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jrockford27

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jrockford27 last won the day on January 4

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About jrockford27

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  1. jrockford27

    Basics of conferences

    Everything above is correct. I would add a couple of things. First is, if you've never done a major conference before, consider targeting graduate conferences. The stakes are lower, and the environment is more easy going. They might also be a better use of your resources, since you're more likely to be accepted. The acceptance rates for the major conferences can be very low, and even top flight scholars can get rejected, so if it's very important to you to get the line on the CV think about where your resources are best applied. It isn't going to be important that you have major field conferences on your CV until you go on the job market. On the subject of "presenting a new paper or one you've already written," I tend to think that every conference paper is a "new" paper because the conference paper is a completely different genre than most other forms of academic writing. You may have a seminar paper you think would be a good fit for a conference, but remember, you're only going to get about 20 minutes, so you're going to have to hack that seminar paper down by 50-70% or so to make it fit, depending on how long the seminar paper is and how fast you talk. (130 words per minute is a good pace to shoot for). You'll want to massage the language to make sure that it 'listens' better. So you may get the *idea* of your conference talk from a paper you've already written, but it will help you to think of your proposal as a new project. I would also add, that if your paper addresses visual matter at all, USE SLIDES! As a film scholar this one gets me. Good god, there's no reason why, at a conference talk in 2018, I should be listening to a person waste 60 valuable seconds of conference paper time describing an image or film clip that that they could have just shown us on the screen. This goes for sound too. Images should do heavy lifting for you, why use up words when you can show it? (this is with the caveat that you should always contextualize an image you show on a slide, and this will probably require some small amount of description, or drawing the audience's attention to particular details). I think it's good practice in any case to at least have a slide with the title of your talk, your name/affiliation, and e-mail address. Lengthy high theoretical quotes are a good cause for a slide as well (and perhaps the only case in which I think it's okay to violate the 'don't just read what's on the slide' rule). Your audience will pick up the nuances of that Deleuze quote a lot better if they can read it along with you. Twenty minutes is a long time, and even experienced scholars can lose focus, changing slides keeps the brain cued to your talk, and engages more of the audience's sensorium, so find a way to use them. That said, make sure you know the tech setup as far in advance as possible, and try to create as many technological redundancies as you can, and have a plan in case the technology fails. I was giving a talk at a major film conference and the audio for some of my major clips failed, fortunately I was familiar enough with the clips in question that I was able to narrate them myself. I've seen talks absolutely fall to pieces when the tech fails. Practice your talk, with others if you can, but alone too. Make sure you are under time, nothing will erode the good will of your audience and fellow panelists more quickly than if you run over. No one will complain or even think twice if your talk comes in at 18 minutes. Remember, the Q & A will give you a chance to expand on things. Think of the questions you least want to be asked and formulate answers for them, nobody will actually ask those questions, but it's a good intellectual exercise.
  2. jrockford27

    How Important are Conferences?

    I don't think it's true that you MUST attend them for your PhD application, but it can't hurt, especially as an MA student. Your graduate conference should be just fine. That said, I don't think conference presentations, strong personal statements, and a good writing sample are mutually exclusive. When you're a PhD student you'll be expected to be preparing conference papers, writing your papers/dissertation, working on fellowship/job applications, and potentially teaching all at once; and you'll be expected to do all of those things well! I would also recommend to suppress your "cynical" skepticism of professionalization, as that is not going to look good either in your applications or when you actually show up to begin your program. Academia is definitely a profession, if your goal is to pursue a fiercely independent life of the mind in my experience academia is probably not a good place to do it. In any case, going to conferences isn't just a matter of getting a CV line, conferences are where you go to connect with other like-minded scholars and figure out what's going on in your field/subfield. The CV line at least demonstrates the possibility that you're interested in being a part of a broader intellectual community, and not just someone who wants to hole up in a dimly lit room and write a dissertation.
  3. jrockford27

