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Old Bill

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Everything posted by Old Bill

  1. Even putting aside the SO factor (which is potentially vital), I think these above sentences alone give you your answer. Go with your gut instinct. it's obvious that you're "feeling" U of A's program, and you just can't ignore that. The bigger question of whether MA rank matters or not is open to debate, but as others have already said, it really doesn't seem to be much of a factor. Having strong recommendations from people whose work is known and respected might be a bit more important, and it sounds as though your potential mentor at U of A is a bit of an ace in that regard. It sounds to me as though you don't need to overthink this one -- go with U of A, be with your partner, and be happy! Completely FWIW, I turned down my waitlist offer at U of A's Strode program yesterday, and I was a little sad to do so. I also got a good vibe from their program (and the Strode DGS Michelle Dowd has been wonderful to communicate with), and probably would have been happy there too...and that would have been for a Ph.D., in which rank probably does matter a bit more.
  2. For those of you accepted to OSU: who is planning on attending their visit day next month? I was going to set up a group PM, but I've lost track of all the various acceptances, since it's a fairly large cohort... I'll be driving in on the Sunday, and should be in Columbus around 2:00. I may do a bit of general driving around the city (looking at possible living areas etc.), but I'd be happy to pick up anyone who happens to be flying in that afternoon / evening and take you to your hotel. I've heard that there may be an unofficial get-together with the DGS and others at a pub near campus on the Sunday night, but haven't heard anything specific yet...so if that's not happening, then perhaps we can have a little pre-visit pub trip of our own? Anyhow, feel free to chime in if you're going to make it to the day for admitted students, and we can potentially work out specific details via PM!
  3. I don't think this will have much of an effect on anyone here, but I just removed myself from the Ph.D. waitlist at the U of A Hudson Strode Program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies. It's a fantastic program, and I'm sure there will be some lingering questions of "what if?" in the weeks and months to come, but since I won't have the opportunity to visit their campus and interact etc., whereas I have with my two other options, this just makes sense.
  4. Apologies for bumping a rather old thread, but I just have to say how happy and impressed I was with the events of OSU's visit day. It's truly a congenial environment here, and I felt extremely welcome. Major hat-tip to @acciodoctorate for answering a ton of questions and showing me around campus (and a delightful dive bar!). Were it not for an early morning drive back to Maryland, I'd probably still be enjoying the subtle pleasures of Columbus' nightlife... I'll likely announce my final decision by the end of the week.
  5. I completely agree with this, and having gone through the B.A. - M.A. - Ph.D. progression, rather than the B.A. - Ph.D. one that I had initially planned on, I'm infinitely grateful to have received my M.A. first. People can (and routinely do) still thrive when going from B.A. to Ph.D., of course -- it's really a YMMV situation -- but there's huge value to getting acclimated to graduate study via an M.A. first, and it still gives you an advanced degree if you realize that you don't want to go down the Ph.D. road after all. I don't agree with the following, however: I say this with no trace of intended offense whatsoever (obviously!), but the notion that you need to start a Ph.D. with a firm idea of what you'll write your dissertation on is one of the biggest myths out there about this process. I'm nearly done with my M.A. and have zero idea of what I'll be writing my dissertation on during my Ph.D. Sure, I've thought of some vague possibilities, based on what I've already been focusing on, but dissertation topics are often arrived at by regular consultation with professors and mentors, combined with the evolution of your own interests, combined with what's happening in the world of academia in your subfield today. Honestly, some people don't know what they're going to write their dissertation on until after they complete their comps. In other words, you are allowed to explore for quite awhile until you finally have to hone in and specialize. As to the OP, UIUC seems like a no-brainer to me, based on what you've described. Remember, however, that rankings don't apply to Master's programs, so that's a false equivalence in the for/against list. Still, I think that at the Master's level, you want to go to a program that is institutionally strong in your area of choice. Remember that when it comes to POIs, while they're still very important, you'll only be working with them for two years, as opposed to the five or six at the doctoral level...and you'll (theoretically) have a better idea of your specific focus once you're done with your M.A. In other words, if you know that gender studies (broadly defined) are your main interest, then going to a program that is strong in that realm will help you to whittle down to more specifics, which will then introduce you to some of the key POIs in those specifics, which will then allow you to focus your Ph.D. program research around those POIs...and those POIs may be different from the POIs you are highlighting now. Both are great programs, of course, and it's a luxury to have a choice! But from what you've stated, I think UIUC is your best bet.
