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WildeThing

2018 Applicants

135 posts in this topic

1 hour ago, klader said:

I unfortunately don't know how to add people to chats, so could @lit_nerd, @Keri, @verjus, or @mk-8 please add @clinamen and @a_sort_of_fractious_angel to the chat? 

Would it be possible for me to join, too?

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3 minutes ago, punctilious said:

Would it be possible for me to join, too?

Sure thing! Hopefully the others are more tech-savvy than I am 😂

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@punctilious Can I ask what parts of this program research your husband is planning to do? I get that literature students switch fields and topics a lot more often than anthropologists do, so it can make sense to go to a program with generally "good Americanists" for a master's degree (or possibly for a PhD if you want to focus on teaching? I'm not sure, I'm in a different field) but it doesn't sound like that's your husband's situation. It sounds like he really likes literary scholarship, it isn't something he's just okay about while he gets to his dream of teaching college students. And that he would be particularly interested in going to a prestigious PhD. (Although that might sound snobby—your instinct might be to go "oh no no, he's really interested in doing what he loves, not being at some fancy elite institution"—it's wise, actually. Getting a PhD is tough! It's a lot easier if they pay you reasonably and support you doing research. It will also likely make facing the job market, which is very bad, somewhat less horrible.) Is that right? If I understood that correctly, you may be running out the limits on what you can do for him. It sounds like your spreadsheets are very detailed, and I bet they will be great help for the two of you! I suspect that he is going to need to do the next step, however, on his own—and it's the most important step. Finding a research "fit" is something that nobody but the applicant can do for them, so he should start researching the professors he wants to work with pretty soon. The POIs you've picked out might be a great place for him to start reading, but he can't stop there. Prestigious PhDs, especially, require specifically-written applications, with more details rather than less. Harvard gets a lot of applications that say it's great because it's Harvard! Maybe they say the funding is good! They have a lot of faculty who focus on the Victorian era! (Or whatever.) That's not very convincing, if you read hundreds of similar applications: the Ivies know they're fancy. If you say instead that you're interested in this project this professor is working on, and that project that other professor did, the professors on the admissions committee will most likely find that much more persuasive.

So if your husband is interested in a research-focused PhD, he needs to sit down and read all of the faculty profiles in all the departments he is interested in. He'll need to pick out the ones that catch his eye. A really strong graduate school application in either of our fields isn't just based on matching faculty by time and region, but on thematic connections. So this strong application wouldn't say something like, I want to work on the American post-war and you have a lot of faculty who do great work on that period. It would rather say something like: I am interested in working on ambivalent constructions of masculinity in post-war novels that focus on the American marriage, and although this part may change I'm currently focused on the works of John Updike. The SOP would then not be as simple as: I am interested in working with faculty X, Y, and Z, because they all work on American literature after WWII. Rather, this fictional applicant might say: I am interested in working with faculty X because they are an Updike scholar (although X herself studies space and the environment as they appear in the books, not gender or marriage); I also look forward to taking Y's class on marriage in literature (where Y herself studies Shakespeare); finally I look forward to working with Z who studies gender theory (even though Z himself applies that theory to the works of Samuel Delaney). 

After your husband finishes reading about all the English faculty at each college, he should also look at the professors who work in some of the other departments that might have scholars whose work he would like. Interdisciplinary work is big these days, and only getting bigger, so really he should look at way more departments at each college than just the English literature department. This can be a quick overview where he only reads the research statements of the faculty who catch his eye, but he should absolutely look at the website listing the faculty of, say, the department of American Studies at Yale before he applies there. Does he like film? Look at the film studies department at each college. Or feminist studies, or science and technology studies (which is a broader field than it might sound like). Of course he shouldn't push connections if they feel forced, but it's a good research exercise to do anyway. Although my fictional example in the previous paragraph includes only faculty who could be in English, maybe Z is actually in the department of American culture or in African American studies. Poking around other interesting departments would then reveal that new resource for your husband to draw upon, one that he might have missed by just looking in English. For example, when I applied, I read or skimmed the departmental webpages for all the anthropology faculty in all the departments I was considering, and then I looked at all the history faculty who studied the same region where I work, skimmed the entire relevant area studies department, and sometimes looked at the departments of sociology or film studies. Personally, I found doing all that reading kind of fun, since people study such interesting things. Good luck to you both.

