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11 minutes ago, 3131 said:

Sorry for the late response. Also disclaimer that this is not at all my subfield so my opinion is very inexpert. But my first reaction is just that I find “ethnic literature” to be an incredibly unuseful term. “Global literature” seems helpful insofar as it indicates that literatures indigenous to places other than Britain and the United States are being considered. But “ethnic literature” describes...what exactly? Jews, Irish and Italians are some examples of white ethnic groups in the US that all have distinct literatures and histories, but are implicitly excluded from the “ethnic literature” category. Also, using “ethnic literature” to refer to literature by what we now consider to be people of color also seems troublesome, as it implicitly excludes those literatures from preexisting categories, when I think that those literatures are already and ought to be considered a fundamental element of those subfields. (For example, if I study Mexican literature written in 20th c America, I’m fundamentally a 20th c Americanist who focuses on a particular ethnic group that exists within my subfield. This is a much better description than someone who studies “ethnic literature.”) So yeah. Tl;dr I think “ethnicity” is too historically contingent a term to be useful, erases the presence of white ethnic groups, and also kind of displaces nonwhite ethnic groups from the place they should already have in literary studies within a particular historical period. 

Thank you, @3131, for saying this with eloquence and precision. I'll also add briefly that the term "ethnic" is broadly used as a way of imagining a dichotomy of white hegemony in Literary Studies and "ethnic" marginalia (but if you ask a Mexican writer, they will describe their work as "Mexican" literature, not "ethnic" literature). "Ethnic" therefore implies a directionality ("ethnic" literatures coming into and evaluated by a historically white Literary Studies) that moves towards the hegemonic core. This model diminishes the fullness and autonomy of deemed "ethnic" literatures. 

A similar problem existed for the term "Third-World" Literatures. I think of the much-discussed problems with Jameson's  "Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism".

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1 hour ago, barshmie said:

Thank you, @3131, for saying this with eloquence and precision. I'll also add briefly that the term "ethnic" is broadly used as a way of imagining a dichotomy of white hegemony in Literary Studies and "ethnic" marginalia (but if you ask a Mexican writer, they will describe their work as "Mexican" literature, not "ethnic" literature). "Ethnic" therefore implies a directionality ("ethnic" literatures coming into and evaluated by a historically white Literary Studies) that moves towards the hegemonic core. This model diminishes the fullness and autonomy of deemed "ethnic" literatures. 

A similar problem existed for the term "Third-World" Literatures. I think of the much-discussed problems with Jameson's  "Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism".

This is an excellent point and I completely agree.

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1 hour ago, barshmie said:

Thank you, @3131, for saying this with eloquence and precision. I'll also add briefly that the term "ethnic" is broadly used as a way of imagining a dichotomy of white hegemony in Literary Studies and "ethnic" marginalia (but if you ask a Mexican writer, they will describe their work as "Mexican" literature, not "ethnic" literature). "Ethnic" therefore implies a directionality ("ethnic" literatures coming into and evaluated by a historically white Literary Studies) that moves towards the hegemonic core. This model diminishes the fullness and autonomy of deemed "ethnic" literatures. 

A similar problem existed for the term "Third-World" Literatures. I think of the much-discussed problems with Jameson's  "Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism".

I agree with you and @3131 in that the term insinuates that there is such thing as a monolithic “non-White” other, but I also want to push back (as a POC and student of “ethnic” literature, so no devil’s advocate here) to ask if there is relevance, any longer, to the origins and intentions of (capital E) Ethnic Studies as a field. 

From what I understand, the field was created as an attempt to subvert White political hegemony. It was a pan-ethnic movement built throughout the civil rights and post-soul eras to “revive” lost histories and identifications, and promote interdisciplinary thought. and certainly there are many problems with pan-Africanist and other similar traditions, but I think the history of this field is important. I need to research more, but I wonder if some of the departments that use this term do so because they housed thinkers who helped coin it. Which may no longer be relevant because of the work they did to carve out a space for non-white subjectivity in academia. 

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5 minutes ago, swarthmawr said:

I agree with you and @3131 in that the term insinuates that there is such thing as a monolithic “non-White” other, but I also want to push back (as a POC and student of “ethnic” literature, so no devil’s advocate here) to ask if there is relevance, any longer, to the origins and intentions of (capital E) Ethnic Studies as a field. 

