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JoeySsance

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JoeySsance last won the day on June 16 2011

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About JoeySsance

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    Double Shot

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    Cambridge, MA
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    French

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  1. Hi JoeySsance, 

    I noticed you haven't been as active here for a while, sure the PhD's keeping you busy. 

    I got an offer from Harvard and wanted to ask you some questions about the D of RLL because I see no recent threads on here. 

  2. Hey there! Check your messages, papillon-pourpre. For future reference, I would be happy to answer questions about specific departments via PM. Please keep that in mind when seeking this type of advice. Again, best of luck to all!
  3. Hey everyone! I'm back from the conference. It went really well and I made so many intelligent and down-to-earth new friends. Presenting at conferences is just one among grad school's many fulfilling and enriching aspects. Congrats once again on your offers, everyone. I'm back again to answer questions as you make your decisions although I do have a bit of work to catch up on, so I hope you'll understand if it takes me a little bit to get back to you. I promise I won't make you wait as long as some of these programs! Good luck both to those of you still waiting and to those of you deciding!
  4. Hey everyone. Next weekend I'll be presenting at my very first graduate conference (wish me luck)! Needless to say, I'll be a bit m.i.a. from this forum until after the conference. Please do continue to contact me via PM and I'll be happy to respond when I'm back in town. Gibreel, je t'enverrai une réponse plus détaillé à ce moment-là. Cela me fait plaisir de vous aider comme je peux (étant donné que l'on m'a tellement bien conseillé ici l'année dernière quand j'étais à votre place). Bon courage, les amis !
  5. Hey everyone. If you're at all curious about when you can expect to hear back from certain programs, while it varies from year to year, I would suggest taking a look at the results page on this site: http://thegradcafe.c...urvey/index.php Looking at the past few years collectively should give you a rough estimate. For example, by typing in "Duke French" I can see that they tend to notify people in the second half of February and last year the decision came out on this very day (2/25). So if it hasn't come yet, I would assume early or mid next week would be a safe bet (for an acceptance, I mean). Gibreel, maybe you know this but in case not, apparently Cornell has already notified people of acceptances and the visiting days. Congrats to you on your exciting offers so far! What are your interests? In fact, for those of you who haven't mentioned your interests yet, I'd be curious to learn about them (as I imagine others here might be). I'm mainly working on 20th century and contemporary French and francophone literature. I'm especially interested in postcolonial texts and issues of race, gender and sexuality. I've recently also started looking into French imperialism historically - mainly in the Caribbean and in North Africa - and its influence on French literature around and shortly after the French Revolution and in the 19th century onward more generally. And if my username and icon didn't give it away, I'm also interested in psychoanalysis and post-structuralist theory and criticism in general. Clearly my interests are still developing since I'm just a first-year student, but I'm loving my program so far and my coursework has been great in terms of helping me hone in on specific authors and questions. When I applied, I was vaguely interested in the 20th century more generally and now I feel considerably more grounded (and excited to be working on francophone lit written outside of the Hexagon)! I look forward to learning a bit more about all of your interests. Again, feel free to contact me if you have any questions at all.
  6. Hey everyone. I had also considered Berkeley, which is indeed a wonderful program, and I would be happy to offer advice about the funding question. This definitely came up and was ultimately one (but not the sole) factor that influenced my decision. As for why rejected applicants aren't notified right away, I'm afraid the answer is that often it's not the departments but rather the graduate schools who send these notifications. Frankly, when things zoom out to the larger administrative/bureaucratic level, they get less personalized and even less considerate. From what I've read on other threads it seems like rejected applicants are often tortured by being notified of their rejections at the latest possible moment. In the meantime, hang in there and celebrate the offers and interviews you do have! Finally, since it doesn't seem like anyone here has posted a Harvard acceptance this year, I just thought I'd let those of you who applied know that acceptances and waitlist decisions all indeed went out a little over a week ago and we've already started meeting the prospective candidates. I'm really sorry if you haven't heard back but hopefully this will help make the wait a little less stressful!