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^ What a fantastic post.

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1 hour ago, punctilious said:

Would it be possible for me to join, too?

@punctilious@klader, +++ I'm guessing we don't need to make a chat, just join an existing one? I've no idea how to do that but if there is anything I'm supposed to do, just holler. Thanks for tagging me - I really appreciate it!

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22 minutes ago, Old Bill said:

^ What a fantastic post.

Thank you! I'm blushing. :wub:

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38 minutes ago, hats said:

@punctilious Can I ask what parts of this program research your husband is planning to do? I get that literature students switch fields and topics a lot more often than anthropologists do, so it can make sense to go to a program with generally "good Americanists" for a master's degree (or possibly for a PhD if you want to focus on teaching? I'm not sure, I'm in a different field) but it doesn't sound like that's your husband's situation. It sounds like he really likes literary scholarship, it isn't something he's just okay about while he gets to his dream of teaching college students. And that he would be particularly interested in going to a prestigious PhD. (Although that might sound snobby—your instinct might be to go "oh no no, he's really interested in doing what he loves, not being at some fancy elite institution"—it's wise, actually. Getting a PhD is tough! It's a lot easier if they pay you reasonably and support you doing research. It will also likely make facing the job market, which is very bad, somewhat less horrible.) Is that right? If I understood that correctly, you may be running out the limits on what you can do for him. It sounds like your spreadsheets are very detailed, and I bet they will be great help for the two of you! I suspect that he is going to need to do the next step, however, on his own—and it's the most important step. Finding a research "fit" is something that nobody but the applicant can do for them, so he should start researching the professors he wants to work with pretty soon. The POIs you've picked out might be a great place for him to start reading, but he can't stop there. Prestigious PhDs, especially, require specifically-written applications, with more details rather than less. Harvard gets a lot of applications that say it's great because it's Harvard! Maybe they say the funding is good! They have a lot of faculty who focus on the Victorian era! (Or whatever.) That's not very convincing, if you read hundreds of similar applications: the Ivies know they're fancy. If you say instead that you're interested in this project this professor is working on, and that project that other professor did, the professors on the admissions committee will most likely find that much more persuasive.

So if your husband is interested in a research-focused PhD, he needs to sit down and read all of the faculty profiles in all the departments he is interested in. He'll need to pick out the ones that catch his eye. A really strong graduate school application in either of our fields isn't just based on matching faculty by time and region, but on thematic connections. So this strong application wouldn't say something like, I want to work on the American post-war and you have a lot of faculty who do great work on that period. It would rather say something like: I am interested in working on ambivalent constructions of masculinity in post-war novels that focus on the American marriage, and although this part may change I'm currently focused on the works of John Updike. The SOP would then not be as simple as: I am interested in working with faculty X, Y, and Z, because they all work on American literature after WWII. Rather, this fictional applicant might say: I am interested in working with faculty X because they are an Updike scholar (although X herself studies space and the environment as they appear in the books, not gender or marriage); I also look forward to taking Y's class on marriage in literature (where Y herself studies Shakespeare); finally I look forward to working with Z who studies gender theory (even though Z himself applies that theory to the works of Samuel Delaney). 

After your husband finishes reading about all the English faculty at each college, he should also look at the professors who work in some of the other departments that might have scholars whose work he would like. Interdisciplinary work is big these days, and only getting bigger, so really he should look at way more departments at each college than just the English literature department. This can be a quick overview where he only reads the research statements of the faculty who catch his eye, but he should absolutely look at the website listing the faculty of, say, the department of American Studies at Yale before he applies there. Does he like film? Look at the film studies department at each college. Or feminist studies, or science and technology studies (which is a broader field than it might sound like). Of course he shouldn't push connections if they feel forced, but it's a good research exercise to do anyway. Although my fictional example in the previous paragraph includes only faculty who could be in English, maybe Z is actually in the department of American culture or in African American studies. Poking around other interesting departments would then reveal that new resource for your husband to draw upon, one that he might have missed by just looking in English. For example, when I applied, I read or skimmed the departmental webpages for all the anthropology faculty in all the departments I was considering, and then I looked at all the history faculty who studied the same region where I work, skimmed the entire relevant area studies department, and sometimes looked at the departments of sociology or film studies. Personally, I found doing all that reading kind of fun, since people study such interesting things. Good luck to you both.

