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About jrockford27

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  1. Aha! I first learned of her in a course I took called 'Galileo and the Foundations of Modern Science', which was actually a history course and involved quite a lot of literature (Galileo was quite the prose stylist!) It sounds like you must also have read Edward Muir's "The Culture Wars of the Late Renaissance", which I think was among the top 10 most interesting books I read in undergrad. The following semester I took a course in the history dept. called "Daily Life in Early Modern Europe" where I wrote a final paper about Tarabotti, Mary Astel, and some other primary source stuff. I was really on my way! It was the main interest of my junior year. And what is really funny, back to this topic, is how it is all about a million miles from where I'm at now in terms of my research, so I probably shouldn't be starting any new conversations with faculty! Though this thread has me wanting to revisit those books some.
  2. I mean early modern literature. I was really interested in (what I saw as) proto-feminist and proto-Marxian texts in early modern Europe. I was really interested in, for example, Arcangela Tarabotti's "Paternal Tyranny". It was all pretty half-baked. I sought out early modernist faculty at my school to help me get something more fully baked and I couldn't manage to pin anyone down. At the same time I was writing papers about film for very convincing, somewhat less prestigious instructors who were showing me that all kinds of interesting things could be done in that realm. My experience was somewhat similar to yours in that all of my diverse interests seemed to be swirling around a single center of gravity. I remember a particularly zany paper that put Paradise Lost into dialogue with Rocky Horror via Frankenstein. I found myself writing about film in my literature classes and getting very positive feedback from my professors, and it really turned out that this was what I was interested in all along. In my mind (and I still don't know whether this was accurate) I needed to limit where I applied only to English departments with strong film sections, because I assumed that a pure film studies program wouldn't take me. Even then I'm very thankful that one of my top English program choices was willing to take a risk on a student with very little formal film studies background, and it meant I had some catching up to do. But I think that really drives home what I said about showing potential to create an interesting project, rather than demonstrating mastery. This is why I tell my students, especially those that think they might want to go to grad school, that the best papers are the ones where you at some point think to yourself, "this is nuts, can I get away with this?", because I think those are the papers that show an interesting flexibility of mind that allows you to really do novel and interesting work.
  3. At the end of my junior year I was sure I'd be an early modernist, I now study cold-war era film. This was a transformation that began around the fall of my senior year (and was in some ways, thankfully, dictated by the faculty who were open to me and willing to work with me [let's just say the early modernists in my undergrad dept. were... inaccessible]). A lot can happen your senior year! I would also point out, as many often do, that you're unlikely to write your dissertation on precisely what you say you plan to work on in your applications. Thus, while the decisions you make now are important, don't get the idea that you're setting anything in stone. You will, however, want to produce a writing sample in the wheelhouse of what you plan to talk about in your personal statements. However, even your writing sample isn't a contract. My personal statement said something along the lines of, "In my senior thesis I researched [x], I wish to use the knowledge accumulated during this process to begin a new project examining [y]." Indeed, my first couple of seminar papers danced around [y], but my dissertation is definitely on [z], which wasn't even on my radar when I was looking at [x]. if you were a fully finished and developed scholar you wouldn't need to go to grad school! What matters isn't that you can show existing mastery or specialization, what matters is that you can show the potential to develop an interesting and fruitful project.
  4. There isn't a subfield you can choose that isn't risky to some degree or another! This is graduate English studies we're talking about! If you're very interested in psychoanalysis apply with that understanding (I'll throw in a recommendation for University at Buffalo [SUNY], which even has a 'Center for Psychoanalysis - although I think they recently lost Joan Copjec it's still quite strong). If a program seems like a "stretch" in terms of fit, then you're probably throwing good money after bad. Learn from me, I now look back on my apps and with 80% of the programs I applied to I think, "what was I thinking?" Chances are that your ultimate project, under the guidance of your committee, will deviate dramatically from what you first envision in your SOP. You also don't need to have an advisor that works on exactly what you do (in fact, I can see where this would be a very very bad thing). You also aren't likely to find a department in which there will be half a dozen folks who do psychoanalysis as a specialty. Think about it, such a department would be pretty homogenous. However, you'll probably find a lot of scholars who are familiar with Freud and Lacan on some level and would be interested in a project related to those bodies of theory, even if those things don't appear in the bullet points on their page. My committee (chair included), for example, has only the most general connection to the direct subject matter of my dissertation, but they all offer really amazing intellectual insights.
