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Graduate Resources & Activities

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What You Need to Know as a Graduate Student or Lecturer

All Graduate Students and MFA/PhD Lecturers have access to the Canvas Resources for Graduate Students and Lecturers site (you'll need to log in using you NetID and password).

There, you will find info about:

  • Getting Paid (includes all common general-situation info in one place)
  • Department Policies and Procedures
  • PhD and MFA program documents (includes timelines, info about various exams, expectations, department-specific forms)
  • Teaching Overview (includes info on types of courses you'll teach, year-specific information on what to expect, and the teaching application)
  • Teaching Resources (includes info on how to order desk copies, how to place orders with the bookstore, and how to schedule special space needs)
  • Special Funding Opportunities (includes info for MFA students, for PhD students, for Lecturers, and opportunities open to all)
  • other useful information

Throughout your time here as a graduate student and lecturer (if applicable), we will consistently refer you to this resource, as the Resources for Graduate Students and Lecturers site is the department's official repository of written graduate-student specific guidance. Please do let us know what we need to add, alter, or consider, by emailing Paula Epps-Cepero at


Resources at Cornell

Founded in 1947, Epoch is a periodical of prose and poetry edited by Michael Koch and published by the Creative Writing staff of the Department of English. MFA students serve as Editorial Assistants in their first year of graduate study.

The Barbara & David Zalaznick Reading Series
Each academic year, the Barbara & David Zalaznick Reading Series brings poets, fiction writers, essayists, and industry professionals to campus for readings and talks.

The Society for the Humanities
The Society for the Humanities brings together visiting Fellows and Cornell faculty who offer graduate-level seminars intended to be exploratory or interdisciplinary.

The School of Criticism and Theory
The School of Criticism and Theory enrolls students and faculty from all over the world each summer in seminars run by eminent theorists. Numerous public lectures and colloquia are also offered a number of scholarships are available to Cornell graduate students.

Cornell University Library
The Cornell University Library holds more than seven million physical volumes and offers electronic access to a wealth of digitized primary and secondary sources in the humanities, such as Early English Books Online, Early American Imprints, Literature Online, Black Drama 1850-Present, the MLA Bibliography and JSTOR, to name just a few as well as Library Resources for English. Olin Library reference librarians and subject selectors maintain a variety of subject guides in various disciplines, and are happy to provide personal research consultations as well as course-related instruction sessions on using library resources.

Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, housed in the Carl A. Kroch Library, offers strong holdings in literature and theater. Collections of special note include the Cornell Wordsworth Collection, the second largest of its kind in the world; the Bernard F. Burgunder Collection of George Bernard Shaw; nearly comprehensive printed holdings of the works of Dante, Petrarch, Jonathan Swift, and Alexander Pope; strong representations of the works of standard English and American authors from the seventeenth-century onwards; the papers of modernist writers such as James Joyce, Ford Madox Ford, and Wyndham Lewis; and the archives of authors associated with Cornell, such as E.B. White, Vladimir Nabokov, and A.R. Ammons. Other rare book and manuscript collections of interest include the Human Sexuality Collection, with its extensive holdings in lesbian and gay studies, the Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Collection, a significant Native American history collection, the largest collections in North America on witchcraft, the French Revolution, and Iceland, and one of the country’s great history of science collections. The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections offers over 130 instruction sessions per year, introducing both graduate and undergraduate students to original research materials and methods; in-depth, individualized consultations are also available.

Reading Groups and other Intellectual Activities

Outside the classroom graduate students in English often create forums for teaching each other. Informal reading groups--some established gatherings and others that form from year to year--focus on such topics as Queer Theory, U.S. Latino Literature, Marxist criticism, and Victorian Literature. Conferences largely organized by graduate students also provide a chance for graduate work to reach a wide audience of the Cornell community. Organizations such as the Renaissance Colloquium, The Lounge Hour Reading Series, The Department Roundtable, Quodlibet (a forum for work in Medieval Studies), and the Visiting Writers Series organized by the Creative Writing program bring scholars and writers to Cornell for readings, talks, and seminars. 

English Department Roundtable
The English Department Roundtable is a forum for graduate students in the English Department to share ideas across a wide variety of fields, time periods, and methodologies. Open to students at all stages of the program, the EDR gives graduate students an opportunity to present work in an informal setting to a group of peers, to get feedback about a current project, and to learn about the work being done by colleagues. At a time in which the tremendous diversity of literary study has made it increasingly difficult to grasp the discipline as a whole on one’s own, the purpose of the EDR is to foster a greater sense of intellectual community and cohesion within Cornell’s English Department, and to strengthen graduate work through increased collaboration. The EDR meets 5 times a semester in the English Department Lounge. In order to facilitate discussion by members of the audience (including a large number of graduate students as well as faculty), papers being presented at the EDR are made available one week prior to each meeting; meetings themselves will focus primarily on discussion between the audience and the presenter. For further information, contact Becky Lu.

The First-Year MFA Reading Series
The Reading Series is a bi-weekly reading event run by Cornell English graduate students. The reading series showcases the literary stylings of Cornell’s first-year MFA students, and is held at Buffalo Street Books, 215 N Cayuga St. All reading events are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For the location, date, time, and featured readers of the next event, please check the schedule on the events page (the schedule will be updated periodically). For further information, contact Rocio Anica.