Thanks so much for your very detailed response! To be clear, we are constantly discussing and looking at the different programs together. It's definitely a super collaborative process, it's just that he isn't quite the spreadsheet-loving type that I am. Our initial list of schools has been almost entirely based on location, as we are New Englanders at heart, so the programs he has noted interest in are mainly because of their proximity to Boston. And now we've been jumping into the detailed research on the programs, and expanding our reach to consider DC area and Chicago area.

While I am not good at actually explaining his specific research interests, I can tell pretty easily when a professor is up his alley (definitely not just based on the time period/region being post-45 American, but I look for key authors like Pynchon, Franzen, and DFW and look for professors exploring things like object sentience, defining post-postmodernism, or "the operations of sincerity and irony in contemporary American fiction," to quote him directly). Once I find a possible POI, I give him the rundown and read off their scholarly work, he tells me whether they are interesting to him, and I note down their research focus and include links to their most relevant books/articles on our spreadsheet, which he then reads. When I can't find anyone interesting, it's his job to go through the faculty pages to see if there's anyone relevant. We know each other incredibly well and are aware of our strengths and weaknesses, so it makes for a much easier process if we work together like this! I have to say, I am pretty proud of what we've found so far--eight stellar professors with really intriguing scholarship, and we've made much quicker progress because it's not just on him.

It's a great idea for him to look at the other departments! I think he will definitely want to check out American Studies professors. Thanks again for your help!

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5 hours ago, clinamen said:

Hello everyone! I am trying to keep on schedule with completing all aspects of my applications in a timely manner. The major thing that seems to precede everything else is finalizing my list of schools, as from there I can begin working on SOPs, and taking/not taking the GRE Lit (which, I will never, ever do well on considering I specialize in 20/21st c American lit and my education has been predominantly noncanonical). I am working through a long list of programs right now and have only eliminated about four so far. I am interested in urban space/place studies--much of my research has been interested in Los Angeles and its literature but I'm not wanting to limit myself to LA, so I'm planning to send a paper I've written on urban architecture in American modernism for my WS. Anyone have an idea of what programs would be a choice fit for me? Despite my hesitance over applying to top-ranked programs, I will be applying to U Chicago and Princeton for their fit in this area. I just want to make sure I don't miss a perfect program for my interests, so any advice is much appreciated!

Also, I know this was posted a while back, but I'd love to join any accountability-oriented group chats! 

For place studies: Nebraska and Iowa both come to mind. I also know of recent students who have had an interest in doing place studies and have graduated from Rice and Hawaii.

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@punctilious You're welcome! If you don't mind me maybe pushing back a bit, I do believe your husband needs to at least skim every faculty biography in every English department where he has a strong POI. I can't tell whether I'm telling you to do something the two of you are already doing—and if so, I apologize, obviously—but I feel strongly enough about it to try to be sure! You mention him reading all of these webpages in some cases—I think that's great, and that he should extend that consideration to all the departments he's seriously considering. Although your collaboration sounds like it has produced a great list of POIs, I believe that doing this reading will help him write a stronger application. He is a prospective student of English literature. He has available to him 250-word synthetic, autobiographical texts written by faculty: when they wrote them, they meant him and others like him to be their audience. Therefore, he should read them. Now, I don't mean you shouldn't collaborate!—but, for this stage, couldn't collaboration mean that he reads these faculty descriptions himself, and you take notes?

It sounds like you've been able to do a lot of the work identifying POIs on his behalf, and that your rundowns are particularly effective there. That sounds great, with the one caveat that POIs aren't the only game in town. This was only implicit in my last post, so having to clarify or over-clarify this may all may be my fault for not being more clear last time, but a strong fit involves faculty who are not the student's POI, but who can still serve as useful interlocutors for the student. They may not even be close enough to their interests to serve on the student's dissertation committee! This was what my Shakespeare example was trying to show—modern Americanists almost never have Shakespeare scholars on their committee, but that course would still be useful for that fictional applicant. The faculty biographies are often carefully written—there were a couple faculty I now work with whom I only thought to write to because of one weird sentence in their self-description that implied an interest in something like what I do. That's why I think your husband should read them to see what catches his eye, even though I'm sure your "rundowns" are very good. Like sure, your husband mostly isn't interested in Anglophone African literature, but maybe some small facet of the professor who works on that subject at Princeton will jump out at him as interesting, even if the ones at Brown and the University of New Hampshire totally didn't. 

