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ASTR GSC 2015-2016 Cabinet Elections - Voting Now Open

Posted By Sara B. Taylor, Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Ballots are up! Vote for your ASTR GSC 2015-16 Cabinet today. The electronic ballot will be open until 11:59 pm EST on October 7.

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Tags:  ASTRGSC  graduate students  gsc elections  gsc leadership 

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Message from the 2015 GSC President, Kellen Hoxworth

Posted By Kellen Hoxworth, Dartmouth College, Monday, September 28, 2015
Updated: Thursday, October 29, 2015

Dear ASTR Graduate Student Caucus (GSC) Membership:

Happy new academic year! We are just over a month away from the next conference and our committees have been hard at work preparing some exciting happenings for Portland, November 2015. 

First, the ASTR GSC has a few tips for conference registration, which is now open at Within the registration, you may also sign up for the annual Mentorship Breakfast, which is a wonderful opportunity to meet senior scholars and to find resources to help you through your graduate studies (see Mentorship Committee below). Additionally, a limited number of graduate students may secure a Student Fellowship to defray conference registration fees; fellowship recipients are required to provide 6 hours of volunteer assistance during the conference. See for registration and more information.

ASTR Executive Committee and GSC Cabinet Updates:

President / Rep. to the ASTR Executive Committee: Kellen Hoxworth (Stanford University)

Vice President / Rep. to the Annual Conference Committee: Stephanie Vella (The Graduate Center, City University of New York)

Vice President / Rep. to the Committee on Conferences: Michelle Salerno (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

Secretary and Historian: Sarah Campbell (Indiana University)

Rep. to the Committee on New Paradigms in Graduate Education: Haddy Kreie (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Building on the work of recent GSC Presidents Michelle Cowin-Mensah (2013-2014), Kellyn Johnson (2012-2013), and David Calder (2011-2012), the 2014-2015 GSC Executive Committee has prioritized institutional stability and communication. Earlier this year, the GSC applied to the ASTR Executive Committee for an annual budget in support of our various events at the annual conference, such as those organized by the Peer Mentorship & Networking Committee (see below); the ASTR Executive Committee has graciously granted the request. The GSC seeks the participation of graduate student constituents at its annual meeting during the 2015 conference. The annual meeting will be held on Friday, November 6 at 8 pm. We hope to hear ideas and concerns about graduate student issues in the field and to discuss potential new initiatives for the GSC next year.

In addition to the work of the GSC Executive Committee, the GSC organizes several committees to assist with graduate students leading up to and during the annual conference.

ASTR GSC Committee Updates:

Mentorship Committee:

Co-Chairs: Katie Turner (University of California, Irvine), Guy Zimmerman (University of California, Irvine)

The Mentorship Committee organizes and runs our annual Mentorship Breakfast, to be held the Friday morning of the conference. The Mentorship Breakfast is an opportunity for graduate students to meet with faculty who can share their perspectives and expertise; it functions as a key node within the mentorship network of the annual conference. We are hoping to have an even greater number of participants this year. The sign-up for the Mentorship Breakfast is included in the annual conference registration, through a portal to a separate registration form. Please register for the Mentorship Breakfast through the general ASTR registration form, if you are interested. If you have additional questions, please contact the Mentorship Committee at

Peer Mentorship & Networking Committee:

Co-Chairs: Shamell Bell (University of California, Los Angeles), Mika Lior (University of California, Los Angeles)

The Peer Mentorship & Networking Committee complements the Mentorship Committee by focusing on peer-to-peer engagement at the annual ASTR conference. The chairs will organize several events throughout the conference to create spaces for graduate student community building and to allow graduate students to network in the field. These events will include: a “Welcome to ASTR” Graduate Student Reception prior to the Opening Night Reception on Thursday evening; the annual President’s Reception for Emerging Scholars on Friday evening, following the annual GSC meeting; and, the annual Peer Mentorship Coffee/Tea Break on Saturday afternoon. More information about these events—and the GSC in general—will be available at the GSC Peer Mentorship & Networking table in the hallway of the conference hotel.

Conference Assistance Committee:

Co-Chairs: Lauren Graffin (University of Ulster) and Shelby Brewster (University of Pittsburgh)

The Conference Assistance Committee works with graduate student volunteers to assemble our annual conference assistance packet. This guide provides all attendees with host city information, food and eatery locations, local arts and entertainment, as well as offer helpful guidance for first-time ASTR attendees on navigating through a successful conference experience. The packet will also have information regarding specific graduate student events occurring throughout the conference. It will be available online prior to the conference and will be included in the conference packet.