    Dogs and Graduate School

    There was a lengthy post about this on this very subforum a few months ago, so you're definitely not the only person thinking about this. I have a dog. I know lots of grad students with dogs in my program, some of them have more than one! Like anything there are advantages and disadvantages. I think you're at an advantage since this is a dog that comes (presumably) trained, and that you're familiar with. I think the worst part about getting our dog was that my fiancé (who is also a PhD student) and I got just about zero work done the first three weeks we had him. I'll try to focus on things specific to grad school since it sounds like you already know the basics of dog stuff. Depending on the dog's energy level, you may find that you have to settle into a more routine work schedule based on the puppo's needs. If I haven't finished everything I need to get done that day by 5:00 p.m. it's tough shit, because the dog wakes up about that time and demands validation as a dog. He may also wake up in the middle of the day and decide it's time to play, sometimes these breaks are a relief, sometimes they're a benefit to my intellectual work, and sometimes they're a total pain in the ass. If you're like me, and as an undergrad you got used to doing your academic work in huge chunks, marathon work sessions, etc., that doesn't fly when you have a dog. Luckily for me, I was already phasing myself out of that way of working anyway. Being a good department citizen means attending meetings, talks, seminars, etc. that will definitely make your schedule irregular, and I know my dog hates deviations from routine. Another big thing is money, while the day-to-day of dog ownership doesn't cost all that much, you're going to be living on a grad student stipend and every little bit counts. We make it work, but our dog had an E.R. visit recently (don't worry, he's fine) and the cost was a punch in the gut for our meager grad student finances. I think the biggest thing is though, that before I became a grad student, I never thought of 30 minutes of my day here and there as being valuable. But 2-3 walks a day, plus care and playing adds up and definitely becomes noticeable. All in all, I'm glad I have a dog, and I think a lot of grad students I know have them, but it is definitely an added challenge. Think of it this way though, some people do this with kids!
  4. The best bet for this kind of work would be to find a funded MA somewhere. While there are exceptions, if your goal is to beef up your profile so you can improve your PhD applications the best place to do this is in an academic setting. There's very little you can do to help your PhD app in a gap year that can't be better accomplished in a funded MA program. I'm not a financial adviser, but it seems like not such a good idea to enroll in a pricey masters program that you don't know anything about (by your own admission) in order to defer your student loan payments. I'm also confused why you would go for an MA in Philosophy, as that isn't likely to help you get in an English/Comp Lit program (unless you meant to post this on the Philosophy board); why not try and do it in English/Comp Lit. If your goal is to get a PhD in English, you can find programs where you'll be allowed to write enough about Freud and Psychoanalysis to get a PhD in English (in fact, my understanding of philosophy programs is that Freud and poststructuralism aren't often well regarded objects of study). Your book project actually sounds like it would be your dissertation proposal for a PhD program. Also, why the rush for 2019? Many MA programs will take you two years.
  5. jrockford27

    Writing Sample Language?

    I am not a comp lit scholar so maybe I'm talking out of my rear, but given the context I can't imagine it would be a problem to have quotations from Portuguese texts in Portuguese, but I would assume that you would provide a footnote with the English translation like you would if you were publishing in a primarily English language journal. Even in a comp lit department your writing sample is likely to be read by people from a variety of sub-disciplines, it could well be that there are no Lusophone scholars on the admissions committee that year.
  6. jrockford27

