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WildeThing last won the day on November 28 2019

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. Similar to what @EM51413 just said, my only note, as you're thinking of which type of program you would like to apply to and prepare for, is about the market. My first cycle I applied to both Comp Lit and English programs (as well as Berkeley's Rhetoric) and one of my professors (who has been a leading scholar in comp lit for years yet teaches within an English department) told me to keep in mind that comp lit PhDs have a harder time getting hired. Of course, being interdisciplinary means you're not limited to a single market, but the perceived lack of specialization can make it tough when a hiring committee is looking at you and wondering if by hiring you they will cover a teaching area or period. This is not to say that you should follow the market (in fact the market changes). I wound up applying anyway, because that was the work I wanted to do at the time, but I did so knowing that I might have a harder time finding an academic job in the future (this can be mitigated (to what degree? who knows) by applying to program that successfully place candidates, of course.
  2. I’d be very surprised if all adcom members at all programs read every single word of every single application. I am sure some do, but I believe it has been reported before that in the initial rounds samples and statements are skimmed or only the introduction/conclusion is read (when applying I was told to make the first two paragraphs the best ones (with all the crucial info when it came to the SoP) because those are the only that will definitely be read). In later rounds I assume they read things over carefully but when you have hundreds of files? Not saying an abstract is necessary, but it does sound like a good idea if you can make it fit (assuming you work it as much if not more than the rest of your materials).
  3. I don’t mean to detract from what you’re saying because I agree that it is possible (but definitely not probable) to get good offers from top schools coming from no-name schools but the anecdotal evidence (of which there is a lot because there are SO MANY of us from no-name schools who apply to these schools) should not outweigh the trends. BUT, you did spend a year at Oxford, which is one of the biggest names out there and that will certainly counter this no-name issue.
  4. Before I answer the original question I want to address this, knowing that (in my experience) my stance on this runs counter to general consensus. I think where you got your education is very important, (mostly) for all the wrong reasons. You'll find that though there is of course a lot of variety and people come from different backgrounds, there is less and less variety the higher up you go in the prestige list. There are more Ivy and "public Ivy" students at the top schools than there are students from smaller schools. I'm not going to get into the why of this, it's been discussed before, but I do think that where you study will have an effect. That said, and I say this as someone who came from no-name schools, it's not the only factor. And it is one of the things you have no control over so there's no point worrying about it. Give it a shot and apply anyway, you never know. That said, I definitely think the MA first route is a good idea (not to say you shouldn't apply to PhDs out of undergrad). I did several MAs in different fields on my way to a PhD program and doing graduate work is really helpful in setting your ideas straight. In fact, it is now when I'm doing my coursework that I sort of wish I had done a straight English MA before applying because from the things I am learning and the perspectives I'm developing now (and the scholars I'm learning about) I know that my application could have been that much better and more competitive. I also think it makes sense to do an MA if you think your profile might seem weak. You can definitely "jump" from a "middling" program to a bigger program through the MA.
  5. PCAs are a lot of fun! My first U.S. conference was the Midwest PCA and it was really nice change of pace from the stuffiness of some of the other conferences, and it’s just filled with fascinating pop-culture panels.
  6. My first cycle I got shut out by 19 schools and next rejected by 15, so I know rejections like the back of my hand. Anyone wanting to talk about rejections (the prospect of them, etc.) feel free to reach out (to wallow, encouraged, to brace for it, to prepare, etc.). Getting shut out is really tough but it’s not the end (I am not suggesting any of you will get shut out, I just remember what it feels like to have nothing while people are getting accepted left and right).
  7. Wow, congratulations! You’re clearly doing something right as I think your run is the most successful I’ve seen on these boards in my time here! Would you mind sharing your area of research? I know last year it was very helpful to know that about those who held multiple offers since they could obviously only go to one spot and, assuming most places offer the spot to someone in a similar area (not always the case), it gives those on waitlists an idea of if they might be moving up on the list or not.
  8. To clarify my earlier position re: WSs (since that is what is relevant here and the issue of accessibility had its own thread): even the best scholars have gaps in their knowledge, or might not remember everything about texts in or out of their fields. Without knowing who will read your WS, anything that assumes the reader is familiar with certain texts, concepts, or scholars should be re-examined. If you are satisfied that anyone in the field would be able to understand and follow your writing, you’re good to go. A good strategy (but not a one-size-fits-all solution) is to provide a synopsis of all the relevant parts of the text. This is usually missing in a seminar paper because the professor just taught the text. Similarly, if you mention a theory, it’s probably a good idea to introduce it briefly. I can say that Florence inherits her mother’s oceanic un-gendering in A Mercy, I should probably explain who/what they are if I am not sure the reader has read either Toni Morrison or Hortense Spillers. This seems to me to be common sense. It’s not about spoon-feeding your arguments or making them less specialized. It’s about making sure a reader won’t get lost if they haven’t read the text. (Having not read anyone’s WS but my own, I hope it is clear that this is not a commentary on anyone’s work.)
  9. I would say that yes: you want anyone reading your article to be able to follow it (even in published articles, but to a lesser extent since someone choosing to read an article on Paradise Lost would probably have some familiarity with it). That said, this informed by my approach to scholarship wherein anything that requires previous information to unpack should include that information. In terms of samples specifically, they should be readable by anyone which in most cases is as easy as giving a brief overview of the primary materials and specifying what scholars have said rather than namedropping them (which admittedly can take up quite a bit of space depending on how much shared knowledge was assumed in the original paper (I generally don’t summarize a novel if that novel was read in class)).
  10. Small note on SoPs (not sure if I've said this before): one of the people in my cohort and I read each other's SoPs one day to see if we could spot trends (especially since we both came off the waitlist). They were completely different. One of them was less specific about the work of the POIs here and broad about what the project would be, but more detailed about how previous work had led them to that point. The other barely discussed previous work, presented a fairly specific project, and cited specific POI articles. In other words, they were as different as they could be but we both made it to the same place. It sucks, but there's just no way to know what works until after the fact, and even then, you don't really know why. The only thing that seems true across the board is that what you write is not a binding contract.
  11. You’re not too old. Hang in there. I went through several cycles, but for now just wait. I know it’s tough but there’s still schools left, don’t lose hope. If it doesn’t go your way know that it’s not the end of the world (feel free to reach out if you want to talk to someome who got shut out too).
  12. I haven’t been here long but so far UVa has been a really great environment. The DGS is amazing and sweet, most of the profs have been very kind and the people, in my cohort at least, are generally great. Between the fairly generous funding and requirement set-up, I am excited about being able to work here for the next few years. I also had a great experience at UMBC if anyone is thinking about there.
  13. My advice is to assume (but not act on the fact) that everything is a rejection until it isn’t. Personally it was helpful with keeping the pain to a minimum, but a no is only a no when it is official. So if acceptances have been out for a month but you’ve heard nothing, prepare yourself for the no but don’t go accepting other offers or making any big decisions (like “hey I’m rejected so I’ll just take this job in Randomville”) until you hear back. Sometimes you’re on an invisible list and sometimes people get interviewed while others get accepted straight off at a later date. Chicago was a big mindfuck last year for a lot of people because of this, if I recall correctly.
  14. Not at all, on leave is usually for a semester or a year so it’s unlikely to affect you.
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