Web Resources Committee:

Chair: Sara Taylor (Indiana University)

The Web Resources Committee operates our social media sites (Facebook and Twitter) and facilitates the circulation of relevant information, events, etc., to graduate students off-site from the annual conference. Over the past two years, Web Resources has worked closely with the New Paradigms in Graduate Education initiative to publish interviews with PhDs from theatre and performance studies who have pursued Alt-Ac (alternative academic) Careers. See for more details.

In all, we have worked to make resources available to graduate students in general and to making the annual ASTR conference a richer space for graduate students and their research. We look forward to seeing you there!

Looking Ahead:

In closing, I would like to thank President Heather Nathans, the members of the Executive Committee, and Ewald Consulting (ASTR Administator). I would like to extend a special thank you to Heather Nathans for her continued assistance and dedication to the GSC and to graduate student issues throughout her presidency. 

I would also like to congratulate Stephanie Vella (Graduate Center, City University of New York) on being elected our next President of the GSC. Stephanie will also serve as representative to the ASTR Executive Committee. Her term will begin in November 2015 and end in November 2016.

Elections for the 2015-2016 GSC Cabinet will open in early October. Please keep an eye out for announcements. In addition, President-Elect Stephanie Vella will select chairs and co-chairs for 2015 available committees. Please feel free to contact us at with questions, concerns, and/or requests for more information on how you can get involved with the GSC. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved, including if you are interested in chairing/co-chairing Web Resources, Mentorship, or Conference Assistance Committees.

It has been a pleasure serving as the 2014-2015 GSC President. I am thankful to the ASTR membership and the ASTR Executive Committee for their dedicated support of graduate student interests. For more information on ASTR and GSC, please visit our website at The GSC and I are eagerly anticipating the 2015 annual conference; we hope to see you all in Portland!

Kind Regards,

Kellen Hoxworth

Graduate Student Caucus President and Representative to the Executive Committee, American Society for Theatre Research

Doctoral Candidate, Stanford University

Tags:  2015  ASTR Portland  ASTRGSC  Kellen Hoxworth  Stephanie Vella 

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Message from 2014 GSC President, Michelle Cowin-Mensah

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 20, 2014
Updated: Thursday, November 20, 2014

 Dear ASTR GSC Membership:

Welcome to the 2014 annual conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Our GSC Cabinet and Committees have an exciting palate of events over the next three days. While I will share this update at the Business Luncheon on Saturday, here are some general announcements and updates since my last report in July 2014 for those unable to join us: 

ASTR Executive Committee and GSC Cabinet Updates

The structure and overall health of the Graduate Student Caucus is excellent. This is thanks to the excellent leadership from past GSC presidents and cabinets including Kellyn Johnson (2013) and David Calder (2012). Despite the strength of our structure, we did see a decrease in membership (236 in 2014) since Dallas 2013 (252). However, there was an increase in conference registration from 2014 to 2013 (190 in 2014 and 180 in 2013). I am confident that the health of the GSC is sound, but could be improved by some additional visibility from the whole of ASTR on behalf of the GSC. 

This year my goal as President was to help improve the visibility of our group. Sara Boland-Taylor (2014 Rep. to the New Paradigms in Graduate Education) and the GSC Cabinet proposed some recruitment initiatives focused on soliciting Theatre and Theatre-related graduate program. We drafted a recruitment letter addressed to graduate program advisors to introduce the goals and interests of our caucus as a reminder of GSC activities and events.

Over the summer, Allan Davis (2014 VP, Rep to the Committee on Conferences) and Rita Kompelmakher (University of Minn.) organized a virtual book club featuring Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius’ So What Are You Going To Do With That?: Finding Careers Outside Academia. The book club attracted many graduate students and scholars. Allan and Rita will lead a Career Session on a discussion of the book, as well as offer resources to faculty mentors and graduate students on how to navigate the changing job market. This session will be held on Friday 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. 

The ASTR Executive Committee is considering ways to improve the guidelines for working group paper submissions. There has been an increase in double and triple paper submissions across multiple working groups. Please note, ASTR traditionally does not allow same paper submissions to multiple sessions. The general rule is one paper to one working group. 

Committee on Conferences Host City Schedule is as follows: 2015 Portland, 2016 Minneapolis, and 2018 Atlanta. 

