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Help! Competitiveness/Program Choice - Environmental/Southern/American Lit

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22 hours ago, Matthew3957 said:

I am applying this year as well. So I have some time for my SOP, but I also have 2 research papers to write over the break - German semesters are like this. I am hoping to finish it by September and ask for recommends around that time too. Maybe even get my applications in by end of October. 

I went through the same thing with the subject test, I think if its more than one school it might be worth it. 

Oregon has been on my list and Boulder I just started looking into from your list. Oregon seems really cool, Eugene is a good college town, I love the Northern California/Southern Oregon vibes personally, but it is not for everyone. The thing that puts me off about Oregon is just - slightly elitistly - ranking, but mostly because of job prospects after. Their placement page on their website is blank which did not seem like the best sign to me. They are still in the running for me though because they have such a strong eco focus. Boulder like I said I just started looking at, but it seems like a good program and Boulder itself seems like a good city. I have to research it some more when I get the chance, but it might make my list. 

Depending on how confident I feel I might drop Stanford's MTL and/or UVA. I like the work that is done at both, but right now I have 5 "top tier" schools and that makes me nervous. I know people say rankings don't decide who accepts you and not, but I am still trying to spread it around and have different types of programs with similar focuses.

Gotcha. Yeah you definitely have time! I'm hoping to get my apps in by the end of October as well. 

I thought the same thing about Oregon's placement page. That's something on my list to ask the grad coordinator about sometime in the next couple months. I think their focus on eco definitely outweighs rank for me, but I know what you mean. I just recently went to Boulder on a quick trip and fell in love, so that had some influence on my excitement about Boulder's program too. They have a lot of faculty working on ecocrit. 

I know what you mean about rankings too, which is why I'm applying to so many schools. I am excited about several programs that aren't ranked super high, just as I'm not so excited about a few programs that are top tier schools. I figure a balance like that is a good way to approach it. Who really knows? Only time will tell, I guess! 

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@CatBowl Totally with you after checking out Oregon's page more today I am almost sold. I should get in touch with the coordinator as well and ask about it. That's one thing I haven't done yet with any of the schools. Essentially, from this thread I have now added Boulder and Oregon and maybe removed UIUC.

I think I am going to try and check out teaching loads from here to narrow down a bit more - I'm sitting at 12...

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On 7/19/2018 at 1:39 PM, indecisivepoet said:

I've also opted not to apply to Berkeley, Northwestern, and PSU as they prefer BA-only applicants

Does it say somewhere on the website that Berkeley prefers BA-only applicants and I'm just missing it? 

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@Matthew3957 Glad to hear that about Oregon! Yes, that's been my most recent project. I reached out to coordinators at each school on my list and asked if there were current grad students willing to discuss their experiences with me. It has been immensely helpful so far, though a bit overwhelming. I learned a lot more about teaching which helps narrow down my list a lot too. It's amazing what the program websites don't share! 

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@CatBowl that sounds like a great plan I hadn't even thought of. I should do that too. Anything of note ya wanna share? Help a fellow ecocritter out? :)

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On 7/23/2018 at 5:01 AM, Scarlet A+ said:

Does it say somewhere on the website that Berkeley prefers BA-only applicants and I'm just missing it? 

Nope. I was told this by @Warelin. I didn't ask for a source because I feel comfortable trusting everything they say LOL. But I'm sure they would be happy to provide one.

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1 hour ago, indecisivepoet said:

Nope. I was told this by @Warelin. I didn't ask for a source because I feel comfortable trusting everything they say LOL. But I'm sure they would be happy to provide one.

A lot of my information regarding Berkeley was gathered from talking to grad students and the Grad Coordinator a few years ago. They also at one point publicized information (via newsletter?) about where their current students received their degrees from. On average, only one or two people per cohort had a Master's degree. I was provided multiple years of data and it seemed very consistent with the information I heard from other students. It is possible that they could be changing; as different DGS like running things differently but usually programs don't interfere with how they judge applications because it's often a grad school admission.

For example, Penn State's English department would like to weigh GRE scores differently for their PHD program. PSU's grad school determines what weighs how much though so high GRE scores are important. Numbers are easier to understand for grad schools because it's easier to display those numbers to the grad school. We might never know what those magic numbers are, but we do know that Penn State's English department has had to fight hard for candidates they've really wanted that don't fit those numbers. PSU is often thought of as a program that prefers BA-only applicants as is Pittsburgh. Both are state schools and I think it has something to do with the way that Pennsylvania's educational bylaws are written.  

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Quick note on Berkeley! People who come in with MAs are definitely in the clear minority among Cal's students, but it does vary wildly year to year (or at least has in my time here, admitted four cohorts ago). In the cohort that just finished their first year, for example, only one student has an MA (there are more if you count MFAs); in next year's admitted cohort, though, 5 of the 11 students do. I'd say the average number hovers closer to three-ish, so anywhere from a third to a quarter of the cohort. I wouldn't not apply simply because you have an MA!

