Tips to Manage that End of Semester Workload

We’ve hit that point in the semester when it’s time to roll up your sleeves and put the pedal to the metal. Classes become hectic as you’re responsible for keeping up with reading loads and researching and producing papers simultaneously. In all this pressure to perform, and the increasingly distracting nice weather, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself.

To acknowledge this stressful period and to continue the conversations on mental health and well being (like Sarah Heidebrink-Bruno’s one on mental health issues in graduate school or this one with advice for surviving graduate school curated by Emily Shreve), here are some tips on how to balance wrapping up graduate semester coursework and the rest of your life.* Continue reading

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Want Food, Will Travel

Dining options in the near vicinity of Lehigh can leave much to be desired – Molly’s gets tired quickly, and the atmosphere of Broadway Social can transform from a pleasant restaurant to a busy nightclub in the blink of an eye during weekend evenings. But fret not! As a native of the Lehigh Valley, I can assure you that there are a plethora of diverse and affordable dining options within a short drive of campus. And, in case you are wondering, many of these are out of sight of the University, by which I mean the Sauron-esque bell tower of the University Center that reminds us all of the work we should be doing.

The South Side

If you want to remain in the South Side of Bethlehem, the Thai Kitchen offers excellent Thai cuisine, Tulum and La Lupita are excellent choices for well priced Mexican fare (La Lupita being one of the few places you can find glass bottle Coca-Cola with real sugar), and Jenny’s Kuali serves up delectable Malaysian dishes, all within a short distance from campus.

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The Buzzfeed Post

Here at Drown Unbound, we’re feeling the end-of-semester crunch quite strongly, and you probably are too. So we thought we’d have a little fun with it. For one post only, we’re becoming Buzzfeed. I’ve got a list of gifs here. Mareesa has a quote about keeping positive in this tough time. Laura’s got a Harry Potter thing and a Hamilton thing. Brian had a séance and heard some advice from Langston Hughes.

The Gif List: What we’re going through

Marry Poppins knows how to write a thesis (but if you want real advice, check out Jo’s recent post)

Mary Poppins

That feeling when you’re trying to balance writing and reading and posting and teaching (and living) Continue reading

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The Revolutionary Sisters’ Tea


Synergy was achieved a few weeks ago when Lehigh played host to the most radical tea party since Sam Adams and friends got busy in Boston Harbor. Four women who have played leading roles in some of the most profound movements for social justice in the last half-century came together for tea and solidarity in the Zoellner Arts Center. Ericka Huggins, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, Denise Oliver-Velez, and Sonia Sanchez shared from their wealth of life-stories and wisdom and answered questions posed by their wrapt audience over afternoon tea. Each woman has spent her life fighting racial injustice and economic inequality as well as challenging the limits imposed upon women within the historically male-dominated movements in which they have participated.

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Tips for Writing a Masters Thesis

While primarily intended for students completing a masters thesis, this post might also interest those writing seminar papers or other projects, such as scholarly articles or essays. These seven tips, thoughts, and provocations derive from my own successes and failures, good intentions and bad habits as a writer. Add your voice in the comments! In case you stop reading here, know that however hellish the process, there is nothing quite so pleasurable as producing a polished piece of writing. Also, remember that your health and wellbeing are more important than your thesis. If you feel more depressed, anxious, tired, overwhelmed, or stressed than is manageable for you, I hope you will reach out to a friend, family member, classmate, or advisor. Please prioritize your health (completing your thesis can wait).

1. Write about what you care about. In my opinion, this is the most important aspect of any piece of writing. No matter how experienced or talented a writer you are, if you are not passionate about your topic, your writing will suffer. That said, writing about topics that are important to you can trigger emotional responses that might make writing more difficult. That’s one of the reasons why I like tip number two.

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What’s Happening: April 2017

We have finally approached the final full month of the spring semester and things are likely getting completely out of hand. Remember self care and check out one or all of these exciting events!

Tuesday April 4 at 7pm: Stephanie Powell Watts, professor at Lehigh University, has a book launch at the Bethlehem Barnes and Noble (4445 Southmont Way, Easton). Watts new book, No One Is Coming to Save Us, has received a great deal of critical praise and attention.

