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Glasperlenspieler last won the day on November 12

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  1. Yes and no. Having read an ungodly number of articles in literary studies, I would say that a good essay on a literary text does both. The key is perhaps not to "engage" with a large number of secondary literature, but to clearly situate your reading in the context of the existing scholarship. For the body of the article it's common to structure it around a close reading, but the footnotes and brief framing comments make it clear where this reading converges and diverges with other readings. In this way, you may not be directly arguing for or against existing scholarship, but you are making it clear where this arguments fits into what's already out there. You might directly engage with only one or two other critics at key points, but you can easily make reference to 10, 20, 30 other scholarly works by briefly commenting on them in the footnotes in a 20 page essay. The merit of this style of argumentation is that it keeps front and center what's really important: your (hopefully original and compelling) reading of the text, while also doing due scholarly diligence and making clear that your reading is rooted in but also going beyond existing scholarship. NB: This would be a paradigm for an article in a good peer-reviewed journal. A writing sample may not need to fully fulfill this, but the closer you can come to approximating it, the more successful you're likely to be. There are, of course, other ways to go about writing an essay in literary studies, but I would say that the above is an important form that one will have to become accustomed to in order to succeed in academia.
  2. If we're talking about PhD programs, then I don't think it's really necessary to talk about your career goals. A PhD in the humanities is essentially a vocational degree and the admissions committee will probably just assume that if you're applying, it's because you want to be a professor. And if you have alternate career goals, that might actually be something that makes an admissions committee look on your application less favorably (for all the talk about alt-ac, professors often look down upon non-academic jobs). Use those few lines of your SOP to more fully articulate your interests, your project, or your fit for the program.
  3. There are two good answers to this question: 1. Talk to your advisor. 2. Look at the CVs of recent PhDs who got TT jobs.
  4. Honestly, the admissions committee probably isn't going to care one way or another if you include work experience. Since most people don't have a whole lot to put on the CVs when applying to grad school, I think it usually makes sense to include work experience. It gives a more well-rounded sense of the applicant and makes for a nicer looking CV. The writing center work would also be relevant and is definitely worth including. If your CV is over 2 pages, you can probably cut most of the employment stuff though. I sincerely doubt the admissions committee is spending much time with CVs. That doesn't seem like it really belongs on your CV. Without a certificate, it's not really any different than you doing lots of individual reading outside of class. If it shaped the way you conceive of your academic interests then MAYBE you could talk about that in your SOP, otherwise leave it out. I sense you may be spending too much time thinking about the CV. Focus on the SOP and writing sample instead. Those are what will actually determine your admissions success.
  5. I agree completely, though I would mention two caveats: 1. Placement is in many ways a backwards looking metric. If a program does a good job of placing its graduates in 2020, that means it was a good place to choose to attend in 2014. It's not a guarantee that the program will be as successful in 2026. Though one can usually assume that there will be at least some continuity here. 2. Not all attrition is bad. In particular, attrition in the first couple years of a program is a better sign than attrition later on. If graduate school (or that specific program) doesn't make sense for a given student, it's good for both the program and the student to realize this and the earlier, the better. 0% attrition is not the ideal, but high attrition is certainly concerning. Neither of these points discredit placement and attrition as metrics, they should just be taken with the appropriate caution.
  6. I'm confused as to why you provide an article addressing the "value" of different undergraduate majors to address the state of the field for Rhet/Comp PhDs. I suspect that your description of the state of the field is largely accurate, but the data from that article pertains to a clearly distinct (albeit not entirely unrelated) issue.
  7. Definitely meant Western Michigan University. I apologize for the mistake. As far as I understand it, Houston does fund most (if not all) it's MA students and has some pretty great philosophers as for as I'm concerned. I'd be more than happy to add Texas A&M to my list. I know less about Texas Tech. Edit: Just checked A&M's website. They seem to have instituted a PhD program and discontinued the terminal MA?
