Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal

GSAL | Autumn 2013–Winter 2014

I did my undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Indore, India where a chance encounter with Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s prose led me into a love affair with all things literary. However, I knew next-to-nothing about literature and had no means of pursuing a masters, without any relevant undergrad coursework. This is where GSAL came in. As a Graduate Student-at-Large at the University of Chicago, I took up courses in English, Comparative Literature, and Creative Writing. The intellectual stimulation that UChicago provided, thanks to excellent peers, top-notch faculty and world-class teaching, was the single biggest takeaway from my time at Hyde Park.

GSAL also gave me a starting point for converting some of my exploratory zeal into well-channeled career efforts. When I came to UChicago, I had no idea what I wanted to do next. To say that GSAL helped me in my plans for graduate school would be an understatement- GSAL shaped them, almost single-handedly, and then provided a foundation for them. Everything that I needed for my early progress in academia was provided almost exclusively by the University of Chicago and GSAL- feedback, recommendations, and of course, subject knowledge. On top of it, the exploratory flexibility afforded by GSAL was crucial for exposing me to a wide variety of teaching styles and subject topics, which in turn was absolutely essential to my growth as a student of what was essentially my third language- English.

After GSAL, I took a year off to travel, consolidate my research goals and apply for graduate programs. My current research interests revolve around the contemporary literature (especially, the properties of electronic literature- like ephemerality) and the digital methodologies presently used for literary analysis. In terms of traditional demarcations, 20th century literature, contemporary literature, and digital humanities would be the most appropriate tags for my interests. Coming fall, I will be starting my PhD in English Literature at UC Davis, which has an excellent setup for Digital humanities. After a year of travelling India (and a couple of months in Europe), I am very excited to get back to work!