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Melvillage_Idiot

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About Melvillage_Idiot

  • Rank
    Caffeinated

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Interests
    Appalachian Literature, American Literature (19th Century-present)
  • Application Season
    2018 Fall
  • Program
    PhD in English

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  1. Thirding the advice that if a program's admissions page doesn't make their feelings towards MAs clear, looking at student profiles is a good way to gauge the situation. Schools often have two separate degree completion times for students with different degrees at admission, e.g. an assumption that their program is 5+ years for students admitted with a BA but only 3+ or 4+ for those with an MA. The idea there, of course, is to give the students without a Masters a chance to take roughly the same amount of classes by the time they finish. If a program is structures that way, you can at least assume they take students with MA degrees, even if it's not necessarily their preference. For that, again, you'd probably want to check student profiles, although my own experience viewing those programs suggest they generally lean towards the BA candidates. And then there are some scattered programs that only accept students with an MA or MFA; the University of Denver, where I start in a couple weeks, is one such program. They're rare by comparison, though.
  2. @a_sort_of_fractious_angel hit it on the head, although I do want to add that there is a growing willingness for programs to grant some sort of exception for "equivalent skills" (to use the language of a few schools I considered). A lot of program guides mention computer programming as a way to satisfy the foreign language requirement, and the university I'm off to doesn't have a foreign language requirement but what they call a "tool requirement," in which you gain some skill that will help you in your literary studies and where foreign languages are just one option available.
  3. Fellow Southern specialist here! I think you'd probably be served best by focusing on the queer theory side of your interests, and bringing the Southern focus into it as your own angle. Yeah, finding that Southern focus might be a little more difficult outside the South, but that doesn't mean Southern specialists are exclusive to the region (or any other regional identity; I'm off to Denver, and there's an Appalachian specialist there!). Certainly apply to some Southern schools, but don't feel locked into the region. As far as useful resources for applying go, this very forum is a treasure trove =P Anything in particular that you're worried about? I know I skipped your second question -- since I did the Southern search last fall, I've got a boatload of schools I could float for that half of your interests, but I'd need a minute to review the list and I've not got much time at the present to respond! I can add more later/PM you if you're interested.
  4. University of Denver both allows and encourages their Lit Studies PhD students to take creative writing classes for at least a few of their electives, and is even willing to accept a creative component to a scholarly-track dissertation, as long as it meets all the expected standards of academic rigor and all that in the more traditional bits. I minored in CW as an undergrad and did a lot with my MA institution's university press and creative writing program, so one of the huge draws for me about DU is that I'll be able to keep double-dipping ?
  5. I'm not totally sure what to do with this sentence. This phrasing makes it sound like the burden of maintaining the relationship falls entirely on your girlfriend's shoulders, and that by choosing a more distant school she's the one who has potentially jeopardized things. If her choice was something the two of you agreed on, as you said initially, then this kind of second-guessing doesn't seem very fair to her. Frankly, it hints that you're already starting to develop some bitterness about the choice, and that suggests a lot about the relationship already. I admit, I'm not of any use to answering your concern -- my partner and I have been able to make all our big school-related moves together, and long distance is something we've been able to avoid. I just wanted to point out that the way you've phrased your worries indicates something that, if you are truly committed to this relationship, you may not have meant to imply.
  6. Congratulations! One of my MA thesis advisors did his PhD at Lehigh, and I've never heard him speak about the school in anything less than a gush.
  7. So, my mom has a Master's in Education and has taught at the local community college back home for my entire life; Dad is the only one of his siblings to graduate high school, but took it no further than that. I'm from southeast Kentucky, so up until recently most of the men on either side of the family were either coal miners, or worked in some coal-related side industry (e.g., one of my grandfathers was a miner, the other a coal truck driver). On Dad's side I was the first to get a Bachelor's; on both sides, I'll be the first to get a PhD. I've said this elsewhere on the forum, but the biggest stress for me during my application process was my dad's difficulty in understanding that I'd be moving really far away. He's tried to be supportive, but he gets really hung up on the distance, to the point that it's usually clouded every exchange we've had. When I called home to tell my parents that my partner and I had decided on University of Denver, he immediately started crying. It was...rough. Way back before I ever sent out my first application, we talked about how it would be very difficult for me to find the right school if I limited myself to an area near home. He said to me, "I've always been proud of you for succeeding, but now I'm worried you've succeeded yourself too far away from me." I'm thinking a lot more about that comment lately, and I think that might get at the heart of the struggles that many of us with a decidedly non-academic parent have felt in all those awkward silences and defensive conversations. I know that Dad is very proud of me, and I know that he always wanted me to do something very different from him and the other men in his family; at the same time, I don't think he expected that push to be different to send me clear across the country. Almost all of Dad's family still lives in my home county (even more narrowly, about half of them still live in the same holler) and I don't think he'd given much thought to the notion that I might well and truly leave.
  8. Your advisor's given you some solid advice, and some great program recommendations, so hey, you have that much in your corner! I mostly want to echo some of what @heysickah said with regard to interests and the value of an MA. Coming into my own MA, I had an idea for research that ended up being completely different from what I chose to do, and I am far from the only person on this forum (or in academia at large) with a similar story. We're into pretty similar things scholastically, so I totally dig what you've mentioned as previous research subjects, but they don't necessarily have to define you. That said, you've made your background sound pretty strong, so if the passion's there, totally lean into it more and build from it. Even if you do switch gears, you are in no way expected to swear off Southern lit; even if you double down, there's no reason you can't spend time with completely different subjects. "Specialization" isn't as constricting as it sometimes sounds. Also, with regard to whether to take an MA beforehand, I would encourage you to consider that option. Yes, the financial situation does make it a bit of a hard sell, but pursuing an MA is a great chance to grow and develop as a researcher and scholar - not as high stakes and career-defining as a PhD, but also more rigorous and focused than a BA. I know when I finished my Bachelor's, I was nowhere near ready to handle a PhD program; having gone through an MA, I was able to go into the PhD search as a much stronger candidate, which has paid off. It's different for everyone -- you may well be perfectly ready to tackle the doctorate -- but I wouldn't discount the option.
