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Sop Draft 3 - This Time Its Personal


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Hi all,

I have my third draft here hoping for some feedback. I have not gone through this super closely for grammar, but I am hoping for feedback on the  content. I think it is getting better each time, so I am attaching the other drafts if anyone is interested in this process so far. It is right at the word limit so I can't add but I can change. Thanks!

Statement of purpose rough 2.docx

Statement of purpose rough 3.docx

Statement of purpose rough 1.docx

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aaaaaand just a text version here for ya:

 

I am fascinated with the struggle we all have connecting, and it is only going to get more difficult. As technology spreads and becomes more available more people are entering this new marketplace of ideas. Technology has changed how we connect many times, and now the spread and availability of the internet is bringing new communication tools to massive new numbers, circumventing the attempts to stifle expression and exchange of information. In China, Weibo has 100 million more active users than twitter has worldwide, and with the spread of Virtual Private Networks we are soon to see an incredible need for communication with people from diverse backgrounds. 

I became interested in connecting and understanding groups that had previously felt closed to me during my undergraduate career. A quarter long class on Hemingway changed how I felt about our responsibility to try and connect to people. Instead of being a class just about Hemingway’s works, it was also about how people saw the writer and the difficulty he had in expressing who he really was. I had the opportunity to listen to his son speak to our class and it became clear how damaging feeling unheard can be.

I continued to enroll in American literature classes in my graduate program, but I was also exposed to more critical theory. The Deconstructionist ideas of Derrida have proven to be of great interest to my work. The ability for this branch of theory to break down preconceptions by confronting prejudice or restrictive thinking as being merely an axiom that needs to be investigated can be exactly what is needed to start a conversation.

I want to bring deconstruction to American modernism to examine and break down how we communicate. The push that modernism makes to better understand and represent the thought process and interrelation of its characters is the best example we have in literature. Authors that I am interested in include: Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and Faulkner. By focusing on how unique each internal dialog is and the difficulties this brings to characters trying to connect I will build a better lexicon for readers and people entering with their ideas from diverse backgrounds. A push needs to be made now to create a space where this multitude of new voices can be more than heard, but understood and accepted.

I have enjoyed teaching immensely and have found the students I have in Southern California to be both inspiring and an example of how important it is to bring cultures together through effective communication. The next step is to get my PhD, so I can work with students of all levels. A faculty member I would love to work with is Dr. -- --. Her work on Flannery O'Connor and how her life as an author intersects with the time she wrote in echoes my writing sample. My experience at both large and smaller campuses has set me up for success at any school, and that won’t be any different at .

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Hey there! I wanted to offer you some feedback, with the caveat that I don't know which specific programs you're writing for so this comment may not indeed be relevant. 

I wonder if the introductory paragraph, in its current state, is entirely necessary. It mentions modern difficulties in communication, but I'm not sure the line about social media connects to your project at first read. It looks like your proposal is focused on Modernism (not just lowercase 'm' modernism, right?), but I don't get a clear idea of that until the second to last paragraph. Might it help your reader along if some of the introductory material were replaced with more detail about your specific interests? What are some of the questions you are asking? How does this disconnect in communication, what you call the aftermath of the Modernist "internal dialogue," function within the texts you hope to examine? For me, it would be far easier to recognize the 'meat' of your SoP if the preceding paragraphs were yoked together with your central idea. 

Hope this is helpful, and apologies if my comments don't make sense for the type of SoP you are trying to write. 

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8 hours ago, swarthmawr said:

For me, it would be far easier to recognize the 'meat' of your SoP if the preceding paragraphs were yoked together with your central idea. 

I think that makes sense, thank you. Do you think just taking the second to last paragraph and moving it to the first and just keeping everything else in order would help? Then it would go: Topic, why I am interested, undergrad, grad, fit.

Edited by TeddyWestSide
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I've read the statement a few times, but I'm afraid I don't really understand your statement of purpose. Could you summarize, in two or three sentences, what it is you want to study? Start from there to build the 'kernel' of your motivation, from which you can add past experiences or your specific qualifications. Once you have the body of your statement, go back and write a catchy introductory sentence or two - but only after you know what you want to say.

Check your details: you use the first and last names of certain authors, but not consistently. 

Sentence structure: every paragraph begins with "I". Mix it up. 

Finally, the last paragraph isn't very convincing. I doubt the work of the professor echoes your own; it's probably the other way around. Further, if you could succeed at any university, why should you be accepted at this one? 

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1 hour ago, ExileFromAFutureTime said:

I've read the statement a few times, but I'm afraid I don't really understand your statement of purpose. Could you summarize, in two or three sentences, what it is you want to study? Start from there to build the 'kernel' of your motivation, from which you can add past experiences or your specific qualifications. Once you have the body of your statement, go back and write a catchy introductory sentence or two - but only after you know what you want to say.

