Thursday, September 2, 2021

The First MALAS Lecture Event of Fall 2021! Author (and SDSU Professor) Matt de la Peña, Live @ SDSU || Co-Sponsored by SDSU Press, Amatl Comix, Hyperbole Books, and the Students of English 157, #psychmirrors

MALAS, SDSU PRESS, y CELEBRANDO NUESTRO RAÍCES along with English 157: Comics and History (#psychmirrors) are proud to announce a public lecture!

 

Comics, Visual Cultural Studies, & Children’s Picture Books: A Conversation with Matt de la Peña


 

 


Live! In Person! GMCS 333 on the SDSU Main Campus! 11am, Thursday, September 9, 2021




Matt de la Peña is the New York Times Bestselling, Newbery Medal-winning author of seven young adult novels (including Mexican WhiteBoy, We Were Here, and Superman: Dawnbreaker) and six picture books (including Milo Imagines the World and Last Stop on Market Street). In 2016 he was awarded the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Award. Matt received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific where he attended school on a full basketball scholarship. In 2019 Matt was given an honorary doctorate from UOP. de la Peña currently lives in Southern California. He teaches creative writing and visits schools and colleges throughout the country.

 

 

 

 

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Thursday, August 26, 2021

Fall Colors for MALAS -- The West Coast's Most Curious Cultural Studies MA

New Fall colors for MALAS, the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences at SDSU! Join us next Fall for your adventure in Interdisciplinary and Cultural Studies! More info: curiosity.sdsu.edu

Posted by William Nericcio on Thursday, August 26, 2021

Friday, July 9, 2021

So you want to write a MALAS thesis! Episode 6, the publishing…

Deep breath, I know this has been a lot of info to take in. Seems daunting? It certainly can be, and even with all the excellent advice this blog gives you, the publishing process can still be confusing. My biggest piece of advice is to try to prepare for this as much in advance as you can, as meeting deadlines is crucial to graduating in the time frame you want. There are three deadlines to make note of: Submission, Publication, and Avoiding Re-enrollment. The exact dates of these deadlines will depend on which semester you are working in, be it Fall, Spring, or Summer. Let’s take a closer look at these:


  1. Submission: By this date you will have to have had your committee approve the final draft of your thesis and have all editing completed. At this point, you will not be able to make any content changes to your thesis. You must also pay your Review fee. 

-If you meet this deadline, Montezuma Publishing guarantees that they will review your thesis and return it to you for any corrections that might need to be made at least one week prior to the Publication deadline. 

-If you have to resubmit your thesis, your thesis will be given priority over others that may have been submitted after the submission deadline, but will have to undergo another full review. 

-Meeting this deadline gives you the best chance of graduating in that semester, however it is possible to submit your thesis after this date. 

  1. Publication: By this date, your thesis must pass Review and be approved by Montezuma Publishing. You must also pay all publishing fees. 

-If you miss this deadline, you will not be able to graduate that same semester. 

-As I said, you may make your thesis submission later than the submission deadline, but your thesis will not be given priority for Review, a process that can take 3-4 weeks. You have to pass the Review process in order to be published. 

  1. Avoid Re-enrollment: If your thesis does not meet the publishing deadline, you will have to re-apply to graduate, however if your thesis has been submitted and you have paid all of your fees, you will not have to enroll in course 799B (essentially the thesis extension course). 



Now let’s quickly talk about your options when it comes to Editing and Formatting, because yes, you do have options! There are 3 choices when it comes to the Editing and Formatting steps. You can either: do it yourself like a boss, hire a freelancer, or hire the OG Montezuma Publishing. If you’re looking into the freelance option, Grad Affairs has a list of recommended freelancers I’d strongly recommend choosing from.


