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ArcaMajora last won the day on October 4

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About ArcaMajora

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  1. Admittedly, this is a gray area and I've had conflicting advice from my letter writers in this regard. One saw mentioning the specific names of faculty as being a touch too presumptuous, while another letter writer encouraged me to contact faculty while applying and mention them in my SoP. I did not contact faculty but I did mention faculty by name when I wrote my statement. When I sent these drafts to all my letter writers, I wasn't pinged for mentioning faculty by name (which I did for all applications). Ultimately, the decision to do this depends on the approach you take for your SoP and how well your rhetoric lines up with either mentioning faculty by name or not. In most SoP's I've seen for PhD programs, I've seen faculty being explicitly named (the Berkeley History PhD example that I modeled my SoP after does so to my knowledge). There are best practices for this, of course. (ie. if you mention faculty by name, try not to over-mention them, and speak about them in a way that allows for their strengths to intersect with your interests while not resorting to appealing to overt flattery). It also largely depends too depending on how many faculty you've found, how you yourself define fit, and how that faculty member can configure in the calculus that defines your fit with the program. For example, for SUNY Buffalo, that was the one case where I did both (mention specific faculty that I was most compatible with but also described their general strength with poetics). I identified at least five or six faculty there I could work due to their poetics program, but for pragmatic purposes I mentioned the two names I felt I was compatible with while remarking on the bigger picture research of the poetics program. I am really happy that what I wrote helped Good luck with your SoP and the rest of your application materials! As I've said in the past, I'm always happy to talk via DM to answer any questions anyone has about the process. Graduate school has diminished my spare time recently but I can make time for quiet moments work.
  2. I've thought over the role of the SoP and here's my thoughts now after having settled into my graduate program and the general expectations for first years at least from what I have seen in Irvine so far. I want to stress that the statement of purpose is by no means a contract. You are absolutely not beholden to it once you are in the program. I've talked with my advisor about how my fields could well shift in the duration of my fellowship year and that the questions I raised in my SoP would instead be much different ones depending on where my lines of thinking go. That being said, it is productive to be as specific as you feasibly can without appearing like you're completely calcified in your field/period. When I was writing the basis for what became my statement of purpose, I thought of it as a sort of 'prospectus.' I wrote a vision of myself as a scholar at that moment then; and accordingly then had a tentative dissertation topic/larger lines of thinking that could form the seed of the eventual dissertation prospectus or master's thesis if I sustain that project beyond just applying to graduate school. Being specific enough without appearing like you're too set (to the point where you may not benefit from graduate education) is a balancing act. If you are a restoration scholar, then it is very much okay to write yourself as such in your SoP, as that will ensure a higher (but not guaranteed) chance that your SoP will be read by a faculty specialist that is within or adjacent to your time period. If you know what kinds of texts, authors, theorists, etc. you're working on, make that apparent in your SoP. The flexibility (ie. being molded by the program) comes if you make it clear with confidence that you know your project can benefit from having the influence of discourse with faculty within the program either due to its general strengths or if there's a particular faculty member you're looking to work with. For example, this might mean writing in your statement with strategic moments of 'While so-and-so project represents the current inquiry I have into this specific time period/issue/question, this is by no means a closing off of my wider scholarly interests. Indeed, OMG University's strengths could complement my project by way of so-and-so-and-so and possibly even expand my research into these ways/areas.' It becomes an exercise in showing how you and your project/lines of thinking could be molded by the program that you are applying for, and it's one of the many ways in which you can demonstrate your potential fit to an admissions committee. Thus, don't sacrifice your specificity (the adcom will want to know what you're studying) but make sure to appear as such that your interests can change, expand, and of course be complicated. The SoP is a barometer of fit just as much as it is the adcom's way to hold a litmus test in how well you can present yourself as a scholar in an academic and professional context and also as a way to see if you can start proposing the kinds of projects that are expected of graduate students to produce. The best way I can phrase it is that you do need to be specific enough in order for a program to identify not just your field, but the methodologies you favor (you like queer theory? are you more into ecocrit? continental philosophy?), the texts that you gravitate toward, etc, but the possibility of change (either the refinement of interests or even an outward expansion) by either faculty discourse, the program's strength, seminar, etc. will definitely need to be there.
  3. I modeled mine after this statement of purpose from UC Berkeley's History PhD. While it is from a different field, there are aspects of it that feel like it can be conversant and productive for SOPs in English. I'm also happy to share mine, let me know via PM at any time.
