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cruel optimism

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About cruel optimism

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  • Interests
    cognitive and affect theory, digital humanities, contemporary literature and culture
  • Application Season
    2019 Fall
  • Program
    English PhD

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  1. I’ve observed from previous years that Duke Lit’s interviews tend to be particularly tough as compared to those of other schools — it’s as if if you weren’t grilled, your interview probably wasn’t a productive one. So, I think you shouldn’t feel so disheartened right now. I’m sure the way you experienced the interview was quite different from how the panel saw it. (On my end, I did absolutely trip up, but I felt that their questions were really useful in helping me think more rigorously about the finer details of my project.)
  2. Thank you @caffeinated applicant @onerepublic96!! Also, this is for Duke Lit! I think they've just started to roll out acceptances for English, so best of luck to everyone!
  3. @SheCyborg thank you so much!! And thank you, @digital_lime for that timely reminder. I was just on the brink of panicking while thinking about all the reading that I might have to do tomorrow to keep up (even just slightly) with everyone (I don’t know who’s interviewing me, still) on the panel. But you’re right, I should be alright with admitting that I don’t know as much, since the faculty clearly has YEARS ahead of me. So thank you, again, for that reassuring advice.
  4. Duke interview. Am freaking out. Any tips? (I'm exceptionally horrible at interviews...)
  5. It seems like there's been an uptick across most (R1? Ivy/ivy-adjacent?) programs, though I'm guessing that Yale's shocking statistic could perhaps also be due to the fact that their English department has only quite recently dropped their subject test requirement? In any case, this doesn't seem to bode well for me...
  6. Just wondering who your POIs may be, since I realised we’ve several subfields in common (and I didn’t receive a doodle poll email either).
  7. Congratulations to you both, and best of luck with your interviews! This admissions cycle is beginning to seem more real now that we're starting to hear back from schools. On a side note, @merry night wanderer, having read a draft of your SOP, I'd say that the good news is more than well-deserved!
  8. i'm an english phd applicant and won't mind helping you look over your work, if you want! (just drop me a PM.)
  9. a modest proposal: an updike reading group, in which we mostly gasp in disbelief and awe at how ludicrous some of his portrayals of women and sex are. 😂 i've been meaning to read that for so long, but i just haven't been able to drop by the bookstore lately. will definitely update you on how i find the book when i finally get to it (maybe this weekend?) one of my two greatest loves in literature, aside from woolf!! was there a particular volume that you enjoyed more than the others? and whose translation did you read, may i ask?
  10. oddly enough, this does make me want to read his books more, even if it's mainly out of spite now, just so i can prove... his ghost(??!) wrong. 😂
  11. just came across a comment that rita felski made on twitter that i thought i'd throw into this discussion, since i'm interested to hear your thoughts on this matter. but first, for a bit of context: following aaron hanlon's tweet about how literary scholars sometimes don't "love" or are "fans of" what they study ("the analogy I often use is expecting a physicist to have a favorite particle and if they don’t you assume they’re unhappy"), there ensued a discussion on whether enjoyment is, or should be part of the point of literary studies. that is, if literary critique sometimes elides enjoyment (i know, this is getting into the very contentious territory of "critique vs postcritique"). anyway, what felski had to say on this matter was: "I think this is perhaps the key division among literary scholars: attachment to objects (which we share with lay readers) versus attachments to methods (which we don't). Perfectly possible to be attached to both, of course!" so, a few questions: 1. is our current debate on jargon-packed academic writing tethered to a sort of "attachment to methods"? (it would seem so, if we were to take into account how much the discussion was centred around theory/ideology, but i'm curious to know if there are other ways in which literary studies might seem, or be made opaque to lay readers.) 2. do we really not share the same "attachment to methods" with lay readers? and is it just me or is that a slightly elitist opinion? or, is felski simply being realistic about the situation? (i've always liked to have more faith in her so-called "lay readers," since i think it's rather condescending to believe that people aren't going to be interested in, or that they can't appreciate and work with more specialised methods. i mean, as literary critics today, it seems we're often being called to be "amateurs" in fields related to, but aren't exactly our own. someone working in the intersection of literature and law might, say, have to teach themselves about an entire legislative system, whereas someone whose work draws on STS might have to learn how to navigate scientific terms. we're always drawing on, and adapting methods from other fields for our own uses and interests — aarthi vadde and saikat majumar's recently published book, the critic as amateur would probably be able to speak to this better than i can — so i don't want to presume that "lay readers" don't have the capacity to do the same.) 3. to paraphrase aaron hanlon's reply to felski, does the end of lit study amount to aesthetic judgement or historical/critical knowledge? or, in other words, what is it exactly that we, in academia (contra, perhaps, the pop culture critiques @politics 'n prose mentioned), are trying to communicate to our readers?
  12. ohh greenblatt, classic! though admittedly, i'm still experiencing a bit of greenblatt fatigue after encountering him So Much across so many of my classes at university. i'll probably get to Adam and Eve much later in the future, but like most of his work, it seems like a worthy read. what do you think about updike? i've always tended to avoid his books because of his reputation for misogynistic depictions of women, and because there were always other books that drew my attention more. but now that i've a bit more free time on my hands, i might get into his rabbit series (partly because patricia lockwood's uproariously hilarious review of his work in the lrb got me quiiiite intrigued).
  13. haha, i remember that (i'd been lurking then), but it was merely a confusion caused by users who posted about their interview requests, but didn't specify if they had applied to duke lit or english. that was why i felt the need to clarify earlier, just in case the same happens again this year.
  14. Bringing this thread back, now that we're done with the Dec 15 frenzy and will likely need to take our minds off worrying about Application Things that are no longer in our control. I've got Sara Ahmed's What's The Use on the top of my to-read list. What about everyone else?
  15. oh no, they didn't do it the last cycle! i remember emailing them to check.
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