Be aware, in terms of formatting, just because you hire a professional freelancer does not guarantee that your thesis will automatically pass Review. How can you get this reassuring guarantee? Hire Montezuma Publishing themselves. Because they are the ones who will approve or deny the review of your thesis, they know exactly what is required in order to pass. You will pass the Review stage if you take this option. This is not to dissuade you from taking a stab at formatting your thesis yourself or hiring a freelancer, however these options may be slightly riskier in that there is no guarantee that your thesis will pass Review on the first attempt. Subsequent review attempts may mean missing the publication deadline and delaying graduation. Still, Montezuma Publishing provides free templates and resources to help you tackle this step on your own if you choose. In regards to Editing, there is less risk involved, as this stage is more based on the quality of your thesis’ content. As long as you are satisfied with your thesis and it has been approved by your committee, you don’t really need to hire anyone to edit it for you.  


I think that’s enough, don’t you? I know it’s so much to take in; I’d say working with Montezuma Publishing is the most difficult part of the thesis process just because there are strict requirements and deadlines to meet in order to actually publish your work and graduate with your awesome M.A. in Liberal Arts and Sciences. Just remember the ingenious, creative, cultural pioneer that you are and know that you’ve just completed something truly wonderful and oh-so well deserved. 


Congratulations on the publication of your Master’s thesis!



Friday, July 2, 2021

So you want to write a MALAS thesis! Episode 5, the review…

 


We’re getting closer to that finish line, which means you will soon be a published writer! Woohoo! But how do you actually get your masterpiece bound in print? Well, let me introduce you to someone I like to call, Montezuma Publishing. 


Now, this phase of the thesis process is going to be far more technical and structured with specific deadlines and criteria to meet than the writing phase. To be fully transparent, this is where I think a lot of people get tripped up or confused because up until this point you probably know almost nothing about Montezuma Publishing, or at least have had little-to-no interaction with them. This is normal, and there are resources available to help guide you through this stage, like this thesis Q&A video. There is also a live Q&A session hosted each semester which provides really useful info. However, Montezuma Publishing has a lot on their plate and they will not seek you out or remind you of deadlines, so be aware of when any info sessions are and, most importantly, know when things are due!


I hear you saying, “This is a lot, can you give me an overview of the process?” Well, since you asked nicely…


  1. Edit your thesis: Once you have finished writing, read, re-read, and then re-re-read your thesis at least one more time for good measure. Make sure you’re satisfied with everything, being sure to check for any content changes you might want to make, correct spelling and grammar, ect. Soon you will not be able to make any changes to your content. 


  1. Have your committee formally approve your thesis by signing off on all paperwork. 

Pro tip!: Don’t wait until close to the submission deadline to have your committee give their final OK of your work. Generally you should give them at least two weeks to read each draft you present them, including the final one. 


  1. Get that doc looking sharp! Your thesis will have to conform to SDSU and MALAS’s guidelines. This step in particular might be the hardest of all, as Montezuma Publishing has strict formatting guidelines you must meet in order for your thesis to pass Review.

 

  1. Speaking of which, now your thesis gets reviewed! Review is done by Montezuma Publishing exclusively, where they will decide if your text meets all standards and requirements, particularly formatting. 


  1. Montezuma Publishing will make good on their name and publish your thesis, with a copy being sent to the library and made available through SDSU online as well. Bill of course will want a copy as well to commemorate your epic achievement and to show off to future MALAS scholars.


  1. Time to graduate! You will have to pay certain publishing fees, and once that is done, Montezuma Publishing will alert Grad Affairs that you have successfully completed the publication of your thesis, at which point you will be cleared to graduate. 




Wednesday, June 30, 2021

So you want to write a MALAS thesis! Episode 4, the paperwork…




You’ve heard me mention Graduate Affairs a few times now, and you might be thinking, “sounds ominous.” As much as Grad Affairs tends to be stricter on policies and procedures, don’t let yourself get psyched out. Coordinating with them is just another part of the process, and while it won’t be as much fun as researching and writing, it’s still important. Unless you’re like me who had avoided Grad Affairs for a year because they seemed scary...I was rather unprepared for the technical side of the thesis process, and I would love to spare you my same mistakes. 