  7. Hey Starlajane. It depends on the type of "interview." If you've been "shortlisted," i.e. invited to visit the school and told that their final decision will be made after the visit, while that's not a guaranteed admission in theory, in practice, it tends to be. (The other type of interview that comes to mind usually occurs earlier in the application season and if you had one of those, it probably would have been over the phone or via Skype and sometimes even in person if you happened to live near the school) The extent to which shortlist interviews should be considered likely offers of admission depends on several factors. I was in this situation for Columbia's French/Comp Lit PhD program last year. I brought along some formal attire just in case but it ended up being exactly like every other (non-shortlist, i.e. acceptance) visit I had, i.e. chats with professors, grad students, group events. When you're shortlisted, they basically want to gauge some or all of the following: the level of enthusiasm for the department you show in person; the other offers you've received and the likeliness that you would accept or turn down their own offer; your fit on a more personal and collegial level. While technically they've already decided that you'd likely be a good fit academically and intellectually, in a good friend of mine's case (who's now in Princeton's French PhD program), she and another candidate with very similar interests to hers were both invited to the shortlist visit and it seemed like only one of the two of them would be admitted (which indeed ended up being the case). Of course each department has different needs; sometimes departments may seek more than one and perhaps even several students for the same literary period (in French lit this tends to happen very frequently for vingtièmistes and perhaps to a somewhat lesser extent for dix-neuvièmistes, though it can and does happen for all other periods) and indeed sometimes departments even have the funds to admit and subsequently support more than one person per period. The bottom line is: if it's your dream program or a program which you genuinely would like to have among your options, just show them that you're excited and don't reveal too much about your other offers. (Don't be completely silent about them either; basically, if you're asked by faculty or grad students where else you're considering, just calmly mention the other places but leave it at that. You may be asked where you're leaning and it's perfectly alright to say that you're not sure yet and that you're really hoping to keep an open mind and learn a lot more about each program during these visits) My feeling is that some schools prefer "shortlisting" over just admitting candidates outright because of administrative/funding-related constraints; i.e. they want to be sure to admit a realistic number of candidates (i.e. to account for the fact that some candidates will invariably be wooed by other places) but they also want to keep in mind that if, ideally, everyone were to accept, the program would have the funding to support all of them. Over-committing one year would likely lessen a department's funds for the subsequent year. Moreover, if departments have poor yields, the university administrations can and have taken away admission slots from them in subsequent years; these are all factors that seem to go into the decision to shortlist people. Does that somewhat answer your questions? Here's some general advice for all of you: Enjoy these visits to the max! It might all seem a little intimidating, but just remember that these departments are all celebrating and courting you; you should feel really excited about it all! Finally, I can't stress enough the importance of seeking out opportunities to talk to the grad students on any visit. I mean we all try to get you excited about our respective departments but you'll find that, in general, we tend to be one of the more candid sources of information you'll find about the strengths and weaknesses of our own department. I hope that's helpful! Bon courage à vous toutes et à vous tous !
  8. Hey! We're already starting to meet the prospective students visiting our department. It's a lot of fun reliving this whole experience albeit from "the other side." Good luck to you all during these interviews and visits. Just have a lot of fun with it all. The places that have invited you (even if it's for an "interview") really just want to court you and convince you to attend so make the most of it while it lasts! Make sure to interact with the grad students, especially, and ask them any questions you may have. We're usually pretty candid sources of information. If anyone has any questions, feel free to hit me up. Félicitations once again, everyone!
  9. Hey quiltedgiraffe. Congratulations on your Princeton acceptance. I loved Princeton, however, the experience for undergraduates differs from that of graduate students in very significant ways. Princeton is definitely more of an undergraduate-focused university, so in that sense, it was a wonderful place to go to college. I can't speak about the German department but I do know that the French department at Princeton (at the graduate level) is one of the top programs in the country. They all work really hard to finish the PhD in 5 years (whereas everywhere else people take 6 or 7 years on average). The town itself is small, chic, quite expensive and not very exciting. However NYC and Philly are each one hour away by train, so it's really not that bad. Princeton's campus is gorgeous. I miss it so much. Harvard's just doesn't come close. During the nicer months, you could definitely get a lot of reading done out and about on campus (Chancellor Green is a particularly awesome alternative to Firestone, i.e. the main library). Cloistering yourself in Firestone, especially in the underground floors, will get depressing fast, so I don't recommend it! I'd be happy to answer other questions via PM. Good luck with your decision!
  10. Hi france2010! Congrats on hearing back from Princeton and Cornell! I majored in French at Princeton for undergrad, actually, and I would be happy to answer any questions you have about the department there. As for Harvard's program, I'm really enjoying it! The faculty is exciting to work with and very supportive, I get along well with my fellow graduate students and the funding is generous. I'll send you some more specific comments via PM.
  11. Hey everyone! I'm a current 1st year grad student in French. I remember how exciting this time of year was last year. Congratulations to those of you who have gotten acceptances so far and best of luck as you await other decisions. I'll try my best to be available if you should have any questions about grad school or French programs in general. Once again, félicitations à vous tous et bon courage pour la suite !