Graduate Fellowship Program:
The Graduate Fellowship Program continues to be a valuable financial resource to graduate students looking to offset conference registration fees. For more information on how you can apply for 2015 ASTR Graduate Fellowship, please contact the ASTR Administration Office at   

ASTR GSC Committee Updates

Conference Assistance Committee:
Co-Chairs, Areum Jeong (UCLA) and Ira Murfin (Northwestern) 

This committee oversaw the 2014 Baltimore Conference Assistance Packet. This document which will be distributed in Baltimore (hardcopy form and online) features host city information, arts and entertainment, local restaurants, and information for new and current members on navigating the conference. This year, we decided to add photos of the co-chairs and current GSC Cabinet Reps. We hope these will serve as a point of reference for new and returning ASTR members. Please do seek us out as points of reference while in Baltimore. 

Mentorship Committee: 
Co-Chairs: Shamell Bell (UCSD) and Christiana Molldrem Harkulich (Pitts) 

Formally, Peer Mentorship, this committee is organizing the ASTR Mentorship Breakfast, and two social networking events to take place in Baltimore. Currently, we have a total of 90 participants (42 mentors and 48 mentees). Last year we had 46 mentors and 54 mentees for a total of 100. While this is a slight decrease from last year’s mentorship breakfast, we are confident that interest in the breakfast, these numbers may reflect the slight loss in general membership in 2014. 

Web Resources Committee:
Chair: Danielle Rosevally (Tufts) 

The Web Resources Committee has created a digital pamphlet with GSC information and events. Click here to view. We are thrilled with our social media presences. In April 2014, we had 254 members of our Facebook Group. We now have 283 members, 114 Twitter Followers, and Facebook community page has attracted 83 Likes. If you are attending the Baltimore conference either in-person or via webinar, we encourage you to help us increase our online presence by tweeting @astrgsc and #astr2014. Please be respectful when posting photos from the conference on social media. It is generally recommended that you if you intend on posting photos on social media that you obtain consent with the person(s) who are visible and/or recognizable in the photograph. Also please be respectful in terms of language and subject matter when referring to your fellow ASTR members. Respect carries across all forms of communication.  


GSC Election:
The GSC closed elections for 2014-2015. The current cabinet is working closely with the new representatives to ensure a smooth transition. 2015 reps will assume their positions after the business meeting in Baltimore on Saturday, November 22, 2014. Click here to view the 2015 GSC Cabinet bios or visit President-Elect, Kellen Hoxworth will select chairs and co-chairs for 2015 available committees. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved! Please contact Kellen at if you are interested in chairing/co-chairing Web Resources, Mentorship, or Conference Assistance Committees. 

Outside Academia: 
The committee on New Paradigms in Graduate Education has released a five-volume set of interviews on theatre artists and scholars who have careers outside of the academy. The interviews were conducted and written by graduate students. Our GSC Rep, to the Committee on New Paradigms in Graduate Education, Sara Boland-Taylor, is the editor. There will be a limited number of hardcopies available at the conference. To read these interviews, please visit us on Facebook at 

In Closing

It has been a pleasure serving as your 2014 GSC President. I am thankful for your support of graduate student interests. We could not serve the graduate student population or the ASTR community without the guidance of President Heather Nathans, the members of the Executive Committee, Nancy Erikson (ASTR Administrator), and Shaun Sewell Franklin (Communications Manager). I would like to extend a special thank you to Nancy Erickson and Shaun Sewell Franklin for their continued assistance and dedication to the GSC. As announced earlier this year, Nancy Erickson will step down as ASTR Administrator as of December 31, 2014. Shaun Sewell will also step down effective June 1, 2015. Ewald Consulting will assume ASTR administrator and communication duties as of January 1, 2015. Nancy and Shaun have been pivotal to the success of the GSC and I am grateful for their guidance and support. 

Additionally, no presidency is a success without the support of her/his cabinet. Thank you to the 2014 GSC Cabinet and Committee Chairs: 

Allan Davis, Vice-President and Representative to the Committee on Conferences
Kellen Hoxworth, Vice-President and Representative to the Annual Conference Committee  
Amanda Boyle, Secretary/Historian
Sara Boland Taylor, Representative to the ASTR Committee on New Paradigms in Graduate Education
Areum Jeong and Ira Murfin, Conference Assistance Program Committee
Shamell Bell and Christiana Molldrem Harkulich, Mentorship Program Committee
Danielle Rosevally, Web Resources Committee
If you are interested in chairing or serving a GSC Committee, please contact President-Elect Kellen Hoxworth at So until we meet again in Portland 2015, take care and thank you! 

