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premodernist

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  1. Hello, One question I have about writing samples is how to get a cold review of one. I've done an MA thesis of five chapters, and I plan on using one to serve as a writing sample for doctoral studies. Obviously, reviews from graduate peers and my thesis committee are essential. However, is it so much as possible to get a review of a writing sample outside of one's home department? I say this because I would really like to have someone review my sample with their own expectations of scholarship. Those would likely be different from what my department would consider good work. I don't say that because they're not smart people. Writing samples need to appeal to a broad audience with a range of specializations, and I'm looking for advice outside my pond. Another angle here is that works one would submit for publication usually go through a ton of reviews, but I imagine most are done by people the author trusts. I would imagine that putting a writing sample out to any audience is a problematic idea. Thoughts? My area of interest is the Arthuriana and Spenser's Faerie Queene.
  2. premodernist

    Spenser/Arthuriana Studies

    Wow! Thank you so much. I thought UP, PA was way closer to Philadelphia. I can’t believe I missed that. Thank you! George Washington University is certainly worth my attention.
  3. Hello, I find myself in a precarious position. I'm engaged, and my finance and I will be married this fall. I've told her about by academic aspirations, and she's offered some limited degree of support. By this, I mean that she's willing to move, but only to "big cities" that can support her line of work in environmental graphic design. So far, we've been able to agree on Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia, and the NY/NJ area. I plan on filing applications to the following schools: Rice University, University of Houston, Southern Methodist University, Penn State University, Temple University, New York University, and Rutgers. I've also thought about University of North Texas (the Dallas-Denton commute doesn't excite me), CUNY Graduate Center, and University of Washington. Faculty at Indiana would be great, but I can't sell that location. My main research interest that I've composed a substantial master's thesis on addresses Spenser's treatment of medieval sources. I have had some limited contact with faculty at Rice and Rutgers, (Rice's faculty member was happy to engage in a rather detailed correspondence), and I plan to send out a few more inquiries to the schools I've listed. What I would really like to know is if there are some lower-tier schools to which I should apply. I figure Penn State, NYU, and Rutgers are my long shots while Rice and SMU are slightly more forgiving but still incredibly selective.
  4. Hello, I have somewhat of a unique background for what I would like to do, and I would like some advice about how to handle such issues in a statement of purpose to study early-modern and medieval literature. I applied to PhD programs in philosophy after completing my master's degree studies at UChicago in 2012, but I was shut out in 2012 and 2013. When I started adjuncting at a couple community colleges in Texas in 2015, I also began an evening MA program in literature at a nearby university. I thought I secured the holy grail when a school accepted me into their doctoral program only to find out that there was no funding package available. Now, I've completed a substantial thesis project (over 100 pages in length), and I'm drawing a writing sample out of that. I feel like I'm in the best position to apply to a doctoral program than I ever have been before because of the amount of research I've done and the conference presentations I've done. My thesis research focuses on translatio studii et imperii and the how authors grafted representations of political power in early-modern and medieval literature, specifically Spenser's Faerie Queene and the Arthuriana (esp. Malory and Geoffrey of Monmouth). I ultimately argue that Spenser's Faerie Queene is more aligned with the Arthuriana than many scholars have taken it to be, and that there are a number of reasons why Spenser was not so committed to the Tudor myth. His representation of Elizabeth is not as flattering as it is often taken to be. When I met with a dean at a prestigious university where I would really like to study (a friend of the family brokered the meeting), she said that key pieces of my statement would be structuring a narrative that explains my change in fields from philosophy to literature and to "focus on the books." In other words, explain what I've read that makes me want to pursue a PhD in the field. I contacted a prospective advisor at the same institution, and he had much of the same advice. In my email, I also told him about how much I liked his book and how it was important to the research I'm doing now. He replied with a very gracious and detailed email. I doubt he'll be sitting on the committee, but he encouraged me to articulate our brief correspondence in my statement. My question here is how am I supposed to do all of this in the small space of a statement of purpose? The three books that really interest me are Stephen Greenblatt's Renaissance Self-Fashioning, Helen Cooper's The English Romance in Time, and Matthew Gumpert's Grafting Helen. So far, I've structured a statement that begins paragraph about what I studied in philosophy, and how Richard Rorty's idea of philosophy as a transitional genre inspired me to study literature instead. I also claim that my experience presenting papers at literature conferences also encouraged me that I could make superior contributions to that field. After that, I have roughly a paragraph on those three books, and I close with paragraph tailoring my statement to faculty at whatever school I'm applying to. I feel like I need a longer statement than the standard, or that I'm not paying enough attention to the books I want to discuss. Thanks!
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