First of all, nail down exactly what Grad Affairs needs from you ASAP. I decided to switch from the exam to the thesis option late in the game, and had to file a petition to enroll in 799A (the thesis course standard university-wide). It was a pain. Spare yourself. Get the paperwork done early. Depending on what kind of research you will be doing, you may have to fill out either the Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) forms. These apply to research conducted on human or animal subjects respectively. Be warned! Grad Affairs may take 4-6 weeks to review your IRB proposal (I told you to start early, remember!). 


If your research doesn’t fall into one of these categories, great! You can now start completing your thesis committee form. Let’s break this down into 9 easy steps: 


  1. Choose your thesis Chair! Which super-cool professor will you give the honor of supervising your epic work? Whoever it is, they will be chosen in conjunction with your Graduate Advisor (aka Bill). And just an FYI, Bill is also a great option for Chair. Once you’ve got a Chair locked in, work together with them and Bill to build the remainder of your awesome committee team.

  2. Have all members of your committee sign the thesis committee form. Your thesis Chair and Bill will give the final seal of approval with their signature(s). 

  3. If you’d like someone to serve on your committee that fits most of the criteria but doesn’t have an SDSU affiliation, now is the time to get any additional documents you might need to petition Grad Affairs to allow them to serve on your committee. 

  4. If your dope research requires either IRB or IACUC paperwork to be reviewed, do that now. 

  5. Multilingual and want to write your thesis in a language other than English? Go for it! Make sure that all faculty members in your committee are fluent in whatever language you’re working in. Still, Bill will have to verify your competency in standard written English before you can start. 

  6. Complete the "Rights To Thesis Data And Publication Authorship" page of the thesis committee form. 

  7. Turn in all your completed forms and any additional docs to Graduate Affairs. You can find their headquarters in Student Services East (SSE) 1410. 

  8. Get approved! It can take up to one week to get email verification of approval. Registration info for the thesis course 799A will also be sent to you. 

  9. Celebrate the completion of these definitely-not-boring forms and the official start of the writing process!





Friday, June 25, 2021

So you want to write a MALAS thesis! Episode 3, the committee…

 

Your thesis committee is a crucial element of the entire thesis process and must be completed in accordance with SDSU’s guidelines. This is where things become much more technical with stricter rules and dates to abide by. But don’t worry, I’m here to walk you through it. 


So what is a committee and why do you need it? Your committee is a minimum group of 3 advisors who will oversee your research and ultimately formally approve your thesis for consideration by the university. You are free to choose your own committee members, though they do have to meet certain criteria. Let’s break this down: 


First and most importantly is your committee Chair. This person will have the most impact on your progression through your thesis. Graduate Affairs requires that the Chair be either a tenured or tenure-track faculty from your home department. For us, that would mean MALAS. Which is great, because MALAS professors spread all across campus with so many different fields to choose from. 


Your second committee member must also be a tenure/tenure-track professor OR professor emeritus, FERP, adjunct professor, or lecturer. Still, this person must be from your home department as well. 


Your third committee member may also be a tenure/tenure-track professor OR professor emeritus, FERP, adjunct professor, or lecturer, however they must be affiliated outside of your home department. As a MALAS student this might get a little confusing because the program involves such a wide variety of faculty. Don’t worry too much about this, I’d suggest choosing someone who is familiar with your area of research who will challenge you to produce your best analysis. Maybe think outside the box a bit on this one, perhaps in a field you might not have considered. If you get stuck here, I recommend asking Bill for suggestions. I found my third committee member just by asking around and ended up working with an awesome professor from the Television and Film department that I hadn’t actually worked with prior. 



You may also have additional committee members who can meet any of the above criteria. If you’re even a little bit confused or worried your choices might not get approved, ask as soon as possible so that you don’t fall behind. Like I said, we’re getting into the technicalities of the thesis writing process, and while there is still a lot of room for you to bring your own ideas and creativity to this step, there are specificities that have to be followed. Just don’t let it scare you, ask too many questions, and you’ll get through it easy-peasy. 