  6. Yes, Jeff Cohen and Holly Dugan are great at GWU, and I would add Ayanna Thompson to that group, as she deals with early modern performance. She's also a wonderful person, for what it's worth. That being said, I'd still opt for Emory for any number of reasons...but mainly for the stature and the reputation of the program. GWU's location in D.C. is also a double-edged sword: you have access to the LOC, Folger, and dozens of other vital research resources...but the campus is as urban as it gets, right smack-dab in the middle of the city, and just a pain to navigate. And the cost of living in D.C. is sky-high, whereas Atlanta is much more reasonable.
  7. For what it's worth, I was at UNC's visit days yesterday and today (just got home twenty minutes ago, in fact), and chatted with the DGS about waitlist situations. He said that he should have a clear picture of the funding situation on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. He also mentioned that prior to his stint in the DGS role, all waitlists at UNC were considered "acceptances"...but acceptances without guaranteed funding. So you could be "accepted" to the program, but they might not be able to pay you or offer tuition remission. Needless to say, the waitlist system is certainly a lot better! That said, it's obviously not perfect. Sorry to those of you who still haven't heard anything one way or another. Incidentally, the way funding works at UNC is weird -- he said that around 70% of rejected offers simply "disappear." The funds don't get reallocated to other students, and funding has to come from elsewhere. Weird indeed...
  8. In some programs you can take an undergraduate course for graduate credit. Sometimes you have to make arrangements with the professor to have different assignments (i.e. you don't need to do an exam, but need to write a 20-page paper or something), but if it's a course that is a close fit with your interests, it's worth asking about.
  9. I've been holding off on responding, but I think O_M is right on the money here. The "anything is possible if you try" part of me wants to say that you should have no problem getting into a Ph.D. program with only a creative background, but frankly that's not realistic. I think @PoetInCowgirlBoots' experience might be a bit unique -- still encouraging, of course, but atypical. Like it or not, there is still a perceived divide between creative work and critical literary work. I personally think it's a false dichotomy, for reasons I'll mention momentarily, but what I think and what seems to be the case among literary faculty are two different things...and the latter is what matters. As with the orphic one, I believe you'll need to take several literature courses and be able to produce critical writing in literary fields to be considered for a Ph.D. Taking a course per semester for the next couple of years at your nearest institution might be enough. Just remember that you're also going to need to build connections with literary faculty so that they'll write you letters of recommendation, and you'll need to produce a ~15-page paper of high literary merit to demonstrate your suitability for doctoral study. Needless to say, you'll also need to dedicate some space in your statement of purpose to why pursuing a literary degree makes sense when you're coming from a creative background...and "job prospects" shouldn't receive a single word in the process... I second this excellent advice! I think @positivitize has outlined a legitimate area of pursuit for you. My pre-academic background is in creative writing. I never got an MFA, but I wrote around 400 sonnets (and many other poems in other forms) in my mid-to-late twenties, publishing about 50 of them overall, and being very involved in poetic pursuits. My shift to academic work in my early thirties pretty much nullified my creative writing impulses (other than a workshop in undergrad). That being said, in my final semester of my M.A., I'm taking an MFA course dedicated to the long poem, and the course has been a hybrid of reading and writing. I've been very impressed by the level of discussion regarding the readings. The tenor is a bit different from pure literature courses, but there's not a lot of difference otherwise. I think that a transition into critical perspectives on poetry might be a great avenue. Take a few courses that deal with an era of poetry that interests you, and that might be enough to make a good narrative for how your interest in writing poetry led to an interest in studying poetry on an academic level. I used similar language a couple of years ago when I first applied to graduate programs, and it got me into my current M.A. program, at least.