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11 minutes ago, unræd said:

Quick note on Berkeley! People who come in with MAs are definitely in the clear minority among Cal's students, but it does vary wildly year to year (or at least has in my time here, admitted four cohorts ago). In the cohort that just finished their first year, for example, only one student has an MA (there are more if you count MFAs); in next year's admitted cohort, though, 5 of the 11 students do. I'd say the average number hovers closer to three-ish, so anywhere from a third to a quarter of the cohort. I wouldn't not apply simply because you have an MA!

It's always good to have an update! Thanks! My knowledge on Berkeley was based on information from earlier years. With that being said, the trend does seem to be getting more ma-friendly. The program I accepted has generally been mostly ba-only; my specific cohort is evenly mixed. Other programs I was accepted to also seem to be similarly balanced. I think programs are trying to take a more balanced approach as well as working to lower their time to degree average. Fit still remains the most important factor.

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Hey! I think I finally narrowed down my research interests and found the proper terms for it. Well, not too sure about the latter but I'll figure it out eventually.

I'm interested in early 20th century California wilderness literature and I found some programs that look like a good fit. Most are in California but there's some programs I've been considering out of state such as Oregon and Washington State.

The issue is that I'm not sure if I should try to stay in state if I'm doing regional literature or should I try to apply for programs regardless of location as long there's professors with similar research interests. I was born and raised in California so would prefer to stay in state but I'm scared that I won't get accepted anywhere if I'm too selective when applying. Ideally I'd like to get into a PhD program but I wouldn't say no to a funded MA.

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On 7/20/2018 at 10:21 AM, CatBowl said:

Gotcha. Yeah you definitely have time! I'm hoping to get my apps in by the end of October as well. 

Silly, paranoid question, but is there any benefit to getting applications in early? Do adcoms usually start reviewing them and mentally offering places as they come in or wait until the deadline has passed to start reviewing?

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19 minutes ago, indecisivepoet said:

Silly, paranoid question, but is there any benefit to getting applications in early? Do adcoms usually start reviewing them and mentally offering places as they come in or wait until the deadline has passed to start reviewing?

Adcoms don't start reviewing applications until the deadline has passed. Submitting early might allow the coordinator to notify you of missing recommendations or components of your application. There are some applications that won't allow you to submit recommendation requests until 24 hours after you've submitted your application. Most places allow you to request recommendations in the middle of filling your application. 

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On 6/21/2018 at 4:11 PM, CatBowl said:

 

1) I have 14 schools on my list right now, and I think I'll be able to apply to 10. (Or should I bite the bullet and apply to all 14!?) I am worried that I'm not competitive enough for the schools to which I'm thinking about applying: UT-Austin, UCLA, UC-SB, Vanderbilt, U of Oregon, UC-Davis, Duke, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Chapel Hill, U of Virginia, Princeton, U of Iowa, Emory, and Ole Miss (in no particular order). Does anyone have any insider info on these schools/programs? Am I shooting way too high here? I know a lot of this process has to do with fit, and I'm still figuring out that part. (Yes, I have been looking into profs of interest and their research and trying to narrow down my list based on that...)

2) Any ecocriticism/environmental lit people out there? I'd love to get feedback on the schools listed above. Have I forgotten some? I'm sure I have; please don't hold it against me. ☺️

 

 

Hello, and welcome!

I would add to your list the U. of Idaho (Scott Slovic and Erin James are there; both are great ecocrit folks. Scott is a pillar of ecocrit and works a lot with narrative scholarship and the interplay between personal writing and environmental writing. Erin is a poco-eco [post-colonial ecocritic] working on narrative theory in some fun ways.) as well as the University of Nevada, Reno. UNR's program was pretty much the flagship program in ecocrit but has since lost their specialized track in ecocrit and a few faculty who moved on to other institutions, but if you're into early american lit and ecocriticism, Mike Branch is still there and he is fantastic. There are also some other great new folks there, but I don't know them on a personal level so can't say much.

Everyone else has thoroughly covered the other advice I might have offered. Good luck on your search! What are your particular interests in ecocrit/environmental writing? What projects interest you? I'd be happy to talk shop.

 

-EH

Edited by EspritHabile

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Hi @EspritHabile! Thanks so much for your recommendations. My list has changed a bit since I first posted – for now, I've decided to apply to 14 programs. I will certainly look into U of Idaho and U of Nevada, Reno. I've since added Notre Dame, CU Boulder, and Rice U to my list (and I ended up dropping UCLA, UCSB, and Princeton). 

I'm interested in contemporary American lit and Southern lit, and I'm newly interested in Native American lit as well. Particularly, I'd like to study ecofeminism. 

Thanks for your suggestions, and I'd love to hear any additional thoughts! 

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54 minutes ago, CatBowl said:

Particularly, I'd like to study ecofeminism.

Have you looked at Stony Brook? They have Heidi Hutner and she's very into ecofeminism. She's an associate professor of English. She was previously also the director of the Sustainability Studies program.