From what I understand, the field was created as an attempt to subvert White political hegemony. It was a pan-ethnic movement built throughout the civil rights and post-soul eras to “revive” lost histories and identifications, and promote interdisciplinary thought. and certainly there are many problems with pan-Africanist and other similar traditions, but I think the history of this field is important. I need to research more, but I wonder if some of the departments that use this term do so because they housed thinkers who helped coin it. Which may no longer be relevant because of the work they did to carve out a space for non-white subjectivity in academia. 

What a great point. I do wonder if this movement, though, which you have yourself described as "subversive" in its efforts to de-center white hegemony (a crucial goal), has its limits as a field of study due to the model in which it was conceived. 

Anyway,  this is an open-ended issue and I want to sit back and continue hearing what others have to say about this. Thank you @swarthmawr :) 

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20 minutes ago, swarthmawr said:

I agree with you and @3131 in that the term insinuates that there is such thing as a monolithic “non-White” other, but I also want to push back (as a POC and student of “ethnic” literature, so no devil’s advocate here) to ask if there is relevance, any longer, to the origins and intentions of (capital E) Ethnic Studies as a field. 

From what I understand, the field was created as an attempt to subvert White political hegemony. It was a pan-ethnic movement built throughout the civil rights and post-soul eras to “revive” lost histories and identifications, and promote interdisciplinary thought. and certainly there are many problems with pan-Africanist and other similar traditions, but I think the history of this field is important. I need to research more, but I wonder if some of the departments that use this term do so because they housed thinkers who helped coin it. Which may no longer be relevant because of the work they did to carve out a space for non-white subjectivity in academia. 

This is also an excellent point. And @barshmie I think you're right on the money in saying that its lifespan is dependent upon the framework within which it was conceived, and now it may have to be reconfigured precisely because it was (broadly speaking) successful.

@swarthmawr, your comment reminded me of the incredible history of "Ethnic Studies" at Columbia University, where I did my undergrad work. A professor I had in the Astronomy Dept (don't ask why I was taking a class there...lol) who's a POC was one of the leaders of the historic, courageous, and extraordinarily venerable hunger strikes of the late 1990s, which successfully persuaded the University to create an Ethnic Studies department. You're right that those kinds of efforts and the historical context of the desperate need for "Ethnic studies" must not be forgotten.

Edited by 3131

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5 minutes ago, 3131 said:

This is also an excellent point. And @barshmie I think you're right on the money in saying that its lifespan is dependent upon the framework within which it was conceived, and now it may have to be reconfigured precisely because it was (broadly speaking) successful.

@swarthmawr, your comment reminded me of the incredible history of "Ethnic Studies" at Columbia University, where I did my undergrad work. A professor I had in the Astronomy Dept (don't ask why I was taking a class there...lol) who's a POC was one of the leaders of the historic, courageous, and extraordinarily venerable hunger strikes of the late 1990s, which successfully persuaded the University to create an Ethnic Studies department. You're right that those kinds of efforts and the historical context of the desperate need for "Ethnic studies" must not be forgotten.

I’ve been constantly reading lines from Lorde’s iconic speech where she reminds us that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” and I think it’s an important reminder here— both of you are right, the use of academia (which in itself is complicit with the false-promises and perils of the hegemonic discourse) for the purposes of liberation and survival is limited and potentially hazardous. 

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@3131 I will agree that the field is broad, but its openness is, I would argue, its strength. Ethnic studies, which really only came into being through coalition building among Black, Latin American, Asian American, Filipino, and Indigenous American student unions during the Civil Rights era, is an interdisciplinary, transhistoric, transnational, and translingual methodology that, in its conception, is meant to resist the Anglo- and Eurocentric trajectories of American canon building and historicism (though it has certainly expanded, its goals and its scope now more global than hemispheric). In a way, Ethnic studies departments are continuing the work (more so in the classroom than in the field of action) of the Rainbow Coalition. Additionally, current Whiteness studies theorists come straight out of Ethnic studies, so I wouldn't say that the racial category of whiteness is erased by Ethnic studies. While Jewish, Italian, and Irish literature (in the diaspora or at home) were not always at the center of Ethnic studies, today the field is certainly more open to these "white" ethnic groups. Finally, the idea that ethnicity refers to people of color - as opposed to a complex concept of identity that transcends concepts of race, nationality, periodicity, and language - is an Anglocentric construct (see Stuart Hall's "New Ethnicities" for more on the colonization of the term "ethnic"). This last point is crucial: part of what is liberating about the (revived) meaning of ethnicity, especially around the civil rights movement, is that it counters the idea of hegemonic and ethnically "pure" identities with an acknowledgement that the ways individuals are identified - as white, as black, as Latina/o, as Asian, and Indigenous - are constrictive acts of categorization, and that each of these categories is comprised of various ethnic differences that go unacknowledged when the many disciplines within Ethnic studies are not engaging. Thus, rather than studying Latinidades from a closed perspective that is only surveying Hispanic texts, an Ethnic studies approach to Latinidades might consider the Latina/o identity by considering the nexus of Anglo, Hispanic, Arab, Indian, and Indigenous influence in Latin American history and culture, across many periods.