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Lehigh Spaces: The Writing and Math Center

Welcome to the Writing and Math Center! Here, students can find free writing and math help from experienced tutors, with half-hour appointments up to twice a week for writing and regular, weekly appointments for math.* Here, students enter with their assignment sheet and two copies of their draft (or outline or thesis statement or vague idea begging to be developed), and exit with a more defined sense of their argument and a clear plan for proceeding. Here, students learn not how to ask for proofreading, but how to identify and remedy the weaknesses in their own writing. As Stephen North says, here we work to make better writers, not better writing.

You may not realize, though, that these writing services are open not only to undergraduates, but also to grad students, faculty, and staff!  Yes, grad students are welcome to seek tutoring from our peers. Just as you might occasionally ask a friend to read over your work, you might as well ask a friend who gets paid to read it! I particularly recommend going to the Writing Center for working on abstracts, which are short enough that you have time to really dig into the details in your half-hour appointment. (Protip: bring the CFP and two copies of your abstract with you).

However, the Writing Center offers even more than an extra set of eyes on your writing; it is a space of community.

staged diligent working

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Film Club Review: A Bunch of Movies

It’s been forever! What’s wrong with us? Business, basically. I am utterly sorry, but the fun thing is that we’re gonna recap everything in one big go. It’s gonna be crazy, especially with the crop of movies we have to talk about: 13th, The Handmaiden, Get Out, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and Re-Animator. I’m not going to try to tie these together, because that’s probably impossible. Instead, you’ll get capsule reviews.


13th – Ava DuVernay

This was our first documentary, and it was a doozy. DuVernay captures the terrible tragedy that is the prison industrial complex, one she, along with the scholars and politicians she interviews have connected to the way that the 13th amendment abolished slavery except through the prison system. A good portion of the movie is a well-developed timeline, going decade by decade through the 20th century and seeing how our modern prison system came to be. It’s a sobering look at the influence of racism and corporations on something that people don’t pay enough attention to, which has allowed the problem to get wildly out of hand. For me, the film’s best bits came at the beginning and the end. In the early goings, DuVernay investigates how D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation played a part in the resurgence of the KKK and ties that in with the way that prisons became the new slavery. The very end of the film features pictures of black men and women and children doing everyday things, an important part of the story and the reason why this story matters so much. It also makes the whole documentary, which is a chronicle of human suffering, less heavy without cutting the power of the film. Continue reading

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Anticipating Accepted Students Day

In anticipation of Accepted Students Day on March 22nd, I sat down with some seasoned graduate students to gather their advice for how to best prepare for a campus visit. As a first year Ph.D. student and a second year MA student, respectively, Sam Sorenson and Ashley Evans shared the following kernels of wisdom with our future colleagues:

  • “Don’t be shy. Try to interact with everyone to get a realistic feel for the department.” Admittedly, Accepted Students Day can feel overwhelming. You are likely to meet a slew of new people, who will ask you a bombardment of questions about your potential interests, academic experiences, and hopes for graduate school. However, try to chat with as many people as you can, in order to get a better sense of the social fabric of the department. Realistically, you may be spending the next 2-9 years with this group of people, so you want to be sure that your future program is a good fit academically as well as socially.
    • Pro tip: if you feel nervous in crowded spaces, or about introducing yourself to new folks, please feel free to reach out to your Recruitment Representatives (me and Megan Bruening) for help.

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Film Club Reviews: The Seventh Seal and The World’s End

At first, second, and third glance, these two movies have nothing in common. The first, The Seventh Seal, is a black and white Swedish film from 1957 which uses the black plague as a background for a consideration of death, suffering, and religion. The second, The World’s End, is a fast-paced action movie about drinking, consumer culture, and assimilation. What the films share, though, is an understanding of humanity’s desire to engage in pleasureful activities even as the world seems to be collapsing. They are quest narratives where the end of the quest involves the destruction of the world around them, even if a glimmer of human hope lingers on. Though each film examines very different societies and does so in very different modes, they end up confirming similarly humanist ideals in what makes for the most whiplash-inducing but also thoroughly interesting double feature I’ve yet to discover.



The Seventh Seal is Ingmar Bergman’s entrance into greatness as a director, and no scene proves this more than the terrifying conversation between the returning crusade knight and a woman about to be burned as a witch. Here the knight hopes for a story of her time with the Devil, because if Satan exists so must God, and that means that death and therefore life have meaning. What she gives him is no comfort, though, as her thousand-yard stare goes right through him and the audience, giving her a sense of cold detachment from humanity. “Look into my eyes,” she says, “Well, do you see him?” The knight responds, “I see terror. Nothing else.” That terror is one side of the movie’s coin, and it is indeed horrific. But wait.

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