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@EspritHabile I'll check out Idaho, thanks for the suggestion. Like CatBowl mine have changed too. I have kinda a final 13 but in reality 11 plus 2. University of Alberta was one I just added. Im thinking about York too but the funding  is low for Toronto  My signature is not quite up to date. 

I'm mostly interested in indigenous lit and ecocrit for my SOP/dissertation. I tlam pretty sure my thesis will be on Leslie Marmon Silko and the changing environmentalism in her three major novels.

I'm also really taken with the philosophical ways we conceptualize nature in ancient, romantic, and contemporary moments. I think I'd love to do some like broad comparison of volcanic eruptions and their literary reactions. I am into trying out OOO and ANT methods of analysis at the moment 

I also love environmental apocalyptic or utopian film and and literature. 

What are you into? 

@CatBowl what ecofeminist texts really resonated wth you ?

 

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23 hours ago, Matthew3957 said:

@CatBowl what ecofeminist texts really resonated wth you ?

 

I'm fascinated with Annette Kolodny's texts, particularly The Lay of the Land. I also loved Marti Kheel's article "From Heroic to Holistic Ethics: The Ecofeminist Challenge," and incorporated bits from both in my MA thesis. Christine Flanagan's work on Flannery O'Connor, though not strictly ecofeminist, resonated with me as well. I focused on O'Connor's novel Wise Blood in my thesis, and I did an ecofeminist reading of the protagonist of Wise Blood for my writing sample and leaned on these works a good bit. 

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On 8/14/2018 at 8:38 AM, CatBowl said:

for now, I've decided to apply to 14 programs.

I'm interested in contemporary American lit and Southern lit, and I'm newly interested in Native American lit as well. Particularly, I'd like to study ecofeminism. 

 

 

On 8/15/2018 at 8:12 AM, Matthew3957 said:

I have kinda a final 13 but in reality 11 plus 2. 

I'm mostly interested in indigenous lit and ecocrit for my SOP/dissertation. I tlam pretty sure my thesis will be on Leslie Marmon Silko and the changing environmentalism in her three major novels.

I'm also really taken with the philosophical ways we conceptualize nature in ancient, romantic, and contemporary moments. I think I'd love to do some like broad comparison of volcanic eruptions and their literary reactions. I am into trying out OOO and ANT methods of analysis at the moment 

I also love environmental apocalyptic or utopian film and and literature. 

6

Oh lordy, 11-14 is a lot! I started out with an enormous list of programs and ended up looking very closely at fit. I ultimately submitted applications to five schools, which felt like a gamble considering so many folks are advised to apply to 10+, but it worked out well because I was able to devote a lot of time and energy to crafting solid applications for each program. I can't imagine pouring in that much energy to applications for 10+ schools. My general advice here is to continue to dig into whatever information and resources you can find and narrow your lists further so that each school to which you apply feels like it would be a strong fit for you (and vice versa). 

If you're interested in ecofem, @CatBowl ,then you've no doubt encountered the work of Karen Warren, Greta Gaard, and Vandana Shiva, yes? Greta and Vandana are regulars at the ASLE conference, so it's definitely worth attending that if you can swing it. ASLE offers a tiered fee structure that's very accommodating for folks with differing financial situations. I'll also throw in that Stacy Alaimo (at UT Arlington) also does interesting work with material feminism, transcorporeality, and ecocrit. @Matthew3957: transcorporeality has always seemed linked with OOO in my mind, so Alaimo would probably offer some generative readings for you, too. She works a lot with conceptualizations of art, nature, and pop culture.

My work in ecocriticism primarily focused on apocalyptic rhetoric in environmental discourse (fictional and nonfictional), and I'm a huge huge nerd for speculative fiction. 

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@EspritHabile Thanks for your advice! I have gone back and forth several times about the number of programs I'm applying to, and I'm very excited about all 14 of these programs. Fortunately, I have the time (and the money) right now to craft app materials for each school. I'm continuing to research fit, though, so if I decide not to apply to a few of the schools on my list, I'm open to that too. 

I have encountered the work of Warren, Gaard, and Shiva, yes of course! I am planning on sending a proposal to ASLE this year, and/or attending if I can save up the funds. I will look into Stacy Alaimo's work; it sounds fascinating. Your work sounds super interesting as well! 

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@CatBowl Interesting not familiar with their work. I will check it out!

@EspritHabile Your advice on schools is helpful and has helped me narrow down first choices a bit. My top 6 are UBC, U Mich, UC Davis, UCSB, Rice, and Oregon - these are the best fit for me at the moment. However, I have a hard time letting go of UCSC, McGill, Duke, Victoria, and Alberta. I will likely focus hard on the first 6 and then do the others as I have time. I do not have a ton of time at the moment because I am in a master's program, so I probably won't get to a great application for all 11...

Alaimo's work sounds like something worth checking out. I need to broaden my readings for my thesis. I have been reading a lot of Timothy Morton's work. Your interests intersect with mine in some ways. I love speculative fiction, and have been reading a lot of climate fiction in particular! I would love to write more on it sometime soon. 

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