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Glasperlenspieler

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  1. However, if one's career goals are to pursue a PhD (in the humanities) with the hope of a career in academia, then there's a strong argument to be made for not acquiring debt in the process given the low likelihood of success and the relatively low future remuneration in the case that one does succeed.
  2. Glasperlenspieler

    Emailing Graduate Students

    I'm in a different humanities field but I did cold e-mail a number of students and got several helpful responses in return. However, I only did so after I was accepted. Grad students are generally willing to provide advice to applicants, but we are very busy, so that could diminish the likelihood or thoroughness of responses. I agree with @AfricanusCrowther that any more delicate topics should wait until an a campus visits. At the application stage, I would say that your questions should probably be focused on two points: Is it worth spending the time and money to apply to this program? And, what can I do to maximize my chances of acceptance? I'm not sure graduate students will be too helpful on the latter point, although it's possible they could have some insight to the process at their program. They could however be useful on the first question is you have some make or break qualifications for programs (such as, is it possible to live reasonable comfortably on the stipend without taking out loans? Or, it seems like you're only person working on X, does the department provide adequate resources for doing that sort of research?). If you've already determined you'll apply to the program though, I'd probably wait until you're accepted to contact grad students.
  3. Glasperlenspieler

    Need advice in Applied Ling programs

    You might havs better luck in the linguistics section of the forum. This part of the forum tends to be pretty quiet and is mainly occupied by people working in non-English languages and literature. Good luck!
  4. Glasperlenspieler

    LOR - How close to be with a professor?

    This might be a little overly blunt, but I think that if building relationships with professors feels cringey, then you've got your priorities turned around. If philosophy is something you really want to spend the rest of your life doing (and applying for graduate school suggests that it is), then it would be strange if your engagement with philosophical questions and issues ends when you walk out of the classroom. Talking to professors after class and during office hours is a chance to think more deeply about the questions that interest you and get another perspective on these issues from people who have spent more time thinking about them then you have. So, yes, if you are going to office hours merely with the intention of securing a good letter of recommendation, then I think that is a little fake. But if that's the only reason you're speaking to professors, I think that suggests a greater occupation with the idea of graduate school than the actual study of philosophy. The big question here is what does "OK" mean. You probably don't want someone who has doubts about your philosophical capabilities writing you a letter of recommendation. I'd be curious to hear others thoughts on this, but I tend to disagree. I suspect that a bad or lukewarm letter is very bad for your application but that three strong letters is more or less neutral. I think the one time a letter of recommendation can provide a real boost is if it's a strong letter by a big name or by someone whom the admissions committee knows personally. Don't underestimate the latter point though. My anecdotal evidence suggests it can play a big role.
  5. Glasperlenspieler

    LOR - How close to be with a professor?

    The downfall of an MA is that two years (or really 1.5 years) is not typically a long enough period of time to build up strong relationships with multiple professors. However, admissions committees are certainly aware of this fact and are unlikely to hold it against you. What you need is philosophers who can speak to your abilities and potential to produce high quality scholarly work. The fact that you're close to one professor is great and that will be a particularly valuable letter. The second professor you mention also seems like a strong candidate for being a good letter writer. Just make sure he knows who you are at the beginning of the semester and try to be an active participant in the class. I would be a little more wary of asking the third professor, as you've never had a class with him. I don't think a few meetings would allow him to evaluate your work and potential as a philosopher to the same degree as someone with whom you've had a seminar. That being said, if he's impressed with your work and you don't have other viable options, it may be worth asking if he'd be willing to write a letter for you.
  6. Glasperlenspieler

    Letter writers and choosing seminars

    @indecisivepoet, your dilemma makes much more sense to me now. Thanks for the clarification. I'm not convinced you *need* to take the theory class, although I certainly understand the motivation to do so. I seriously doubt the lack of a theory class would sink an otherwise strong application. The caveat here being that if you feel unprepared to discuss the relevant theoretical matters in your SOP and writing sample, that may be a problem. On the flip-side, neither do I think the absence of this professor's letter of recommendation will sink your application. If you have three strong recommendations from other professors, nobody is going to ask why you don't have one from X. If this professor is a very big name in the field, then it's possible that such a letter would give your application an added boost, but then only if it's a strong one. In short, I wouldn't stress too much about having the perfect transcripts or the ideal letters of recommendation. Do what's best for your own intellectual development. In the end, you'll get admitted to a PhD program because they think you have the potential to produce a high quality scholarly work, not because you have the perfectly tailored CV.
  7. Glasperlenspieler

