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About killerbunny

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  • Application Season
    2020 Fall
  • Program
    Art History PhD

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  1. Well, all of us—including those accepted into a program this round as well as those already attending—have a very uncertain future in academia. This might be my cruel optimism talking, but aside from how the job market will look five years from now, if you decide to reapply, you'll have a leg up because you have learned so much from having already applied. You know better than new applicants all the practical challenges of applying, and this year's experience gives you a rare insight into how to put together an even better application. If you are dead set on getting into a program, I bet your odds of getting in next round are better than many. We all have to be prepared, though, for the likelihood that there won't be teaching positions for us later on.
  2. I hear you on all of this and very much share the same motivations. After a series of editorial and publishing jobs, the stipend of a PhD with decent funding isn't too much of a pay cut for me. I wish you the best of luck and look forward to hearing updates on your progress.
  3. You are 100% correct in your concerns about the competitiveness of upcoming application cycles and the viability of a career in academia. What do you want exactly from a PhD in art history? To leave adjuncting for a more secure, sustainable career, a tenure track teaching job is probably the most pie in the sky solution out there. Is there any way to leverage your current education and experience to get a better position (if that's what you're after) that does not involve going to school for 5–7 years? This is not to discourage, but knowing what you want out of going this route is necessary; you need a purpose to make it through the admissions gauntlet and to convince admissions committees of the specificity of your goals. I wouldn't be worried about your transcripts. Seven art history courses is fine (unless I'm misinterpreting what you wrote and you don't have art history on your transcripts). Every graduate program is different in what they expect and some are reasonable about relaxing their requirements when an applicant has a lot of job-related experience with art history. My concern would be getting recommendation letters from people whose opinion of you as a scholar will convince the admissions folk. But maybe you could get a couple of former professors and someone from the museum you work at, or a permanent instructor in a department you've adjuncted for? Is there a way to do a research project at the museum that could be turned into a writing sample? I think the best way to find out how well aligned you are is to pinpoint your research interest(s), start on a project, and then reach out to professors who interest you, introducing yourself and (briefly) explaining your background and interests, to see whether they're encouraging or not. They might take the time to let you know if you need to work on beefing up a certain area of your profile. Better yet, is there anyone with whom you have an association from your schooling or teaching that can provide you more personalized insight into your prospects?
  4. I agree with @Artgirl87—you've got the (extracurricular) goods. Now for the most important part: writing a great sample and devising an enticing/relevant research project/topic that shows where you situate yourself in art historiography and how you plan to advance it. Two-ish years should be just enough time to come up with both. The sooner you decide your interest and begin reading voraciously in that area while keeping an annotated bibliography in advance of writing an eye-catching sample, the better you stand to get a funded spot in a PhD. A piece of advice for much further down the line after you have found faculty you want to work with, look at the guidelines for the writing samples with plenty of time to think about how to make the best use of the page limit, which varies considerably from school to school.
  5. Imposter syndrome is real. Remember your programs want you to succeed and are (literally) invested in your doing well. In a way, the adcomm are able to see better than you that you are no imposter. They waded through all those applications of stellar candidates and said "yes" to you, and they likely have the experience of previous cycles to make solid predictions about who will do well in their program. Between their expertise and self-doubt, go with the former. And ultimately, now especially, grad programs need you more than you need them. One other general tidbit I have is don't let imposter syndrome cause you to clam up from fear of looking unknowledgeable. I've seen this in my masters' program: people who I know are capable but too timid to talk in seminars; it's such a lost opportunity because this is the time to ask a million questions so you and your instructors can figure out the gaps in your knowledge. And chances are other graduates have the same questions as you and will be grateful someone has the guts to speak up.
  6. Speaking from experience, I would say to what degree a lack of area specialists will impede your success depends on your level of independence and your choice of topic. And just because there is a potential advisor whose interests overlap with yours does not ensure support; it depends on the availability of the professor and/or your ability to get their attention. (Hint: be sure you aren't overlooking other humanities departments for someone you could be simpatico with; people are doing all manner of interdisciplinary work, and an instructor in Women's Studies or Sociology might be able to provide specialized guidance.) In my case I chose an overly ambitious topic with no course offerings in my department that might have provided me with a solid grounding: not advised but I was too enamored with my topic and methodology to be deterred. So I have had to devote lots and lots of time getting up to speed independently on all sorts scholarship with which I had no prior familiarity. TDLR: It's very possible to make a go of it in a MA program that's not a wonderful fit, but there are a lot of buts, including the contacts your advisor might have if you want to move on to a PhD, but again, name recognition of who you worked with is no guarantee of anything either.
  7. I like this optimism about the quality of online education benefitting from the test periods of late spring and summer, but I am highly skeptical the quality of virtual learning can approximate even a fraction of the benefit of being in a real classroom setting. I loathe doing my current graduate seminar through a staticky interface, and everyone involved, including the prof who is the most committed I've encountered in my master's program, is struggling to maintain the engagement and enthusiasm we had before moving online. In two words, it sucks. I'd also hate to think of missing the opportunity to develop IRL bonds with my new cohort, the collegiality that has been such a vital support system for all us in my current cohort, and to cultivate a rapport with professors that can only come from in-person interaction.
  8. Apologies @ArizonaAdmit. The same happened to a friend who had been accepted back in mid Jan to another AZ dept. I've seen comments to the effect of "well, maybe if they'd accepted their offer..." which fails to consider cases like my friend's: she was still waiting for an official letter detailing the finances and so couldn't accept when they sent word about no funding this year (well, it was more like they'd try to scrape something together for the first year but no promises for now or later on). Luckily, my friend got off a waitlist for another program only days ago; so it worked out in this case. I hope the same happens for you. Best of luck!
  9. Yes, it's a major bummer. I feel like a killjoy sharing it here but I personally appreciated this insight from a Humanities DGS. The OP of the Reddit post is in philosophy; I'm guessing English might have somewhat better prospects of weathering this storm, but who knows at this point. I have a few friends who are banking on the 2021 cycle and I just told them to make sure to start now on being the most competitive applicants they can be.
  10. I take viable to mean what works for you in your situation and comprehends all of the factors that go into choosing to enter a graduate program or not. You have to decide based on your own situation whether this offer is right for you, and no, you shouldn't disregard critical contributors to the quality of your life just to be in a program. I think in the case of this Reddit post, the professor is saying if you have a funded offer that remains a good fit in terms of both your academic interests and your individual situation, then go for it; don't bet on the next cycle just to get into a higher ranked school, because whatever happens with COVID, this process, which is already plagued by austere humanities budgets and other unknowns, will be more fraught. I hope you get off the waitlist for your #1 choice. Please report back if you do and let us all rejoice in some good news. (Note the edit in the Reddit post: OP's default advice is don't get a humanities PhD at all, which I hear a lot but still, yikes. My momma did raise a fool after all.)
  11. I agree with @Wildthing. Based on what I've been hearing, word to the wise is take a viable offer now and be glad you have it.
  12. Food: A Cultural Culinary History, a series from The Great Courses, available on Kanopy, if you have a free sub through your library. Ken Albala, the host of most of the episodes, is a darn delight.
  13. This recent Reddit post by a philosophy professor who is also an interim DGS predicts a brutal cycle next year and urges current applicants to take funded offers now rather than try again next cycle for a more desirable spot.
  14. I was poking around on Reddit last night and came across this post from a philosophy professor who is also an interim DGS. Based on the user history of the OP, it seems legitimate. I hope it is helpful to applicants of the current cycle.
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