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  1. Kierkegaardian Hermit Krab Looking for a Shell

    I worry that your interests won't be well suited to many American philosophy departments. You can certainly find people who work on Hegel and Kierkegaard and, to a lesser degree, Marx, however Badiou, media studies, Benjamin, deconstruction, etc. don't really get taken seriously in many philosophy departments with the exception of some SPEP programs. Of those, you might look at Penn State, the SUNY schools, Fordham, BC, and BU (depending on how far from NYC you're willing to stray). I suspect that Columbia and CUNY would want to see at least some background in analytic philosophy even if you plan on working on more continental philosophy, but I could be wrong about that. I'd also check what Honneth is up to. He's got to be close to retirement age and I thought he was only half-time at Columbia anyways. I'm not sure what you've heard about UPenn. I certainly wouldn't apply to their philosophy program with your interests, but you might find their comparative literature program worth a look. How's your German? NYU's German program also seems like a potentially strong fit for you.
  2. Sue Jones at Oxford seems to work at the intersection of dance and British literature. So that's someone you might want to take a look at. I'm not really familiar with that area, but a friend was telling me about her work. You're best bet is probably to look for scholarship on the topic that interests you and see where the people who are writing on it are teaching. Good luck!
  3. Successful Writing Samples

    1. On most framework, arguments are valid/invalid, sound/unsound and propositions are true/false. Try to avoid that mistake in a writing sample. 2. You should certainly make sure your arguments are valid (especially if you present them in premise/conclusion form) and do everything you can to demonstrate the truth of your premises. I'm not quite sure what you mean by "can easily be shown to be objectively true or false" but if it's anything stronger than giving valid arguments and arguing for the soundness of the premises, then I'm not sure this occurs all that often in philosophy. This is probably the single most important factor when it comes to graduate admissions (assuming everything else is in order). What it takes for you to get admitted is for someone on the admissions committee to get excited about your writing sample, hopefully multiple someones. This is also where fit comes in. Fit can occur in straightforward ways (applying with a writing sample on Aristotle is problematic if nobody in the department publishes on Aristotle) but also more complicated ways (if you reject a two-objects view of Kant in favor of a two-aspects view, then your odds of getting accepted at Brown to work with Guyer on the first critique are probably pretty low).
  4. Successful Writing Samples

    I think this is partly right but perhaps not quite accurate. The key here is that you need to show an awareness of contemporary secondary literature on the topic. A paper on Hume or Aristotle can certainly be successful but to do so it's going to have to be responding to and/or taking into consideration the lines of debate that form current Hume or Aristotle scholarship. You mention Kripke, but a Kripke paper could be just as outdated if it doesn't take into account how others have responded to Kripke in recent years. It's less about the topic in this case and more about showing your awareness of the current conversations about the topic at hand (even if this occurs mostly in the footnotes). I think the analytic-continental distinction is largely unhelpful and this is no different in the case of writing samples. What you need is clear, compelling prose that makes a coherent argument. This applies whether you're writing on Heidegger or David Lewis. If you're going to write on Heidegger, your prose better be closer to that of Dreyfus, Kelly, Carman, Wrathall, et al. than it is to Heidegger's. That being said, if you want to do German/French philosophy in a department that isn't primarily "continental", it would probably behoove you to demonstrate some awareness of major issues in analytic philosophy. Fit comes in here too. You have to think about who can support the sorts of projects you want to do and what sorts of students are typically admitted at the program in question. Yeah, maybe, but I expect this is a case where the exception proves the rule. Send your best work. If that happens to make a positive claim, then so be it. (I'm also skeptical how strong the distinction between a negative paper and a positive one really goes, but that's another story).
  5. Recommender choice