Check your details: you use the first and last names of certain authors, but not consistently. 

Sentence structure: every paragraph begins with "I". Mix it up. 

Finally, the last paragraph isn't very convincing. I doubt the work of the professor echoes your own; it's probably the other way around. Further, if you could succeed at any university, why should you be accepted at this one? 

I don't study literature, but I would agree with this post: I do not get a clear idea of what exactly your proposed project is and how you think it connects to your past experiences and future ambitions. You say you are interested in studying (and improving?) the ways that diverse groups of people communicate with each other, but what exactly will this project look like? How do you propose to extend this project from an analysis of literature to a tool that could be used to aid in the way people communicate with each other? Have you worked on this project in the past (perhaps through a class project?)? If so, I think it would be wise to detail your experience with that project and how you intend to build from that. If you haven't, I think it would be good to be as specific as possible, especially since from the way you have presented it in this sop it seems very ambitious and vague and I would question your ability to accomplish your project.

"Her work on Flannery O'Connor and how her life as an author intersects with the time she wrote" 

Is there any way you could make this less ambiguous? In what ways did she argue that her life intersected with her times?  

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I thought I would go ahead and make some small changes and get some feedback. I tried to be more specific about exactly what my project would look like. I also changed the end a bit but really that section is a place holder before I do deeper research for the school but I do agree it is too broad at this time. 

Also this is for PhD program in Lit with a focus on American Modernism. 

As before I am attaching every draft just in case you are interested

Statement of purpose rough 4.docx

Statement of purpose rough 1.docx

Statement of purpose rough 2.docx

Statement of purpose rough 3.docx

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I am fascinated with the struggle we all have connecting, and it is only going to get more difficult. As technology spreads and becomes more available more people are entering this new marketplace of ideas. Technology has changed how we connect many times, and now the spread and availability of the internet is bringing new communication tools to massive new numbers, circumventing the attempts to stifle expression and exchange of information. In China, Weibo has 100 million more active users than twitter has worldwide, and with the spread of Virtual Private Networks we are soon to see an incredible need for communication with people from diverse backgrounds. 

To facilitate better communication and understanding of people with strikingly different experiences I will first use Deconstruction to break down axiomatic views of other groups so they can be replaced with more inclusive ways of discussing our experiences. I will do this through the use of American Modernist writers and their fascination with internal thought processes and the exceptional variance within every human life. Authors that I am interested in include: Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and Faulkner. These authors pushed for something new in their writing and this extends to how they represent thought. This highlights the differences in not just what we think but also what leads someone to having that thought. This time period and group of writers is an important resource for those trying to build relationships and strengthen communication.

I became interested in connecting and understanding groups that had previously felt closed to me during my undergraduate career. A quarter long class on Hemingway changed how I felt about our responsibility to try and connect to people. Instead of being a class just about Hemingway’s works, it was also about how people saw the writer and the difficulty he had in expressing who he really was. I had the opportunity to listen to his son speak to our class and it became clear how damaging feeling unheard can be.

During my graduate program I continued to enroll in American literature classes, but I was also exposed to more critical theory. The Deconstructionist ideas of Derrida have proven to be of great interest to my work. The ability for this branch of theory to break down preconceptions by confronting prejudice or restrictive thinking as being merely an axiom that needs to be investigated can be exactly what is needed to start a conversation.

Teaching has meant a great deal to me and I have found the students in Southern California to be both inspiring and an example of how important it is to bring cultures together through effective communication. The next step is to get my PhD, so I can work with students of all levels. A faculty member I would love to work with is Dr. -- --. Her work on Flannery O'Connor and how her life as an author intersects with the time she wrote in was a fascinating use of history which I would like to incorporate into my own writing.

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On 12/3/2018 at 4:39 PM, TeddyWestSide said:

I am fascinated with the struggle we all have connecting, and it is only going to get more difficult. As technology spreads and becomes more available more people are entering this new marketplace of ideas. Technology has changed how we connect many times, and now the spread and availability of the internet is bringing new communication tools to massive new numbers, circumventing the attempts to stifle expression and exchange of information. In China, Weibo has 100 million more active users than twitter has worldwide, and with the spread of Virtual Private Networks we are soon to see an incredible need for communication with people from diverse backgrounds.   

How exactly does this connect to your proposed research interests? Are you just drawing a parallel between communications issues today and the problems of communication in modernist literature? If so, I think the connection is too strained to bother with. Spend your time on more clearly articulating your project instead. If there's more to the connection, you need to make that clear, because right now it isn't.