American Reading Group
The American Reading Group provides graduate students in the humanities at Cornell with the opportunity to discuss both canonical and lesser-known American literary texts in a casual scholarly setting. ARG was founded as the Nineteenth Century American Reading Group in order to support the growing number of students working on the literary, cultural, and material history of the long American nineteenth century at Cornell and, even more significantly, to encourage work in this field and establish a network of support for scholars at all stages of their careers. Recently, the group as moved to expand beyond the nineteenth century without losing grounding in earlier eras of American literature. We meet monthly to discuss a text or set of readings, striving for at least two pre-1900 and two post-1900 meetings per semester. The American Reading Group organizes an annual Alumni Lecture in the fall and in the spring collaborates with the British Reading Group to host an annual interdisciplinary humanities colloquium on the 19th century with a keynote speaker who works on the transatlantic or global 19th century. For further information, contact Jesse Goldberg.

British 18th and 19th Century Reading Group
The British 18th and 19th Century Reading Group welcomes all graduate students and faculty members with an interest in 18th-century, Romantic, and Victorian literature. We meet bi-weekly to discuss primary and critical texts on a wide range of topics. For further information, contact Maddie Reynolds or Noah Lloyd.

Big Fat Post-War American Novel Reading Group
The Big Fat Post-War American Novel Reading Group reads one big novel, usually of 500 pages or more, per semester. Past novels include William Gaddis’ JR, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, and Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon.The group is always open to suggestions of new novels to put on the reading list. For further information, contact Brianna Thompson.

Comparative Black Studies Reading Group
The Comparative Black Studies Reading Group investigates key debates in Black Studies by critically engaging a number of scholarly texts and novels by intellectuals and artists in the African diaspora. Although Black Studies has always been preoccupied with issues of race, sexuality, gender, and class, these issues have historically been studied in a primarily U.S. context. The project of Comparative Black Studies aims to understand new perspectives on these issues as they are confronted through transnational contexts in spaces such as Jamaica, Ghana, Trinidad, Martinique, and Haiti. Our group traces the evolution of these debates through the work of novelists such as Richard Wright, Octavia Butler, and Ama Ata Aidoo, intellectuals such as Sylvia Wynter, W.E.B. Du Bois, C.L.R. James, and Walter Rodney, as well as activists such as Huey Newton and Audre Lorde. For more information contact Ama Bemma Adwetewa-Badu or Kevin Quin.

Early Modern Reading Group
The Early Modern Reading Group focuses on texts concerned with the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with an interdisciplinary approach involving material from literature, history, film, philosophy, and art. We seek to foster a lively and expansive discussion of early modern thought and culture by cooperatively analyzing primary, secondary, and theoretical works. For further information, contact Stephen Kim.

Hegel Reading Group
The Hegel Reading Group is an interdisciplinary group (English, German, Comparative Literature, Philosophy) that meets every week to discuss canonical texts in the history of Western philosophy. Texts are read slowly and carefully (e.g., two and a half years were spent on Hegel’s Science of Logic). The group focuses loosely on post-Kantian German idealism, but past readings have ranged from Aristotle to Heidegger. For further information, contact Emir Yigit.

Modernist Reading Group
The Modernist Reading Group is aimed at students and faculty who are interested in discussing issues relating to the early twentieth century. The group explores the history, theory, and formal developments of the modernist period by engaging with primary texts and literary criticism. For further information, contact Elisabeth Strayer.

Popular Culture Reading Group
The Popular Culture Reading Group (PCRG) provides opportunities for graduate students who share a research interest in popular culture to explore current scholarship in an informal setting. Our interests include television, film, popular music, online culture, comics, fan studies, genre fiction, media theory, and cultural studies. Join our mailing list and blackboard site to learn more. For further information, contact Bojan Srbinovski.

Queer and Sexuality Studies Reading Group
The Queer and Sexuality Studies Reading Group (QSS) provides graduate students with a space to discuss sex and sexuality through a specifically queer lens. Here we seek to explore questions of sexuality as they relate to race, gender, disability, class and more. We will mostly be reading texts from queer theory and LGBT studies, but readings can also include fiction, memoir, manifestos, visual media, etc. For further information, contact Peter Shipman.

Race and Ethnic Studies Reading Group
The Race and Ethnic Studies Reading Group meets to discuss a piece of scholarship or work of literature that grapples with race. While we focus much of our inquiry on literary texts, we define literature broadly and welcome engagement with disciplines outside of literary studies. Some guiding questions for the group include: How have issues of race or ethnicity been articulated and explored (or not) in literary texts? What do we as critics do about the “canon” that has historically excluded many texts and authors? How do historically marginalized people oppose or resist their marginalization? What role does subject position play in the reading of literature, and how do we as readers interpret and discuss these texts in ethical ways? In the past we have read short works by authors and theorists including Gayatri Spivak, Amiri Baraka, Sherman Alexie, Toni Morrison, Pablo Palacio, and Saidiya Hartman. For further information, contact Mariana Alarcon.

Theory Reading Group
The Theory Reading Group at Cornell University is a group of graduate students and faculty from the departments of English, German Studies, Comparative Literature, Political Science, and Romance Studies. We are dedicated to transdisciplinary discussion of current theoretical debates in the humanities, including recent scholarship in literary theory, political theory, and continental philosophy. The Theory Reading Group has organized conferences around contemporary issues in philosophy, aesthetics, literary theory, and political thought. The theme for 2015-2016 academic year is “Cohabitation.” For further information, contact Nasrin Olla.