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Glasperlenspieler last won the day on June 26

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  1. These are good questions for your advisor/a professor in your field whom you trust.
  2. Originality is probably going to be less important for MA applications than PhD applications, but it's not going to be irrelevant. Try to say something "new" in your paper. But that doesn't mean you need to come up with an entirely new position. Presenting and working through an original objection to a popular argument in the literature, for instance, would be a significant and original contribution. But you paper should be more than just a literature review explaining and working through arguments that have already been made by others without providing any new insight about those arguments. All else being equal, a letter of rec from someone with an international reputation is better than one from someone who doesn't have an international reputation. All else being equal a letter from someone who knows you well and can speak concretely and in detail about you and your work is better than someone who can't. The latter is more important than the former. All else is never equal. I don't know if GRE and TOEFL are actually weighted more for international applicants (I've never been on an admissions committee and neither have most people on these boards). But the explanation for why they would be more weighted is that American professors often can't make heads or tails about the grading systems from foreign universities and thus use standardized tests as a standard unit of measurement/comparison. But your writing sample, letters of rec, and SOP are still going to be more important.
  3. Yeah, I think that's a start. It's also probably ok to mention some of the scholars whose work informs your own and talk about how you situate yourself vis a vis them but also what you hope to add to the discussion. One has to be careful with that approach though. In showing what you add to the story, you don't want to inadvertently annoy the person reading it by suggesting that they're "missing" something (some people are going to be more sensitive to this than others), and you also don't want to misrepresent their views. Mentioning scholars also makes the most sense when applying to the schools where they're at. E.g., it might come off as strange if you spend a lot of time talking about how Guyer's work informs your own in your Pitt application, etc. Also, while I generally don't think that a statement of purpose should dwell too much on personal narratives, it might make sense to explain your trajectory, both articulating what brought you to your current MA program and why you think doctoral studies in a program with a different orientation is the right next step. I think your writing sample is going to be a lot more important that your SOP. You want it to look and read like a paper written by the scholars in your field. I'd suggest reading papers by the former students of the scholars you want to work with and emulate them in terms of form, structure etc, while also making the argument as tight and clear as you can, referencing the relevant scholarship, and hopefully contributing something novel (even if small). Your ability to do that, more than your SOP, will help you get noticed by admissions committees.
  4. Who is giving you this feedback? Is it professors or fellow students? And if it's the latter, do they have a good grounding in contemporary discourses in cultural studies and feminist thought? For what it's worth your research sounds intriguing and potentially an interesting contribution to a variety of contemporary discussions. But I do think that with a topic like this it's probably very important to frame it very carefully and in a way that clearly outlines its relationship to other scholarship.
  5. I think a lot here depends on one's orientation towards those topics as well as what you mean by continental vs. analytically oriented departments. When I first heard that constellation of interests, I immediately thought of Chicago and Pitt (though I can't imagine McDowell and Brandom will be around for all that much longer). I would also think about Berkeley, Brown, JHU, Riverside, and maybe Stanford. Or at the very least those are the schools I would be thinking of given the way I tend to approach those fields. Now maybe you were thinking of a place like Chicago as a continental school. Maybe, but I tend to think there's a pretty big divide in approach between these sorts of schools and the SPEP crowd.
  6. You should make sure that a) your writing sample engages with the secondary literature written by people at the program's you're applying to and their interlocutors and that you situate what you're doing in relationship to that scholarship, and b) you should make sure that your paper emulates that scholarship in terms of style, format, approach, etc.
  7. It's probably good to check with the editorial guidelines, but as far as I'm concerned for most conference proceedings it's normal and perhaps expected to take into account the discussion during the Q&A which may very well mean reworking the argument. I would say as long it's recognizably the same idea/argument, then you should make it as good as possible before it goes into print with your name on it. I've dealt with three such volumes either directly or indirectly and while all of them were very different sorts of publications, they all produced papers that were markedly different than the ones presented at the conference (though clearly genealogically related).
