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jrockford27 last won the day on September 7

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About jrockford27

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  1. Media/Film studies applications

    See this opens up some other considerations! If you feel like film is more critical to the methodology than an EALC approach (I'll confess some ignorance on that) then you might consider, for example, whether you might want work with a horror scholar. Would it be stunting to the type of work you want to do to end up with an area studies film specialist, but one who isn't well read in horror? My totally seat of the pants guess is that you're more likely to find a horror scholar who has thoroughly studied Japanese/east-asian horror than to find an east-asian film specialist who is well read in horror! Though I could be 100% wrong. Only you know what you're looking to set out after of course, this is just some advice for potentially widening your net (Chicago, Harvard, and Yale is a very very small net!). This would lead me to again suggest taking a look at Pitt, which has a long history of work on horror film and some eminent scholars (for example, Adam Lowenstein) on the subject as well as people specifically working on east-asian cinema more generally. Also UC Irvine has, coincidentally, a scholar who works on east asian horror film (Bliss Cua Lim), albeit not necessarily Japanese, and has recent written an absolutely fantastic book recently called Translating Time. People who have gone to these programs have recently gotten good jobs, too! My work focuses on the ways in which changes in material space, as well as to networks that structure space and life, change and are changed by cinematic representation. Focusing primarily on north America in the mid-to-late 20th century. Incidentally, my interests overlap a bit with horror studies. Too much more detail and I risk revealing my secret identity if anyone from my program happened by the forum!
  2. Media/Film studies applications

    Pitt may also be an option. As well as UC Irvine. Most Film and Media Studies programs are going to have one or more people who do east-asian in some form. It may help more to think about what issues/eras/theories you're looking at than at a geographic region. This may already be clear to you, but for example if you're working on silent-era Japan a person who works on contemporary Japanese cinema may be able to help you far less than a silent-era scholar who has published primarily on France but who has a global knowledge of the period. I don't mean to assume you haven't considered this, but it wasn't clear from your post! Thank you for starting the thread!
  3. How to explain a major change?

    Film & Media studies person here, welcome to the wonderful world. Your situation is not at all unusual. I had a student tell me in office hours that my Intro to Film course had convinced her to dump her occupational therapy major and turn her sights toward film. I told her, "That's amazing, don't tell your parents it was me." All of this is to say that if they decide to look closely at your transcript, this narrative will be apparent to them both as experienced teachers and as people who get paid to pay close attention to narrative. While I don't think you should leave it out of your SOP, you may already be devoting too many precious words to it.
  4. I guess the VAP complicates what I said in ways I hadn't thought of. No, I still think that if I were advising a prospective graduate student I would give the advice the way I phrased it above.* You want a letter of recommendation from a tenured member of the faculty if possible - not because those people are inherently wiser, smarter, better people, but because their letter is likely to carry more weight with an admissions committee because tenure usually carries the perception of a strong record of publication in the field, as well as experience advising graduate and undergraduate students. Not to say that an Assistant Professor can't write a strong letter, my advice came from a strictly pragmatic place. *Edit: I see you probably meant the phrase "non-tenure lecturer", so yeah, I guess I could have put "track" behind that. With regard to the other paragraph, I think that that is a fair way to see the discussion. Devaluing anyone's work is the last thing I'd want to do, and I'm involved and vocal about advocating for better conditions for non-tenure track faculty and graduate instructors. BuI think euphemisms hurt the cause of non-tenure track faculty because they obscure the professional stratification of the university. Those job titles mean actual things, and I think students and the general public really ought to know that. My university had an "adjunct walkout day" a few years ago, and while I wasn't an adjunct so I didn't walk out, I spent the first 10 minutes of my class explaining what academic job titles mean t to a group of freshmen that were half-bored and half-intrigued. I think explaining the way teaching is handled at a large research University actually improved their impression of their non-tenure track and graduate student instructors. I now realize that I've dived headlong into the pedantry I had once decried. So my real feeling is, call yourself whatever you want, but think about what you're calling yourself when you're calling yourself something.
  5. Wow, this thread has gotten very pedantic since I last checked in! I think it's funny when my students call me Dr. or Professor, I usually joke that "those are titles that come with pay and benefits that I don't receive, so you can just call me [firstname], or Mr. [Lastname] if you're not into the whole brevity thing." Nevertheless, the undergrads still seem to want to call me professor or Dr. I suppose if one of my fellow grad students told a local at the bar they were a "professor of English" I'd probably snicker a bit. The only reason the discussion of job titles is important to a discussion of admissions is because you want to get your letters of rec from tenured faculty wherever possible.* If this seems unfair, this was advice I received from a non-tenure lecturer I asked for a letter of rec! In American universities, this person will hold a job title that has the word "professor" in it, otherwise I can't imagine why this is relevant. I suppose my goal wasn't to tell you that reading the secondary literature wasn't important. It is. But at the stage you are at in your academic career (finishing/recently finished undergrad, I think) nobody expects you to have expert knowledge of a subfield. You will go to grad school to develop expert knowledge of a subfield. That is what your comprehensive exams will be. How much do you need to have read in order to write a good writing sample: enough to be able to write a good 20ish page research paper. Without trying to assume anything about your plans, I'd just warn that if you use too much of your writing sample to show off how much you've read you're going to write a very lousy paper. Plan an argument that shows you can work interestingly with the sources you're already familiar with, show them what you're already strong at. Or really, just use your best paper from undergrad, because you'll already have feedback on it, if it's not long enough, think about how you can expand it. *A word I'd add to the job title discussion, is that I think it's useful for people (students, people outside academia, etc.) know how the system functions, they should know who is teaching them, and what titles mean. For example, they ought to know they're being taught by a smart person with a PhD but who nevertheless makes minimum wage and receives no insurance, if that's indeed the case. If you're calling yourself a professor but are a grad student or contingent instructor you may be contributing in some small way to concealing the way the system functions.
  6. Forget "completely original thoughts." If your research concept doesn't overlap to some degree or another with other scholars in your area, you're either thinking too narrowly, or you're not in the area you think you are. I've been writing the first chapter of my dissertation the last few months, and one of the most important things I've had to learn is that an intellectual discipline is a conversation. You are entering into it to contribute, not to eviscerate your competition. Read widely in your area, follow back footnotes, don't get defensive when you come across something that either seems to "steal" your idea, or contradict it. Instead think about your place in the conversation. Do not feel the need to recapitulate the secondary literature of your area in your writing sample - in fact, avoid this, using only what you need. If you were already completely versed in your area, you wouldn't need to get a PhD. My partner has recently been reading the book They Say, I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing and says it's been very helpful in this regard. I plan to take a look when she's done. Looking back, my writing sample wasn't even remotely original, but it showed that I had potential. If you were capable of busting the lid off of your discipline already - again - you wouldn't need to get a PhD. I recently got some advice about dissertation writing, "Do not think of it as the last great thing you will write, think of it as the first good thing you will write." If that applies to dissertations, then put the writing sample in perspective. Your originality is far less important than your potential.
  7. Choice of Specialization

    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.
  8. Choice of Specialization

    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.
  9. Choice of Specialization

    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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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!
  12. Feeling left in the dark

    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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Uh...now what?

    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.