Cohort 2012–2013. My time at Princeton was a productive blend of rigor and play. I'm so grateful for the disciplines of attention that coursework and the dissertation formed in me; I'm also grateful for the myriad opportunities the broader university offered to shake up my thinking through colloquia, interdisciplinary work, and collegial banter. When I began my PhD at Princeton in 2012, I had every intention of turning all these opportunities toward a traditional academic career.
Cohort 2005–2006. I arrived at Princeton in 2005. Having applied to PhD programs as an undergraduate, I made the jump to graduate school with little sense of what awaited me, either as a graduate student or later as a faculty member. Luckily, Princeton was a place where I could learn ‘on the job’ while exploring all my weird ideas: What if John Cheever was a race theorist? How did the skyscraper shape literary form? How do you see and feel race as a material housed within an environment?
Cohort 2005–2006. I entered the Ph.D. program in English at Princeton in 2005 and defended my dissertation, on Victorian fiction, in 2011 (advised by the wonderful Diana Fuss, Deborah Nord, Michael Wood, and Eduardo Cadava). In my sixth and final year in the program, I was a Five College dissertation completion fellowship at Amherst College (2010-2011).
Cohort 2004–2005. I took a slightly circuitous path to graduate school, arriving in the fall of 2004 after spending a year as an Americorps volunteer at a high school in West Oakland and the previous one teaching elementary school English in the suburbs of Paris.
Cohort 2008–2009. After completing my PhD in modernism in 2014, I started working in the development department of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), raising money for their patron program. The first few months were hard and included lots of humbling experiences. But I quickly caught on and had the tremendous benefit of my writing and speaking skills, honed through years of teaching and being taught. I rose quickly in the ranks and spent five years engaging with exceptional artists, philanthropists, community leaders and, of course, the work itself.
Cohort 2010–2011. My path to my current position as an Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has had more than a few bends. I came to Princeton following the completion of my undergraduate degree, and though I attended college with ambitions to become a university professor, I found myself torn, upon entering graduate school, by the actual demands of the profession. This division manifested itself geographically and philosophically.
Cohort 2014–2015. After completing my BA and MA at the University of Toronto and taking some time away from studying (working in the records department of public health, in a hair salon, an art gallery, and a restaurant) I decided to pursue my doctorate. I arrived at Princeton in 2014.
Cohort 2012–2013. I completed my PhD in 2018 from Princeton’s English department, where I conducted original interdisciplinary research probing the rise of child psychology in the 20th-century. My career path into my current job was not linear, but included many experiences that informed my professional value and identity.
Cohort 2008–2009. I am an academic librarian at the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library, where I serve as subject specialist for English language and literature, and “functional” specialist in digital humanities. I use my Princeton graduate training every day in evaluating collections, teaching workshops, and pursuing scholarship. The pace and focus of life is different from an English professorship—patron needs set the agenda—but I really enjoy the service orientation of the profession.
Cohort 2008–2009. I received my PhD in 2015 from Princeton’s English department, where my research focused on narrative strategies invented over the last century and used to fuel social and cultural movements–from the Harlem Renaissance to the Civil Rights Movement.
Cohort 2013–2014. I earned by PhD in May 2020, in the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic—the inaugural virtual defense of the Princeton English department! It was a bizarre, fulfilling, exciting event, a welcome celebration in the midst complete confusion. Certain things became very clear in contrast: the dedication and commitment of my advisors Diana Fuss, Bill Gleason, and Joshua Kotin, the support of my colleagues, friends and family, and the commitment of Pat Guglielmi and Eduardo Cadava to keep the ball rolling.
Cohort 2012–2013. When I decided in 2012 to attend Princeton for graduate school, the academic job market in English was already looking uncertain, to put it mildly, so I harbored no illusions of a guaranteed job waiting for me at the end of the process. But I had drafted my previous book, a history of the punk-feminist Riot Grrrl movement (Girls to the Front, Harper Perennial, 2010), as an MFA thesis.
Cohort 2011–2012. I entered the PhD program at Princeton in 2011, five years after getting my BA in English from Amherst College. Probably because I had been out of school for longer than many others in my cohort, I was really grateful to have the first two years of coursework to get comfortable being in the classroom again, especially taking the summers to catch up on reading. I also learned a great deal about other fields and methodologies from my peers in English and friends in other programs.
Cohort 2006–2007. I completed my PhD in 2010 and took up a fellowship and lectureship at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 2018 I moved from Cambridge to Oxford, where I’m currently Professor of English Literature and a fellow of University College. When I am asked about my experiences as a graduate student, and especially about the differences from the system in the UK, I usually focus on two aspects. The first is the opportunity that I was given to explore widely during the first two years of taught coursework. When I arrived at Princeton I was not yet s
Cohort 2005–2006. I came to Princeton in 2005, several years out of college, having already had a career as an independent school teacher and administrator. I defended my dissertation in 2012, at which point I began my current position as an assistant professor in the English Department at New York University. I’m a scholar of African American and Black diasporic literature, with particular interests in poetry and poetics, environmental writing, and more recently the intellectual histories of Black studies, literary studies, and their intersection.
Cohort 2010–2011. I edit and write interactive stories for a mobile app at a game studio. While my experience writing and teaching as a PhD helped me get this job, I needed one particular extra-doctoral skill to land it: creative writing. When you’re working on a dissertation, it can be hard to give yourself permission to do other things. So I wrote short humor fiction one paragraph at a time in between dissertation sessions.
Cohort 2014–2015. I arrived at Princeton in 2014, after completing an MFA at Cornell University and teaching as a lecturer in the English department there. My masters program was an important confidence builder for me in several regards. As I entered the PhD I knew I enjoyed graduate level course work, and I knew I enjoyed designing and teaching undergraduate courses. The work cut out for me at Princeton was therefore to gain the depth of specialization and the skills required in my chosen subfield of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature.
Cohort 2009–2010. I finished my PhD in May 2016, having entered in 2009. My committee members were Daphne Brooks, Valerie Smith, and Alexandra Vazquez, and Kinohi Nishikawa provided a departmental reader’s report (none of my committee was still at Princeton when I finished). The wonderful mentorship I received from Daphne, Valerie, and Alex pushed my project to its limits, helping me build a scholarly foundation I could continue developing. They taught me to see limits as jumping off points for further inquiry. I also benefited enormously from my cohort.
Cohort 2010–2011. I was a typical incoming PhD student at Princeton in at least one respect: after completing my BA, I went straight into graduate school, completing a Master’s degree at the New School for Social Research before coming to Princeton. What was not so typical was that I’d dropped out of college fifteen years before, in 1995, after my freshman year at the University of Puget Sound, to learn about the world and become a writer.
Cohort 2006–2007. I arrived at Princeton in 2006, after leaving a job in material sciences and completing an MA at the University of Chicago.
Cohort 2007–2008. I study literature of the long eighteenth century, with an interest in poetry and poetics more broadly. I arrived in Princeton in 2007, after a year at Brown University as a visiting student and three years as an undergraduate at the University of Cambridge, UK. I defended in 2014, when I began my current position as Assistant Professor of English at Amherst College.