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snorkles last won the day on November 18

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  1. As far as interdisciplinary work, Chicago embraces that approach. Only a few in my cohort are interested in canonical works. One person is interested in new media theory, for example. Others are interested in object studies. Queer theory, affect, gender and sexuality, history of sexuality and biopolitics are all big here too. Anywhere you go, you're going to be engaging with texts in a substantial way, whether those are literary, critical, or theoretical texts. In this way, literature never goes away. It's reasonable that you don't know exactly what you want to study, but if you're thinking about any PhD program, you'd want to situate yourself in a field before applying. It might be useful to spend the remainder of your MA experience trying to figure out what those interests are and how they intersect.
  2. Yeah, I mean you can't change it now right? And you'll never really know how it factored into your application anyway.
  3. If you've already submitted applications, then it's not worth stressing yourself out about. Good luck everyone! Hopefully by next time this year all of you are sharing in the overwhelming sense of inadequacy like me!
  4. The personal statement is fairly open to what you want it to be, I think. It should be about you, and there are certain things that only you can say. A cliche to avoid is to talk about your love of literature or how you came to love it. What makes you interesting? Things like that. A quick note about the diversity statement: I'd be careful not to come across as having a savior complex. It's a tough document to write, especially if you come from a traditionally privileged background. Be honest and don't pretend to offer the program an aspect of diversity that's not true to your experience.
  5. In my first year. Happy to provide another pair of eyes should any one need it.
  6. Finally completing applications feels so good. Waiting to hear back is an exciting time. Don't let bad news defeat you. Good luck to everyone in the final few weeks of work.
  7. My two cents is that I don't know if being hyper specific is always beneficial. I articulated a few guiding research questions/problems that I thought my field could benefit from and then footnoted books that may be in my sphere of research. It's important to demonstrate room for growth in your SoP, I think. My philosophy was to provide a balanced account of who I am, my research goals, and my professional interests (unless the program greatly limited the word count or said what type of content they're looking for).
  8. I have a different take. I approached the statement with most of my paragraphs focusing on my interests and project proposal (which as far as I can tell is really just a test to see if you can articulate a project since no one expects you will focus on it). I dedicated half a paragraph to fit for each program. Admission committees will know if you match what they're looking for, and I don't think it's wrong to spend most of your statement focusing on yourself instead of arguing about fit. That's not to say that a greater emphasis on fit is a bad thing; I just don't think it's necessary.
  9. Programs will send an email to your letter writers with a link for them to upload the document once you input their contact information in the reference section of the application. This process can be done ahead of time, if you want to give your writers plenty of time to upload the documents. Some programs will only send letter requests after you submit your application. I wouldn't limit your applications. One of my letter writers mentioned how unreasonable the process has become for faculty, but that's just the way it is these days. You can make it easier for them to keep track of the uploads by sending them a document with each institution name and deadline. A few tips: you will receive emails once letters are submitted, and you can look at each program portal to see which letters are still missing. It's helpful for your sanity to keep track of this information in a separate document. Also, give your letter writers plenty of notice--at least a few weeks. Some of them are writing multiple letters each cycle in addition to their already packed schedule. Occasional reminders may be necessary to get all of your letters on time, and I've read that there's an unspoken grace period for late letters for many (most?) programs. I tried to submit all of my applications about a week before the deadline, with many of my letter requests sent well in advance of this. Finally, ask if there's any way to make the process easier for them.
  10. That's a large range. 10-12 seems to be a comfortable amount for many people. Also, I meant I chose the program that intimidated me the most. And by intimidation, I mean the program that offered a style and method I wasn't familiar with but I could learn a lot from. This was assuming all other factors were equal, of course (which wasn't and often isn't the case). I can't speak to the varied intensity of programs, but I'd bet you'll find most programs to be rigorous in their own ways. You might also consider some of the external factors to the university when considering fit. If there are locations where you refuse to live, then how good of a fit the program is for you may be of little importance.
  11. I considered how many scholars were working/had worked in my period and how they're current interests aligned with mine. I went with programs that had at least two faculty who worked directly in my period and a few others who fit my critical interests. Mind you, this was less about me being particular and rather about making sure I had a chance at getting in somewhere. Really, though, I don' know how much (if at all) this approach affected the outcome. After admissions, I went with the program that made me the most academically uncomfortable/intimidated. That's not the only factor of course: logistics play a role, but it was nonetheless important. How many programs do you anticipate applying to? It might be a good move to apply to them all, if you have the means.
  12. If the time you have remaining before the exam is such that the time you would spend studying for the quantitative section would hurt your preparations for the qualitative section or other parts of your applications, I would say forego studying for it. Like Warelin said, a low quant score may hurt your chances at some fellowships, but it seems that without some serious studying, you're unlikely to score within the parameters of these fellowships anyway--assuming the rest of your application is equal to other candidates. I guessed on most quant questions, scored 11th percentile. It didn't seem to matter overall.
  13. Congrats! You're way ahead of the game. How was the housing search in Chicago? With the commute times and parking, I can't see how anywhere but Hyde Park would make sense. I'm looking to start the search in mid-July.
  14. Congrats! Why Brown over UVA or Johns Hopkins? All great programs, of course.
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