Just make sure that for everyone serving on your committee, their areas of expertise complement your area of focus. For example, my thesis focused on film and philosophy, so it wouldn’t make much sense for me to ask, say, a hotel and tourism professor to serve on my committee. But like I said, MALAS encourages curiosity and dipping into any field that interests you, so there is a lot of flexibility here. Grad Affairs will definitely let you know if your committee selection isn’t up to their standards. In fact, the Dean of Grad Affairs will have to OK your final committee members. 


More info to come on what to expect from Grad Affairs, what they expect from you, and how to complete all the necessary paperwork!


Thursday, June 24, 2021

Peruse Recent and Past Masters Theses by MALAS Graduate Students!

Friday, June 18, 2021

So you want to write a MALAS thesis! Episode 2, the writing…

 


Now that you have a basic understanding of what the MALAS thesis is and how to get started, let’s go into detail on how exactly to write the dang thing. Where will you draw inspiration from? What could qualify as an acceptable topic for your thesis? How much time will it take you to craft your masterpiece? Fear not, for all this and more will be answered!


To begin, really take a moment to appreciate the fact that you’re in such an awesome graduate program like MALAS that not only allows but actively encourages you to explore any and every area of research you might be curious about. When I first considered grad school, I thought I would go for an M.A. in English to follow up my B.A. in the same subject. But then I thought about how limiting that would be for me, someone who had minored in Film and wanted to continue exploring that field. MALAS allowed me to do that, and my thesis was an epic amalgamation of my different areas of interest. For me, the thesis was about bringing together my research of culturally significant films through a cinematography lens, whereas other MALAS alums have written amazing pieces on pretty much anything you can imagine: Japanese technology, Vincent Van Gogh, or even garbage in America. 



Whatever you choose to write about, your thesis needs to be culturally insightful, using your topic to make a claim or argument substantiated by significant research. This step can be tricky, as a lot of us aren’t used to the kind of long-form essay writing necessary for the thesis. You will need to develop, support, and defend your ideas throughout the entirety of your writing, which will range somewhere between 50-65 pages. This is where I hit a bit of a snag early on in my writing process. The first rough draft I brought to my committee chair (we’ll talk about committees in another post) was little more than 3 separate essays loosely tied together by the fact that they were all film analyses. Beyond that, I didn’t have much to link the essays to one another, and that definitely wasn’t going to cut it. But it was a solid foundation to work off of. Don’t be afraid to bring in older work and research you’ve done, but don’t think it’s finished either as it is. The thesis requires a lot of editing, revision, cutting, and pasting to make one cohesive final product with a central theme weaved throughout. Without this core concept, your thesis will be little more than a collection of papers. 



Okay, got a little heavy there...In all honesty, don’t be scared if you start writing and editing only to find that what you thought would be the crux of your thesis has started to crumble a little bit. This is okay! It’s all part of the process. Let your ideas change as you write, and go to others for help and input. 


So how long should this whole process take? Well, really it’s up to you, but all I would say is don’t rush it. I graduated a semester early, and in hindsight I feel like I pushed through my thesis rather than taking the time to enjoy the process. Don’t be like me. Take your time and take it in. 



Like I said in my last post, you generally start the thesis process after you have finished 27 units of your program of study. This will typically put you at the start of your 4th semester of the program where you don’t have any other classes to distract you and you can spend the entire semester focused on your thesis. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule though. Some people (i.e. me) choose to write their thesis during their 3rd semester in conjunction with other classes. Others might choose to write their thesis later, in a summer session or into the next year. Really, the amount of time you take is more up to you and what you’re able to handle, but I would say more often than not people finish by the end of the semester in which they started writing. 


Now, getting your thesis reviewed and published is a totally different beast, and there are stricter deadlines for this part of the process that you’ll have to meet, especially if you’re looking to graduate at a particular time. Again, we’ll cover this later. But for now, I hope you have a better idea of what writing your MALAS thesis will be like, the aspects your thesis will have, and how much fun it will be to write. 


