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GPSO E-Newsletter: February 6, 2014

In this Issue:

From the President's Desk

Upcoming GPSO Events: Grad House Café, Assembly, First Friday Social Hour

Award: GPSO Research Award

Service Opportunity: GPSO Awards Committee

Guest Article: How to Deliver a Halfway-Decent Job Talk

GPSO plans your weekend!

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Upcoming GPSO Events

Grad House Café - RIGHT NOW!

Stop by the Grad House (803 E. 8th Street) before 10:30am TODAY for FREE coffee and Bloomington Bagels. Check out our Facebook event for directions.

Save a tree, and bring a mug, if possible!


Assembly and First Friday Social Hour - TOMORROW

The second GPSO Assembly will take place at 3:30 on tomorrow in the Kelley School of Business, room 223..

We will follow up with a February social hour at Atlas from 7-9pm. Please RSVP via Facebook to help us have plenty of food!

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Award: GPSO Research Award

The GPSO research award is offered through a competitive process for graduate and professional students at Indiana University-Bloomington. A flat award of $1,000 is given to help support research expenses incurred in connection with academic research, such as travel costs related to field, archival or laboratories research, payment for research related services, and purchase of research related supplies. Expenses that are not supported are typing and duplicating of dissertations, normal living expenses, and travel costs for conferences or workshops.

For more information and to apply, visit the GPSO Research Award website.

Deadline: Feburary 23 at 11:59pm

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Service Opportunity: GPSO Awards Committee

Each spring, GPSO awards grants to IU graduate and professional students who are traveling to present research or participate in extraordinary professional opportunities. These awards are very competitive and the applications are peer-reviewed by IU students on the GPSO Awards Committee.

We welcome you to join the GPSO Awards Committee and review grant applications this semester, improving your own grant-writing skills and distinguishing yourself on the job market by performing valuable professional service for Indiana University. The time committment is approximately 3-5 hours via distance (online, email-based).

Interested students should complete this brief application to join the GPSO Awards Committee. Students who are members of the Awards Committee are ineligible to receive awards during their tenure, but the experience provides invaluable insight into any future applications they may submit after their service.

Please visit GPSO Travel Awards to learn more about the travel award. If you have any questions or would like more information about being a reviewer, please email Josh de Leeuw, GPSO Awards Officer, at

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Guest Article: How to Deliver a Halfway-Decent Job Talk

By Karen Kelsky via The Professor Is In

I have a post on job talks, called ”Dr. Karen's Rules of the Job Talk.”

But more is needed. I'm deep in job-talk editing the past month or so, and I'm really startled at how bad many of these are, and with no good reason. It's not the research that is bad, or the ideas of the writer, or the candidate’s credibility for the job. It's the talks’ lack of simple organization, and their failure to grasp of the ethos and point of the genre.

So here’s a simple checklist for your job talk:

1) Do you have a clear one-paragraph intro that lays out the topic and sketches the basic plan of the talk? Don't argue with me about this; just do it. "Thank you for having me. Today I'll be speaking about XX. In the talk, I'll be exploring XX from the perspective of XXX and will be relating it to XXX. I will show that XX is XXX, and ultimately argue that XXX can be understood as XXX." Seriously, this is not that hard.

2) Do you resist the temptation to open with a vignette? No? For the love of god, get rid of the opening vignette. Yes, I know that you think it’s all perfect for illustrating everything that is amazing and interesting and colorful and compelling about your topic. But guess what? We can’t follow it. You’ve been working on this project for 10 years, and know the place and time and context and dramatis personae like the back of your hand. We’re hearing it for the first time, and know nothing. We can’t follow your damned vignette. Remove the vignette.

3) Do you take about two paragraphs to explain your topic clearly for first-time listeners? Just because you've spent a decade on this stuff doesn't mean we know the first damned thing about it. Think “undergrad lecture” for (only) this small introductory section. Basic. Simple. Clear. Just the facts. No theory, no disputes, no rhetoric. Go all advanced on their asses later, but right here: undergrad lecture.

4) Do you advance a clear and logical argument through the rest of the body of the talk, using your "stuff" (ethnography, literary texts, historical material, etc.) to advance theoretical and conceptual arguments? Do not go overboard with either your stuff and stories or your theory and concepts. The stuff and stories must ground the theory and concepts, while the theory and concepts must illuminate the stuff and stories. Balance is all.

5) Do you eschew excessive citation of other works and sources? This is the classic grad-student move, and it's tiresome. This is not your comps! You don't need to pay obeisance to 15 other scholars or bodies of work. Briefly and efficiently cite just one or two scholars as a kind of "pivot" to your talk—at the moment when you move from describing a phenomenon to analyzing it conceptually. Point briefly to their innovations or interventions, and then quickly move to your own original and distinctive argument.

6) Do you have an original and distinctive argument? Do you state that clearly by the end of the talk? It should look like this: "From an examination of XX and YYY, we can conclude that XXX may be understood as XXXX." This is not a bunch of wimpy-ass shit like "and so I shed light on ..." or "and so I contribute to the literature on ..." or "and so I want to add to the excellent work on ..." This is not dependent, or derivative, or additive. It is your own original argument.

7) Do you include a conclusion that briefly summarizes what you've covered, restates the argument, and then points outward to the broader disciplinary import of the work? If you can’t show that you contribute to a discipline or field, then you’re not getting a tenure-track job.

8) Do you have decent visuals that illustrate the points of the talk while obeying a few basic rules of design----limited text on each slide, plenty of blank space, images that make sense to first time viewers (undergrad lecture standards apply here too), graphics and text large enough for the audience to see from where they are sitting, a manageable amount of content, no weird and bewildering diagrams or flowcharts filled with tiny, illegible labels?

9) Do you insert pauses for interaction with the audience? Yes, it is the norm to work from a paper. But that doesn’t mean you need to dryly keep your eyes glued to it.

Do I sound irritable? I am. By the time you get to the job talk, you should know how to give a basic research talk. Your department should have explained this, and you should have pursued opportunities to learn this.

There are occasional variations in the genre: Some places want only a teaching demo, some want a quick survey of both current and future work, and so on. My advice for these variations would differ. But if you’re being asked to give what is still the default job talk—the 45-minute research paper discussion—then this is your checklist to avoid the worst and most common self-sabotaging errors.

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GPSO plans your weekend!

February 7-9:

  • February 7, 8pm: IU Opera presents The Tale of Lady Thi Kinh (IU Musical Arts Center, $12/students)
  • February 8, 5-9pm: YMCA Family Fun Night (1375 N Wellness Way, $10/non-member family)
  • February 9, 9pm: Sunday Cipher (Bishop Bar, free)

Nothing look good to you?

Check out the ongoing exhibits featured in the sidebar or visit and for the full on- and off-campus scoop.


Have an event to promote?

Email me at, and I can help you spread the e-word to our fellow grad students.

Go have some fun!

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