  5. Hey, I did my undergrad at Minnesota from 09-11. Maybe I had you as a TA! It reminds me that I should drop my honors thesis adviser a line. In any case, congrats on finishing! Good luck with the job market!
  6. There shouldn't really be much to hear at this point (and likely, the folks in your department are probably scrambling this time of year trying to finish everything up). You should focus on tying up your loose ends and getting ready for a big move and life change. Make a "bucket list" for your hometown and really savor and enjoy the feeling of guilt-free leisure time and the liberty of living life free of the expectation that you always be thinking about work. Grad school is waiting for you at the end of August, and while this silence probably seems like an anti-climax after all of the anticipation, excitement, and pomp-and-circumstance of applications and acceptance, there will be plenty to interest and excite you again in a few months! Though if you have questions that need answering, there's no reason not to contact the DGS about them. You might also consider seeing if your department's grad students have a Facebook group or a listserv where you can get help related to finding a place to live and tips on moving.
  7. Teaching something like freshman comp right off the bat on your own isn't terribly unusual in PhD programs (especially at very large, public universities). The dept. will probably give you a week long workshop of some kind to get you ready, but frankly, you learn to teach by teaching and the best way to do it is to give you a bit of prep then turn you loose. No amount of training workshops can simulate the contingencies of a real classroom anyway. While it may seem odd to learn this sort of thing on the job, I can't imagine a training program that would really make you "ready" to step into your own classroom. After all, every classroom is different and poses unique challenges. In my program we're fortunate enough to get fellowships our first year, and then begin teaching the second year. Our TAships are a 1/1 with summer teaching offered third and fourth and occasionally fifth year as demand/enrollments dictate. I honestly can't imagine doing more than a 1/1 as a grad student, but I'm sure folks find a way to make it work. Here you start off doing freshman comp, then you TA for a large lecture in your specialty, before then being turned loose to make your own Intro-to type courses in your later years. Summer classes offer opportunities to teach self-designed required and elective major courses.
  8. A 2/2 as a grad student sounds crazy. I have a hard time getting around to my own work on a 1/1. Proceed with caution. Ultimately, placement should be the tiebreaker though.
  9. If I understand your meaning, I don't think should be a problem. Many landlords in college towns are probably already renting their August 1 move-in spaces and so if you simply put the deposit down now you should be good to go.
  10. This was probably the most stressful aspect of "the summer before" for me, trying to rent a place I thought I could afford, sight unseen. It is not easy, and will always entail some anxiety and uncertainty. I'll try to wrack my brain for advice.. 1. Don't always believe the hype on Yelp etc. about landlords/rental management companies. My unscientific opinion is that usually the only people who are inclined to review their landlord are terribly aggrieved and disgruntled outliers. You're unlikely to find a rental company you can afford on a stipend that has better than 2 stars, and tales of roaches and other vermin and collapsing ceilings, mold, and trespassing employees will abound! This will only serve to stress you out. Frankly, I rent from one of those 2 star companies with a litany of horror stories on their yelp page, and while it hasn't been perfect, it's been fine. Ditto other grads I know who rent from allegedly "shady" rental companies (if Yelp is to be believed). On the money we make, nothing is going to be perfect, so don't get lured in by the horror stories, it will stifle your search. 2. If you're so-inclined you could ask a current grad student if they'd be willing to check out a place for you, or at least vouch for it. See who is on your department's Grad Student Organization (or equivalent group) board - these people are usually inclined to be helpful. Bear in mind these are also people who have probably been in this situation and understand how stressful it is. Always ask a current graduate student or two about the neighborhoods - how convenient they are to campus, how affordable and practical they are on a stipend, and anything else that matters to you. Oftentimes GSOs have Facebook groups where available rooms, or people switching apartments let others in the program know. Which brings me to my next advice... 3. Consider renting a room/attic or a sublet your first year. At the very least, if you end up in a bad situation it shouldn't cost you as much as renting a place on your own. My guess is that other programs, like mine, have a few "houses" that are generally rented by multiple students in the program. I personally lucked into renting a very nice attic apartment from an older couple my first year. 4. You may need to live further from campus than you originally dreamed. Housing near campuses is usually high demand and expensive (catering to faculty, administration, full time employees) or low quality undergrad oriented housing. Look for things that are close to public transit or bike lanes. That said, do not be lured out to the sticks by cheap rents, you'll hate yourself for it later. That's what I can think of now.