Friday, June 11, 2021

So You Want to Write a MALAS Thesis! Episode 1, the Basics …



You’re writing a Master’s thesis, congrats! There are a few options when it comes to completing your MALAS Program of Study (POS): you can take a comprehensive exam, complete a project, or write a thesis (the coolest option). This happens after you have finished 27 units, or 9 classes, of study and you’re totally and completely prepared to tackle this definitely-not-intimidating capstone paper!


...Okay, so it can definitely be intimidating, but that’s where this handy-dandy guide will help you know what to expect from the MALAS thesis process. I’ve been there, and trust me, it’s really an incredibly rewarding experience. 


Like I mentioned, the first real step is to decide to write a thesis to complete your POS to begin with. A lot of cohort members will choose to take the exam, which is also a great option and may suit you better depending on what exactly you personally would like to achieve from your time in MALAS. Full disclosure, I was intending to take this option originally. It wasn’t until an essay I had written for another MALAS course was accepted into an international conference that I began to really enjoy writing again. As a former English major who’d become somewhat disconnected from my love of writing, I’d had a new-found sense of pride in my work, and a thesis was the perfect way to showcase that. 


And by the way, I encourage you to take full advantage of academic conferences. They’re excellent opportunities to network, share your work, get published, and even win some cash. MALAS can even help fund your journey like it did for me, expanding your culture-craving consciousness beyond the classroom. 



So what exactly is this thesis thing anyway? The MALAS thesis is an extended and extensive piece of writing, generally somewhere between 50-80 pages long that showcases your talents as a student of culture. Let your curiosity guide you and search for inspiration in unlikely places as you begin to brainstorm topics for this epic text. Don’t discount anything, and whenever you’re unsure or afraid you might be veering into unstable territory where none of your ideas seem to align, the solution is simple...ask for help! One of the biggest differences I noticed from undergrad to grad school was that the professors you work with are always there to help and guide you, but they won’t hold your hand. As a Master’s student, you have to take responsibility for your own progress and take the initiative to find the best friends and mentors for your own goals. Luckily for you, you chose MALAS, which unbiasedly has the best and coolest profs around. For instance, the idea to write a thesis didn’t actually come from me, but from a friendly, almost off-handed suggestion from one of my mentors as I sat in their office one day talking through one of my essays. 


“It sounds like you have a solid basis for a thesis already,” they said. I did? It hadn’t really even crossed my mind. Could the multiple essays I’d written, revised, and studied so much over the last few semesters really become one cohesive thesis? (Spoiler alert: the answer is yes). 


The point is, approaching the MALAS thesis can be daunting, but you aren’t alone, and you shouldn’t approach it that way either. Ultimately it is your own work (and it’s going to be so awesome when it’s finished), but you’ll have so much great support along the way if you’re willing to ask for it. 


You’ve decided to write a thesis, and there’s still a lot to go over before you’ll get to hold that sweet finished product in your hands (which is one of the most rewarding feelings ever), but you’re off to a great start. Understanding that this is an extensive, long-form, and cohesive piece of literary research is an important place to start, and now it’s time to begin brainstorming ideas and drawing upon inspiration. MALAS is awesomely unique in that it allows you to pull from any area of interest, so let loose and follow whatever threads lead you to exciting concepts you know you’ll be able to sustain throughout your entire thesis. Reigning in and refining those ideas will come later in the writing and editing phases, followed finally by the publishing phase in which your final thesis will be presented to SDSU’s own Montezuma Publishing for, you guessed it, publishing. You must have your thesis approved by both your chosen committee and Montezuma Publishing to successfully complete your thesis course and receive credit. 


“Committee? Montezuma Publishing?” I hear you saying. Don’t worry, I’m getting ahead of myself, and we’ll dive deeper into those in a later post; this is after all just the basics! And the fun is just beginning…


So, are you ready to begin?