  9. Hello, fellow Appalachian! I'm from Kentucky and know Lexington and the surrounding area really well, and my partner and I both looked at Purdue and UK during our own school searches, so hopefully I can be of some help! I'll say up front, I'm absolutely Team UK here. Their program is solid, they've got fantastic special collections in their library (at least for my research interests; you don't mention your own, so I don't know how much their Appalachian specialties would matter to you), and the area is great. Lexington is a wonderful city -- great restaurants, plenty of theaters and shops for fun stuff -- and it's located within a short driving distance of so much fun stuff (Red River Gorge, Kentucky Horse Park, all the bourbon distilleries, etc. etc.). UK's campus is quite nice, if infamous for its sprawl, but I imagine as a graduate student you'll probably be spending most of your time in one or two buildings, so that probably won't be much of an issue. The only reservation I would have about going to UK isn't even directly related to the university, but to state politics. I don't know how much you know about Kentucky's state government, but the current governor, Matt Bevin, has made his political career with attacks on the education system. Right now, he's been gutting public school retirement funds, but back when we he was first sworn in at the end of 2015, one of the first things he did was illegally cut the state higher education budget. The motion was shot down, and neither Bevin nor the state legislature have really gone after the colleges since, but it left some marks on the collective education psyche. You mentioned that folks there seem a bit worried about the availability of conference funding, and while I'm sure there might some real funding concerns there (especially if they tend to be stingy with non-ABD students), I wouldn't rule out that some of that anxiety is related to lingering concerns about the government. As the flagship state university, UK is likely going to better weather any weird legislative actions that could impact the higher education system, but the worry is still there. I don't bring all that up to frighten you away from UK -- I really hope I didn't! -- but just to let you know a little bit about the local academic climate. Like I said, Bevin didn't get his way when he went after the universities the first time, and at this point he's become so wildly unpopular that re-election next year seems incredibly unlikely (although, you know...don't count your votes before they're cast). Even with that concern, I think you'd be really well served by the faculty and resources at UK, and have a wonderful time with all that Kentucky has to offer =) If you have any other questions about the area, shoot me a PM! I'd be happy to plug some specific restaurants, shops, nearby small towns worth exploring, or talk about anything else!
  10. I think the Minnesota boosters might be on to something, especially knowing now that you and your partner are both independent enough to make a go of the long-distance if necessary. It does sound like maybe @Wooshkuh's proposition of USC and UM might be a better plan. Is there anything besides the climate that could push you away from UM? The part of the last post I've put in bold does suggest that there's still some hang-up other than the cold.
  11. I was in a weird place when I started my MA a few years ago, so that particular step in grad school honestly never hit" me. It was just another thing I was doing at the time. My PhD search, on the other hand, hit me after I got home from visiting the second of my two prospective schools. I'd had a really good visit to both of them, and I knew that no matter where I ended up, I'd be happy. That felt amazing. I'm sure it'll hit me all over again during the preparation for a cross-country move, although that "hit" might be far more literal and involve me dropping a box of books on my foot on the way to the UHaul.
  12. So, this is probably going to be a total non-answer, but it does sound like you are looking at something of a problem of location. Based on how little you mention about UMN, it seems like maybe you're already starting to rule them out (I could totally be misinterpreting that; stop me if I am!), and the real choice is USC vs. UW. USC is a really good school, but if you've grown tired of the area and didn't feel quite like you fit with the program, that says something. Does the presence of your partner and your friends at UW override the concerns with the program there? There's something to be said for having a support network outside of school already in place, and if you know you'll be happy and comfortable in the area, you might be able to focus in on the best parts of their program and really get something good out of it. Again, though, that's only if you think that can trump your worries about the program; if you don't mind my asking, was the conversation you had with the DGS "troubling" for any reason other than their lack of enthusiasm in recruiting you? Also, since someone is likely to bring this up later: You do want to consider how much your relationship with your partner means to you and this decision. I'm totally for doing what you can to stay together and make it all work -- I did this whole crazy dance with my partner, and we came to a very happy decision together. That said, I know from elsewhere on this forum and from my own peers that relationships and academia are often hard to juggle at the same time, and it is something that needs to be considered seriously. You are right about this being a good problem to have, but that doesn't mean it's not a hard choice! I really hope we can help you pick the right school!
  13. Best of luck in the next season! I hope you find somewhere you can really call home (at least for a few years) =)
  14. The question of commuting is one we're working through right now! The good news is, between the bus lines and the light rail, we're not likely to have to drive if we do live further away. We do like the idea of living fairly close to campus, though. We'll just have to weigh the benefits of both.
  15. My best friend is worried about this very question, since he did a one-year MA and didn't have an assistantship, so he's taking a couple gap years to actually teach. I had a TA while I was a Master's student, but the advice I was given was to use my gap year to get instructor-of-record teaching experience, so I've been adjuncting. The weird thing for me, though, is that while I had some experience as a TA and now as instructor, I've never had a pedagogy course or any formal educational guidance, so even with my on-paper experience, I still felt it important to look at schools that offered serious instruction on..well, instruction. I guess my advice to any future reader of this thread is this: If you feel that not TA-ing (or not enough TA-ing) in Masters could hurt you, and you can afford the gap year(s), then try to get some teaching experience under your belt. It certainly won't hurt!
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