  11. I'd highly recommend getting living space pinned down early - very soon. Especially if you're departing for a "college town", the good, affordable places become quite scarce if you wait until summer to rent and it becomes a complete landlord's market. Figure out your moving expenses as well and set up a plan for getting out of town. Independent study syllabi should go to whomever the DGS is I imagine. In the department I'm in they're usually evaluated and approved by a committee chaired by the DGS. Recommendation, get in touch with your cohort early, or make contact with current students in the program. Especially if you're arriving a few weeks before classes start. I arrived in town around August 1 and felt pretty isolated for a few weeks before things started happening.
  12. Tread carefully if you are considering dog ownership in grad school. While my partner and I wouldn't trade our little mutt for anything now, he definitely complicates our work schedules.
  13. Have a strong scholarly writing sample, a high GPA, acceptable GRE scores, and a personal statement that articulates why you will be a good fit and why you have the potential to produce good research someday and why you'll be a valuable member of the department. If you haven't produced a substantive research paper to use as a writing sample, I would recommend getting together with a Lit/Comp Rhet professor you're thinking of asking for a letter of rec and talking through a paper, and seeing if they'll give you notes on your drafts. Auditing couldn't hurt, since they'll want to see you've completed some substantive coursework (if you haven't already). I was accepted to my top choices without any publications, and without any conference presentations other than undergraduate conferences. I've seen little to indicate that these are all that important to adcoms - if they expected you to be a finished scholar you wouldn't need a PhD. Though every program is definitely different, and your mileage may vary. My program is (as I understand it) very well regarded in rhet-comp and has admitted a number of rhet-comp students with MFAs in CW but no scholarly publications. However, I'll second the comment that "I want PhD in English" and "I want to improve my job prospects" are not especially consonant aspirations!
  14. Relax. Don't buy in to the culture of not only claiming a 70 hour work week, but masochistically wearing it as a badge of honor. Settle into habits of work and mind that allow you to accomplish what you want to get done. Measure your work by its quality, not the amount of time you can claim you spent on it. Set realistic goals. Take on manageable levels of department of service while learning when to say "no". Stay connected to people around you. Attend talks that have nothing to do with your dissertation. Cultivate hobbies that have nothing to do with your dissertation. Read books that have nothing to do with your dissertation. Remember that a PhD is just one part of the life that you're living and that other things are also part of your life. Don't let your PhD become your entire life. Recognize that the system is designed in such a way as to make you feel perpetually behind and that the people who don't feel behind or under pressure are probably posturing. Remember that you're not an impostor, you were accepted to your program because they believe in your potential. Exercise. Drink plenty of water. Eat nutritious food. Sleep when it's time. Most of all, if your program offers you good health insurance or a counseling center - avail yourself of therapy when you need it - or perhaps before you need it.
  15. I think this speaks to one of the problems I indicated about these types of ratings up thread. It's difficult to know how much knowledge anyone taking these surveys has of what the English department at a particular university encompasses. However, I wouldn't let it dissuade you. People in the know, people who will make hiring decisions, will likely know these types of things.