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College of Liberal Arts
University of Mississippi

3 Minute Thesis Competition: Modern Languages & English


The 3 Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition provides an opportunity for our research-driven graduate students to present their work to an educated audience outside their own discipline. This past semester, 70 students presented their research in the first round of The University of Mississippi’s 3MT® competition. Of these 70 students, 26 advanced to the final round. Among these finalists were two doctoral students: Timur Akishev from the Department of Modern Languages, and Sarah Margaret Pittman from the Department of English. Their presentations provided audience members insight into the fascinating research conducted by graduate students at the institution.

Timur Akishev

Timur Akishev

Akishev, originally from Kazakhstan, studied English to become an instructor of English and linguistics in Kazakhstan. He later came to The University of Mississippi in 2018 to help further develop his professional skills.

For his 3MT presentation, Akishev presented on borrowing words from English for use in Russian and Kazakh. His work investigates the specificities of language contact between these three languages commonly spoken in his native home of North Kazakhstan.

“Linguistics is a fascinating research field,” explained Akishev. “You can learn about languages, their history and structure, and so many other things.”

Akishev’s personal experience back home in Kazakhstan and the ongoing changes in the linguistic situation sparked this interest.

Sarah Margaret Pittman

Sarah Margaret Pittman

Sarah Margaret Pittman’s performance merged seemingly distinct fields into an engaging way to understand literature. Pittman is enrolled in the combined M.A. and Ph.D. program in English.

Pittman who is originally from Coppell, TX, is a former honors business student at the University of Arkansas with a finance major and double minors in economics and English. Before joining The University of Mississippi, she studied abroad at the London School of Economics.

“My dissertation project ‘Capitalism’s Vampiric Kiss: Bankruptcy, Competition, and Extraction in Victorian Literature’ uses realist and Gothic works of Victorian literature in conjunction with economic and scientific theories of the nineteenth century to better understand the relationship between financial bankruptcy and the exhaustion of environmental resources,” explained Pittman.

She continued, “This project argues that mid- and late-Victorian literature not only points out how humans are entangled with and dependent on the environment but also warns of the consequences of depleting finite resources such as fossil fuels and money.”

Prior to her doctoral studies, Pittman worked as a corporate debt restricting analyst in Texas. Many of her clients were in the oil and gas industry and her last major client made pressure pumps for oil extraction. Pittman knew she wanted to write about bankruptcy and Gothic literature but only considered depictions of extraction in literature once she took a seminar on Victorian environmentalists.

These 3MT® presentations provide just a glimpse into the range of academic work and research studies pursued by our students in different graduate programs. The Graduate School is proud to showcase these students and their educational endeavors and looks forward to seeing what the future holds for them and all our students.