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Pamphilia last won the day on December 21 2010

Pamphilia had the most liked content!

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    English PhD

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  1. All of the professors who looked over my application materials last year before I applied suggested I play down my interest in and experience teaching, at least in my SOP (not necessarily on the CV). They didn't suggest that I cut out any discussion of teaching entirely, but cautioned me that adcoms would be looking for evidence of interest and competence in research rather than teaching, and that an over-emphasis on teaching in the SOP can actually be detrimental to one's application because it makes one look less research-focused. Obviously, this really depends on the program, but it's something to keep in mind.
  2. Pamphilia

    Do professors care if you wear sweatpants all the time?

    Yes, this. And may I warn any menfolk out there that the so-called "girls" in your program will no doubt prefer not to be infantilized, either. Girls = female children. Female graduate students = adults, not children. Please show the women of your program (and your world) some respect. And if the men out there who use this kind of language "don't mean it that way"--too bad. It still comes off as (and simply is) disrespectful and condescending,
  3. Rankings systems are a touchy subject. Especially for humanities programs, they are wildly inaccurate and one should always take them with a grain of salt. That said, a program's perceived reputation IS important and does play a role. Pedigree is something we should be skeptical about, but (unfortunately or not) it can make a significant difference when you are on the job market. Now, that does not mean that you're screwed if you don't go to Harvard, by any means. And it also doesn't mean that "rankings" as put out by USNWR or phd.org have any significance. Perceived reputation is important, ranking is not. Sometimes perceived reputation corresponds to rank, sometimes it does not. To answer the original question, the perceived reputation of your specific PhD department is going to be far more important than the perceived reputation of the overall institution (at least in the American job market; I can't speak for overseas). More than that, the perceived reputation of the department in your subfield is more important than the reputation of the department over all. Basically, it comes down to (this is not in order): * Departmental job placement (and this doesn't just mean "rates," because departments can and do manipulate those rates; you want to find out specifically where and in what timeline grads of the program are getting jobs) * Reputation of your the department in your subfield * Your fit in the department * Who you worked with (this is a huge one--who are your mentors, who is your advisor?) * The work you produce and have produced in your department * Your ability to convey and communicate that work to others (in job talks, conferences, teaching, etc.) There's more, but this is what I can think of off the top of my head. Final FYI. Programs that rank at the top of USNWR or phd.org DO NOT necessarily boast the strongest placement records. Those kind of rankings are almost always outdated and reflect outdated perceptions of the programs. I did a looooot of research into this last year, and many of the programs at the top of the list have not been placing well in the last few years. Some other programs (many from the #10-25 range) are placing their grads into much more prestigious jobs--and at a much higher rate overall--than the typical "top" programs. But, some of the typical "top" programs are still definitely "top." The most important thing to do when looking into reputation (in my opinion) is to find out where, how frequently, and how quickly programs (and subfields within those programs) place their grads. As one should do with all discussion of rank or reputation, don't take this post too seriously. But I hope it helps nonetheless.
  4. Pamphilia

    Penn State PhD

    Penn State's English program (can't speak for comp lit, creative writing, or other departments) doesn't have a terminal MA per se, unless they've just started a new one that I don't know about. Students apply to the MA for the MA-to-PhD track; MA admits are awarded five or six years of funding because they are expected to go on to the PhD. Of course, some head out to other programs after completing the MA, but they don't have a stand-alone MA program. The wording on the website, if I recall, is really confusing about the difference between the MA and PhD tracks there--which isn't really a difference at all. So, if the admits on the board are for English, they are most likely for the PhD (which is actually the MA for those applying without an MA in hand). And yes, they take very few applicants with MAs in hand to the PhD program. Does this make sense? I hope it helps! Edited to add: Penn State has also historically trickled out its acceptance notifications. Last year they began notifying in early February but kept an unofficial wait list until April, accepting wait-listees periodically in the meantime. So, especially for a program like Penn State, it ain't over til it's over.
  5. Pamphilia


    Though this might run contrary to the other advice given here, I'd highly recommend visiting both schools. You really can't tell about a department (or location) until you visit; it can make a HUGE difference. If you're completely sure you're going to turn down one school for another no matter what, let them know as soon as possible. But if you have any doubts, it would probably behoove you (or anyone) to visit before you make a final decision. Congrats!
  6. Pamphilia

    Duke Literature

    I think this is a good idea, except for the bolded part. I'd be very wary about phrasing an inquiry like that for a number of reasons (not least, it might come off as sounding rather presumptuous). However, MM's idea of contacting them (the DGA or someone making decisions, not just the grad assistant/secretary), letting them know you're excited but that this is a tricky situation, etc., might be very beneficial as you suss out this situation. Also, congrats! Getting an interview for Duke Lit is HUGE. Edited for phrasing/typos.
  7. Pamphilia

    Emory Interviews(?)