    Advice on Final Decision

    I was born in raised in Minneapolis and did my undergrad at UMN. While yes, it is cold, I'll go to bat for it every time. It rates at or near the top in every major quality of life survey. It has world class theaters, museums, concert venues, parks, and natural resources. It's also a clean, green city with walkable neighborhoods and the best biking culture in the country. And even in the winter, believe it or not, people still go out and take advantage of these things. I really wouldn't let climate play too huge a role in where you end up going. My fiancé was born and raised in southern California, when she first moved to our current (northern, cold-weather, midwestern) city it was a freezing, cold, wet, rainy day and she says she almost vomited because she didn't see how she could live here. She's been here for 10 years now between undergrad, masters and PhD and she loves it here and would prefer not to leave (fortunately for me, her experience here has made her amenable to possibly moving to Minneapolis one day if we're lucky enough to get jobs there). All of our major cities have their charm and their benefit, I wouldn't rule any of them out based on the weather. If you don't get a good vibe from UW (not trying to convince you to attend is a big red flag) and don't see yourself fitting in at USC, these should be just as important. Being cold for a few years but thriving academically is one thing, being warm but in a bad work environment seems much much worse to me.
  7. I know the lie was pointless because the school wasn't going to rescind your acceptance if they'd learned you hadn't been accepted anywhere else, and it wouldn't result in you being treated worse than your colleagues. As has been said here many times, there are people that get accepted to a school in the top 10 or top 5 who were rejected by schools in the 20s and 30s. This is common knowledge. The professor was probably just curious, programs like to have that data so that they can know a bit more about their applicant pools. My admittedly armchair psychoanalysis is that when you were asked, you had a moment of impostor syndrome panic (which happens to the best of us), and wanted to seem more impressive to your future advisor. It is perfectly understandable, but, like so many other behaviors associated with impostor syndrome, is unnecessary and leads to unnecessary anxiety! Going forward, just remember that they wouldn't have admitted you if they didn't think you were a smart person with a whole lot of potential who will fit nicely into their department culture. He isn't going to find out. I can't think of a conversation in which it could possibly come up without really wracking my brain to concoct a series of coincidences. If he did find out, it's possible that he wouldn't want to be your advisor anymore, but I think that would speak to a lack of professional maturity and empathy that would not be becoming of an advisor anyway. If it were me, I would probably chalk it up as one of many incidences I've experienced of an anxious graduate student having a gaffe and saying the wrong thing or behaving in a baffling or frustrating way. I would probably use it as a teaching/mentoring moment to prevent you feeling like you need to lie to me in the future. But you don't know this person, and you don't know how they'll react. It is exceptionally unlikely this will come up again as anything other than a joke at your dissertation defense. So just bury it and move on.
  8. While you shouldn't have lied, since it sounds like it was a pretty pointless one, I would just forget about it. The chances that this will come back and bite you are slim. Think about all of the factors that would have to fall into place for this to even come up again. I know as grad students we have a habit of catastrophizing things, but try to bury this one. In a couple of years, when you've developed a relationship with your advisor, you'll probably end up bringing it up and laughing about it because we all know that impostor syndrome and nerves cause us to do silly things.
  9. You'll be busy enough with work (and lacking in money) that you might not notice that you've moved to a substantially smaller town! Bloomington is a substantial sized university and a substantial sized college town though, and it's a 90 minute drive from Indianapolis which gets major concerts and shows and has a wonderful art museum. I'm from a medium-large city and now doing grad school in a medium-large city and have always been impressed with Bloomington when I've had occasion to visit. My fiancé has a saying, she says, "Bloom where you're planted." It's pretty good advice for this profession, because you might end up on the market and only get interviews in Topeka, Tucumcari, and Tallahassee. You generally get fewer options as you move up the professional pyramid.
  10. 1. It is worth it to apply to any program where you think you have a decent fit. It is not possible for you to truly evaluate your chance of getting in because there are a number of factors totally outside of your control that could greatly help or hurt your application, most importantly, who happens to be on the adcom that year (also, for example, the current disciplinary makeup of their grad population, the disciplinary makeup of the other people who applied, and so on). 2. There is no such thing as a "safety" school. All English PhD programs have low acceptance rates. There are people who get accepted to top 10 schools but get rejected by schools in the 20s and 30s. If you truly look at all schools that seem to be a good fit for your interests you are likely to come up with a list that has a broad cross section of school rankings. That said, if you find your list reads something like "Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Berkeley, Chicago, Stanford" you might consider wanting to cast a wider net. Don't treat any school like it's a "reach" or a "safety." 3. I think most people who come through here apply to between 7 and 13 schools. You do have the odd outliers who apply to 20 schools, and some folks who apply to only 2 or 3. 4. "Pedigree" matters in hiring but it is not the most important thing. There are people doing fascinating, high quality work at all manner of schools. Oftentimes the reputation of your adviser can be more important than the reputation of the school. Think about sub-disciplines you're interested in, as you might be surprised. A few years ago SUNY Buffalo, a school in the 30s overall was listed in the top 10 of literary theory, though they recently fell out (presumably owed to the loss of Joan Copjec). Schools with better "pedigrees" tend to have a lot more money to throw at you for stipends, travel grants, research, etc. That said, as a person at a school that ranks in the 30s overall but is a top school in my subfield, I have never really hurt for those things (though more money for conference travel would be nice, but most grad students go to too many conferences anyway).
  11. jrockford27

    Importance of coursework?

