Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College

About the Institute


The Summer Institute for Literary and Cultural Studies (SILCS) is a four-week, expenses-paid summer institute at Wheaton College for students between their junior and senior years, especially students from different racial, ethnic, class, and regional backgrounds, who are committed to the intellectual work of English studies and strengthening its diversity. The purpose of the Institute is to introduce students to a career as an English department faculty member and mentor them on their way to graduate school and beyond.

The sixth SILCS will take place June 1-30, 2013, at Wheaton College. Students will be chosen from a national pool of applicants and will receive a $2,500 stipend for their participation.

Photo of studentsSILCS aims to provide students with the confidence, motivation and preparation necessary to pursue doctoral programs in English, especially students who might not otherwise have applied to graduate school. It is SILCS' commitment to ensure that the future of the discipline includes a diversity of perspectives, consonant with the nation's racial and cultural diversity.

The institute will consist of four weeks of classroom seminars and lectures. We provide important instruction in English literary studies, especially in literary and cultural theory, and intensive writing and editing work. Instructors will also address the culture of graduate study in English and the rewards and challenges of a life in academe. Distinguished faculty from all over the country will serve as instructors for the institute.

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Photo of students learning and laughing

When is the application due?

The application for SILCS 2013 is due on February 8, 2013.

When will I hear back about whether I've been accepted?

You will receive an email or phone call by the second week in March.

What will my schedule be like?

Students typically attend class from 9am-12pm Monday through Thursday. In the afternoons, there is time in the library or lectures by visiting professors. In the evenings, the library is available for further research, or students attend a GRE prep course. On Fridays, there can be trips to local archives and research centers. Weekends are often free for study, although sometimes there may be other events scheduled. At the end of the month, students attend a graduate recruitment fair and visit with representatives from many of the schools in our Consortium. They also present their research in a symposium in front of their fellow students.

You can download an example of 2010's schedule here. While this is not what next year's schedule will look like, it should give you an idea of what to expect.

Where will I be living?

During the course of the Institute, students will be living in a residence hall on campus called Gebbie, which is one of the newest dorms on campus. During the academic year Gebbie is one of Wheaton's Special Interest/Living Learning Halls. Students should be prepared to live in a co-ed suite, although every students will have his/her own room. The dorm has wireless Internet access, and its own kitchen and lounge area.

Can I bring a computer?

Laptops with wireless capabilities are strongly recommended. Our library is equipped with enough computers for everyone, but students often find it easier to have their own computers. All of campus has wireless Internet access.

Can I bring a car?

Wheaton has plenty of free parking during the summer near the dorms.

Is there a gym?

Wheaton has both a fitness center and an athletic center. Our fitness center is equipped with an array of weight training equipment and cardio machines. The athletic center contains a nearly Olympic sized pool, indoor tennis courts and track, and an indoor basketball court. All of these are available on limited summer hours.

Are meals provided in this program?

All meals are provided free of charge in one of Wheaton's dining areas. Students with special dietary needs should contact us ahead of time to make special arrangements.

Will my stipend go towards paying for the Institute?

All expenses for the Institute are already paid at no expense to the student. Students will receive a $2,500 stipend that is theirs to use.

Have more questions? Email them to the program coordinator at [silcs at wheatoncollege dot edu]

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SILCS is supported by a consortium of graduate programs that are committed to increasing diversity in English. These schools recruit our students directly at a graduate fair at the end of the institute.

Sponsoring members:
Southern Methodist University
The Ohio State University
University of Michigan
Cornell University
University of Pennsylvania
Penn State University
Texas A&M University
Syracuse University
Indiana University
Washington University in St. Louis
Stanford University

Basic members:
Boston College
Brown University
Graduate Center, CUNY
Lehigh University
Long Island University, Brooklyn
Loyola University, Chicago
Miami University
New York University
Northeastern University
SUNY, University at Albany
Tufts University
University of Connecticut
University of Delaware
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
University of Missouri, Columbia
University of Nevada, Reno
University of New Hampshire
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Photo of a classroomThe idea for this institute came out of the work of the Association of Departments of English (ADE) Ad Hoc Committee on the Status of African Americans in the Profession [PDF]. That committee, as it examined the literature on the factors that affect the production of PhDs from underrepresented groups, produced a series of recommendations out of which came the idea for SILCS.

Valerie Lee, chair of the English Department at The Ohio State University and a member of the ADE Ad Hoc Committee, suggested that a summer institute would help to increase the number of students from diverse backgrounds who would be applying to graduate programs. The rest of the committee was enthusiastic, and Paula Krebs, from Wheaton College in Massachusetts, approached The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with the idea for a summer institute that would be aimed at helping to increase diversity in the professoriate in English by encouraging a broader range of undergraduates to pursue doctorates in English. Valerie Lee then adapted the SILCS model to develop the Program for Humanities Development (PHD) at Ohio State, a summer institute at that university that served students across all humanities fields.

Photo of students reading a brochureWith the Summer Institute in Literary and Cultural Studies, the field of English became the first field in the humanities to do what math and science fields have been doing so successfully for years -- to offer a supplementary program of instruction that would take responsibility for ensuring that the future of the discipline includes a diversity of perspectives that corresponds with the nation's racial and cultural diversity.

The numbers

Of the doctorates in English awarded between 1973 and 2003, 67.3 percent went to white people. 2.4 percent went to Black, non-Hispanic recipients, 1.8 percent to Hispanic, 3.6 percent to Asians, and .02 percent to American Indians (24.8 percent of recipients reported other races or did not report race). While Asian and Native American doctoral recipients correspond fairly closely to their representation in the population of the country (4 percent and .7 percent, respectively), the percentage of PhD recipients in English amongst African-American and Latino populations in the U.S is much lower than those groups' representation in the U.S. population (approximately 12 percent each).

Note: Any links marked with [PDF] require the use of Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to be viewed. Download it for free here.

SILCS is supported by generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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