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8 minutes ago, hats said:

@punctilious You're welcome! If you don't mind me maybe pushing back a bit, I do believe your husband needs to at least skim every faculty biography in every English department where he has a strong POI. I can't tell whether I'm telling you to do something the two of you are already doing—and if so, I apologize, obviously—but I feel strongly enough about it to try to be sure! You mention him reading all of these webpages in some cases—I think that's great, and that he should extend that consideration to all the departments he's seriously considering. Although your collaboration sounds like it has produced a great list of POIs, I believe that doing this reading will help him write a stronger application. He is a prospective student of English literature. He has available to him 250-word synthetic, autobiographical texts written by faculty: when they wrote them, they meant him and others like him to be their audience. Therefore, he should read them. Now, I don't mean you shouldn't collaborate!—but, for this stage, couldn't collaboration mean that he reads these faculty descriptions himself, and you take notes?

It sounds like you've been able to do a lot of the work identifying POIs on his behalf, and that your rundowns are particularly effective there. That sounds great, with the one caveat that POIs aren't the only game in town. This was only implicit in my last post, so having to clarify or over-clarify this may all may be my fault for not being more clear last time, but a strong fit involves faculty who are not the student's POI, but who can still serve as useful interlocutors for the student. They may not even be close enough to their interests to serve on the student's dissertation committee! This was what my Shakespeare example was trying to show—modern Americanists almost never have Shakespeare scholars on their committee, but that course would still be useful for that fictional applicant. The faculty biographies are often carefully written—there were a couple faculty I now work with whom I only thought to write to because of one weird sentence in their self-description that implied an interest in something like what I do. That's why I think your husband should read them to see what catches his eye, even though I'm sure your "rundowns" are very good. Like sure, your husband mostly isn't interested in Anglophone African literature, but maybe some small facet of the professor who works on that subject at Princeton will jump out at him as interesting, even if the ones at Brown and the University of New Hampshire totally didn't. 

Oh for sure! Our research really is quite preliminary at this point--we only started really building out this spreadsheet less than two weeks ago. We wanted to determine if there was even one strong POI at a school before he does the more in-depth look at the departments so that we can write down additional POIs (I can spot the ideal POIs, but for the 2nd or 3rd or 4th, that's for him to determine). Looking for, at first, one ideal POI has allowed us to nix some schools that really didn't have what he was looking for in a POI at all. Since he has been studying for the GREs (just took them Saturday), working on his writing sample, and chatting with his professors about programs/apps, his focus has not been on this preliminary research/spreadsheet building. If he were doing all of that too, well, there probably wouldn't be anything yet since he's been so busy with everything else. So I'm doing what I can to help him out! I am happy to take the time to work on this preliminary research so that he can jump right in with some direction when he's less busy. Sorry if I have not been clear, we haven't been working on this for very long and definitely plan to do much more work over the summer and fall. He's meeting up with one of his old professors (who has similar research interests) this weekend to talk programs, as this prof went to one of the schools he's interested in and his second reader was the POI I noted. Hopefully he will have some good insight to share about which programs are strong in contemporary American lit!

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Wow, if you have done all that in two weeks it sounds like you two are going to be very prepared for this application season! I was worried from your comment about general graduate program atmosphere that your POI definition was more broad than would help you the most, but it sounds like you are very on top of this.

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7 hours ago, hats said:

Wow, if you have done all that in two weeks it sounds like you two are going to be very prepared for this application season! I was worried from your comment about general graduate program atmosphere that your POI definition was more broad than would help you the most, but it sounds like you are very on top of this.

No worries, the graduate atmosphere quote was the advice from one of his professors, but we aren't just taking her advice into consideration--we are also looking in-depth at POIs with strongly related research interests (based on the advice I've gathered on this forum and elsewhere online) and additional interesting POIs to ensure that his research interests would be fostered at the schools. I know it is probably odd to see a wife so involved in helping with grad school research/applications, but this is always how its worked throughout our relationship--even when he was applying to undergrad! Everything is truly a team effort over here. :)

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Posted (edited)

We will figure this out, everyone! Hopefully @lit_nerd checks back in soon :)

So far we've introduced ourselves, talked about our application goals, talked about our research, and keep each other updated on what  we've been accomplishing. I've been setting weekly/monthly goals and check in whenever I'm feeling good/need some extra encouragement. 

