How Did This Grad Land on the Tenure Track? Teaching at CUNY Helped

Alicia Andrzejewski stands in the library of The Graduate Center. Alicia Andrzejewski

Friends and colleagues cautioned her that she was teaching too much to land an academic position. But Alicia Andrzejewski (Ph.D. ’19, English) couldn’t help herself. “I absolutely adore CUNY students,” she says. She estimates that she taught 34 classes in six years, frequently waking up at 3:30 a.m. to make her 7:45 a.m. class at Queens College.

“One of the great things about teaching writing courses is that they really make you hold yourself accountable as a writer,” she says. She set and kept to deadlines, both in her academic writing and her more popular work, and, this spring, she landed a tenure-track position as an assistant professor at the College of William & Mary.

Among her classes this fall will be one on Shakespeare’s plays, and she already has the syllabus from a comparable course she taught at Queens College. “It’s just invaluable, that experience,” she says. In 2018, she was recognized with a Graduate Center Award for Excellence in Teaching.

A scholar of Renaissance literature, Andrzejewski has specialized in Shakespeare. Her doctoral dissertation examines queer pregnancy in his plays. She writes in her abstract, “I draw from archival texts … to demonstrate how Shakespeare’s representations of pregnancy challenged the dominant ideologies of companionate marriage and chastity.” Rather, she identifies depictions of pregnancy and pregnant characters that can be divorced from maternity and heterosexual desire.

It is a queer reading of the bard’s work.

“I saw that bringing together queer theory and queer methodologies with already existing illuminating feminist readings of pregnancy allowed me to reconceptualize and rethink how to explore uses of pregnancy in his plays,” Andrzejewski says.

Her work has relevance today. “Queer people can and do get pregnant,” she points out. “Pregnancy is a feminist issue, but now we have lots of trans men getting pregnant.”

Last year, she was selected for the highly competitive NextGenPlen at the Shakespeare Association of America’s annual conference, where she gave a paper on queer pregnancy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That experience motivated her to power through the remainder of her dissertation and “try and find my identity as a scholar and a researcher and an academic writer.”

It helped, too, that she had been selected as a Senior Writing Across the Curriculum Fellow at New York City College of Technology, which allowed her to dial back her teaching.

Her advice for others looking for tenure-track roles?

“I always made it a priority to just be kind and show up for other people. Treat academia as a collaborative community and root for your colleagues who are also kind and compassionate. …There's just no way I could have gotten to this point on my own. It was the community that got me through it, and that took seven years to build.”

Photo credit: Alex Irklievski

Submitted on: JUN 14, 2019

Category: Alumni News | English | General GC News