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frenchphd

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  1. frenchphd

    French PhD applications - Fall 2019

    Of course... re: Emmanuel. Fran├žoise Lionnet's mentorship has launched some very successful careers.
  2. frenchphd

    Did anyone tried to discourage you from pursuing a PhD?

    You are severely discounting the real reason why people discourage others from getting PhDs. They know that you are aware of the job market, and that you are willing to look past that for reasons of intellectual fulfillment. I went through the exact same phase. However, what you are discounting is that academia is a culture, steeped in its own jargon and way of life, and once you spent 5+ years in it, you become really constricted mentally and physically, thanks to an environment that has only cultured and trained you into becoming an academic. It is much harder to shake this feeling off than you think; the idea that you can do other things outside of the academy becomes blurred. It really has nothing to do with the facts; it is about how people end up feeling. I, too, resisted this feeling for many years but it got to me. I attend arguably the biggest-name university in the world, and I do not expect that I will be able to continue this lifestyle, which is heart-breaking. I, too, thought I could break away. But it has proven to be hard. For a humanities PhD, I have quant and coding skills too, as my secondary specialization is digital humanities. Can I think of ways to phase out of the academy? The career services people can. But me? No, because it's a lot harder than I thought--and I, myself, am the limit. In short, I am addicted to academia... I'm not discouraging you from doing academia. My professors told me not to, but I did it anyway because I thought I knew better. Do it, but just remember that you, too, might get addicted.
  3. frenchphd

    French PhD applications - Fall 2019

    GRE scores don't really matter as long as they aren't terrible. Most schools are more concerned with your analytical skills and your facility with French.
  4. Yours is a classic story: family-pressure led to science degrees. But now you have decided that life would be better spent studying the humanities, so you want to get a PhD in English. Professors have heard this narrative many times. To convince them that your change is serious, you have to get experience. Getting into Harvard or Columbia's English programs is extraordinary difficult even for the best students in the humanities. As others have said, it's going to be a tough sell without having background in literature or the humanities generally. There is just a range of vocabulary you need, a range of thinkers you should have engaged with, capacities you should have (writing very long papers -- not as easy as you think!) If I were you, I'd simply finish the masters degree at Cornell, and rethink this path. There are no academic jobs for English PhDs -- including Yale PhDs; by the end, you might have to come back to engineering, or do something else with your life. If you are serious, 100% committed, simply apply to MA programs in literature. It's quite easy to get into Columbia or Chicago to get an unfunded MA -- basically guaranteed admission. Columbia also has this history and literature program in Paris, taught in English. Alternatively, you could look for funded MAs -- maybe at Oregon State or something? I would not recommend the part-time classes and full-time STEM work scenario -- it's a lot harder to handle than one would think! It's important to give your 100% to get into a top program in English.
  5. frenchphd

    French PhD applications - Fall 2019

    ^^ Right. And note that even within Francophone studies, what is fashionable changes. Right now it is good to work on the subsaharan Africa. In the last few years, North Africa has been quite popular, but now that most institutions have finished hiring, those jobs are also declining. Who knows what will be fashionable next -- all depends on current events! Don't bet on anything-- just work on whatever calls to you. It's somewhat useless to build yourself for the market, given you cannot predict it, but it may be worthwhile to not work on certain topics (early modern), or even if you do, relate them to contemporary junctures. Also note that many jobs last year went to people who already had tenure-track jobs elsewhere, particularly the desirable ones located in or near cities (Scripps comes to mind). Given that students are not necessarily studying the humanities today, institutions often want the most experienced faculty members who can keep students in the humanities -- which often means professors with a lot of teaching experience. Also if your aim is to go to a top-name school, which probably won't allow for a lot of teaching experience, you may want to go to an MA program first that makes you teach every semester. Many people who found jobs last year had teaching experience from these positions as well.
  6. frenchphd

    Is an Ivy League degree a "golden ticket" career-wise?

    Unless it's a master's in science (particularly techy stuff), it's essentially the humanities. (And even those tech programs are cash-cow programs.) Some humanities programs probably have 80% acceptance rate or above.. like Chicago's MAPH. If I were you, I wouldn't attend this program. Columbia is NOTORIOUS for its terminal MA programs.
  7. frenchphd

    French PhD applications - Fall 2019

    Here's some "inside" (not really) knowledge for all potential applicants: -- Do not apply to Columbia -- they overenrolled by nearly 100% this year. By the same token, UPenn, which overenrolled last year, will be able to admit more candidates next year. -- Chris Miller at Yale is retiring soon, and will not take new students, so if you want to study the Caribbean or Francophone Africa (excluding Francophone North Africa), look elsewhere. They will not admit you. Save your money. Same re: Howard Bloch for medievalists (look at NYU, Michigan instead). Edwin Duval (Renaissance) has already announced his phased retirement, so probably look at Princeton (Katie Chenoweth) for early modern studies (french as well as comp. lit). -- NYU's placements have been terrible in the last two years (one person got a lecturer position, but that's it). There are few jobs, so it is worthwhile to attend smaller programs that can devote more time and resources to fewer people. -- Getting jobs is a lot about teaching experience these days. Even visiting positions really want to see that you have teaching experience, particularly at small liberal arts colleges. Places where you might get more teaching experience (Michigan, Berkeley, UCLA, CUNY, Penn State) might be better places for finding an academic position ultimately. The market is smaller, but it's also changing. Can't say much about French, because it's so small and every year is somewhat different, but fields like English no longer just hire people from Harvard or Yale... Yale English in particular has done particularly poorly in placing people. Places like Rutgers and CUNY are producing students with desirable research portfolios. The old adage of "go to a top school or don't go" needs a second look. (caveat: Obviously most of us do not go into PhD programs because we want a job. But it's nice to think about maximizing your chances of continuing this lifestyle.)
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