Edited by j.alicea

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@swarthmawr @3131 @barshmie Love the convo btw, I think it's very important that we interrogate this crucial field, its power and its limits. So thanks for engaging!

But I will continue to push back... I am not altogether certain that a Mexican writer would describe their work as "Mexican literature." (Would they not just call it, well, literature?) Also, did the Rutgers application use the terminology "Ethnic studies" or "Ethnic Literature"? Because Ethnic studies departments typically do distinguish between different ethnicities, and would admit that our current American canon is already "ethnic," but perhaps not as open to different ethnicities as it should (this is the fall out of hegemonic, Anglo-centric notions of "ethnicity" that Hall has written on at various points int his career). I really must recommend (again) reading Hall's "New Ethnicities," which does an excellent job of contesting the ideological meanings ascribed to "ethnicity" by the British, and also formulates black subjects as conjunction of ethnic similarities and differences as an alternative to the supposition of an authentically black subject during the civil rights era. I think this can be applied to Latina/o people as well, many of whom would find the term "Mexican lit" a little concerning, since their experience comes out of the explosion of various ethnic trajectories (Hispanic, Anglo-European, Middle Eastern, Asiatic, Native American, etc.), and the notion of a concrete Mexican aesthetic without these ethnic differences in mind would be hegemonic to Mexican writers that don't quite fit the dominant mold. This is a useful quote for the conversation at hand (I think) from Hall's essay:

"What is involved is the splitting of the notion of ethnicity between, on the one hand the dominant notion which connects it to nation and 'race' and on the other hand what I think is the beginning of a positive conception of the ethnicity of the margins, of the periphery. That is to say, a recognition that we all speak from a particular place, out of a particular history, out of a particular experience, a particular culture, without being contained by that position as 'ethnic artists' or film-makers. We are all, in that sense, ethnically located and our ethnic identities are crucial to our subjective sense of who we are. But this is also a recognition that this is not a ethnicity which is doomed to survive, as Englishness was, only by marginalizing, dispossessing, displacing, and forgetting other ethnicities. This precisely is the politics of ethnicity predicated on difference and diversity" - Stuart Hall

 

Edited by j.alicea

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Last night my mom asked me “Why are these schools paying you to go there and study literature? If the job market is so bad, what’s in it for them?” 

My answer was essentially the teaching assistantships. Does this seem right? Maybe it’s obvious, but the question itself just threw me off guard a bit! Ha. I’ve never been asked that so bluntly. Looking to hear if any of you guys have better answers than what I stammered out. 

Edited by trytostay

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14 hours ago, sugilite said:

My understanding is April 15th is the deadline. 

 

14 hours ago, swarthmawr said:

@rr732 And I think this is sort of legally-binding, or a policy at least. One of my schools said, essentially, “while we legally can’t ask you to respond before April 15th, if you know you want to go here before then, please let us know.” 

Edit: did the research after writing this, and it is indeed a policy called the April 15th Resolution by the Council of Graduate Schools. Details/list of schools this includes is attached. 

CGSResolution_RevisedFeb2019.pdf

Thank you both! That was what I ~thought~ was the case, but i've gotten a couple automated emails prompting me to a pay a deposit to "hold my seat" and I got nervous! 

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1 minute ago, trytostay said:

Last night my mom asked me “Why are these schools paying you to go there and study literature? If the job market is so bad, what’s in it for them?” 

My answer was essentially the teaching assistantships. Does this seem right? Maybe it’s obvious, but the question itself just threw me off guard a bit! Ha. Looking to hear if any of you guys have better answers than what I stammered out. 