  8. I think you have this backwards. There's much less discussion about MA programs, in part, because the advice there is much more transparent and less dependent on one's individual situation and interests: There are a number of MA programs that offer tuition waivers as well as a (small) stipend in return for teaching duties that also have a strong record of placing students into good PhD programs and offer a good, well-rounded philosophical education. Among these programs are Georgia State University, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Northern Illinois University, University of Houston, Michigan State, and some Canadian universities. Other programs offer partial or competitive funding, which can make sense if you receive such funding. MA admissions are not as competitive as PhD admissions, but they are still competitive, so it's a good idea to apply to a number of programs. Since an MA is typically a stepping stone towards a PhD program, fit is less important than the above factors (funding, placement, and well-rounded education). Going in to dept for an MA in philosophy does not make sense.
  9. I think it "can" be worth it in a Lewisian sense. I just think that possible world is rather far away. In all seriousness though, I wouldn't dispute that some people have good experiences in such programs and get admitted to good PhD programs. But I'm not at all convinced that it's superior to the experience one would have at a funded MA program, and even if it were hands down the best MA in the world, it still wouldn't make sense to accrue that sort of debt. (If you're independently wealthy, do what you want.) Granted, all my experience with these programs is second-hand (I do know several people who went through the MAPH program), so I can't help you much in that regard. But I will say one more thing: how transparent a program is about its placement record says a lot about the program. GSU (https://philosophy.gsu.edu/graduate/placement-record/) and UW-Milwaukee (https://uwm.edu/philosophy/graduate/graduate-placement/), for example, have commendably transparent placement records on their websites. If a program doesn't advertise this sort of information, it's probably because they don't want you to see it.
  10. Nope. Tufts and Brandeis offer scholarships on a competitive basis. If you get one of those, then it may make sense to attend. Otherwise, you also shouldn't be going there. Same goes with NYU, Chicago, et al. It's always a bad idea to take out loans for grad school in the humanities. A good MA is not a guarantee of getting into a PhD program. Furthermore, even if you do get into a PhD program, the job market is terrible and even if you do get a job, it's not likely to pay enough to allow you to pay off 50-100K+ in debt very quickly. Taking out loans for an MA in philosophy is just plain stupid.
  11. I don't think it's necessary to cite in your SOP. I had one quote in mine, didn't cite it, and still got accepted to places. Just make sure you make it clear who the quote comes from and, if relevant, what work. That being said, you say you're using "quite a bit of quotes." If you're using more than one or two, I think you should reconsider. The SOP is the place to show your own voice, not the quotes of others. It's also not the place where you should be doing close readings relevant to your project. The goal should be to sketch out who you are, what you're interested in, and what sort of project you foresee yourself doing. While a quote might be useful in that, more than that will probably take away from it.
  12. It seems like you have a good list of programs for people doing Lewis-style metaphysics. Given your stats, you will probably have more luck with MA programs. It's probably still worth applying to a couple PhD programs, but the ones you list are likely sufficient (NYU and Rutgers will be ridiculously difficult to get into but that's the case for everyone; USC and Syracuse won't be a cakewalk either but they should be slightly less competitive). I might think about adding a couple more funded MA programs. While I think you've done a good job of identifying those MA programs especially strong in your area of interest, I'm not sure fit is as important when it comes to MAs. Take a look at places like UW-Milwaukee or Georgia State that offer full funding. They may not have anyone who specifically works in your area, but Lewis is well enough know that someone can certainly advise a master's thesis and your main goal with an MA would be to garner a high enough GPA and good enough letters so that you can be competitive for PhD programs down the line.
  13. Not a classicist, but wanted to mention that depending on the exact nature of your project, if you're primarily interested in reception, a comparativist-friendly German department might also be a sensible place to pursue this research (though I'm not sure Germanists are that much better off than classicists when it comes to the job market). I can think of several departments that might fit the bill.
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