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hbhowe

Fall 2019 Applicants

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Agree with @elx and @Sigaba, write the review on a book by a historian so you can explicitly engage with the historiography in which that historian intervenes. The committee wants to see how well you do that, in addition to your ability to summarize the argument and critique the book.

As an aside for posterity, and not as a criticism of @potsupotsu (I'm sure you're an excellent reviewer!!): do not strawman historians' arguments in lit reviews, be it in a book review or an article or your dissertation. Our discipline is a small pond, our subfields even smaller ponds, and people tend to know the gist of prominent scholars' arguments in their prominent books. They also tend to be friends or at least friendly acquaintances, and if you try to get a knock-out punch by strawmanning an argument, it's not a good look. I've been knocked down a peg for accidentally doing this early in my MA, thankfully by a supportive professor who realized I was just a novice, but I've seen worse happen to others further along in their grad careers.

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Submitted the majority of my applications yesterday. Now, the descent into insanity as I wait for results 😅

Question for people who know more about adcoms than me: how do you imagine professors read writing samples? Read the intro, skim a bit, and read conclusion? Only read the first few pages? I'm just worried because the beginning of mine is mostly historiographical summaries and the original research comes later. I think I do a good job of blending my findings with the established literature around the topics/time period, but I worry readers won't get there.

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52 minutes ago, adsperli said:

Submitted the majority of my applications yesterday. Now, the descent into insanity as I wait for results 😅

Question for people who know more about adcoms than me: how do you imagine professors read writing samples? Read the intro, skim a bit, and read conclusion? Only read the first few pages? I'm just worried because the beginning of mine is mostly historiographical summaries and the original research comes later. I think I do a good job of blending my findings with the established literature around the topics/time period, but I worry readers won't get there.

They read the whole thing, at least in my experience. The DGS of my program talked with me about how I evaluated the original Greek. 

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3 hours ago, adsperli said:

Submitted the majority of my applications yesterday. Now, the descent into insanity as I wait for results 😅

Question for people who know more about adcoms than me: how do you imagine professors read writing samples? Read the intro, skim a bit, and read conclusion? Only read the first few pages? I'm just worried because the beginning of mine is mostly historiographical summaries and the original research comes later. I think I do a good job of blending my findings with the established literature around the topics/time period, but I worry readers won't get there.

In my experience, adcomms read the statement of purpose and the writing sample very closely. Even profs outside my field commented on my writing sample after I was admitted. My impression was that they read the statement first and if they thought it was really good, the application was still “live” and then they moved on to the sample. Of course, different people will put more weight on different aspects of the application so it’s hard to say what your adcomms will do.

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3 hours ago, adsperli said:

Question for people who know more about adcoms than me: how do you imagine professors read writing samples? Read the intro, skim a bit, and read conclusion? Only read the first few pages? I'm just worried because the beginning of mine is mostly historiographical summaries and the original research comes later. I think I do a good job of blending my findings with the established literature around the topics/time period, but I worry readers won't get there.

This varies enormously. Some will read the whole sample carefully, some will read part, some won't read it at all (and will still admit you!).

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I feel like, logically, adcoms only read the first few pages of the sample because they don’t have time to read it all. That’s what one of my professors told me and he recommended that the first few pages need to wow the judges so to speak. However, I’ve also had professors tell me after that they read my entire writing sample. Perhaps as they finalize the candidates, the samples start to be read more closely.

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