  10. No, and this is precisely the problem. Their stated methodology is that they basically just sent out surveys to graduate programs about other graduate programs. Surveys. Seriously. And a whopping 14% of those who were sent the surveys actually responded. NONE of the things that we would consider to be vital information about a program were taken into account -- it's purely hearsay; informed hearsay at times, I'm sure, but hearsay nonetheless. By way of analogy, their methods aren't too far removed from looking at a teacher's RateMyProfessor profile to determine how strong of a teacher he or she is. Actually, even RMP is probably a better indicator, as at least you can assume that the students doing the rating actually interacted with the teacher, which is more than you can say for the USNews rankings. There are thousands of things worth mobilizing against in this day and age, and ranking systems like this are pretty far down the list...but I wish there were some way to expose the system for what it is: specious, misleading, and wholly unrepresentative of what it purports to provide.
  11. Here's a vent: being comfortably over the suggested word count minimum for your Capstone project, only to realize that your word count was toggled to include footnotes...and de-toggling it puts you a few hundred words under! This is after chopping six pages from my last round of revisions, to adding a couple more in this round. I know that no one's going to look too closely at the word count for an otherwise ideal paper, yet seeing that I'm still sixty-five words under is making me want to write "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" seven times to make up for it...
  12. ...and every so often the inmates run the asylum!
  13. Just like the old gypsy woman said!
  14. Everything is starting to make way too much sense.
  15. Wait...if she's Miss Prune, does that mean that she's Mr. Prune's daughter?
  16. Don't mind Mel. She hasn't had her daily dose of prune juice yet, and she gets a little surly when that's the case.
  17. Yanaka!!! Congratulations!!!! This is the best news I've heard in days! Way to go! You've had so many bad blows this cycle, and I'm so incredibly relieved that you finally have some fantastic news!
  18. I'm still waitlisted at UA, and with my other options on the table (and a dwindling chance of visiting the campus), I'm doubting that I'll be able to seriously consider them at this point...but still, I'd be very interested in hearing your impressions! Feel free to PM me if you'd like. (Sorry, no vent from me!)
  19. ^ Post of the week, right there. Well put, @Bumblebea.
  20. Exactly. I still feel like ranting at length about the rankings, but just to further your point... If most of the students and faculty surveyed about other institutions are in the realm of literature, there's almost no chance that they'll have any clue about the strength of comp-lit in other programs. There's also very little chance that they'll know about the strength of rhet-comp in other programs (otherwise University of Kentucky-Louisville, for instance, would be a lot higher). How about queer studies? Does the average grad student or faculty member have an immediate sense of, say, twenty great programs for that subfield? Not likely.Does the average grad student or faculty member have an immediate sense of strong programs in other eras, let alone other subfields? Doubtful. And when you factor in that only 14% of people surveyed actually responded at all, the picture is so much less accurate as to be useless. Literally useless. It's appalling that these numbers are going to be used by thousands of highly intelligent people -- either to determine the "best" programs (on the applicant end), or to determine the "best" job candidates (on the hiring end).
  21. That's annoying! For what it's worth, that hasn't been my experience at UMD at all. Some of the Ph.D. students are tired and stressed, to be sure, but virtually all seem amiable and happy otherwise. Stress and tiredness comes with almost every job (and I can say that with a lot of confidence -- I had a lot of different jobs throughout my teens and twenties), and it makes a lot of sense to simply think of the Ph.D. pursuit as a job. Because it is, really, in all the ways that matter. The wheat and the chaff get separated pretty early in these programs. Often there's a mandatory graduate research course and/or literary theory course that needs to be taken in the first or second semester, and they're usually quite demanding...sometimes called "weed-out" courses. And weed out they do! But once you get through a semester or two, you can almost always get through the rest. In other words, don't listen to people like the one you mention.
  22. Anyone else annoyed / repulsed by the pictorial clickbait ads that now pop up on the results page? No, I do not need to see one "odd" trick to cure erectile dysfunction, nor would I be "shocked" by Barron Trump's IQ... Maybe they've been there all along, and they've just recently found a way to circumvent my ad-blocker, but I'm seriously looking at the results page far less because of them.