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About AtlasFox

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  • Location
    Southeast US
  • Application Season
    2019 Fall
  • Program
    English Literature

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  1. Just wanted to pop in and say that I'll be taking the test this Saturday! I'm starting to feel a little nervous about it, but I'm not sweating it too much because I think only 1 or 2 programs I'm considering either require it or recommend it. I can't offer any study tips, but everything everyone's said so far has been really helpful! I've been going through the Quizlet flashcards and I'm surprised not only by how much I remember from my survey classes, but also how much literature I've never even heard of before now.
  2. Hey all~ So I privately messaged Izzie with some personalized feedback for this document, but I wanted to give a few tips for anyone who might read it later. These tips are loosely based on what I saw in this draft, and I only offer them here to provide other people with constructive criticism that they might can apply to their own SOP. These tips are mostly local writing tips rather than global level stuff. Make sure if you use contractions that you're wanting to maintain an informal tone in your document. If you are wanting a formal tone, do not use contractions. I've heard of both formal and informal tones being successful in SOPs, so just consciously be aware of what you're doing and why. Avoid vague and repetitive statements if possible. This is easier said than done, because it's not always easy to identify these characteristics in our own writing. Having multiple readers look over it can help you catch these statements. Completely personal preference for this tip, but rhetorical questions annoy the heck out of me. Avoid them. Please. Ask a question only if it's a research question or if you genuinely mean it as a question. Utilize active voice whenever possible. Some sentences require a passive voice for concision or clarity, but usually it can be made active. Avoid value judgments like "extraordinary" or "wonderful." Try to keep it factual or objective. You have a limited word count, and value judgments usually don't have room in this type of document. I was informed not to end a SOP too abruptly. Make sure to thank the committee for their time/consideration/etc. Hope this helps!
  3. Support goes both ways in a relationship. It sounds like you're being supportive of your SO and her job prospects, but it also sounds like the support is heavier on one side. Cutting 4 programs down to 1 seems a little overkill imo, especially after doing extensive research. That said, I think right now you run a higher (and unnecessary) risk of getting shut out of programs by only applying to one or two. I would consider at least applying to the four that were previously agreed on, and possibly more, and then when acceptances/rejections are made, that's when it's time to discuss which option would be the most beneficial for the two of you. I don't know how competitive the programs you're looking at are, but the ones I'm currently considering (for an English PhD) are very competitive, and my SO and I have had several conversations about this kind of thing. We both agreed that I should apply to any program that fits my research and offers decent funding, even if the location isn't necessarily ideal. As a result, I have some last-resort programs I'll be applying to, that I would only accept if nowhere else accepted me. However, there's a few programs that are in dream locations for both of us, and I'm making sure that I spend more time on those applications, as I want to make both of us happy.
  4. I second what WildeThing said, and you will more than likely be labeling yourself as 20th and 21st century Americanist. But I'd also like to add that, when you're researching professors, if you find any that get close to your interests, look at where they got their degrees, and then look at that program's current graduate students. That might help you gauge whether or not a program is supporting the type of work you're wanting to do. In my research, I came across Dr. Angel Daniel Matos (https://literature.sdsu.edu/people/bios/matos.html), who works explicitly with Queer YA; however, the program he's teaching at only offers an MA, it looks like. It might be beneficial, though, to look at the University of Notre Dame, since that's where he received his PhD. The page I linked also has a link to his academia.edu account, where he's posted PDFs of his syllabi (which look amazing to me, honestly). I hope this helps you! I think you and I have similar interests.
  5. I didn't even bother to write a standard five-paragraph essay for my writing section! My method was to bullet point ideas or assumptions about the argument, create a short "thesis" statement in like a two or three sentence introductory paragraph, and then I wrote a paragraph for each point (usually I had like 4 points for each prompt), with each paragraph having some sort of example, logical argument, or alternative explanation of the problem. In my "conclusion" paragraph I just tried to make sure my stance on the issue was clear or clarified what was at stake if the author went unquestioned in their assumptions. Fingers crossed. So yeah, I think you'll be fine! I think the writing section is gauged to determine your critical thinking skills more than anything else, honestly. That's how I took it. And your work on Joyce sounds impressive! I think that the archive material definitely adds a unique layer of research for an undergrad, and if you decided to use it as your writing sample, maybe you could briefly mention in your SoP how you used undergrad research funding to access archives. But I get what you're saying about the writing sample differing from your current interest and style. If you can't make up your mind between the two, maybe you could try to determine if each program you're applying to has professors who would be more interested in one paper over the other. Looking at the department's specialization and faculty interests might help you make up your mind.
  6. I just took the GRE today! I've been scouring the internet trying to determine if I need to consider retaking it, and after reading others' comments on here and elsewhere, I think I'm going to stick with the unofficial score I saw today. It seems like I made an average score, so while it doesn't make me competitive by any means, at least it's one less thing for me to worry about, right? I don't know. It's nice that more universities are dropping the requirement; I just worry about the universities that are still using it, as most of the universities I'm looking at still do, it seems like. I might change my mind and try to take it one more time, but at this point, I'm ready to be done with it. Also! I'm excited because you mentioned your writing sample possibly being on Ulysses! I just wrote a grad seminar paper this past semester on Ulysses and queer theory, and I asked my professor for feedback on it, letting her know that my intent was to use it as a writing sample. I'm choosing that paper because it's the most recent out of my work, I really liked how I engaged with secondary materials in it, and I felt that, while not everyone has actually read Ulysses, it's at least well-known and notoriously difficult. Although, I am slightly concerned with my writing sample being on Ulysses, given that I'm probably going to be labeling myself as an Americanist in my statements of purpose. Is anyone writing an explanation in their SoP as to why they are submitting the writing sample they chose? I have a draft of my SoP in which I made a small paragraph explaining how the research and the ideas I put forth in my writing sample provided inspiration to my current thesis-in-progress. 'Cause like you, my thesis (except I'm a grad student in this case) is definitely not going to be ready in time to use as a writing sample.
  7. Hi, everyone! First I want to say that I'm really excited that I found this community! A little about me: I'm earning my MA in English currently, at the same university where I earned my BA. I wasn't sure if grad school was what I wanted to do as an undergrad, and I really didn't have the stats or experience to apply straight to PhD programs after I graduated. I'm currently working on my thesis now, and overall I feel a lot more confident in applying to larger universities. That said, I'm mainly looking at applying to Literature PhD programs, but I've picked up interest in creative writing after taking a few workshops... so I might be throwing in a few MFA programs or dual literature & creative writing PhDs into the mix. I'll be applying to 10+ programs total, probably closer to 15. My research interests mostly center around queer theory and affect theory, and I'd like to focus on 20th and 21st century LGBT literature and film. I've read most people tend to label themselves as strictly interested in British or American literature for simplicity's sake, and I guess I'm wondering if there's a better way for me to identify myself in my statements of purpose, as I'm really interested in a transatlantic approach to queer literature. Anyways, I look forward to hearing how everyone else handles this complicated mess! I'm hoping being on here will help me lose my imposter syndrome feelings haha.
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