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WildeThing last won the day on July 19

WildeThing had the most liked content!


About WildeThing

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  • Application Season
    2019 Fall
  • Program
    PhD in English (Literature)

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  1. I have done some work on absurdism and there wasn’t too much being done, at least not within anglophone lit/lit-crit. Off the top of my head there’s a volume on absurd theatre and ecology, one on absurd and linguistics and Michael Y. Bennett has published some monographs on the subject. I just moved and don’t have the titles or authors available right now, sorry. If you’re applying now I should note that no one in any program that offers funding that I have encountered has anyone currently working on the absurd, though there are some graduate students here and there, mostly in comp lit. That said your intended intersection sounds fascinating and would love to hear more about and would be glad to offer more specific help/bibliography of you’re interested. Feel free to PM.
  2. That's tough because writing sample are very long and personal in that they are meant to reflect your abilities as a scholar and the type of research you do. Your sample should really look like an article or long-ish seminar paper (I guess something creative might work, too, but that's definitely a bigger risk). The best thing to do is select your best paper and ask the professor of that class for notes on improving it to be a WS, or asking a mentor. Writing a new paper from scratch is more laborious and risky because you really want that feedback to make it the best that it can be.
  3. I would be less specific in my search. Can you find departments that support Queer lit, Ethnic lit, and YA lit, through an assortment of scholars rather than one that covers all 3? Can you find places that cover at least two? As for the other question, I think people generally wind up placing themselves within the category their specific interests are in. So someone working on those 3 fields would probably find themselves in 20th/21st American (or Anglophone). In what generalist courses would your specialty be taught?
  4. PhDs generally have two functions: as a vehicle for learning about a field of interest and as a vehicle for employment. When hiring committees look at your application they will look at your thesis/published articles, but they will also look at your letters of recommendation. How effusive will a recommender be about someone they've maybe never met? How much contact will you have with your professors? What sort of connections will you form? Will anyone vouch for you? How likely is it that an online or long-distance PhD is even considered on the same level as traditional ones? Is it worth it to basically work on your own for 5 years, possibly unfunded, for this degree? In situations where you just need the degree I can see it, but it seems like a risky bet to me. That said, I'm not familiar with online PhDs and perhaps they work differently and/or are more well-regarded than I thought.
  5. What does low-res mean? Edit: Looked it up. I have never heard of a long distance PhD in the US (you might be able to make it work in Spain, where PhDs are a bit different). I’m not sure there would be much worth in such a PhD either, in all honesty.
  6. Personally I think prestige of previous institutions is very important, though not wholly determinant. I say this as someone who went through the process twice coming from unranked, unknown universities. I know most people disagree with this, but I think that coming from a great uni makes you a safer bet. Great candidates will get in no matter where they come from, but there are great candidates from many backgrounds. That said, there is nothing you can do to change this and it doesn't mean you won't get in to places, all you can (whether from Harvard or Unknown University) is to make your application the best it can be and maximize your chances by choosing the most appropriate schools to apply to. Sometimes this means applying to lesser ranked schools, others it means restricting where you apply based on fit (and really, it's a combination of these and other factors). Don't be discouraged if you come from an unknown university, but do be realistic about your chances.
  7. Santa Cruz has History of Consciousness, Berkeley has Rhetoric, San Diego has Literature, and I think Brown, Pittsburgh and Buffalo also have similar programs. If you do a search in this forum you will probably find them, as others have asked this in the past.
  8. None, I have chaired several and it’s quite straightforward. During the panel you’re just introducing people, controlling the time, and letting others ask questions. If no one does you should ask questions, or if one panelist isn’t getting any you ask them. Before the panel you just need to stay in touch with the panelists, making sure they know where to go and such. If you also need to manage the CFP that’s a bit more laborious but not that hard either. The only two requisites to chairing a panel is knowing how a panel works (easily fixed by going to the first panels, assuming yours isn’t the first) and having a good grasp of the field or topic at hand.
  9. I did not take the Subject test and am generally against it. Most schools don’t require it anymore and just in the past year Stanford, Yale, Harvard and maybe a couple more have stopped asking for it, I think. NYU and Rutgers don’t require it, though it might be something they put weight into. I would put more effort into the other components than the GREs. If you are going to focus on one, I would focus on the regular GRE, but I think making the SoP and WS perfect is more worthwhile.
  10. That’s a very tough situation and I’m sorry you’re going through it. Given the no-return situation you’re in, I would try and make the best of it and go to your new school with as positive a mentality as you can muster. There are many aspects of graduate studies and you might be very happy with your new program. It might be that you realize that some of the concerns were unmerited. You can attempt to prepare for the alternative by readying your materials just in case, but don’t assume that it will be terrible, it might be better than you think. If the situation is ultimately as bad as you fear, talk to your current advisors (not in your new program) about the possibility of reapplying. It’s hard to say whether you would get readmitted to the previous program, but if you want to attempt it I’d assume you’d have to come up with a good reason why you rejected it the first time and wish to reapply.