Graduate Student Caucus President and Graduate Student Representative to the Executive Committee
Doctoral Candidate, Bowling Green State University

Tags:  2014  ASTR Baltimore  ASTRGSC  Michelle Cowin-Mensah 

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Making Sense of ASTR Plenaries and Working Sessions: A Primer for Graduate Students (& Others)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 13, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Making Sense of ASTR Plenaries and Working Sessions: A Primer for Graduate Students (& Others)

Sam O’Connell, Worcester State University 

Hello, and welcome to ASTR’s annual conference in Baltimore. By now the opening plenary and reception is probably over and you’re wondering to yourself and the three other grad students crammed into your double hotel room:

What the heck do I do with these working sessions? Do I go to them? If I go, do I dare speak? I haven’t read any of the papers, but Old So-and-so Senior Scholar will be there, and I really admire her or his work. And then there is this other one that sounds like it would really inform my dissertation project. Ooh, and look at this one over here that’s on Saturday at 8:30am. I don’t have anything to do with the topic of the session in my own work, but this session participant is at Such-and-such Research 1 that is hiring a tenure-track position this year. It’s my dream job. If I go to that one and look really sharp and sound even sharper (if I speak) I’m bound to get a phone interview, right?

 These may not be your questions or thoughts about working sessions at ASTR, whether it’s your first year or not, but they are all things that I thought at one point or another at ASTR over the years. To spare you some of the anxiety, here’s some advice on how to handle plenaries and working sessions:


Go to the plenaries. They are an awesome chance to hear new research and get a sense of where the field is and where the field is going. They are also one of the only times that the majority of the scholars in our field gathers together in one space to share works-in-progress, near-completed works, or completed work. Even if the topic of a plenary does not resonate with you, they also effectively model how scholarship in Theatre and Performance Studies is conducted and presented.

Working Sessions

If your abstract was accepted to a working session, go to your working session and participate following the instructions, prompts, etc. outlined by your session conveners. In my experience, they often run like seminars in which everyone has done the reading and comes in with questions and ideas to help shape the conversation. A mistake I feel that I made early on was to take a predatory approach to working sessions that I was a participant in. I was largely self-interested in the ideas that other participants had about my work. I was not as engaged or aware of how my work was contributing to a larger conversation that we were all equally engaged in. Once I realized working sessions were not about me, I actually began to get more out of them.

For all other working sessions that you want to attend, here are some rules of thumb that inform my own decision making process of which sessions to go to and what to do when I’m in the audience:

·      Choosing a session

o   Does the topic relate directly to anything I research or teach? Or, am I vaguely interested in it? If it answers any of these questions, I go.

o   Is there a participant in the session whose work I am particularly interested in hearing? Or a paper title that really resonates? If so, I go.

o   Does the session have any conflicts with any of my other goals for the conference? These goals could be: grabbing a coffee or drink with an old friend who is also at the conference, checking out the exhibit hall and press offerings, prepping for my own session later that day, attending one of the offsite events, etc. If there are no conflicts, I go.

o   Do I need to rest? Conferences can be exhausting. Sometimes you just need a break in your hotel room, in the hotel lobby, or away from the conference site, just to relax. If I don’t need a rest, I go.

·      What to do in a session

o   Do the session conveners make any obvious signal to the audience that they will be invited into the conversation? If not, I don’t speak. Also, if not, sometimes I will politely and quietly step out to find another session. Some sessions are more open than others for the audience. Not all, though, are meant for the audience. Sometimes you don’t find this out until you’re already in the room.

o   If the session does invite participation and questions from the audience I speak if I have something to say that engages with the questions asked and the conversation being had in the overall session. I try not to showcase my own research that no one in the room has read. Instead, I become involved in the conversation that is already in progress.

o   If there is a direct connection I want to make between my research and one or more of the papers/participants, I approach them after the session to chat.

o   Try not to speak just to be seen speaking. And, try not to grad-splain. This is the graduate student version of “man-splaining.” 

At the end of the day, working sessions are where works-in-progress develop. They give you a chance to hear what other people are working on and meet the other people that are working in an area similar to your own work. Future ATHE panel proposals and future ASTR working sessions can come out of the unanswered questions and social connections that develop in a working session.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me: I’ll also be the tall-ish, bald-ish guy with glasses floating around the hotel bar between sessions and plenaries.