  4. Glad to see this thread still getting updated omg I'm still a ways away from UC Irvine starting but that September 26th start date is creeping up quick. I have two orientations next September (School of Humanities + Campuswide) and then a beginning of the year party. Also have an apartment, about to pick up keys in a few weeks' time and hopefully settle in by mid-September. It's a little bit surreal to call myself graduate student still (much less having a new institutional affiliation). I've been busying myself with MLA database deep dives as well as reading some books that are long overdue for me to read (all this time my UG library would have a full PDF of Cruising Utopia digitally lol). I don't have the jitters quite yet, but tbh once it hits September it'll definitely sink in for me. So excited for all of you!
  5. @karamazov I can speak only from the BA-only side (though with the benefit of a gap year), and the one thing I can is that it definitely depends from program-to-program, and also, from individual-to-individual. I completely understand why you're nervous. I was in a similar position last year, wondering how I'd compete those holding MAs. I have seen that line of thinking floating around the forums and with some certainty, it does seem to be case. I believe there was one post that remarked that BA and MA applicants are either separated or are read with different lenses. As a BA-only applicant, it's fine if your project/research questions may need some ironing out (if there's one thing I've learned during graduate student recruitment, a program wants to also ensure that it leaves its mark on you). An MA applicant will most likely have the upper hand in terms of having a longer and more graduate palatable CV, but they've also had some years of experience in a graduate program already. Admissions committees (to my knowledge anyway) will be aware of what degrees you're bringing to the table and evaluate you accordingly. The one thing I can say for those applying with just BAs, I'd definitely make sure to try and point out your potential as a graduate student and make clear what kind of research trajectory you're on and how the department can help achieve your goals. A project and SoP (as well as a sterling WS) that is well-constructed, well thought out, exciting, makes an intervention/conversation within your field (and, I cannot stress enough, also one that the program can feasibly support) can and will catch an admissions committee's eyes, regardless if you're an undergraduate or graduate student. I also want to stress that it also depends on what priorities and what kinds of students does the program desire (do they want those they can mold a bit more? have they had equal success with both BA and MA students? is one field over-crowded and one field underpopulated? etc.). Admission rates (from what I've seen from spending way too much time roaming through available admissions data), can be very elastic and unstable for some departments. Of course, this does not at all diminish the incredibly hyper-competitive nature of PhD admissions. However, the composition of what kind of cohort they want can absolutely change, especially from politics within and beyond the department (funding cuts leading to smaller cohorts to a department aggressively recruiting to justify more funding lines, which can cause an admission rate spike). That is to say, there's a lot of insider info/dynamics can influence a department's vision of what their ideal cohort may look like, so it is admittedly within the realm of the unknown. To close off though, it is absolutely possible for BA-only applicants to be competitive in this tough environment. Cohorts are definitely mixed in with profiles of students who took varying and diverse paths to the program. I repeated this one mantra to myself when applying: present the absolute best version of myself as a literary scholar and leave no doubts to my capabilities, my potential as a graduate student, and my fit. After submission, it's out of my hands and it's up to the admissions committee to decide.
  6. @punctilious That is legitimately fascinating, and it lines up with what I've seen from the cohort profiles that I'm seeing from various institutions. I haven't taken a detailed look at mine specifically for Irvine, but I can share some trends that appear somewhat similar. Thanks for sharing this I am fairly sure mine is a mix of both BA and MA applicants (majority BA-only, but a catch here), but the common thread I've seen is that it's more and more common for applicants to take gap years or do MA degrees to build their research profiles. For my cohort, some took time after undergrad/MA to develop teaching skills, build a writing profile that isn't hewed to academia, etc. As far as I know, only two are coming in immediately after undergrad. A good amount of the BA-only admits in my cohort all took gap years in some form. Seeing more MAs in cohorts doesn't sound surprising. It looks to be a great way to help reduce time to degree (especially if coursework can be articulated for transfer credit that allows a candidate to reach ABD sooner, though YMMV depending on the program structure if such a thing is possible). The benefits of an MA going into the PhD are tangible, you have a more visible/a more specific research profile, experience with the publication process if one did so during the MA, more chances for conferencing/professionalization, teaching/TA experience, and experience in the graduate seminar room. I think the landscape of literary study has changed too much for the traditional BA-only applicant applying during undergrad to be the only desirable demographic for any school. I'd love to see more cohort data from other schools if feasible and if it's not broaching unwritten confidentialities/rules of course.