It's been helpful for me so far. Accountability is huge, and we can help each other cross the finish line! 

Edited by klader

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19 hours ago, Keri said:

I think @lit_nerd has to add them since he started the chat! I've tried everything and I have no option to add others. Sorry @klader, @punctilious and @a_sort_of_fractious_angel! I'll keep looking. :)

Thanks! @Keri - I appreciate it! I hope the group is feeling good, too! My SOP is not wildly out of control, though my WS is kind of like a shopping cart in desperate needs of 3 more wheels, so that's going to be the rest of July for me, lol. 

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Good luck to everybody! I'm currently trying to get all my materials together. I have my GRE, my Writing Sample (though I need to edit it to try and add more pages to get it over that 10-page mark), and I'm graduating at the end of this Fall. Something I really need to get started with, however, is writing my Personal Statement, something of which I am terrified to do...

I'm trying to narrow down which schools I want to apply to. I kind of want to apply to around 6-10 schools, but part of me kind of feels like that's way too much. I just wanna keep my options open, you know?

The only bad thing is I am going to have to remind myself to check the application websites 24/7 for information on when applications are open. I have yet to find out that detail...

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Posted (edited)

23 hours ago, a_sort_of_fractious_angel said:

Thanks! @Keri - I appreciate it! I hope the group is feeling good, too! My SOP is not wildly out of control, though my WS is kind of like a shopping cart in desperate needs of 3 more wheels, so that's going to be the rest of July for me, lol. 

LOL, my SOP is like a shape-shifter in Harry Potter. It takes on a new face every single time I open the document and start editing.

July will be busy for me as well! 

Edited by klader

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Happy news here today folks! Woke up to an acceptance e-mail from one of my schools!  I'm shocked they got back to me so quickly, my second letter of recommendation just got sent yesterday, but I must have been "under review" until it came in. It's my #2 program so I'm really stoked!!!

 

I'm not sure if I should e-mail the adviser and let her know I'm waiting on the others or not, she sent me an e-mail about scheduling everything and acceptance (but nothing about funding... so I also want to ask about that.) 

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3 hours ago, klader said:

LOL, my SOP is like a shape-shifter in Harry Potter. It takes on a new face every single time I open the document and start editing.

July will be busy for me as well! 

That's a great way to put it, @klader :D If you need a peer-ear to bounce ideas off, feel free to holler my way! 

18 minutes ago, Keri said:

Happy news here today folks! Woke up to an acceptance e-mail from one of my schools!  I'm shocked they got back to me so quickly, my second letter of recommendation just got sent yesterday, but I must have been "under review" until it came in. It's my #2 program so I'm really stoked!!!

 

I'm not sure if I should e-mail the adviser and let her know I'm waiting on the others or not, she sent me an e-mail about scheduling everything and acceptance (but nothing about funding... so I also want to ask about that.) 

Congrats, @Keri - that's fantastic news!

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Congratulations, @Keri! What wonderful news. Hopefully that makes you feel better about the process, because I know waiting is the WORST but hey -- you've got an acceptance in hand already :)

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On 7/13/2017 at 7:11 PM, Keri said:

Happy news here today folks! Woke up to an acceptance e-mail from one of my schools!  I'm shocked they got back to me so quickly, my second letter of recommendation just got sent yesterday, but I must have been "under review" until it came in. It's my #2 program so I'm really stoked!!!

 

I'm not sure if I should e-mail the adviser and let her know I'm waiting on the others or not, she sent me an e-mail about scheduling everything and acceptance (but nothing about funding... so I also want to ask about that.) 

Wowowowowowow. That was incredibly soon. 

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On 2017. 7. 15. at 5:54 PM, TeaOverCoffee said:

Wowowowowowow. That was incredibly soon. 

I know! I was shocked myself that it came so fast. I keep checking the e-mail to see if I'm dreaming. 

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How is everyone doing after this fine weekend? Any progress? SOPs written, e-mails sent, schools checked out? :) 

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To everyone wanting to join the thread, it seems there's a max limit of 5 per thread, I think. The add option seems to have disappeared completely. I don't know of any other group messaging services we could move to, but I'd be willing to move elsewhere :)

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