  12. I second this advice. This is precisely the approach I took. I realized that the theorists I like the most are concentrated in the late-20th century onward (including contemporary theorists) and represent various schools of thought so I just made that clear in my SOP. As for the generalist/specialist question, it's probably better to be more specific than general. Your best bet is to develop (if it's possible at this point) a rather specific interest in a certain author, theorist or work (or multiple of the above) with a specific and interesting approach, framework and/or set of questions coupled with some general theoretical and literary interests (i.e. the best of both worlds). That way they won't write you off as too lopsided or too general. Remember that your interests can and most likely will change in graduate school, so none of this will be set in stone. They may not expect you to end up working on the same author(s) or work(s) you mentioned in your SOP but they probably will peg you as a prospective 20th century/contemporary student. Literary departments make admissions decisions largely based on students' and professor's period interests, so again, this isn't something you can escape. Of course you could always unexpectedly fall in love with medieval literature (this was a friendly joke amongst fellow students at my departmental visits). Whatever your interests are, make sure you convey a real passion for them in your application, and you should have a fair shot! Best of luck!
  13. Hey there! Please forgive me for the delay in responding. I've been getting settled in Cambridge, MA, my new hometown for the next six or so years. We certainly have a neat overlap of interests! Harvard's French department is probably the most theoretical of the departments to which I applied, so I highly recommend it. It seems like you could do a lot of your potential PhD work with Susan Suleiman here and/or with Verena Conley. Berkeley has a wonderful Critical Theory "designated emphasis" (a minor field, if you will) which could greatly enrich your research. Columbia's department is not really as theoretical as Harvard's or Berkeley's, but there is somewhat of a philosophical leaning which you might find helpful. Yale's department is pretty openly non-theoretical so your interests might not be as well-served there. As for applying to other departments, it's really up to you. French departments could be great in terms of your interests, especially ones that encourage interdisciplinary approaches. Like Berkeley, Harvard also has exciting secondary field opportunities (film, comp lit, gender and sexuality studies, etc.). You might like to consider some less traditional departments, like Rhetoric at Berkeley or Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford, to name a few examples that come readily to mind. I would only apply to other departments (e.g. Anthro, Religion, Philosophy, History etc.) if you can tell that they're interdisciplinary-friendly, otherwise, given your intersectional interests, you really might not be as happy in one rigid department. I can definitely give you a more first-hand account of Harvard's program once I start in the fall. Definitely feel free to ask me any further questions you might have. Good luck narrowing down your list! Applying to grad school is, on the whole, an arduous yet very rewarding process (as you're very well aware having done your MA). One last thought (sorry for this desultory response!): your experiences outside of academia have the potential to help your application really stand out! I bet you'll find a fantastic way to tie your work with the UN into your academic interests. Best of luck!
  14. Good point. I was going to bring this up, too, actually! But in Two Espresso's defense, I get the feeling that the geographic limitation would be just for grad school... (Right?) At least I hope, for your sake, that you won't be this finicky with the job market. (Alas, no one can really afford to be...) But that is a relatively long way off for you, Two Espressos. While you are shutting out some amazing programs with relatively attractive funding if you restrict yourself solely to the Northeast, you are still left with a great concentration of superb institutions of all kinds, from small LACs to all the Ivies to big state and private research universities. Whether you think your ultimate goal will be primarily to teach, to research, or to strike a balance between the two, even just focusing on the Northeast, you'll be set (in terms of the training you'll get in grad school, that is). Truckbasket is right about the weather in Berkeley and Palo Alto, though. If I were you, I would still apply to maybe two or three schools outside of the Northeast just to vary things up (or as many as a quarter or even a third of your overall schools, depending on your target number). It was repeatedly hammered into my mind that being "bi-coastal" could be an advantage in the job market (e.g. in my case, having gone to both Princeton and Berkeley) and for a while it was a suggestion that I took pretty seriously. Ok, this time I swore to myself that I would write a shorter response and while it's already longer than I anticipated, I hope it's not as tedious as my last few responses. For now, give these suggestions some thought, and in the meantime, I'll see if I can come up with some accessible cultural studies suggestions for your summer reading. If anyone can think of any apposite texts and authors given Two Espressos's interests, by all means, feel free to suggest them before me! P.S. I'm sorry about the rough job situation but on the bright side, these are all fantastic summer goals! Great language choice, by the way! Not that I'm biased or anything!
