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cruel optimism

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About cruel optimism

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

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  1. If it's to anyone's comfort, I don't think there's any one particularly "right" way of approaching the SOP, given that I've received tons of contradictory advice from applicants, current grad students, and professors alike on how to structure such a tricky piece of writing. And of course, depending on one's own personal/academic trajectory, there are likely varying aspects of the SOP that one might like to stress more (MA students might more often discuss their conference papers/presentations; someone with an unconventional life trajectory might want to discuss their own experiences; a student applying with a concrete project in mind might have some of the details laid out, etc). I'd also like to point out that different programs — or even readers, for that matter — appear to have their own expectations and preferences (for instance, it seems like comp lit/interdisciplinary programs favour SOPs that read like project proposals, because the nature of their work tends to be more individualised), so it's quite hard to say for certain what the departments to which you're applying want, really. In any case, there are far more factors than the SOP alone that matter in the admissions process (writing samples, fit, availability of resources, and so on), almost all of which are out of our control for now, so let's just hope for the best!
  2. Congratulations! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some waitlist movements for you!
  3. To be honest, I don't suppose that you're expected go into such immense and lengthy detail with your answers in interviews (they tend to only be between 15-30 minutes after all), lest it sounds like you're droning on. It seems like a nod to the faculty members with whom you hope to work (and the possible connections between your research and theirs) is sufficient as an answer to a question as general as "why our department". If your interviewers were more curious about the specifics, I'm certain that they would've asked more pointed follow-up questions, so don't beat yourself up about it!
  4. Just a heads up that some schools do call as well (often ahead of the official email). So, in short, we're now all reduced to being teenagers waiting by the phone for our crushes (or schools) to call.
  5. Oh hahaha I just realised how terribly I misread your original post!! (I really should get some sleep and stop squinting at my phone without my glasses on.) It sounds like you had such a lovely chat with your interviewers, and based on your description of it, I think they're rather thrilled for you to join their department! Fingers crossed!
  6. Oh, what do you mean by "based on their language" (since it's not a comp lit or non-english program)? (Unless you're referring to Old/Middle English? It does seem like medievalists tend more often to receive interviews from departments that do so selectively, and now that I'm thinking about it, I suppose the language component's part of the reason for that.) And thanks for your reply anyway! It does seem like they're interviewing those whom they'd love to recruit, but whose projects they want to know about in greater detail (in a good way), so best of luck with your application!
  7. Does anyone have any idea of what's going on with Stanford? It seems like they're bringing back interviews, but the invitations seem to be rather scattered. Are they interviewing all shortlisted candidates, or simply doing what Columbia usually does (interviewing according to sub-fields, and usually only the candidates about whom they're still on the fence)?
  8. 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.)
  9. 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!
  10. @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.
  11. Duke interview. Am freaking out. Any tips? (I'm exceptionally horrible at interviews...)
  12. 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...
  13. 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).
  14. 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!
  15. i'm an english phd applicant and won't mind helping you look over your work, if you want! (just drop me a PM.)
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