You are right. There's institutional exploitation of graduate students. But higher education is also a Kafkaesque machine --  a machine whose inner-working would remain forever opaque to most, if not all, of us. Fully funded PhDs in the humanities still exist in this era of anti-intellectual pragmatism and neoliberalism precisely because this machine has multiple, contradictory logics: PhD students are cheap labors; maintaining humanities PhD programs may make the school seem more "cultured." But as we all are on this forum, seeking admission to PhD programs or contemplating which one to attend, I think it's important for us (at least for me) to remember that maybe there're people, professors and administrators fighting for these fundings, and there're still people believe in the value of the humanities. This is not naive optimism but rather a way to remain hopeful in face of too much impossibilities; or it is my way of maintaining some form of resistance to this system. At the end of the day, we need to believe that the work we do matters -- in spite of ... everything.

 

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Does anyone know anything about what's going on with USC, UCI, or UCD? Should I assume I'm rejected from these schools? Or does someone have more insight on the process than I do?

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Anyone know any further developments regarding UVA? Has anyone been rejected or waitlisted? Assuming that all who were accepted have been notified by now, wondering how long it will take to figure out waitlist/rejection...

Edited by carverb743
misspelled "regarding" which is likely indicative of why I wasn't admitted to a PhD in English

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2 hours ago, j.alicea said:

@swarthmawr @3131 @barshmie Love the convo btw, I think it's very important that we interrogate this crucial field, its power and its limits. So thanks for engaging!

But I will continue to push back... I am not altogether certain that a Mexican writer would describe their work as "Mexican literature." (Would they not just call it, well, literature?) Also, did the Rutgers application use the terminology "Ethnic studies" or "Ethnic Literature"? Because Ethnic studies departments typically do distinguish between different ethnicities, and would admit that our current American canon is already "ethnic," but perhaps not as open to different ethnicities as it should (this is the fall out of hegemonic, Anglo-centric notions of "ethnicity" that Hall has written on at various points int his career). I really must recommend (again) reading Hall's "New Ethnicities," which does an excellent job of contesting the ideological meanings ascribed to "ethnicity" by the British, and also formulates black subjects as conjunction of ethnic similarities and differences as an alternative to the supposition of an authentically black subject during the civil rights era. I think this can be applied to Latina/o people as well, many of whom would find the term "Mexican lit" a little concerning, since their experience comes out of the explosion of various ethnic trajectories (Hispanic, Anglo-European, Middle Eastern, Asiatic, Native American, etc.), and the notion of a concrete Mexican aesthetic without these ethnic differences in mind would be hegemonic to Mexican writers that don't quite fit the dominant mold. This is a useful quote for the conversation at hand (I think) from Hall's essay:

"What is involved is the splitting of the notion of ethnicity between, on the one hand the dominant notion which connects it to nation and 'race' and on the other hand what I think is the beginning of a positive conception of the ethnicity of the margins, of the periphery. That is to say, a recognition that we all speak from a particular place, out of a particular history, out of a particular experience, a particular culture, without being contained by that position as 'ethnic artists' or film-makers. We are all, in that sense, ethnically located and our ethnic identities are crucial to our subjective sense of who we are. But this is also a recognition that this is not a ethnicity which is doomed to survive, as Englishness was, only by marginalizing, dispossessing, displacing, and forgetting other ethnicities. This precisely is the politics of ethnicity predicated on difference and diversity" - Stuart Hall

 

I agree with a lot of this, and absolutely love Stuart Hall! I forgot about New Ethnicities, thank you :) 

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40 minutes ago, optimistic_nihilist said:

hey all, yale is out - my one english friend just got into that program too lmao

#imfucked

Congrats to your friend! Incredibly happy for them :)

Come on Yale, put me out of my misery already :lol: I'm not getting accepted, so pls GSAS just get the form rejection letter in my inbox so I don't have to obsess (same goes for you, Columbia)

1 hour ago, AMC0408 said:

Does anyone know anything about what's going on with USC, UCI, or UCD? Should I assume I'm rejected from these schools? Or does someone have more insight on the process than I do?

Hey there! I can't speak to USC and UCD but I've been in contact with UCI since early February (got an e-mail setting up a phone conversation and a phone call the day after) and then got my official acceptance from them last Friday. I'm under the impression that Irvine's been in contact with their accepted cohort thus far, so if you haven't gotten any contact it might be an implied rejection on your end :( Apologies. I don't think Irvine does waitlists either (or they haven't done waitlists since 2017, according to the results board), but you never know. 

The UC system observes President's Day iirc, so e-mails from the graduate division should probably start coming earliest tomorrow. Good luck with your application cycle, fingers crossed!