Tags:  astrgsc  graduate students 

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How to get the most out of the ASTR Mentorship Program

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Updated: Friday, November 7, 2014

How to get the most out of the ASTR Mentorship Program
by the GSC Mentorship Committee; co-chairs: Shamell Bell (UCLA) and Christiana Molldrem Harkulich (Pitts)

Oftentimes, the dissertation or thesis advisor is the number one candidate for a good mentor, but there are other alliances to be found in committee members, teaching supervisors, and scholars inside and outside the individual’s institution.

Sometimes there are formal structures for pairing mentors and mentees, but most often these relationships need to be cultivated. Mentorship is a service for faculty members, but not required and not compensated. In a perfect world, faculty members seek out opportunities to mentor in order to produce good and effective scholars and teachers as part of their general vocation. However, with stresses of research and publication, teaching and committee work, mentoring is an additional service load and is often done out of goodness of heart. That, for good or for ill, is the nature and current paradigm of academia.

  • Mentees: Be open and receptive to advice and resources wherever and whenever it comes. Don’t pass these up. Mentorships “emerge,” vs. being assigned.

  • Mentees: Be someone with whom a prospective mentor wants to work. A mentor’s rewards are minimal: they want to work with friendly, enthusiastic, hard working scholars who take notes. If a mentor has to give the same exact advice more than a couple of times to the same mentee, they may start to wonder if their extra time is worth it!

  • Mentees: Be respectful of mentors’ time and patience. They’re there for you to come to with stresses, obstacles, crises, and can be a shoulder to cry on. But try not to become a “standing item on the agenda” as a problem child. Build a network of resources: mentors are part of a support team that includes partners, friends, and family members. Don’t let mentors carry the whole load for your success. They can get burned out, too!

  • Mentees: You’re not the mentor’s only mentee. Good mentors accumulate mentees over the years. In addition to working with their current cohort of graduate students, they’ve got mentees who’ve graduated and are on the job market, mentees out there in the profession, and even undergraduate mentees. If they don’t respond to your email asking for feedback on a paper right away, don’t take it personally.

  •  Mentees: It’s not the mentor’s job to keep tabs on you. If they’ve given you advice on a paper or dissertation chapter, and don’t hear from you again, they may not contact you asking for a follow up.

  • Mentees: The long and short of it is that mentorships are often informal, “off the grid,” and not part of a faculty member’s regular load. That said, a mentor-mentee relationship is a professional one. While the mentor will see you at your worst and most vulnerable and can be a cheerleader, it’s only rarely that you’ll find a “To Sir With Love”-style Sidney Poitier who will come get you out of bed to face the world. Try not to put your mentor in this position.

  • Keep in mind, mentees don’t “graduate.” While a given project (dissertation, publication, conference presentation) may culminate in a successful conclusion, and the intensity and contact between mentor and mentee may wax and wane over the years with continuing projects, your mentor can and will always be your mentor. Your continued success makes them feel good. Keep them posted on what you’re working on. Take them out for coffee at conferences and fill them in on how it’s going.


Tags:  ASTR  ASTR Baltimore  ASTR Mentorship Breakfast  astrgsc  christiana molldrem harkulich  GSC Mentorship Committee  shamell bell 

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ASTR GSC 2015 Cabinet

Posted By Michelle Cowin Gibbs, Bowling Green State University, Sunday, November 2, 2014
Please join me in welcoming our 2015 Graduate Student Caucus Cabinet:
Kellen HoxworthStanford University 
GSC President and Representative to the Executive Committee
Michelle Salerno, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Vice President and Representative to the Committee on Conferences
Stephanie Vella, Graduate Center of the City University of New York
Vice President and Representative to the Annual Conference Committee
Sarah Campbell, Indiana University
Haddy Kreie, University of California Santa Barbara
GSC Representative to New Paradigms in Graduate Education 

Each representative will assume office after the ASTR Business Meeting in Baltimore on Saturday, November 22, 2014.

Thank you,

President, Graduate Student Caucus
American Society for Theatre Research

Tags:  2015  astr  ASTR Baltimore  astrgsc  graduate students  gsc elections  gsc leadership  haddy kreie  kellen hoxworth  Michelle Cowin-Mensah  michelle salerno  sarah campbell  stephanie vella 

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