    Unfortunately, my sense is that teaching experience doesn't count for all that much in PhD admissions, especially at elite universities. It's seen as a plus but it's typically not going to be decisive as to whether or not you're admitted. So, you're probably better off going with someone who can speak to your academic qualities and capacity to excel in a graduate program. That being said, an enthusiastic recommendation pertaining to your teaching is probably better than a lukewarm recommendation regarding your abilities as a students, assuming that your other two recommendations focus on academic matters.
  6. I think it's hard to give a general answer to this. Comp lit departments vary pretty heavily from one to the next. Some are independent, autonomous departments, others are primarily collections of professors who also have appointments in national language departments. Some require that your advisor come from the department, others are less stringent. What's certainly the case is that in any program you will be required to take courses in two to three national literature departments, so you will certainly have the opportunity to work with people in the English or French departments. You're best bet is probably to email the professors you are interested in working with, briefly explain your research interests, and ask whether it makes more sense to apply in comp lit or their department and whether or not they regularly advise students in comp lit. Anything short of this and you're really just working on guess work. Side note: my sense is that to be successful in comp lit admissions, your project has to be genuinely comparative. It's not sufficient to have an interest in various professors who are not all housed in the same department. You should also have advanced proficiency in one foreign language and at least a solid reading ability in a second. Also remember that it's possible to do comparative projects in national literature departments and work with professors in other departments (albeit to varying degrees in different departments). I applied (unsuccessfully) to a few comp lit program, whereas I did fairly well in the national lit departments I applied to. In hindsight, I expect I might have stood a better chance at some places had I applied to the relevant national lit department instead of to comp lit, but that's merely conjecture.
  7. Recommender choice

    I agree with jrockford's advice. I would only add that it's probably wise to include at least one recommendation from your current degree program. Even if your future work will deal more with literature than cultural studies, I think that not having any recommendations from your current program could send up red flags, if they think that you couldn't find anyone there to write a recommendation for you. Plus cultural studies is so integral to lots of what goes on in literature departments that it will probably still be applicable.
  8. 2018 Applicants

    In addition to the sage advice from @punctilious, one important way to start narrowing down programs is to move beyond thinking about research interests to research approaches. If you want to study Shakespeare, it's not enough that a department has a few early modernists if their approach differs substantially from what you envision yourself doing. It's important to find potential advisors that not only work on the same topics as you do but deal with texts in a way that is related/complementary to what you do. This sort of fit may not be evident from looking at a professor's profile on the departmental website. More informative would be to take a look at their articles/books and see how well they fit with the sort of work you would like to do.
  9. Applying to master's and PhD in same department

    Yeah, I'd say this is definitely a case where it would be worthwhile to contact the department and see what they recommend.
  10. Advice for Applying: MA or PhD?

    It seems like you already know this, but don't bother applying to MA programs that don't offer funding (tuition plus some stipend). There should be a list of those somewhere on this forum. My sense is that the reaction to a theology MA could vary wildly by department. Some would be fine with it and perhaps even see it as an asset especially with certain interests (are you doing phil religion?). I fear some programs might see it as a liability, which may be assuaged by the addition of a strict philosophy MA. I know someone who did a Theology MA followed by a Philosophy MA and is know at a top 10 program (I think his BA was in theology). So this is definitely a possible route and depending on your philosophical training, may be the best option. I think I'd second @fuzzylogician's advice. Apply to those PhD programs you would love to attend and then apply to have a few MA programs. I'm not sure if 50-50 is the right ratio. I might lean toward more PhD programs, since you seem like a strong applicant for MA programs, but PhDs are (always) a crapshoot. Also, if possible, I might suggest not using a philosophy of religion paper as your writing sample, especially for PhD programs. I think if you can show that you can do philosophy proper outside of philosophy of religion, a PhD program might be a lot more willing to take you on than if they think you have limited philosophical breadth.
  11. Drop in Graduate School Applications

    Which is probably good news for the profession even if it sucks for individual applicants.
  12. GPA and GRE

    Of what I could quickly find online: University of California, Riverside (PGR Rank 28): "During the last few years, average GRE scores (verbal and quantitative combined) for students admitted to the Ph.D. program have been in the range of 310 to 330 (1250-1500 by the old scale). (If a student’s combined scores are below 300 (1100), their chances of being admitted are minimal unless there is a special explanation, for example, that the student is not a native speaker of English). Typically a score below 310 (or 1250) is a strike against an applicant, whereas a score above 325 (or 1450) is a bonus." Notre Dame (PGR Rank 17): "There is no automatic cut-off based on GRE scores, but average scores for students admitted recently are: 93rd percentile in verbal; 84th percentile in quantitative; and 87th percentile in analytic." University of Michigan (PGR Rank 4): No GRE required. Rutgers (PGR Rank 2): "On average GRE scores tend to be very high, around 96% or above, and GPAs tend to be 3.7 or above. But we have accepted students with GREs and GPAs that are significantly lower when other factors are taken into account. You should not be discouraged from applying solely on the grounds that your GREs or GPA is below these markers." Many programs don't list this info on their sites, but I also didn't see any data too far off from this. I think the moral is that perfect GRE scores won't get you in if you don't have a writing sample and proposed research interests that get the faculty excited. As long as your GRE isn't alarmingly low, however, it will really come down to the other aspects of you application. What counts as alarmingly low, of course, may depend somewhat on the program in question. The key is to make sure that your GRE and GPA are high enough to guarantee that your file gets a close look. My suspicion is that once your verbal is at the 90th percentile or so and your other scores aren't too low, you're up against the law of diminishing returns and your efforts are best focused elsewhere. To be clear, this is not meant to give a rosy, "everything will be fine" outlook on graduate admissions. The odds of getting in to a top PhD program are astronomically low, but to think that you can predict this based on the numerical components of the application is a rabbit hole.
  13. PhD in French Studies / Comp Lit / French Lit

