Must-Reads for Graduate Students

Being a graduate student in the humanities, one is accustomed to frequently reading based on the requirements for a given course. However, within this time devoted to your studies, it may be beneficial to incorporate some readings relating to a different perspective of academia. This month, I asked two professor within the English department which books they would recommend for graduate students. Their responses included topics such as ways to enhance your learning experience and how to help navigate what to do after graduate school. These helpful recommendations offer a different perspective of learning in graduate school that could shape your future both during and after your time in higher academia.

Many graduate students obtaining their Masters in the humanities know the frustration that comes with being asked  “what kind of job can you get with a liberal arts degree?” Doctor Pfannenstiel provides an answer with her recommendation You Can Do Anything: the surprising power of a ‘useless’ liberal arts education George Anders. This book exemplifies the importance of a liberal arts degree, as it can be the key to many different doors of employment. Doctor Pfannenstiel provides a brief summary, stating that “while this was written for undergrads, I think it will be more powerful for graduate students to see and connect with the skills and dispositions developed while completing their graduate degree.” You Can Do Anything capitalizes on the characteristics formed while obtaining a liberal arts degree, such as curiosity, creativity, and empathy, and the strength they hold in searching for a job. “You can do anything, but you need to know how to explain that!” Dr. Pfannenstiel states. The book explains that resume writing is fading in importance, whereas telling your personal story is replacing its status in the search for jobs. This change is one of the reasons for the recommendations of this book to graduate students. “It will help graduate students understand how to explain their skills and dispositions to future employers” she explains. You Can Do Anything reveals the importance of a humanities degree, and highlights how the skills developed within the degree are an advantage rather than a drawback.

Dr. Mando recommends Rhetoric: Discovery and Change by Young, Becker, and Pike. The authors of this book “get to the heart of rhetoric’s value as a mode of inquiry and problem solving” he explains. “For graduate students, one of the biggest challenges they face is learning how to ask good questions.” Graduate courses differ from undergraduate learning, as they more frequently based in discussion that provide many opportunities for questions. However, learning how to ask meaningful questions that elicit the most important information can be difficult to do. This text recommended by Dr. Mando “provides us with a rhetorical model of inquiry, problem solving, and argument in a practical text that can propel students into deeper and more productive explorations of their own scholarly interests.” Learning how to form and ask purposeful questions can greatly enhance your learning experience in graduate school, along with providing an opportunity to discover more about topics that may interest you.