Graduate Students Offer New Panel Series, Untimely Meditations
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Graduate Students Offer Untimely Meditations
Beginning in fall 2020, the English Graduate Organization is sponsoring an ongoing panel series, Untimely Meditations, which gives MA/PhD students the opportunity to share their research. Twice a semester, Untimely Meditations panelists take up a “keyword” circulating in the present moment. This platform is designed for early-career scholars whose work offers nuanced ways of looking at topics that are prominent in global conversations about social and intellectual issues.
Describing the panel’s conception, John Yargo, EGO co-chair, adds, “At a general meeting earlier this summer, we started debating how the mechanisms of academic research circulation hampered our ability to engage with in-the-moment political issues. Peer review offers many benefits, including applying rigorous research expectations. But looking ahead to seeing one’s work in print in two, three, or even five years can discourage taking up the most relevant work. There’s also the moderating influence of having to appeal to the common denominator of two or more editors. This series was conceived to provide a space for this necessary work.”
Shwetha Chandrashekhar, EGO co-chair, adds, “Before the start of the Fall semester, we were concerned about the exceptionality of the present moment due to the pandemic and the negative impact it would have on researchers. Research is as much a community activity as it is a private practice and therefore, we wanted to start a discussion series that would enable graduate students across disciplines and universities to get together and brainstorm ideas. Untimely Meditations gives importance to early musings and ruminations that reflect and speak to the present political climate. The idea is to create a space where people are comfortable and eager to share their research and receive friendly feedback.”
In October, the first panel was "abolition." Conceived in response to increasing calls for criminal justice reform, the panel drew together research engaging with the last two hundred years of abolitionist thought. Hazel Gedikli presented on the organization INCITE!, while Sean Ash Gordon explained Henry David Thoreau’s enduring relevance in abolitionism. Leslie Leonard historicized the rhetorical discourse around duty and responsibility, and Kelin Loe asked how abolitionism might inform pedagogical practice.
The second panel, "citizenship," encompassed a similarly extensive range of approaches. The panelists were Shwetha Chandrashekhar, Jodie Childers, and Florianne "Bo" Jimenez. Chaired by Maria Ishikawa, the panel brought together work on India, Iceland, and the Philippines, and raised questions about the political impact of anti-immigration and colonialist campaigns in the early 20th century and the 21st century, as well as the many vibrant acts of resistance.
Going forward, EGO will host two more Untimely Meditations next semester. The next topic will be announced in January, and proposals from any early-career scholar at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are welcome. Please contact John Yargo or Shwetha Chandrashekhar with questions or proposals.