On 12/3/2018 at 4:39 PM, TeddyWestSide said:

 I became interested in connecting and understanding groups that had previously felt closed to me during my undergraduate career. A quarter long class on Hemingway changed how I felt about our responsibility to try and connect to people. Instead of being a class just about Hemingway’s works, it was also about how people saw the writer and the difficulty he had in expressing who he really was. I had the opportunity to listen to his son speak to our class and it became clear how damaging feeling unheard can be.

This needs to be a lot more specific. I'm not really sure what you mean by "connecting" or "understanding." If these terms are central to your project,  you need to be clear about what you mean by them.

On 12/3/2018 at 4:39 PM, TeddyWestSide said:

 I continued to enroll in American literature classes in my graduate program, but I was also exposed to more critical theory. The Deconstructionist ideas of Derrida have proven to be of great interest to my work. The ability for this branch of theory to break down preconceptions by confronting prejudice or restrictive thinking as being merely an axiom that needs to be investigated can be exactly what is needed to start a conversation.

Which decontructionist ideas? Derrida had many. His ideas were also often abstract and not directly pertinent to literature, so how do you intend to use/apply them? Also, Derrida and Deconstruction aren't in vogue today like they once were. So, if this is your approach, it may make sense to justify this theoretical framework.

On 12/3/2018 at 4:39 PM, TeddyWestSide said:

 I want to bring deconstruction to American modernism to examine and break down how we communicate. The push that modernism makes to better understand and represent the thought process and interrelation of its characters is the best example we have in literature. Authors that I am interested in include: Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and Faulkner. By focusing on how unique each internal dialog is and the difficulties this brings to characters trying to connect I will build a better lexicon for readers and people entering with their ideas from diverse backgrounds. A push needs to be made now to create a space where this multitude of new voices can be more than heard, but understood and accepted.

Has deconstruction never been applied to American modernism? That would surprise. If it has, how did you situate your work in relation to what others have done and how do you plan to build on/go beyond what is already out there? What do you mean by diversity? Racial? Ethnic? Religious? Linguistic? Intellectual? Gender? Sexual? And how does diversity play into the expansive scholarship regarding modernism and the atomization of the individual in modern society (which seems to be what you're getting at)? Also, whose voices need to be heard? The authors you mention? Their characters? The readers? The contemporary world? And if it's the latter, you need to make clear why literature from 100 years ago is ripe to make contributions to understanding today's world.

On 12/3/2018 at 4:39 PM, TeddyWestSide said:

 I have enjoyed teaching immensely and have found the students I have in Southern California to be both inspiring and an example of how important it is to bring cultures together through effective communication. The next step is to get my PhD, so I can work with students of all levels. A faculty member I would love to work with is Dr. -- --. Her work on Flannery O'Connor and how her life as an author intersects with the time she wrote in echoes my writing sample. My experience at both large and smaller campuses has set me up for success at any school, and that won’t be any different at .

For better or worse, most PhD programs aren't admitting people based on their experience or enjoyment teaching. Save that for your CV. Is the university your applying to in SoCal? If not, why are you discussing California? Don't talk about why you're prepared to succeed at any school, talk about why you're prepared to succeed at this school. Also, success doesn't work the same way in grad school. It's less about doing well in classes and more about becoming a scholar who can meaningfully contribute to one's field. Show why that's you.

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2 minutes ago, Glasperlenspieler said:

This needs to be a lot more specific. I'm not really sure what you mean by "connecting" or "understanding." If these terms are central to your project,  you need to be clear about what you mean by them.

Thank you for all your feedback! I will think about this. I do agree with what you have said.

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1 minute ago, Warelin said:

I've gone ahead and merged your boards. In the future, there's no need to create an additional board to continue to talk about additional changes to your existing board about the same topic

Thank you!

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Things got a little jumbled there when topics got merged so I am just reposting what is up above. I hope it is more specific about what I want to do with my project. 

 

I am fascinated with the struggle we all have connecting, and it is only going to get more difficult. As technology spreads and becomes more available more people are entering this new marketplace of ideas. Technology has changed how we connect many times, and now the spread and availability of the internet is bringing new communication tools to massive new numbers, circumventing the attempts to stifle expression and exchange of information. In China, Weibo has 100 million more active users than twitter has worldwide, and with the spread of Virtual Private Networks we are soon to see an incredible need for communication with people from diverse backgrounds. 

To facilitate better communication and understanding of people with strikingly different experiences I will first use Deconstruction to break down axiomatic views of other groups so they can be replaced with more inclusive ways of discussing our experiences. I will do this through the use of American Modernist writers and their fascination with internal thought processes and the exceptional variance within every human life. Authors that I am interested in include: Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and Faulkner. These authors pushed for something new in their writing and this extends to how they represent thought. This highlights the differences in not just what we think but also what leads someone to having that thought. This time period and group of writers is an important resource for those trying to build relationships and strengthen communication.