  11. To answer your first question, it is generally a good idea to apply to a variety of schools. Admissions rates are so low, and criteria can be so nebulous, that even the most confident student should consider applying beyond the very top schools. The top schools, beyond the possibility of harsher selection criteria, receive more applications. With that in mind, you want to give yourself the best odds. Beyond making your application the best it can be and applying to places with good fit (more on that in a sec), you can do so by ensuring that you are being considered within different selection pools. Different candidates will apply to different schools depending on different factors, so you want to apply to a variety of schools. Someone applying to Harvard is more likely to also apply to Yale than to Arizona State. Applying to schools with different rank is one way, but you can also consider geography, school type (private, public, liberal arts, research-heavy, etc.) and other factors when making that determination. The ultimate determination should be fit, though. Applying without good fit is unlikely to be successful, no matter the prestige of the institution. Fit might not be self-evident, but it should be a goal, definitely. I would examine fit first and then determine which schools are left. You might have to decide between a school with great fit that is very prestigious and another that is less prestigious but you also have slightly lesser fit. In some cases those might balance out and you might be more successful with the latter, in others it will not, and the former will be better. You should endeavor to maximize your chances whichever way is possible. That was about admissions probability management, but I assume your second questions is about the worth of being a student in a program where you have good fit as opposed to one where the rank is higher (worth in terms of future career prospects and the like). That, again, is hard to say. You might find it easier and find yourself better supported at a place with better fit (keeping in mind that you will form a thesis committee 2-3 years after you're admitted, at which point your fit in the department might change). Those factors could help you on the job market. This is without considering the fact that you might have better fit because a specialist in your field is there, despite the rank being low. For instance, Florida State is not usually considered as prestigious as Harvard but if you're interested in working on Samuel Beckett they might be a better choice because some very respected scholars work there whereas Harvard does not have a dedicated Beckettian (to my knowledge). Also rank is vague and relative and all that stuff. That said, 'rank' is definitely a factor for hiring committees, whether directly or indirectly. Having a PhD from Harvard looks better than one from Florida State, generally. The academic job market in our field is rough and research suggests that graduates from programs in a lower tier very rarely find jobs in higher tiers. The more prestigious the program you get into, the more options you ostensibly have in the future. This is all very relative and you have a lot of agency in making the best of (or totally scuffing) the opportunities you have at any institution, but all in all, if it were possible, the aim is to go to the most prestigious program in which you have good fit, or maybe the other way around, it's hard to say.
  12. I have experienced this and you should always go with the people who can write the best, most enthusiastic letter, so long as they come from academic institutions. Whether from BA or MA doesn’t matter so long as they can comment on your critical ability.
  13. You should aim to do as well as you can...? That's both a very difficult and very simple question. GRE importance varies by school, department, and program. We have no definitive information about every program in regards to what a safe GRE range would be, or exactly how each score is taken into account. Generally, in English, Verbal should be your focus, then Analytical, then Quantitative, and it seems that Verbal is usually quite a bit more important than the other two.
  14. The question is whether this is worth the time and dedication (and money), as admissions prep is a bit of a zero sum game. Studying for the subject test will take time away from other things (including the important but seldom discussed act of resting) and you have to figure out if it balances out. I don’t think it is necessary but it’s true that if you do very well it could play in your favor. That said, showing dedication and expertise is something you can with your SoP and WS, and if it’s not apparent there I don’t know how much a good score will help you. The question for committees will be why someone interested in dedicating their professional career in English did not specialize in it when given the chance (especially since you say you prefer History, which would raise a red flag for me). The SoP or recs where you can address that. Basically, I think a great test result could help, but it won’t make you an equivalent candidate to an English major and your SoP will be your most significant component.
  15. In my experience a conference can cost you up to 800+ when you take everything into account. Even without flight costs there are costs you will have to bear and generally I’d avise against doing to any conference without funding, unless it’s so close that the costs are negligible. I don’t think conference matter much at this stage in your career. I’ve been going to some since undergrad and the experience is definitely nice, but I don’t think it’s particularly useful for you right now. If you WANT to go and CAN go then go ahead, but this is unlikely to have much effect on your academic career in any predictable way (there’s always a chance you run into someone who has similar interests and you connect, etc.). I’d say that grad conferences are generally less prestigious than general conferences.
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