  7. Welcome to everyone who has joined! Very glad to see the Fall 2020 community develop, especially as we loom closer to the start of the new school year. For those focusing on GREs, while all of you are making very good choices in studying in advance for them, I just want to stress that they are one component of the total application package. I got into my current program with very uneven GRE scores (158V/142Q/5.5AW), so for anyone worrying that an eye-popping Q score (12th percentile for my case lol) or a non-160 verbal will throttle an application, no fear. It also seems English PhD programs are beginning to drop the GRE even more. On the Ivy side of things, Yale has been mentioned as dropping the GRE subject (courtesy of Wimsey). Also, did some sleuthing on Harvard's English site and it seems they've dropped the GRE (both general + subject) entirely. Not sure if it was ever announced the same way Cornell was forthcoming about it, but for anyone looking to apply there (or if it's always been that way, I swore they required the GRE last Fall), you can go in GRE-less. All this to say, there's definitely an increasing trend of English departments formally dropping the requirement, so here's to hoping many other programs follow suit from here on out. (EDIT: I decided to take a random look at UMich's site and it seems they too have just dropped the GRE) For anyone living around the Northeast or follows this regional MLA, I've poked around the UPenn CFP database and it seems that NEMLA has released their CFPs for their conference next March. I haven't taken too close of a look but there's some very intriguing panels in there (including one on Elizabeth Bishop), deadline's September 30th for most of them. Also, if travel funding works in my favor, I'll be presenting a paper in SAMLA this November! If there's anyone going to Atlanta this year or is around the local area, let me know Would love to see GCers around.
  8. I somewhat struggled with this when deciding to apply to programs and I'll offer my two cents here. Older graduate students will definitely have more insight than I do, however. This is what I've gathered from reading countless amounts of Chronicle of Higher Ed, Grad Cafe threads, and scouring as many schools' placement and hiring records as possible, as well as trying to ascertain how big of a role prestige plays. 'Top 20' is a very vacuous and porous designation. You'll have your obvious ones, the Ivy League, Berkeley, UCLA, UVa, UMich, Stanford, etc, but it's beyond that is where reputation begins to become muddier and relative (especially once you start parsing out sub-fields). It's an undeniable designation however and it does help being in a program that's solidly 'top 20,' but I'd first prioritize what your research agenda is first and foremost and what your end goals are. Take for example someone that wants to become a tenured professor. If you are pining for an R1 tenure-track position after the doctorate, then being in one of the very top programs gives you the best and fighting chance to aid you in that endeavor. If you're aiming for teaching-intensive institutions, then you may want to prioritize programs that will focus more on teaching experience and also have good placement records into teaching institutions. However, I cannot stress this enough, a 'top 20' programs list outside of the usual suspects I can see looking vastly different from professor to professor and field to field. I recommend getting the consensus of the ones you know to see how programs possibly stack. Try to prioritize both as much as possible, but with an eye towards finding programs where you will fit and thrive. Find departments that have solid placements but also an intellectual atmosphere, faculty, and graduate student composition that will help you earn the degree with flying colors. This is easier said than done because fit is very much a two-way street. We may think a program has a good and even hand on glove fit, but the admissions committee may think the opposite. You'll want to make sure that you find a graduate program first and foremost where you want to work with the faculty and where you will complement the department's strengths well. A top-tier program but with no intellectual compatibility with your interests is oil and water. As far as prestige, I agree that it should not wholly dominate your graduate school list (though I completely understand why some take on that mindset). It's wise to keep in mind that having prestige is an undeniable premium currency in academia depending on your goals. The ideal mix is a well-regarded program with the best fit for your research interests as feasibly as possible. Basically, formulate your goals and research agenda first and zero in on what you want from a department. Then research programs that fit your interests and research potential advisors within the program. See if you can figure out a way of how you can 'fit' in. Rigorously analyze the placement data (does OMG University place its students where you want to be placed? Who were their advisors? What do their CVs look like?) while taking it with a grain of salt (universities are known to fudge around with data, this is where your sleuthing comes in). If your goal is to be a university professor at an R1/R2 institution, then the prestige and standing of the doctoral program will matter. If your goal is to leverage your PhD for other means outside of the professorate and academia, fit, quality of life, and program satisfaction matters more.
  9. The usual system (especially if your programs use Slate or ApplyWeb for their application interfaces) is that you input their names and e-mails and then the application system sends out the request irrespective of whether or not you've sent the application. You can put in the recommendation request at any time, even well before you submit the application. There should also be options to send reminders from the application itself (schools that use ApplyWeb can do that, not sure about Slate). However, there are some schools that only send out the requests after the application has been submitted. SUNY Buffalo is one program I know of that did that this past cycle.