    Interviews for English are rare; in-person interviews a la Emory and NYU are rarer. Stanford and Northwestern have done phone interviews in the past, but Northwestern at least did not interview last year. Different adcom chairs, different strokes.
  8. Hm, well, it does make sense to me that a prof who focuses on Dante (and who is therefore, I'm guessing, a Renaissance poetry/poetics scholar?) might not feel comfortable directing a thesis on a writer who is so far removed from his specialty as McCarthy. It would be like asking a C20 Americanist to direct a thesis on Mary Wroth: quite a difficult undertaking and perhaps rather out of that person's depth such that it would do the student a disservice. I am not quite sure what to tell you other than keep doing what you've been doing--that is, reaching out to other faculty in the department who might be better suited to your needs, and asking profs you know to point you in the right direction. Perhaps you can talk to the undergraduate director and/or director of the honors program? I know that the director of my undergrad honors program did sometimes help match students with faculty for thesis projects. If you are set on having (or required to take) a thesis advisor with whom you've already worked, you might consider reorienting your thesis in a different direction that aligns more directly with the faculty you know and trust (though I'll be the first to admit it can be extremely difficult to write a thesis on a topic you don't love from the outset, because it's very common for people to end up hating even their once-beloved topics by the end!). If you do this, you might also be able to set up an independent study with an C20 Americanist to work on your McCarthy project. That way, it might be possible to have your cake and eat it too. What year are you in school? When do you have to have your thesis advisor set? If you're a junior, you could take a C20 American class next semester and try to forge a strong enough relationship with the prof to work ask her/him to advise your thesis. If your program has a separate Comp Lit department (or Rhetoric, even), you might also look there for potential advisors to widen your net a bit. I completely understand your frustrations! It must be really difficult to position yourself so effectively for the honors program and have such a speed bump pop up in your way. The good news is that it sounds like you are a great student and very focused. Ask around for help: from your advisor, the undergrad director, the honors program director, professors you trust. Keep working at it, be a squeaky wheel, and it will hopefully all turn out for the best. Good luck!
  9. I'm inclined to disagree that writing a thesis doesn't matter, but not because it adds or detracts anything from your CV. I believe writing a thesis as an undergrad is important because it gives you a taste for what a large research project entails. It's nothing compared to grad work, of course, but provides invaluable experience for a person interested in going to grad school--even if the lessons learned from such experience only boil down to "loved it" or "hated it." That said, it's not necessary to do an honors thesis, but I would really recommend taking on some kind of large, extended research project before deciding whether you really want to go to grad school. An independent study culminating in a big paper/research project, perhaps, if the thesis doesn't work out. Good luck to you!
  10. This isn't really relevant to lit programs. English/comp lit/rhetoric students are not accepted or funded by individual professors, but by the program as a whole.
  11. Pamphilia

    PhD Program Funding

    Davis is a great program, for sure, but...well, it's a UC school in the same budget crisis as the other UC schools. Also, apparently (if the information I received was correct), it is rare for humanities students to receive the university-wide fellowships for which they are nominated (which are supposed to be more generous)--it seems those fellowships tend to go to students in the hard sciences. I was accepted last year but would rather not go into detail on this forum about the funding package. I will say that while funding was guaranteed for for five years, it was iffy. That said, Davis is an awesome program, very up and coming, with a university administration that is extremely supportive (read: financially supportive) of the Graduate School. Regarding unequal funding: out of all the programs where I was accepted last year, only one (a private school) offered equal funding to all students. I know it's not the case for all state schools, but most of them--and indeed, all of those to which I applied, let alone was accepted--offer fellowship- as well as TA-ship-based funding, which means not everyone makes the same amount. Some of them give extreeeeemely generous fellowships. But, they only go to certain students. It is also important to note that often these fellowships only last for the first year or two, and after that, you're funded by TA-ships which pay far less. At one program, my stipend would have been cut in half by the second year; the first-year fellowship I was offered was double the TA stipend (which would have provided my funding after the first year). I also second everything Soxpuppet said.
  12. I had no grad experience, nor did 75% of my cohort. I was accepted to one program where not a single incoming student had an MA in English (this is not to say that none had done grad work; some had MAs in other fields, or MFAs; no doubt some took grad classes as undergrads). I was also accepted to a program where 50% were incoming with MAs in English. The question of whether or not an MA in English will help you or hurt you in English PhD admissions is very debatable, and depends largely on the program in question. For the record, I was advised strongly against pursuing a terminal MA before applying to the PhD by my undergrad mentors, but I know people for whom it was a great experience, and indeed the reason they are in strong programs now. In general, I can't imagine that taking grad classes either as an undergrad or in a non-degree capacity after your BA would be anything but beneficial (so long as you do well). But for many programs, that step isn't fully necessary. It really depends on the individual--where she stands as a student, a scholar, and an applicant, and where she is applying. OP, if your application is strong, I wouldn't sweat the lack of prior grad experience (except in the case of schools like Maryland, which only accept those with an MA in hand, as mentioned above).
  13. Pamphilia

    Writing Sample and SOP

    Forgive me if I seem like a jerk, and know that I realize this advice is not universal, but perhaps it can apply to a wide range of applicants-- The answer is, of course, you should send your best work. I am seeing a lot of people lamenting that their best work is not the most fitting for their proposed project of study. If this is the case, you fix it! If your best work is not the piece that best fits your application, make it work anyway. Revise, revise, revise, so that your best work fits in some way (methodology, etc). Or, take your not-best but better-fitting work and revise it until it is your best work (that was my approach). You should be revising the pants off of your writing sample, anyway (even your best ever A+ paper can be wildly improved, I promise), and making it into something better than what was previously your best work.
  14. Pamphilia

    NRC rankings

    More even than checking out who used to place well, try to find out what programs' placement rates are *now* (overall and in your subfield) and *where* programs are placing (the where is important to see if a program consistencly places grads at locations/institutions where you would like to work; after all, we are all after any job but we also all have designs on certain kinds of jobs). Some of the old powerhouses, who have names and reputations that still make most of us shiver a little, are not placing as strongly as they used to. Many of them have been struggling to get their grads jobs (any jobs, not just prestigious ones) in the last few years. And there are other programs that might have been regarded as the middling sort previously, but which are beginning to dominate placement over the old powerhouses. This is why it's not only important to check current faculty pages, which reflect what programs were places well from last year up until 30 or 40 years ago, but see where recent grads are ending up, if anywhere. ETA: I know that the NRC report is trying to take the above into account, but it's very hard to make heads or tails of the thing without a strong stats background. At least to me. It's over my head.

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