Clare and Mike are onto bigger and better things (like finishing their dissertations), and they have passed the torch to us, another two dissertation writers from the NIU English Department.
We will continue to maintain and grow this blog where you can turn to find helpful (and correct!) advice, current news, and even educative tales of personal struggle to help you through this seemingly never-ending stage of your career.
So, to introduce ourselves...
Hi, I'm Robyn
My name is Robyn Byrd, and I am starting my fourth year of PhD-ing at NIU. I am just beginning the dissertation process this Fall. And I really mean "just beginning." I am working on my still-nebulous, still-too-broad prospectus, pulling together my committee, and going through all those early stage troubles of what it even means to write a thing like this! I study philology (like linguistics, but for written words), so I read funny dead languages like Old Norse. There will be Vikings in my dissertation. And beyond that...I have a long way to go.
But since I work at the thesis office, I'll be okay. And so will you! I can help you with everything from big existential thesis questions to document formatting. I'm kind of an instant expert.
My professional life outside the Thesis Office includes adjunct work at Aurora University, where I teach a lot of philosophy and a little bit of grammar since earning my master's degree at NIU in 2013.
The fun stuff: At home I have two kids, a little girl and a semi-large boy, who love ponies and cars (guess which is which). I love bicycles and ride them far, I play music on the flute and sing in a rock band or two, and I thoroughly appreciate my boyfriend who puts up with me talking about inflectional morphology and Nietzschean aphorisms until 1 am.
Hello there! I’m Fred
I'm Fred Stark, the other new assistant in the Thesis and Dissertation Office.
I’m a PhD candidate in English at NIU, and throughout this academic year I’ll be working on completing my dissertation, which deals with representations of language and cultural contact in American maritime fiction between 1830 and 1915. To put that another way: I’m comparing characters and communicative situations in the early novels of Herman Melville to those in selected works of sea fiction by other authors from this period, up to and including major sea novels by Jack London. Not so many Vikings in my dissertation, but plenty of sea drifters, an assortment of whalers, and here and there a few pirates.
I come to all this after several years of English teaching, the last four in the First-Year Composition Program at NIU and, prior to that, a few universities overseas. When I’m not working on academic stuff, I try to enjoy the outdoors as much as I can. I’ve done a lot of hiking and trekking over the years, and since coming to NIU I have made it to several geographic high points in the Midwest, including the Illinois high point a bit east of Galena. No, I didn’t walk all the way there from DeKalb!
This fall, in addition to assisting writers like you, I’ll be spending a fair amount of time in Founders Memorial Library. I’ll be completing some of my dissertation research in Rare Books and Special Collections, chasing down stories of high-seas adventure in its vast holdings of nineteenth-century dime novels. I’ll also be on the Fourth Floor every month for our grad-student-sponsored writing group, Write Place/Write Time.
Be sure to check back in the coming weeks for more information on our writing group and other topics of interest. Happy writing!