  10. I am happy to field any questions you have about the program Send me a PM any time.
  11. Good to see a Fall 2020 thread! Welcome one and all to applying to graduate school, and just from reading I can tell all of you are already making great headways into application prep. The cycle for this year is only just ending, so it'll be a while yet before we see all of the various schools switch over to processing for next cycle. I've successfully made it through the Fall 2019 cycle even if I was convinced that my school choices and errors on my part during the cycle (horrendous GRE scores + I underestimated the time needed to really polish my WS) was the proverbial writing on the wall. The program I committed to was one I thought would genuinely not take me in and one that I was prepared to be rejected by, especially since the POI I was most interested in looked to have a full slate in terms of advising commitments and I was afraid that the larger research fit was maybe a touch too tenuous. As it turns out, there was a lot of compatibility in the faculty and classes that I wasn't aware of until I first saw the department up close and personal beyond just reading the program website, associated dissertations, and articles. Thus, I can't stress just how mysterious this process can be and how many factors are out of our control. While yes, I will concede that there are elements that make for a stellar application and there will always be the ones in every cycle that hit the jackpot, that fine line of who gets accepted/rejected/waitlisted is down to the auspices of what will make for a balanced cohort and for university/departmental needs that only the committee would be aware. Though I won't deny, the rejections do sting and it hurts (especially since we'll never really know where we stood. Were we close? Knocked out in the first round? etc.), especially in such a crowded field both in application and in the larger job market. All of this has a way of eating you up and even with a funded offer I took, I still feel frightened if this is the right choice or not in the end. I don't say this to scare anyone, but I want you to know if you do feel this way at any point, you're not alone. If any of you have any questions about anything, feel free to ask em here.
  12. Also very excited for the upcoming Fall too Actually getting more real as the days pass haha. I've gotten first signs of life from UC Irvine post-4/15. It won't be long til I get my institutional e-mail, housing assignment, and I just submitted my request to enroll for English seminars for the upcoming Fall. If everything falls through, I'll for sure know my schedule and living arrangements my mid-June or July. Can't believe I can call myself an official graduate student. It's surreal. Excited for all of you as the summer progresses. This really is only the beginning of a journey tbh.
  13. Likewise PhD in English right here. Can't wait to meet you all!
  14. Will be listing out my current research moodboard I'll also add some other resources. My work is primarily within 20th/21st C American poetics and queer theory. If you want to collab, send me a PM. I'm always looking for more opportunities to explore literary research beyond my field. Right now, I'm working on multiple projects. My larger project/overarching goal is tied to my SoP, which is the proposal of a queer poetic archive. The very basic aims of this larger project/line of thinking is to examine what happens by studying queer American poetics as a collective and also centering such poets in academic discourse. I especially utilize the term 'archive' as a rhetorical move to document and also contemplate the turn towards the archive in queer and literary study. What does it mean to place poets such as Hart Crane, Elizabeth Bishop, and many others as the primary voices in an archival study? (archival in the literal, literary, and rhetorical sense) And what does it mean to contemplate that a living, active 'queer archive' exists when such a term might very possibly be contradictory? And more importantly, what happens when we place queerness (especially queer poets) in the center of contemplating the archive? (can queerness be archived?) It's a very fluid project atm, but this is the 'what's at stake' behind everything I'm doing. I'm currently actively researching on Frank Bidart, coming out narratives, the queer lyric, and queer language/queer coding. Additionally, I'll also be presenting on Hart Crane and Wallace Stevens this weekend, a geographical study of the poetics of Key West (Idea of Key West and Key West: An Island Sheaf) and the implications of that location from a post-colonial approach. A possible expansion of the latter project will very possibly involve Elizabeth Bishop. A resource I'm looking into: ONE Archives at USC (if you want to study a queer archive, this is one of the places to go. I believe they offer fellowships too) I am also looking into presenting either or both at SAMLA and PAMLA this year. SAMLA is currently accepting CFPs rn so if you're down to be in Atlanta, here it is: https://samla.memberclicks.net/samla-90-cfps PAMLA will be in San Diego this year, check out their page: https://pamla.org/2019 I'll have more specific info once I'm settled into my program. This is just the stuff I've gleaned in my free time while waiting. Hope this helps
  15. @hgtvdeathdrive Congrats on making your choice and many, many congrats on Buffalo Poetics Also gonna re-affirm what many others have said here. CoL is one of the most important things to consider and one funding package isn't always equal to another, especially when you consider the local area. There are some schools I considered applying to that were high-flight and were in theory, fantastic, but the fit + the cost of living wasn't there. Buffalo, from what I've seen, has a very, very reasonable CoL. Their base stipend can take you very far. I'm deeply invested in the study of poetry and Buffalo was one of my top choices this cycle. Some of the work that goes into the poetics program is astounding. In terms of both creative and scholarly output, it's one of the most appealing programs in the Northeast in my eyes. I've seen their class offerings for the upcoming year and I would love to be right in the middle of that discourse, especially under the auspices of Cristanne Miller, Stacy Hubbard, and Steve McCaffery. As far as poetics, it's cutting-edge. The only reason why I turned Buffalo was because my eventual final choice fit my project/trajectory a bit better, was also a waitlist so nothing was guaranteed, and I don't have the resources to make the move to NY as a Californian (still pretty young so hugely dependent on family). Either way, many congrats on your final choice!
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