Book & Bake Sale

Book Sale

Join us on Wednesday February 10th and Thursday February 11th from 10-4 for round two of our Book & Bake Sale for the 2015-2016 academic year. All books are $5 or less, with baked goods available by donation. All funds raised go to support GES events.

We are still looking for volunteers and/or baked goods! If you are interested in volunteering or baking for the event, please sign up here, and if you have books to donate, please contact either Caroline or Adam.

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Post-Comps Revelry and Relaxation

Join us at the Grad Club after comps to decompress and celebrate.

Pizza and nachos will be provided for all exam-writers.

All GES members and their guests are welcome.

See the Facebook event here.

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Creative Teaching/Teaching Creativity Department Colloquium

Caroline attended this colloquium on behalf of the GES. You can read the live tweets here.

Please note that we have asked that in the future, all grad students be invited to these meetings. I’ll let you know what response we receive to this request.

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A statement on the meeting with CGS

Yesterday we met with the Committee for Graduate Studies and discussed a point from the memo we brought to the External Reviewers regarding how grades are awarded for PhD qualifying exams (namely that we are awarded numerical grades but those grades disappear into the ether after we see them, and only “pass” “fail” or “pass with distinction” appear on our transcripts.The numerical grades aren’t used for anything — not even SSHRC applications — and cease being of use as soon as we read them). Bringing this to the External Reviewers and to the CGS was a decision we made based on feedback we got from GES members at different points in their doctoral career. For more information, please see the final point under “Comps” here:
As a result of this meeting, the graduate faculty is now discussing this practice amongst themselves, to determine if it’s the best way to communicate qualifying exam grades.
This discussion is in its nascent stages, and we welcome feedback from members of the GES. Please email us at and if you would like to weigh in on this matter.
Again, this is only a conversation we’re having with the department at this point, and no action is close to being taken. It’s a great time to voice your opinion over email.
Important: Please know that we won’t be responding in detail to your emails, as we will be compiling a document that encompasses the fine points of our conversation with the CGS faculty members, along with the pros and cons of moving from numerical grades to Pass/Fail/Pass with distinction grades. We will confirm receipt of your email, but we won’t engage with your opinions until we’re able to do so on a mass scale (this will likely be in February). As a result, this will not affect those who are writing comps in January, and probably not even May, should the department vote to change anything.
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Meeting with External Reviewers

Here is the memo that we presented to the external reviewers today. We left them each with a copy, letting them know that we’d be happy to extrapolate further on any point if they want to email us.

We did our best to synthesize the feedback we got from you. Please know that we value the feedback you provided, and even if it didn’t show up in the memo, we would like to follow up with you and speak to relevant people in the department about your concerns.

The reviewers were very receptive, and assured us that they would be taking this feedback into consideration when they prepare their formal review, which will be made publicly available once they’re finished (probably in the new year).

We feel that we’ve opened some great dialogues with those of you who sent us feedback, and we’d like to keep those open. If you didn’t send us feedback in time for this meeting, please feel free to send it whenever. These are exactly the type of issues we want to attempt to address as your co-chairs.

Thanks again for your contributions.


Caroline Diezyn and Adam Bowes



November 23, 2015

Meeting with Dr. Alan Bewell and Dr. Nicolas Witschi re: departmental external review

Graduate English Society Co-Chairs:

Caroline Diezyn ( and Adam Bowes (



-we feel well-prepared and supported with honest explanations of some of the baffling idiosyncrasies of the processes regarding applying to external funding, conferences, etc.


-the grad students are in resounding agreement that we would be lost without our tireless and long-suffering admin staff


-the diverse interests of our talented faculty come up again and again as a positive aspect of the English department



-there’s a lot of anxiety around the changes recently made to the PhD1 year structure and when they take their comps. Students going through this year currently express concerns over time management when they are studying for their exam while teaching and attending courses.

-students feel that the first two years seem secluded from the dissertation. If students had to organize their dissertation committee before choosing their comps fields they could consult with their committee about the best choices in order to ensure that studying for the comps is part of the bigger picture of the dissertation.

-there is an inconsistency with how each field organizes its reading list (some are much longer than others). What’s more, there seems to be an inconsistency in the way each committee describes the worthiness and use of completing comps to their candidates. It’s difficult to motivate oneself to complete comps when one’s committee is disparaging the premise of this type of exam at all. Which leads to…

-there’s a lot of skepticism around the efficacy of comps and whether or not they accurately measure a candidate’s competency or qualification in a field

-many universities in North America use different models for their qualifying requirements. Would changing to a system that uses the “designing a course” framework be more beneficial, for example?

