Graduate Student Organization

In collaboration with the Cultural Studies Program, GSWS graduate certificate students have formed a joint GSO (CGGSO).  The CGGSO works closely with the leadership of both programs to shape and publicize opportunities for graduate students.  

Currently, the CGGSO organizes a dissertation writing group, a works-in-progress series, and graduate student symposia.  For information, email

The Fall 2020 CGGSO Symposium, "Studies in Creativity," was held via Zoom Sept. 10-11, 2020.  The program is available online.

***We are very excited to announce the upcoming Works-in-progress Workshop series put on by the CLST/GSWS GSO. The workshop is a place for graduate students to workshop drafts-in-progress and get feedback from their colleagues within and outside of their home departments. If you're an early year grad, the workshop is one place where you can get an inside look into the process of writing conference papers, dissertation prospectuses, and chapter drafts. If you're finishing up the dissertation, the workshop is intended to provide some intellectual community at a time where you're often more isolated than before. It's also meant to be a place where students, faculty, and other people with scholarly interest in Gender and Cultural Studies can meet collaboratively around unfinished work. 

Please note the following dates and descriptions: 

Jan. 27 (4-5pm EST): Codee Spinner

This chapter is the first in my dissertation titled, “Resonant Spirits: Spiritualism, Music, and Community in Lily Dale, NY (1848—1940),” following the introduction. The dissertation is a study of sound and music within a Spiritualist community, Lily Dale in western New York. This chapter, “Spiritualist Soundscape,” understands how listening worked within this spiritualist context. I argue that spirit sounds were influenced by Euro-Americans’ understanding of the land they occupied and forms of popular entertainment like vaudeville and minstrel shows. The chapter primarily looks at how these sounds were received in settings like séances, private spirit communications, and trance lectures. 

Feb. 24 (5-6pm EST): Hannah Standiford

In 2015, swing dance aficionado Steven Mitchell was outed by several women as a serial sexual abuser and was ostracized from the swing scene. This paper employs ethnographic research in the Pittsburgh area, revealing that many dancers and instructors consider this event to be a catalyst for the recent promotion of safe spaces and consent during social dances and lessons. Swing dance etiquette in the 90s and early 2000s dictated that dancers should say “yes” to any dance. Now, instructors in the Pittsburgh area teach etiquette for requesting a dance and for expressing discomfort during movement, and these teachers invite dancers to say “no” for any reason. This paper will examine the ways that Pittsburgh swing dancers communicate consent, discomfort, or refusal, in addition to discussing how social dancing is a potential site for cultivating new rhetoric and practice around consent and safer spaces.

Mar. 31 (5-6pm EST): Courtney Colligan

This chapter considers the institutionality of societal structures and the impact of cultural ideas traversing in social spaces. I particularly examine how, using the Donmar Warehouse’s Shakespeare Trilogy site, three stage productions filmed for the BBC between 2012-2016, the institution of Shakespeare makes apparent the complexities and critical issues of the prison structure. I explore the relationship between societal institutions and the shifting nature of prison theatre to emerge with a new branch of performance, postcarceral performance (performance practices in local communities directly working for and with incarcerated and recently released individuals). I further explore the queerness associated with all-women casting and situate queerness as an abolitionist act. My case study offers a beginning location to witness some of the intersections of postcarceral performance, namely partnerships with the prison, the university, and the public. 

April 21 (5-6pm EST): Devon Tipp

In today’s musical climate, mixing and matching of disparate musical instruments and styles has become common practice, creating new avenues for artistic collaborations. Mamoru Fujieda (b. 1955) is one such composer who has carved out an intercultural musical world where this nexus is critical to his artistic language. His work is informed by: American experimental musical concepts such as minimalism and microtonality as pioneered by Harry Partch, Lou Harrison, and Terry Riley; the electrical activity emitted from plants and its translation into sound; and traditional Japanese instruments and music. My dissertation will be one of the first extant academic writings on Fujieda’s unique musical language, and will analyze the Third Collection Koto Gamelan Set (1996) from Patterns of Plant in order to highlight how unlike appropriative compositional techniques, which suffers from the trappings of orientalist tendencies, is in fact an exemplar of reciprocal musical and intercultural musical and compositional interactions.

If you are interested in attending any of the upcoming workshops, please contact Max Dosser ( at least a week before the scheduled workshop date. You will then be emailed a pre-circulated draft, the Zoom link and password the week before the event.