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Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring by a Faculty Member

Adrienne Munich, English; Cultural Analysis &Theory; Art

Adrienne Munich, Professor of English, is completing a book called The Empire of Diamonds about the different meanings diamonds acquired in the British Empire when Britain controlled all of the world's diamonds. In addition, he co-edits an internationally-recognized Victorian scholarly journal, writes about the cultural significance of fashion, and visual, literary ways of knowing.

Adrienne Munich

Can you tell us, in general terms, about your research?

My humanities research focuses on how a culture makes meaning by telling stories, using symbolic processes. For example, I wrote a book about Queen Victoria and what kind of different meanings they took from her long reign, such as what they made from her use of Scotland, her love of dogs, the meaning of her interminable mourning, her dressing in black, which had different meanings at the outer reaches of her empire. 

I'm now writing a book about the moment when the British Empire controlled the world's diamonds and used them as different symbols to give meaning to the enormous social and cultural changes of their times.

What advice would you offer graduate students just beginning their studies?

I would advise them to use the wide offerings of the University – lectures, workshops, other activities, to widen their scope and help them finally to focus with greater knowledge on their narrower area of specialty.  I would advise them to be the best they can be always, in their course work, research, and writing. 

What advice would you offer graduate students toward the end of their studies?

Do not be discouraged by the job market. In my field it takes years to get a full-time, secure job. You must publish, so throw your energy into articles, from which you can take conference papers, not the other way around. Be flexible in what positions you consider. Publish. 

What advice would you offer new teachers who are finding their voice in the classroom?

You know more than your students. Don't tell everything you know. Listen to them. Be clear and expect the best from them. Be compassionate and wary.

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