLA). The following section is taken from the Preamble, which I believe encapsulates the rest of the document:

“As a community valuing free inquiry, we must be able to rely on the integrity and the good judgment of our members. For this reason, we should not:

  • exploit or discriminate against others on grounds such as race, ethnicity, national origin, religious creed, age, gender, sexual preference, or disability
  • sexually harass students, colleagues, or staff members
  • use language that is prejudicial or gratuitously derogatory
  • make capricious or arbitrary decisions affecting working conditions, professional status, or academic freedom
  • misuse confidential information
  • plagiarize the work of others
  • practice deceit or fraud on the academic community or the public” (MLA)


    I think these points contribute to the overall idea that we as students, teachers, and faculty should treat one another with respect—no exceptions. We should learn, research, and teach with a belief in fairness and integrity. If we live according to the values of fairness and integrity, the way we treat someone, the way we write and research, and the way we teach will create a healthy and fruitful environment. Later on, in the section dealing specifically with teaching and learning, the MLA sets guidelines for how faculty members should act toward their graduate students in particular, stating that they should not take advantage of the students’ being there to work as well as learn and that faculty should be willing to help guide the students when it comes time for them to go out into the career field. It think this is a great addition because it serves to foster the mentor relationship between student and teacher as well as make suggestions that would foster a community within the department itself. I think that the MLA code of ethics works for every department in every school, which suggests that the basis of good ethics should be the same at every institution.


Work Cited:

The Modern Language Association (MLA). “Statement of Professional Ethics.” MLA. 1991. link. Accessed 28 February 2017.

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PFP: The Humanities and the Job Market

I’ll confess. I’m here for my Master’s in English, and I have, at the moment, no intention of applying to PhD programs after my two years here is over. I’ve been given the opportunity to teach freshman English courses while I’m here, and I have found within this semester that I quite enjoy my time in the classroom interacting with the students rather than holed up in my room researching. I’d rather teach than research—a bold confession considering that I’m attending a research institution.

For the past five or so years, I’ve been hearing that the community college jobs are moving more toward part-time, that I’m more liable to be an adjunct forever than get a full time job. This may or not be true, depending on where one chooses to live. I’ve been looking around and have found plenty of full-time, even tenure-track, jobs at the community college level. But my question is this: how many of us recently graduated English grad students will be applying for these kinds of jobs? Will there be hundreds of applications for one position? Is it less than that?

While looking around on The Chronicle of Higher Education,  I came across the very recent article “The Great Shame of Our Profession” by adjunct Harvard English teacher, Kevin Birmingham. Birmingham writes:

So why do we invite young scholars to spend an average of nearly 10 years grading papers, teaching classes, writing dissertations, and                            training for jobs that don’t actually exist? English departments do this because graduate students are the most important element of the                        academy’s polarized labor market. They confer departmental prestige. They justify the continuation of tenure lines, and they guarantee a                      labor surplus that provides the cheap, flexible labor that universities want.

As a member of this “cheap, flexible labor” employed by the University, I understand his argument. Elsewhere in the article, Birmingham states that the academic system is taking advantage of our love of literature in order to allow the tenured faculty to research and have more freedom. They allow more students into the academy  than there are jobs available for them after they graduate, so these graduates end up being adjuncts who don’t make enough to live on (Birmingham). An article that was supposed to be on literary criticism ended up being a criticism of the “establishment,” if you will.

Not finding a job that allows me to live. This is my fear; I’m sure its everyone’s fear. How do students, especially in the humanities, reconcile what we’re doing with the possibly bleak reality of our potential future? It’s disconcerting. And Birmingham doesn’t offer an answer.I’m not here to be part of the echo chamber of bleak sentiments regarding the jobs of graduate students once they graduate. But this whole system of economics—supply exceeding demand— is something we’re constantly thinking about and rightly so. It’s a topic in the Chronicle! But like I said, I’m hopeful. Because despite what I have heard and what I’m reading, the jobs at the community college level are there to be had. It’s just a matter of landing one.

Work Cited:

Birmingham, Kevin. “The Great Shame of Our Profession.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 63, no. 24, 2017, link, Accessed 22 February 2017


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PFP Blog Post 2: Ethics

For this week’s blog, I chose to read the case summary of Julie Massè, a former postdoc at Pennsylvania State University who “engaged in research misconduct in research supported by National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), [and] grant 4 R00 CA138498” (ORI).  She was found to have falsified or fabricated images, data, and analyses of the images/data. As a resul,t she is no longer a postdoc at PSU and agreed in a settlement that she would have any further research supervised and any company that employed her would have to abide by certain other regulations stipulated in the settlement (ORI). Which leads me to wonder, who would hire her with a scandal like this in her background?  I can’t imagine job offers would be rolling in.

This case summary shocked me, though I know I shouldn’t be shocked. It was appalling to see that someone who was involved in cancer research would falsify data or create data that she wanted to see. I know people are under a lot of pressure in the sciences to conduct successful experiments and publish their findings to the public. I also don’t know that much about cancer research, which I would assume is a high stress field, but it seems utterly shocking that someone would falsify cancer research. It seems like this misconduct would get found out quickly or that it could endanger many people! It’s a very interesting misconduct case that I’m sure affected more than just the person that was guilty of research misconduct. I would assume that labmates or the lab itself  were affected in some way. ORI also has an interactive video that we watched in the Academic Integrity and Plagiarism class that allows viewers to see just how much someone’s choice to engage in research misconduct could affect the lives of those around them, whether they meant for it do so or not. Check it out here: The Lab

The Office of Research Integrity. “Case Summary: Massè, Julie.” The Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed 15 February 2017, link

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