I became interested in connecting and understanding groups that had previously felt closed to me during my undergraduate career. A quarter long class on Hemingway changed how I felt about our responsibility to try and connect to people. Instead of being a class just about Hemingway’s works, it was also about how people saw the writer and the difficulty he had in expressing who he really was. I had the opportunity to listen to his son speak to our class and it became clear how damaging feeling unheard can be.

During my graduate program I continued to enroll in American literature classes, but I was also exposed to more critical theory. The Deconstructionist ideas of Derrida have proven to be of great interest to my work. The ability for this branch of theory to break down preconceptions by confronting prejudice or restrictive thinking as being merely an axiom that needs to be investigated can be exactly what is needed to start a conversation.

Teaching has meant a great deal to me and I have found the students to be both inspiring and an example of how important it is to bring cultures together through effective communication. The next step is to get my PhD, so I can work with students of all levels. A faculty member I would love to work with is Dr. -- --. Her work on Flannery O'Connor and how her life as an author intersects with the time she wrote in was a fascinating use of history which I would like to incorporate into my own writing.

Edited by TeddyWestSide
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It seems as though you are arguing that you, by studying American literary modernism and deconstruction, will change the world, and I'm just not quite sure a dissertation (or PhD student) can do that. 

It also seems really anachronistic to use literature of the 20th century to talk about things like the internet, twitter, VPNs, etc. 

Edited by Bumblebea
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I've taken the meatiest paragraph to unpack. The more I examine your statement, the more it becomes clear that there are major gaps in your understanding and application of deconstructivism. I suggest you re-read foundational deconstructivist theory, as I'm not convinced it's the approach you want to take.

"To facilitate better communication and understanding of people with strikingly different experiences I will first use Deconstruction to break down axiomatic views of other groups so they can be replaced with more inclusive ways of discussing our experiences. Deconstructivism has nothing to do with facilitating "better communication and understanding of people," but rather approaches literary texts in order to note tensions and contradictions within a (perceived) unified text. It demonstrates that meanings are multiple and unstable and points out where 'slippage' occurs. 

I will do this through the use of American Modernist writers and their fascination with internal thought processes and the exceptional variance within every human life. Authors that I am interested in include: Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and Faulkner. I take this to mean you have authors whose work you'd like to 'deconstruct.' Yet deconstructivism has been around since the 1970s; surely this has already been done. Drop what you're doing and go read how scholars have deconstructed particular works so that you can participate in this conversation. You need to know what others have done in order to make a convincing case as to what you'll contribute. 

These authors pushed for something new in their writing and this extends to how they represent thought. This is not very clear. What is new about their writing and thinking? And how does deconstructivism apply? This highlights the differences in not just what we think but also what leads someone to having that thought. I don't understand this sentence. This time period and group of writers is an important resource for those trying to build relationships and strengthen communication." Are you saying that modernist texts offer insight into human relationships and behavior? If so, what insight? And how does deconstructivism help us understand that? 

 

Stepping away from your statement, can you give me your elevator pitch? What is it that you hope to learn, and why is it urgent and important? 

 

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On 12/3/2018 at 3:39 PM, TeddyWestSide said:

I want to bring deconstruction to American modernism to examine and break down how we communicate. The push that modernism makes to better understand and represent the thought process and interrelation of its characters is the best example we have in literature. Authors that I am interested in include: Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and Faulkner. By focusing on how unique each internal dialog is and the difficulties this brings to characters trying to connect I will build a better lexicon for readers and people entering with their ideas from diverse backgrounds. A push needs to be made now to create a space where this multitude of new voices can be more than heard, but understood and accepted.

 I have enjoyed teaching immensely and have found the students I have in Southern California to be both inspiring and an example of how important it is to bring cultures together through effective communication. The next step is to get my PhD, so I can work with students of all levels. A faculty member I would love to work with is Dr. -- --. Her work on Flannery O'Connor and how her life as an author intersects with the time she wrote in echoes my writing sample. My experience at both large and smaller campuses has set me up for success at any school, and that won’t be any different at .

I think this is where your SOP should begin. I would recommend starting there and deleting everything else. The reader doesn't know until this part about what you're interested in and where you'd fit into the scholary conversation. If a member can't figure out where you fit until they reach the 4th or 5th paragraph, they would have already moved on.

Close read Derrida. Close read Hemingway or the character you think is underheard. Be hyperspecific about the Professsor's work as well. Name dropping is only effective if it shows a very clear understanding of the Professor's work.

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