  8. @tmck3053, I think we're pretty much on the same page. It's definitely an absurd game, and I don't want to defend it. Just trying to lay out the contours to the degree I understand them. I think you're right though that there are some Ivy-plus institutions that will hire people with perfect pedigrees and no publications but look down upon someone with a publication in a lower tier journal. I think publishing strategy is going vary depending on what sort of institutions you're getting your PhD from and what sorts of institutions you're applying to (and maybe subfield as well). I stand by my " if as a BA or MA student you can get published in a top tier journal, great. But if not, don't worry about it, sit on it, and just try to make it the best writing sample you can." But yeah, a lower tier publication definitely isn't going to sink your application, but I don't think it'll help all that much and there may be reasons to wait and see if you can do something more with it down the line. (The exception to this is that some subfields are really fast moving, such that a response paper may be very timely now, but maybe no one will care in 4 years. Idk, it's complicated).
  9. How so? I think my inclination would be to say the exact opposite (sorry if this is derailing the conversation). If a paper is not good enough to be published in a top journal that probably means either a) it will never be good enough to be published in a top journal or b) there's an idea there that could be published in a top journal, but it is not at the moment in a form that is ready for that. I'd say that as someone who has not yet entered a PhD program, it might be pretty hard to tell whether (a) or (b) is this case. But if it is (b), then the 5+ years you spend in a PhD program may be what you need to bring the idea to the next level. So why publish it prematurely in a subpar journal when, with added time and training, it could make it into a top journal? And if it's (a), then it might be something that 10 years down the line, you don't really want associated with your name or it could be something that is worth publishing in a lower tier journal nonetheless. But if it's the latter, given the uncertainty about which it is, why not just wait? Whereas I think the job market is now such that you really ought to have published *something*. So if the choice is between no publications (not counting book reviews) and an article in a lower tier journal, it might be worth just having the publication on your CV. But since publications on your CV aren't expected for PhD admissions, this situation doesn't really seem to apply there. Now, there's also the situation that often things published before getting a tenure track job will not count toward your tenure profile. So, there certainly is some reason to also not publish *too* much before you get hired, but you're probably gonna need a couple publications to get hired for a TT position these days. Anyway, that's my take. YMMV. In general, I think don't publish for the sake of publishing prior to the dissertation phase, but if a prof says that something might be worth submitting, then certainly take that advice seriously.
  10. And if you can't get an article published in a top journal at this stage of your career, there are good arguments for not publishing it in a lower tier journal just for the sake of having a publication.
  11. I agree with @snorkles. A great CV isn't going to get you into grad school. A stellar writing sample and a compelling statement of purpose outlining an innovative research program might. You say you want to pursue a PhD in comp lit, but you don't mention anything about your language background. I assume if you want to get into a comp lit program focusing on Caribbean literature, you're probably going to need to be (near) fluent in either Spanish or French, and it would probably be good to have a working knowledge of the other language. Some more traditional comp lit programs are going to want to see competency (variably defined) in three languages other than English by the time you're writing your dissertation. That means they'll want to see a solid grounding in two in order to be a competitive applicant. But if you want to work on primarily anglophone literature, why not apply to English departments?
  12. Many departments provide profiles for their grad students which include their educational background. Yale's Spanish department, for instance, does this: https://span-port.yale.edu/people/graduate-students Spend some time looking at departmental webpages and you can get a decide idea of the profile for a typical student.
  13. Can you say more about your language skills and their relevance to your research? I think you'll have a hard time getting into a more traditional comp lit program without a solid grounding in two languages other than English that are both relevant to your research. There are some less traditional programs though, that you could have a shot at (Duke Literature, for instance, doesn't really prioritize language skills to the best of my knowledge). Also the comp lit job market sucks worse than most other fields, and most comp lit PhDs end up getting jobs in a national language/literature department (if they get jobs at all). So one way or another, you're going to have to make yourself marketable to such departments.
  14. But to @Sigaba's point, there's a difference between what is allowed and what is expected of you. Residency requirements only speak to the former, and may not even be relevant for how one spends summer/semester breaks. Agreed. It can be especially usefully to (tactfully) ask about how professors spend their summers ("How often do you typically meet with your advisees during the summer?"). In my program, for instance, a large proportion of professors spend a large portion of the summer out of the area. So if you happen to be working with such professors, it's largely irrelevant whether or not you're in town during the summer. But, in the same program there are professors who certainly will not go out of their way to meet with an student who isn't around to drop by the office, and if your work is deemed subpar, you will be the one held responsible for not maintaining sufficient communication with committee members. In short, departmental culture on this can vary widely and even within departments, different professors will have different (sometimes articulated) expectations.
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