    How much time have you spend in France/French-speaking countries? My sense is that for foreign language departments time abroad is, if not a prerequisite, then at least highly desired. One option, as you mentioned, is to do an MA abroad, which can also be helpful for clarifying your research interests. However, given your uncertainly, I might suggest finding a way to spend some time abroad in a less academic setting. I think spending some time away from academia can be a great way to figure out what it is that really interests you and you'd be willing to pursue in something as intense as a graduate program. One way to do this is to teach English abroad. For France there is both TAPIF and Fulbright, which would give you an additional year to consider your options. So, I'd suggest taking a look at these programs as well as the graduate programs you're looking at.
  14. 2018 Philosophy Applicants, Assemble!

    Certainly! I mainly wanted to point out that it's possible that a paper you're proud of at the moment might not be something that you want publicly associated with your name down the line. My suspicion is that the odds of this are much higher for a paper you wrote during your senior year of undergrad than late in a PhD program or afterwards. There are, however, almost certainly exceptions on either side of this equation. This consideration coupled with the possibility of further refining an idea through added training should, I think, give reason for caution about publishing too early in one's academic career. Obviously though, this is a personal decision and there are a lot of factors that can tip the balance in one direction or the other. Should everyone be polishing until they get into Nous? Depends on what you mean by 'should'. I happen to think it would be better for professional philosophy and intellectual inquiry for people to publish less frequently and more polished pieces. I also recognize that contemporary hiring and tenure policies make this a naive suggestion. Not publishing is simply not an option after a certain point in your academic career. I just happen to think that that point occurs somewhere during a PhD program and not before. There are a number of interesting discussions of publishing on Leiter and Daily Nous. Here are a couple for what it's worth: I'd be happy to continue a discussion on publishing if people are interested, but at this point it might make the most sense to create a new thread for it and leave this one for more general applicant discussion.
  15. 2018 Philosophy Applicants, Assemble!

    Take a look at the essays you wrote five years ago. How many of them are you proud of, that is, you would be happy to show them to your current professors as a quality piece of work? The fact of the matter is you grow a lot over the course of your undergraduate career and what you though was a great idea at the beginning maybe doesn't look so cool now. I think it's fair to assume that the sort of growth you will experience over the course of a PhD program is equal if not greater. So five years down the line, that cool paper may not be something you want associated with your name, especially when it comes to tenure review. Now, if you get the approval from a top-notch journal, then perhaps that's a good reason to think you're really on to something. Otherwise, you're probably better of holding onto those ideas and developing them as your skills as a professional develop. What's currently belongs in a mid-tier journal, may belong in Nous is you're patient enough.The other issue with publishing is the amount of time it takes to publish and go through the process in comparison to the actual reward (whether valuable feedback or a publication). At this point the math usually doesn't work out in favor of publishing. If your advisor thinks that you have produced something that is worth trying to publish, then by all mean, go for it. Otherwise, I think publishing just for the sake of publishing is unhelpful at best and counterproductive at worst. I agree with this, but that doesn't mean you should discourage people from applying to top-tier programs. You can apply to both. It's certainly silly to apply to top-tier programs just because they're top-tier, but if they're the best fit for your interests, then so be it. Besides, if the goal is to get an academic job, I think there's something to be said, for limiting your search to top programs (in your field). The fact of the matter is, that with some exceptions, is much harder to get a job out of a low ranked program. This is simply not true. Chicago is currently just outside of the top 20 on the PGR and as far as I'm aware, it's never been in the top 10, nor has UT-Austin, where he was at when he started the PGR. Yes, there are problems with the PGR. In my opinion it's not perfect, but a useful too. There's plenty of reasons to criticize it, but please don't use blatant falsehoods to do so. (Edit: crosspost with ThePeon, who gives a more comprehensive response to this point)