    Letter writers and choosing seminars

    I am completely in agreement with @Warelin's comments. However, I am also a little confused as to why you're so convinced that the professors whose work interests you are teaching less interesting classes and the professors who are teaching the more interesting courses have research that is less interesting to you. If these professors really are producing research that is interesting to you, chances are that they will approach the texts in a given course with similar approaches. Thus, even if the texts themselves are not your top choices, there may still be a lot gained from taking that course and experiencing how the professor engages with the works at hand. After all, presumably you are interested in these professors because of the sorts of questions they are asking and the sorts of methods they use rather than simply because they are interested in the same authors/period as you are. Conversely, if a professor is offering a seminar that is so exciting to you that you are contemplating skipping out on a seminar with a professors whose work you find more interesting, why are you so sure that they wouldn't be a good match for your research interests? And why are you so eager to take a class from someone, whose research interests don't match your own? It is important to remember here that the professors' publications lists or research blurbs may only given a partial view on a professors interests or areas of expertise. Just because they haven't published on X yet, doesn't mean they're not intellectually engaged in the topic. Furthermore, if they're offering a seminar on the topic, it's not unlikely that this field could represent a future research area for them. In short, given the situation you describe, I think it's worth interrogating your preconceptions about your relative interest in the research of these professors and the seminars they are offering. That's not to say that professor who would make a good advisor for you could never teach a boring class, but I tend to think there is at least some correlation between research and the graduate seminars one offers.
  8. Glasperlenspieler

    How 'fitted' does 'fit' have to be?

    There's been a lot of good points made in the thread, but I wanted to highlight this question because it seems to me that it hasn't gotten as much attention. While the others are certainly right to suggest applying to the best programs with people in your field, to point out that "fit" is often only clear in hindsight, and to highlight the importance of flexibility and willingness to engage with other topics and perspectives as a grad students, I don't think fit should be dismissed as a factor in narrowing down programs to apply to. The thing is, however, is that "fit" is hardly ever captured in terms like 'Victorianism', 'Romanticism', or 'Gender Studies'. All of those terms are broad umbrella terms that cover a wide range of research. If you start digging around in the secondary literature, you will probably quickly discover that a Victorianist is not a Victorianist is not a Victorianist. The upshot of this, is that making sure a program has a few people working in your field is an inadequate way of determining fit. At best, it's useful for a first pass of eliminating potential programs. The next step is to spend some serious times reading CVs, abstracts, and if something catches your attention reading the article or book chapter. In doing this, you will probably find that many people who are ostensibly in your field, approach their texts in ways that are irrelevant or at odds with what you want to do. Certainly, there's something to be said for being pushed in new directions be a professor, but I also think it's good to avoid situations where people are entirely unsympathetic to your approaches. Doing lots of reading, I think, is the only way to discover these nuances as an applicant. Even then, it's insufficient. In entering a program, you will almost certainly realize things about fit that you couldn't have known as an applicant. But I do think some research beyond labels of fields can help narrow down the programs that it makes sense to apply to. Fun exercise: take a look at the CVs of scholars who have broad ranging interests. In my experience, most of those professors started out working in a well defined area of study and branched out later in their careers (probably when they got tenure but maybe later too). For better or worse, literary studies is a field based discipline and scholars typically need to prove their chops in a well defined field before they have the liberty to expand to broadly beyond that. That doesn't mean you need to ignore your other interests though. I think looking at other fields is often a useful way to develop question to bring new light to your own field. Also, in terms of wide-ranging scholars, I bet that in many cases their research interests, while broad, are perhaps not as eclectic as they may seem at first. Often scholars who come a broad period of time or geographic region are nonetheless motivated by closely related questions even if they manifest themselves differently in different places. To use Isaiah Berlin's terminology, I think that successfully broad ranging scholars in the humanities today are far more likely to be hedgehogs than foxes.
  9. Glasperlenspieler