    Edit: didn't realize this was bumped by a spambot from 4 years ago.
  12. jrockford27

    Share Experiences Living on a Stipend

    I live in a reasonably priced mid-sized major metropolitan area. I have no kids. I have lived with my fiancé the last four years. My experience is that we manage to live almost as nicely as we'd like, we aren't starving, we eat well, we can run our heater at a modest rate in the winter. We also are unable to put aside any money for savings. If one of our cars broke down we wouldn't be able to fix it probably (losing a shoe for want of a nail, comes to mind). To buy a new dress shirt is a major luxury. I've been able to buy one new suit (a relatively cheap one) in five years of grad school, and while you might think of this as trivial, I'd ask you, what do you intend to wear to your job interviews/conferences? Things like new shoes become major investments. You learn to take care of what you have, and to fix things yourself. Let us say nothing of what happens when your computer inevitably dies. So to sum up my experience. Day-to-day we live like fine, reasonable adults, but you have little room for error or extras (or savings), which definitely creates a nagging subliminal stress on our day-to-day fine living.
  13. jrockford27

    Post-Acceptance, Pre-Visit

    Absolutely not! A visit will start your formal relationship with faculty who want to work with you, as well as your future colleagues, and also give you a sense of the city so you can better prepare to move there.
  14. I would say roughly 85% of the people in my program held MAs or MFAs when they were admitted. BA only folks are definitely in the minority in mine. Obviously different programs have different particularities. Obviously if the program you want more than any other explicitly says they don't take MAs then don't do an MA, but all things being equal I can't imagine a world in which an MA will hurt you as long as you maintain a high level of academic achievement. I would do research on program's opinions toward MA applicants, and contact programs directly, rather than relying totally on what people here say. @Warelin is certainly correct that an MA alone will not get you a better PhD admission. However, my argument is that being in a funded MA program will position you to do things that will improve your admission prospects. @punctilious's husband seems to have achieved a really impressive work-rate outside of a funded university setting. I know that during the two years I had between BA and grad (one because I didn't resolve to do grad school until after the deadlines my last year of undergrad; and the other because I was totally shut out), I couldn't have managed it. I would still suspect that your husband got into Harvard on the strength of his writing sample, proposed research, and letters of rec rather than the publications. For what it's worth, I've been in an English PhD program for five years now, and have had a lot of conversations with my colleagues and even with faculty about admissions, and been on some hiring committees (though they aren't exactly the same), and been the grad rep on my department's graduate program advisory committee. The most important things for your application are your writing sample, a clearly defined SoP, and solid letters of recommendation. I cannot imagine a situation in which those things can be more advantageously improved by taking a gap year than by spending two funded years writing and doing research under the supervision of experienced graduate faculty. Nothing will help you clearly define your research goals like doing a ton of research. I think an MA program will put you in better position to get a peer reviewed scholarly article on your CV as well, if you decide to do so, as you will have faculty to help you develop one (many programs hold workshops and so forth).
  15. Yeah, @boopbop, I'm searching trying to figure out what you could possibly do in a gap year that would be more advantageous for your PhD applications than doing two years of funded research/teaching/coursework in an academic setting. I mean, we can talk about the value to your life overall, and the development of your overall self as a separate issue, but in terms of academic credentials I'd be really curious. While extracurriculars and interesting CV lines you can gain in a gap year may not be totally ignored, they'll be a lot less significant than the type of application building you can do in a funded MA program (for example, working on a new writing sample under the guidance of your advisor/mentors, conference presentations/publication [which will be much easier to do within a program], improvement of GPA, getting well developed letters of rec that attest to graduate level accomplishments). If your goal is to "improve yourself for reapplication" then the advantages of doing a funded MA over a gap year are pretty much boundless in my opinion. Indeed, improving one's PhD prospects is one of the handful of reasons why funded terminal MAs in English exist. Funded MAs aren't super common and represent a great opportunity.
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