  15. I'm a bit late following up but I think ZeeMore21, jakebarnes and truckbasket have really covered a lot of important ground! And in a far less circuitous manner than myself. At the risk of sounding perhaps a bit officious, I do have some more advice, mostly building off of the splendid suggestions you have received so far from others. I echo what's been said about how great it is that you're seeking advice now, while you're still in undergrad. I wish I had been as diligent and prepared my junior year as you seem to be! It's perfectly alright that you're still not 100% sure about your plans. You probably won't be until well into your graduate education, so be ready for a few years of relative uncertainty and continually evolving plans and interests. At least you admit that your theoretical interests are still developing. Good for you because you do have a very, very long road ahead of you. Trust me, it's better that we're telling you all of this now as opposed to just before you approach writing your dissertation in grad school. To re-cap some of the most (in my opinion) helpful advice I and others have offered you: you should, on the one hand, read more widely and give certain schools of thought a chance, and on the other hand, you should work on narrowing down your focus somewhat. Both will be indispensable for putting together a strong and successful grad school application and then for succeeding in grad school once you start. While I'm unequivocally and emphatically in the anti-Harold Bloom camp, I can't possibly expect you to ditch him if you find that you're truly passionate about his ideas. After all, grad school is all the more rewarding if you're passionate about your work. (If you're not, it can really be hell, and you'll find many an anecdote - dare I say, horror story - on The Grad Cafe about this) And academia is definitely about constructive dialogue between scholars that may not (and indeed don't always) agree. However, as I and others have stressed repeatedly, if you want to have a shot at succeeding in academia (i.e. getting into grad school in the first place, doing well there and then eventually finding a job) please, please, please - even if it's just for your own edification - challenge yourself to entertain some non-canonical perspectives on aesthetics! While Yale's English department is, surely, very difficult to get into (and I know you haven't expressed interest in this particular department; it's just an example), to put it bluntly, the fact alone that Harold Bloom is a faculty member there probably wouldn't be anywhere near enough to guarantee you any semblance of a decent shot at admission to that particular program (that is, assuming your interests remain close-minded and unfocused when it comes time to apply). The same goes for all the Harold Blooms in academia (and there are certainly a few out there)! The truth is, whether you like it or not, "traditionalist" scholars (to use your own term) are far outnumbered in the professoriate by those who care a great deal for more progressive and inclusive discourses and scholarship. This isn't to discourage you from being an empowered voice of dissent... If you feel that this is your calling, by all means go for it! But then that's all the more reason not to ignore cultural studies because, as someone astutely pointed out earlier, you'd be shutting out your main interlocutors! How could you ever produce substantive and nuanced scholarship - indeed how could you ever bloom as a scholar at all - if you limit yourself to good old Harry's (antediluvian) worldview? I have some more advice regarding your issue with period specialization. While the field I know the most about is French literature, I'm relatively sure that there is considerable enough structural overlap with English literature and even with Comp Lit that it wouldn't be completely irrelevant for me to offer it as an example. Take a look at Berkeley's expectations for specialization (http://french.berkeley.edu/grad/guide/grad_guide.php). I'm pointing out their approach because it's a pretty common one in literature departments. Here's a concise excerpt to sum it up, but do read further because it goes a bit more in depth: "To a large extent, students design their own programs of study, within guidelines set out by the Department and with the advice and assistance of faculty members. The guidelines are meant to ensure the necessary professional specialization in a field within French studies, to point toward the area of an eventual dissertation, and to prepare the student in a general way for research in that area. Each student is asked to define three areas of study within French literature. Each of the areas, while related to the others, obliges the student to view the discipline from a different perspective. The areas of study for the Ph.D. in French literature are: 1. the work of a single major author; 2. a historical period in French literature; 3. the development of a genre, theme or carefully-delineated topic extending over a period of three centuries." Approaches will definitely vary from one literature department to the next, but the expectation that one will strike a balance between breadth and specialization is essentially and inevitably a given in all literature departments. If you don't like this, I'll be as candid as others have been: you may not be cut out to pursue graduate studies in literature. Another recommendation I have for you is: check out a bunch of department websites in the fields of English and Comp Lit, since they may align most closely with your background and current training. Take a look at the following three things on each website: current grad students' interests, the faculty's interests and recently submitted dissertations. While grad students earlier in their programs (e.g. in their first, second and even sometimes in their third year) are typically still figuring out their interests, among the more advanced doctoral candidates and certainly among the faculty, you will notice almost exclusively specialists. (Remember, this doesn't mean that you have to radically limit yourself to one