Edited by Ranmaag

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2 hours ago, AMC0408 said:

Does anyone know anything about what's going on with USC, UCI, or UCD? Should I assume I'm rejected from these schools? Or does someone have more insight on the process than I do?

Hi, I just was waitlisted for USC, even though people were already getting accepted last week, so they seem to still be notifying and maybe will keep notifying. Good luck!

I think UCD and UCI already finished all their notifications (that aren't rejections). I'm also waiting to hear back from them, pretty much given up hope :(

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58 minutes ago, 3131 said:

@optimistic_nihilist do you know whether it was phone/email?

I think Yale tends to notify one-by-one via phone so it may not be over yet, people!

Edit: @optimistic_nihilist did you just post your friend's acceptance or was that someone else? It actually says e-mail but "unofficial" so not sure how to interpret (if it was a professor or admissions etc.).

Edited by barshmie
Updated info

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Anyone here a Victorian/19th C British specialist? It seems that this year's acceptances have so far consistently been for other areas of specialization other than Victorian/19th C British. I'm wondering if last year was a big year for this particular area, and there just isn't much space for specialists working in this period this application season as a result. Granted, people might not be reporting their areas on the results page, but I'm curious to know if anyone else has noticed that.

Edited by WildeingOut

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lol I love the way we all talk about Yale because it truly is like a straight up lottery — everyone is really out here awaiting a rejection and some lucky person is gonna get a surprise admit

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22 hours ago, barshmie said:

Maybe we can ask @emprof what they think about school prestige in admissions decisions? (we are all so grateful to you)

School prestige is not not a factor. (Litotes!) But I wouldn't say that it's decisive. 

I think @Dares has a point in saying that there is a particular language (and habits of mind, and methodologies, and preoccuping questions, etc.) that characterizes elite academic discourse. It's the language that the profession uses to talk to itself. And one might more readily, or more easily, encounter that language (habit of mind, methodology, etc.) at Yale than at Unknown University. So perhaps a candidate from Yale will be more immediately legible to an admissions committee as a proto-academic than the UU candidate. There is also the sense--perhaps unfair--that success at a prestigious university presages success anywhere; if an undergraduate institution is truly unknown to the committee, then a straight-A average there might not provoke that same assumption. (The UU could be academically rigorous, of course--but it could not be.) LORs often rate students in comparison to other students: e.g., "top 5%," "top 10%," "2 or 3 best of my career." At a prestigious university, top 2-3 of the career is very impressive. At UU, it might be less so. It's not that the committee knows or assumes the UU student to be weaker than the Yale student; it's just that the information from UU doesn't signify as strongly.

That said, committees also love to flatter themselves (and sometimes maybe they're right) that they can recognize "diamonds in the rough" (this is a phrase that comes up all of the time) and "refine" them with expert teaching, mentorship, and advising. There's also a high premium on diversity, including economic diversity and "first-generation college student" status--meaning we don't want a whole class of Ivy League grads from wealthy parents with graduate degrees. If an applicant has gone to a fancy prep school and a fancy university, and is very polished, but the ideas in the WS are uninteresting, that application is much less compelling than one from an applicant from UU who lacks polish and knowledge of the most recent work in the field, but offers a strikingly original approach to a text or topic. And occasionally, applicants from high-prestige undergraduate institutions are identified so strongly with their prestigious undergraduate mentors that the question of "teachability" comes up: does the applicant seem already to be calcified in a particular approach or methodology and s/he would not be adequately responsive to feedback and mentorship? 

So all of that is to say: sure, it matters. Everything in the application matters. But it matters a lot less than the intellectual excitement that the SoP and WS generate.

Hope this is helpful. Happy to natter on further if people have questions.

 

 

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23 minutes ago, dilby said:

lol I love the way we all talk about Yale because it truly is like a straight up lottery — everyone is really out here awaiting a rejection and some lucky person is gonna get a surprise admit

“What We Talk About When We Talk About Yale” by us.

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1 hour ago, WildeingOut said:

Anyone here a Victorian/19th C British specialist? It seems that this year's acceptances have so far consistently been for other areas of specialization other than Victorian/19th C British. I'm wondering if last year was a big year for this particular area, and there just isn't much space for specialists working in this period this application season as a result. Granted, people might not be reporting their areas on the results page, but I'm curious to know if anyone else has noticed that.

Hiya! I'm a Victorianist :)

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