Proseminar in Linguistics

Ling 800 — Proseminar in Linguistics
Autumn '11 – Spring '12, F 3:30–5:00, Jennings 40
2 credits, S/U
Instructor: Michael White

Course Objectives

One of the requirements of all students in the doctoral program in linguistics is to take courses that are designed to give them an appropriate level of competence in the core areas and methods of the field as a whole as well as in core ideas and methods that are specific to their chosen area(s) of specialization. However, there are also many basic skills and attitudes that are not specific to linguistics but will be useful whether the student is preparing for a career in academia or industry or government or some other area of endeavor. These skills include, for example, the ability to present results and ideas to an audience of non-specialists in a variety of venues. A graduate who applies to a position in academia needs to be able to present a compelling job talk, a graduate who is hired in a research lab in industry or by an NGO needs to be able to present a compelling project proposal, and so on. This Proseminar in Linguistics is designed to help students acquire those more general skills. After each quarter's Proseminar, students will have gained some of the range of skills needed to be a successful professional linguist.

Course Requirements

Required reading for the course includes Monica Macauley's Surviving Linguistics: A guide for graduate students (2nd ed.; Cascadilla Press, 2011); materials suggested by outside speakers constitute optional but recommended readings.

Class meetings will either consist of attending the Friday afternoon departmental seminar listed on the Linguistics Event Calendar or discussing a number of more practically oriented aspects of academic life.

Students must attend the Friday meetings regularly, and they must take an active part in discussions, offering critiques of presentations, asking questions, and giving their own perspective on topics under consideration, based on their experiences in the department but also on the readings. On non-talk days we will have discussions. When attending talks, students are encouraged to participate in the question/discussion time, but can also contribute to the Carmen discussion board as participation.

When discussing the talks on Carmen, students should focus on issues of presentation as well as on the content of the talk, and considering, for example, whether the speaker conveyed the ideas in a jargon-free way, whether the organization of talk was effective, whether the talk was supported adequately by the handout or slides, how well the speaker responded to questions from the audience, and similar concerns.

Comments on the Friday talks must be posted on the appropriate Carmen discussion forum by the end of Tuesday following the talk.

Announcements will frequently be made by email, and for this reason students are expected to check the email address listed on carmen on a daily basis.

Possible Discussion Topics