-there’s a lot of anxiety around the fact that though a student’s transcript shows only P(ass) or F(ail) or Pass with Distinction, students are assigned specific number grades. The anxiety arises from the inevitable comparisons made between students when there ultimately needs not be any basis for comparison beyond “passed.” More concerning, though, is when a student fails an exam, and receives a grade only a few points shy of a pass. While it might seem generous to award a student a grade very close to a pass, the effect on the student’s psychological well-being is that they will continue to wonder where they lost those few points that have effectively changed their lives. As a result, it might be beneficial to change the system so that students receive only P or F or P w/distinction rather than number grades, since that is all that will show up on their transcript.

Departmental support

international student concerns:

-working to support oneself over the summer when funding isn’t provided is exponentially more difficult for international students who may not be able to seek outside employment because of their visas

-international students feel that the department doesn’t consider their unique concerns and needs when it comes to the added expense of moving here and living as an international student

X-year student concerns:

-students who are beyond the 4th year in their dissertation and no longer receive funding also don’t receive essentials such as office space or mailboxes which makes it difficult for them to be integrated into departmental life and affects their ability to work at finishing their dissertation.

-they also have voiced concerns that they feel isolated from the rest of the department because the department seems to place priority on those in their first four years but doesn’t provide support for those paying tuition out of pocket in subsequent years.

-similarly to international students, X-year students would like support in finding employment off-campus to support themselves without departmental funding. For example, dissertation committees/professors cultivating relationships with local businesses (schools, tutoring companies, etc.) beyond forwarding emails would go far to help place students into meaningful positions of employment.

travel funding:

-travel funding has recently decreased to $300 and students are finding it difficult to justify conference travel (let alone research travel) with this amount. Other options are available on campus but they are more competitive.

Transparency for TA assignments

-the department asks grad students to provide a list of their preferred assignments and often supervisors/professors request students, but it seems that time and again these requests aren’t fulfilled

-students understand that the department can’t make everyone happy all the time but it happens with enough frequency and with so little transparency regarding the system used to assign that it has raised some eyebrows

-students are left feeling that the department is “disorganized or indifferent” toward their preferences

-communication and more transparency regarding the decisions for these TA assignments would be much appreciated


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Breakfast of Champions

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons (1)

Vonnegut was on to something!
Stop by any time from 8:30-11:30 before you hit the books for the day. We’ll provide the freshly brewed coffee, and an assortment of breakfast pastries, including: “fruit Danishes, fresh butter croissants, assorted scones, muffins, and coffee cakes.”

Pick something up to go, bring work to do at the Grad Club while you eat, or escape work altogether and just hang out with your friends and colleagues.

We hope this provides all you hardworking people with some well-deserved respite and nourishment during this hectic time of year!

See the Facebook event here.

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GES Book & Bake Sale


The GES is hosting our book & bake sale on November 16th and 17th!

If you would like to donate any gently used books please contact our co-chairs, Caroline and Adam, who will arrange Monday-Friday drop-offs or pick-ups of donations. Alternately, you may also drop off book donations at Leanne’s office at any time.

Stay tuned for more updates about the book sale including a call for volunteers and baked goods!

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GES General Meeting

Untitled design (3)

Join us for the first general meeting of the year.

Thursday October 15th


See the agenda and minutes from this meeting.

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Thanksgiving Celebration Friday October 9th


Stay tuned for more info over on the Facebook event page!

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The GES visits City Lights Bookshop


Want to get to know downtown London? Here’s your chance. 

“City Lights Bookshop is located in the heart of Downtown London, Ontario. We’ve been serving the fine people of the city since 1975. We specialize in a wide range of used books, vinyl, movies, & music. We carry all manner of cultural detritus such as turn of the century sheet music, retro & modern adult magazines, postcards, antique books, memorabilia from various decades, and much more. It is worth a trip to prospect our labyrinthine aisles for sundry treasures arranged on 2 floors of exploratory bliss. We are a living collage, crossed with a circus that was frightened by a Dadaist.”
Meet us at City Lights Bookshop and bring your reading lists and reusable bags!

Get excited by checking out the store’s website here:

The shop has really kindly offered to stay open “as long as we want” (they usually close at 6). When you see just how much there is to see, you’ll see why they made the offer!

Afterward we can take a walk around the area and Caroline will point out some Points of Interest. Then we can head to a pub for a drink, if people are up for it.

RSVP here.

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