Clark English professor celebrates master’s candidates’ success

Prof. SunHee Kim Gertz

Clark University English Professor SunHee Kim Gertz used a different approach last fall when she taught her Introduction to Graduate Studies seminar, adding a requirement that paved the way for her students to achieve on a level usually reserved for Ph.D. candidates.

Professor Gertz added to her seminar a new emphasis on the professional aspects of the discipline, and required each student to seek out a conference and submit an abstract of a paper for possible presentation. Six of twelve submissions were accepted for presentation; one student even was asked to submit his work to a scholarly anthology.

Gertz described her approach as “professionally pragmatic” and significantly different from how other faculty, herself included, had approached this graduate course in the past.

“Rather than exploring theories of literature, which I urged students to do in other seminars, and easing students into extensive, research-oriented projects as is expected in Master’s level graduate courses, I wanted to focus on skills that might enable students to land a job,” she said.

Guiding her M.A. students through the process of searching for a suitable conference and reviewing how to submit an abstract, “in essence, how to perform,” Gertz made sure that they had feedback at each step along the way and that the conveners who reviewed proposals knew that her students were at the M.A. level.  “Since academic conference participants tend to be either faculty members or Ph.D. candidates, I didn’t want to inadvertently mislead the conveners.  I would have been thrilled if only one person got his/her paper accepted.”

Delighted by their success and in honor of their achievement, Gertz applied for, and received, a grant from the Higgins School of the Humanities to support the five students who will be delivering their papers this spring.

'While Ph.D. students may get funding to present at conferences, master’s students rarely get funded," said Gertz . "The Higgins School support of these students is exceptional."

“I would have never applied to [a conference] myself because I felt I could never do it at this point in my career,” said Caroline Schroeter, a master’s candidate who will be presenting her paper this spring. “Professor Gertz did a great job instructing us on how to approach this.”

Schroeter said Professor Gertz’s guidance and humor helped make the class, and the work, enjoyable.   The student, who is enrolled at Clark through a dual degree program with the Universität Trier in Germany, said that “life as a master’s candidate is very demanding wherever you are.

“However, I feel like we get a lot more support at Clark – everything is less anonymous and everyone is just unbelievably helpful,” said Schroeter.

Following is a list of Professor Gertz’s students whose papers were accepted for publication:

Karl Hartshorn M.A. ’12. Hartshorn’s paper “Where Have You Gone Mrs. Rowlandson: Contacting the Past to Free the Future” was accepted by the graduate conference Intersections, Tensions, and New Dimensions: Encounters in the Contact Zone this fall at UNH.

Pat O’Donnell B.A.’08, M.A. ’12.  O’Donnell’s abstract “1-2-3-4, How Do We Write War: Dos Passos’s U.S.A. Trilogy” has been invited to be part of the upcoming anthology “Narrative is the Essence of History: Essays on the Historical Novel.”

Mikal Brotnov B.A.’10, M.A.’11 will present his paper, “Locating Lemkin: Historiography, Conceptual Issues, and the Problem of Genocide,” at a conference titled Critical Ethnic Studies and the Future of Genocide Conference: Settler Colonialism/ Heteropatriarchy/ White Supremacy.

Emma Mackie M.A. ’12 will present her paper, “La Malinche Nueva: Rewriting the Archetype in Chicano Literature,” at the 2011 New England Modern Languages Association Conference.

Paul Babin M.A. ’12 will present his paper, “The Horrors and Profits of Empire: A Semiotic Reading of The Heart of Darkness,” at the International Association of African American Studies National Conference.

Caroline Schroeter M.A. ’11 will present "Gender, Family and the Worcester Slave Narratives" at the International Association of African American Studies National Conference.

Anousa Singhavong M.A. ’12 will present his paper, “Media Assistance in the Protection and Prevention of Human Trafficking in Laos,” at the International Association of Asian Studies National Conference.

“This was a tremendous, wonderfully collegial group of students. It was a pure joy working with them,” said Gertz.

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