Emiliano Gutierrez Popoca
I started my PhD studies at Brandeis three years ago. I had done all my previous studies in Mexico, and I had never lived abroad for more than a couple of months before starting my PhD. I had a very warm welcome at Brandeis from faculty and fellow graduate students. This has made the adaptation process smoother and enjoyable. As an international student, I’ve been happy to find that students and faculty are very friendly. They have also helped me in the process of becoming familiar with the graduate school environment and with American academia. Coming from a relatively homogenous setting in the National University of Mexico, I have greatly enjoyed diversity at Brandeis, and the various opportunities of meeting people with very different backgrounds I’ve had over these three years. This has also had the unexpected effect of aiding my personal and social growth. So, for me, it has been important to find harmony between my professional and my social life.
I have also received continuous support from faculty in my time at Brandeis. From the start, I found it motivating that professors in our department are very generous with their time. They have shown genuine interest in hearing about my academic goals and in guiding my research. I think one of the strengths of our program is that you get to work very closely with professors, so I recommend always reaching out to them, especially whenever you come to each of the crucial points in your academic development.
I have been cultivating my interest in Renaissance theater and culture throughout my time in the program. Now that I’ve completed my third year, I feel more comfortable finding connections between the different roles I’ve had inside and outside the English Department. I have been a Teaching Fellow for courses on love poetry, and romantic comedy. This has allowed me to think about poetic voice and genre in different ways, finding connections between Pablo Neruda and John Donne, or between Hollywood rom-com and Shakespeare. My job at Brandeis’ Archives and Special Collections allowed me to work closely with 17th Century books that have become an important part of my research. The material aspects of these rare books in the Brandeis collection, like the printing and the engraved illustrations, have led me to add another dimension to my research on Renaissance culture. My job at the Writing Center, and my role as a University Writing Seminar instructor have also led me to find new ways of thinking about writing. By guiding students through brainstorming, outlining and developing ideas, I have looked more critically at my own prose, and I have developed a stronger voice as a writer.