Graduate Resources & Activities

What You Need to Know as a Graduate Student or Lecturer

Canvas Resources for Graduate Students and Lecturers

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 and Handbook (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 Emily Parsons.

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 Literatures in 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.

Graduate Student Organizations/Committees

Graduate and Professional Student Assembly

The GPSA brings together Cornell’s community of graduate and professional students to address non-academic issues of common concern. Drawing upon the strengths of its diverse community, the GPSA is responsible for setting and distributing the graduate student activity fee and representatives to University committees. The GPSA is composed of delegates from each graduate field and the professional schools and nineteen voting members, elected from the larger body of field representatives. You can find the Arts & Humanities GPSA representatives here; feel free to reach out to them.

Graduate Policy and Curriculum Committee

The GPCC consists of four elected representatives (3 PhD students and 1 MFA student) who represent the interests of the student body regarding graduate policy and graduate curriculum in the Department of Literatures in English. Representatives are expected to meet at least twice per semester with the Director of Graduate Studies. In years past, the GPCC has worked with the department to adjust the second-year pedagogy curriculum to better suit the needs of graduate students and to develop an article-writing workshop. The GPCC provides graduate students with a great platform for representing and discussing students’ needs and for collaborating with graduate student colleagues and department administrators in order to improve the graduate student experience. The GPCC is distinct from the English Graduate Student Organization (EGSO), which is in charge of graduate student programming for the department. Elections are held at the start of each academic year.

English Graduate Student Organization

EGSO fosters PhD and MFA student life and culture by striving to create community, to plan and implement programming for academic and professional development, and to establish unity and cohesion among the graduate student body in the Department of Literatures in English. Elections are held each spring. Please contact a current officer to learn more: Lisa D. Camp, President; Ariel Estrella, Vice-President; Aditi Shenoy, Treasurer; Lauryn Jones, Secretary; Hunter Phillips, Advocacy Liaison; Dominique Joe, PhD Mentorship & Social Coordinator; and Imogen Osborne, MFA Social & Mentorship Coordinator.

EGSO 2022 Conference

Mentoring Program

The graduate mentoring program fosters connections between incoming and current graduate students to help navigate their first year of student and social life in the graduate school and the larger Ithaca community. Mentors and mentees connect prior to orientation day and meet formally and informally over the course of their first year. The program organizes lunches and other social events to welcome new students to Cornell and cultivate relationships within the department. Contact the EGSO to get involved.

Graduate Student 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.

Antiracist Pedagogy Reading Group

Spurred on by the Black Lives Matter uprisings across the nation in the spring and summer of 2020, the Antiracist Pedagogy Reading Group began meeting in the fall semester of 2020. We acknowledge that this antiracist work is not new, and that this group would not be possible without the labor of BIPOC scholars and activists who have been working to reform institutions like Cornell since their inception. This reading group engages antiracist work through a pedagogical lens, that is with a focus on the classroom. As we affirm that any antiracist critique must acknowledge the intersectional nature of oppression, we come together once a month to discuss readings at the intersections of critical race theory, pedagogy, feminist theory, queer theory, aboltitionism, and memoir. Informed by these readings, we examine our roles as graduate student instructors and discuss specific action plans to combat white supremacy in our classrooms. This reading group strives to foster a supportive space for both growth and accountability while we undertake this important work. Please email TBD to be added to the mailing list.

The Asian Diaspora Studies Reading Group

The Asian Diaspora Studies Reading Group is a democratic community of scholars who meet fortnightly to discuss key texts, both classic and contemporary, in the study of Asian diasporic history, theory, and literature. Functioning more as an intellectual community than a formal survey into a particular field of study, the thematic considerations of this group differ from semester-to-semester but have in the past included the problematics of Asian American studies/solidarity; the legacy of U.S. imperialism across the transpacific; and the politics of Asian American peoples living throughout U.S. settler colonial empire. In addition to frank and robust discussion of such texts, this space provides workshop opportunities for members to share works-in-progress, receive constructive feedback, and learn from the collaborative process of developing projects alongside one another. As firm believers in the dual necessity and difficulty of true interdisciplinary study, this group welcomes graduate students from all backgrounds and fields of study. If you are interested in joining this collective, please contact Bonnie Chung, Banseok Heo, Amrita Chakraborty, Praveen Tilakaratne, Song Han, Asey Koh, or Stephanie Sang.

Comparative Black Studies Working Group

The Comparative Black Studies Working Group convenes monthly to investigate key debates in Black Studies by critically engaging texts by intellectuals, activists, and artists in the African diaspora. Although Black Studies has examined 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, England, Trinidad, Martinique, the USA, China, and Haiti. We provide an interdisciplinary and informal forum in which to discuss our works-in-progress, to give and receive feedback, and to learn about the work being done by our colleagues. For more information, contact TBD.

Disability Studies Reading Group

The Disability Studies (DS) reading group explores disability and its intersections with race, gender, class, and sexuality through contemporary and canonical scholarship in the field. At the heart of our approach is the idea the disability cannot be (fully) accounted for in medical or individual terms, but necessitates social, political, and literary analysis. Theorists read during our inaugural semester include Eli Clare, Lennard David, Rosemarie Garland-Thompson, and Theri Pickens. In light of the interdisciplinary nature of the field, we welcome graduate students from all departments and backgrounds! For more information, please contact Christina Fogarasi or Maggie O'Leary.

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).

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 Xinyu Zhang.

Literatures in English Department Roundtable

The Literatures in English Department Roundtable (LEDR) is a forum for graduate students in the Department of Literatures in English to share ideas across a wide variety of fields, time periods, and methodologies. Open to students at all stages of the program, the LEDR 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. Projects might include excerpts of dissertation chapters, article drafts, conference papers, FWS writing assignment sequences, or course syllabi. 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 LEDR is to foster a greater sense of intellectual community and cohesion within Cornell’s Department of Literatures in English, and to strengthen graduate work through increased collaboration. The LEDR meets 5 times a semester in the 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 LEDR 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 Christina Fogarasi or Olivia Milroy Evans.

Old English Reading Group

Hwæt! The Old English Reading Group is a weekly meeting of students sharpening their skills and broadening their knowledge of Old English language and literature. We generally choose a single text per semester (ranging from homilies on Judgment Day to philosophical poetry and cannibal-filled epics) and slowly work through that text in its original language. We translate slowly and casually, with no prior preparation, confronting issues of grammar, vocabulary, and culture as they arise. All skill levels are welcome to attend, and translating on your own is not a requirement if you would prefer to just read along and engage in conversation about the texts. We are an interdisciplinary group, and encourage anyone, including historians, literary scholars, creative writers, or just those with a passing interest in Old English, to attend. Feel free to contact TBD for further information, including time and location for this semester, and for a copy of what we're currently reading.

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 TBD.

V21 Reading Group

Following the call of the V21 Collective to expand the modalities of scholarship in Victorian Studies, the V21 Reading Group at Cornell gathers monthly to read innovative critical and theoretical material of interest to Victorian and nineteenth-century studies. The readings are selected by the group’s membership and generally include a literary and a critical text. If you are interested in joining the group, please email