sole idea... Indeed, you'll see several grad students and professors who work on more than one time period, on several authors, and who approach their work through various theoretical lenses) You'll also notice that most grad students in literature are trained to grapple with theory. Unless you aspire to become the next Michel Foucault (which isn't even a feasible goal in the first place and I don't think anyone seriously aspires to do so; I mean, it either happens or it doesn't based on both the quality and innovation of your work as well as on factors you can't possibly control like your work's reception in academia and society at large), dubbing yourself the "theory specialist" will not help you succeed in academe. You will just be one theory nerd in a sea of many others and if you don't strive to be more open-minded, those other theory nerds will be way more competitive than you in the job market. You said: To be perfectly frank, precisely because the job market is so abysmal you must get over your aversion to specialize otherwise you'll never make it in academia. To answer your question succinctly: no, at least not in literature departments. Yet even interdisciplinary programs will expect you to care about and focus on the historical context of your interests, so the answer is unmistakably no for grad school programs in the humanities and social sciences in general. You won't find hiring committees say, "we're looking for a theorist to fill this position." If that were the case, in literature and certainly in interdisciplinary programs, the majority of applicants would be, to some extent, potential candidates. (Ok, an occasion in which they might say that is when they're looking for a specialist in, say, 19th and/or 20th century and contemporary literature and criticism, but again, that requires specializing in that entire historical period and not just a few isolated ideas about aesthetics) Luckily you still have time! If you decide that specialization and literature aren't your cup of tea, then there are certainly more interdisciplinary paths to pursue! I would reiterate my suggestion that you look for departments in both traditional and interdisciplinary fields (e.g. English, Comp Lit and Philosophy as well as programs like the ones for which several of us have offered you links). Take your target number of grad programs (I applied to 6 but you might want to apply to more than that) and split it however you see fit between traditional and interdisciplinary options (e.g. 50/50; 33.3/66.6; 25/75... you get the idea). Or you may find that you want to apply solely to interdisciplinary programs and that would be alright, too! Sorry once again for my long response. I know that you've been appreciative of our "tough love" so far but I think you'll be even more grateful for it later! I know I wish some nice grad students had guided me when I was in your shoes. Trust me, like you, I used to believe that I could specialize purely in theory and I also didn't care for being restricted to one particular period in literature. In my experience, while I definitely had a handful of undergraduate friends and peers who were, to varying degrees, also keen on studying theory, I found that, overall, it was decidedly not a popular route for undergrads. I did feel somewhat isolated at the beginning. However, I eventually found exciting company among my classmates in graduate-level seminars. Perhaps this might just be the dynamic at Princeton, but I have a feeling that in general, undergrads passionate enough about theory to continue pursuing it at the graduate level are a relatively small crowd. (There may be a lot of them on this site, but then again, this is a pretty self-selecting group of people... Emphasis on the word "pretty," of course ) In all seriousness, though, if you find that this is the case at your school, too, then see if you can enroll in a grad seminar or two and try to meet others with similar affinities! In a way, I feel like I'm offering advice to a slightly younger version of myself... Though a key difference between us may be that I discovered my passion for theory in a Queer studies class my sophomore year in college... but that's a whole other story. Some final thoughts: give yourself time to explore and discover your interests. Also, set a short-term goal (e.g. the rest of undergrad) of finding a stimulating thesis topic about which you're really passionate which could eventually double as your writing sample for your grad school applications. And remember that you don't have to specialize in this exact area in grad school (though you may well find it to be a useful starting point). You might even end up going in a completely new direction later on, and that's alright and even expected! But you will have a hard time even getting into grad school if you don't make an effort to focus your interests now and to be more open-minded as you do so. Make use of the resources you have in college; work closely with your professors; keep nurturing your drive to be independent but realize that it's alright to feel lost and it's perfectly respectable to ask for help. Sorry for such a sappy ending to my post but I do believe that The Grad Cafe is an excellent place to look for grad school-related help when you need it. I certainly found this to be a tremendously useful community when I was applying and I owe my success, in part, to the wonderful advice I garnered here. I suppose this is my way of "paying it forward." Good luck, Two Espressos! As a quick response to your latest post: Those are all great ideas! I'm glad our advice has been helping you to put your interests into perspective. But don't give up on academia just yet. Yes, it's probably wise to have back-up plans, but it would be a shame to lose an individual as passionate about theory as you to, say, the corporate world! L L (You can always consider taking a gap year after undergrad - I did this - if you prefer to try other options before making the marriage proposal to academia, as a friend of mine once put it, semi-jokingly) You'll figure things out in due time and you're certainly on the right track!