    Fall 2018 French

    @Yanaka, Book Depository offers free shipping and since it's UK based, it tends to have a larger selection of foreign language books than most US book retailers. It can be a little slow though, so order early.
  10. Glasperlenspieler

    Language Proficiency Required for Field Research

    To be honest, it's impossible to say with the information you've given. As you probably know, people pick up languages as different rates. The learning environment determines a lot as well. An intensive language training is worlds apart from a couple of hours a week and then your degree of engagement also determines whether those contact hours make a difference. Heck, I've known people how have lived abroad for multiple years without any significant improvement in their ability to speak the local language. Point being, the years of study doesn't really matter. What matters is your level of competency. Assuming field research involves interviews or something of that nature, I'd say a C1 on the CEFR scale is a good goal. You could maybe get by with a B2 but I'd shoot for a C1. Of course, as @MastersHoping points out, language leanring never ends. So a C1 certification isn't an end point, but rather a helpful checkpoint.
  11. Glasperlenspieler

    Applying without having majored in the language?

    In my (anecdotal) experience, it is not at all uncommon for someone to enter a PhD program in German/French/Spanish/etc. without having majored in it in undergraduate. A PhD program will want to ensure that you are proficient in the language (not a problem for you), that you have the analytic and academic skills necessary for success in the program, and that you have compelling and coherent research interests that fit within the discipline. Whether you obtain these skills by majoring in the subject or not is largely irrelevant (obviously this doesn't apply to every discipline, but I think it does in langauge/literature departments). From what you have posted here, I think you would probably be competitive for admission in a Spanish PhD program (which, of course, isn't a guarantee that you will be admitted). The question is whether your research interests are best served by a Spanish department or a Comp Lit or English department. Determining this will take some research on your part. Try to find professors whose research interests correspond to yours and see what department they're in. This will help give you a better idea of the contours of the disciplines. One other thing to note: Recognize that if you are lucky enough to be admitted to a strong Spanish PhD program and get a job afterwards you will most likely spend most of your time teaching Spanish language courses. Many people find this very rewarding, but others do not. So, if you realize that you would rather not teach language courses, you're probably better off pursuing an English or Comp Lit degree.
  12. Glasperlenspieler

    Fall 2018 German

    Honestly, I'd be very wary of accepting either of those offers and proceed with caution. I think it's unwise to go into debt for graduate school in the humanities. With the German job market being what it is, even if you get into a top PhD program after your masters, the odds of getting a tenure track position are slim at best. In regards to the 1-year masters, I think general procedure is to take a year off afterwards and apply then. I'm not sure applying during the masters would hurt your application, but it probably wouldn't help it much either. If I were you, I'd take a year off now and apply again next year to funded MAs and PhD programs next year. Or even better, find a way to get to Germany and spend some time there reading, honing your language skills, and improving your writing sample. It also might be worth looking at German MAs. Not sure the exact timing for application to those, but at least they'd be low/no tuition, so you'd just have to worry about living expenses.
  13. Glasperlenspieler

    Masters in French Studies or Comp Lit?

    From an American perspective, I don't think it really matters. If you're applying to a PhD in French, they'll care that you have the requisite language abilities and research interests/capabilities to do well in such a program. Whether you develop those in a French MA or a Comp Lit MA shouldn't really make a difference (that is, the comp lit won't count in you favor, but wouldn't count against you either). That being said, I'm a little confused why you're looking at Comp Lit programs. Your proposed research project sound like it fits squarely in Francophone studies and doesn't seem to be comparative (i.e. utilizing texts from multiple national literatures). Also, national literature departments are increasingly interdisciplinary these days, so just because you attend a French program, doesn't mean that you won't be able to pursue interdisciplinary research.
  14. Yeah, I'd second the latter half of this. If for one reason or another you don't like CSDS, then I think you're better off taking a year off than doing the MAPH. (I have no knowledge of CSDS, so I can't speak to that. But from what Crow T. Robot has to say, it sounds like a solid program.)
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