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itslit

Fall 2019 - Comparative Literature

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Hi, everyone! How are we holding up? Personally, I have run out of fingernails to bite—for better or worse—but I hope to hear back from schools in the next week or so. For those of you who applied to a comp. lit. program (or a related discipline, e.g., media studies) this cycle, how are things on your end?

Congratulations to those already on the board! Yale, Emory, Duke, Cornell, PSU, Irvine, and Santa Cruz will be lucky to have you, whoever you are. 

If only out of masochism (as I have yet to receive anything): to those of you who recently interviewed at Penn State, how did it go? What sorts of questions did they ask?

And more generally, for those of you who have interviewed at any school for (comparative) literature, what should those of us waiting in the wings prepare for? How do these things go, in your experience? 

Regardless, best of luck to everyone this season!

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hey! i applied comp lit for a few programs, then english or film studies at others. applied to penn, northwestern, and nyu comp lit. anxiously awaiting but not hopeful. good luck!

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Help I really want to hear something

but I guess they dont send anything on weekends anyways

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On 1/24/2019 at 9:37 PM, itslit said:

for those of you who have interviewed at any school for (comparative) literature, what should those of us waiting in the wings prepare for? How do these things go, in your experience? 

I already talked about this a bit on a different forum, but I interviewed with Irvine Comp Lit so I can say a little about what it was like. It was a phone call with two professors, neither of them POIs, that lasted about 20 minutes. They asked about my research interests, texts that influenced me, why I was interested in the program, and there was time for me to ask one question. Those were pretty much all questions I was expecting, and I was very glad that I had prepared outlines of answers. One thing that made me a little nervous was that they didn't respond to any of my answers at all, just moved on to their next prepared question, but @arbie told me a professor of theirs said that this is quite normal, so that was a relief. I'll let you know how my Duke skype interview goes later in the week!

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I'll make sure to post about my interview experiences! Just had an interview with Chicago English and if it's anything like that one, I should be okay. It was very casual, they were eager to hear me speak more in depth about my projects, about my backstory as an international student, and about how I envision my interdisciplinary work. No grilling at all. They also left the last fifteen minutes to my own questions (I should have prepared better ones...).

Not sure how Duke will go, it's going to be shorter, and it feels more intimidating, with the DGS and four other adcomm people.

As for Yale, who knows. I've heard it's more of a formality, not a decisive step in the admission decision, and it will be via phone, not skype.

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5 hours ago, Atlas Obscura said:

@sad_diamond Interesting, that's helpful! Did they speak to you/quiz you on your languages at all? 

They did not, but Irvine is not a very traditional comp lit program. For what it's worth, I only have one language besides English. 

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Just had my Duke Lit interview...I think it went OK but they definitely asked tough questions. Feel a little grilled. 

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I applied to UC Santa Barbara's Comp Lit with a Specialization in French! I'm trying not to refresh the portal every few minutes. ^^; 

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21 hours ago, jadeisokay said:

got a rejection today. fun times.

Same, @jadeisokay. Northwestern, yeah? It seems they sent out automated humanities rejections en masse yesterday—art history, comp. lit., history, philosophy. We'll get there. It was hard to swallow, but if nothing else, it's better than not hearing anything until April. 

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Curious if anyone applied for/has heard from UCSB about their Comp Lit. On their website, they said applicants may hear from the department about interviews in January, and that those who are shortlisted will be invited to visit in February. So far I haven't seen any posts nor heard anything, so I'm not sure if that's a bad sign or if they just haven't emailed yet. 

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Looks like Berkeley and UCSD have started releasing Comp Lit decisions. Congrats to those who received admissions!

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My people!!!!  Yay!

figure I can count myself out for yale and indiana, given the other notifications. i’m crossing my fingers on some east coast schools, and had what i’d consider a pretty trainwreckish interview at penn state a few weeks ago...so...bad.. but i’ve got a couple acceptances, which feels like serious balm for the forward march. What are y’all’s interests?!? Good LUck!

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congrats! i'm into russian/slavic literature and film and concepts of collective memory, national identity, and time/spatial relations are communicated in those mediums over time. also into political iconography and propaganda media, eastern european modernism, depictions of urban spaces... i have kind of a lot of interests. i think maybe you mentioned yours over on the lit/comp board but what are yours?

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@jadeisokay totally on board with the 'lots of interests' thing (so that interview sort of triggered my fear of being pigeonholed)--my background is in hybrid translations, postcoloniality, and poetry, but i'm also very interested in post-humanism, monstrosity, and comparative postmodernisms

 on that note, has anyone been envisioning their future-and-most-ultimate Dissertation???

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1 hour ago, pdh12 said:

also...damn, @FiguresIII, you are pwning these results!!! How does it feel? how are you gonna choose in the end?

 

It's insane, I really hadn't expected this! I was happiest to hear back from my top choice super early (Jan. 17). It feels really good to have no rejections yet, but I know that that can't last, plus I don't have any actual acceptances yet, so I'm still a bit nervous. This week we should all get some certainty though!

As for choosing, I hope to do a lot of visits! I applied with two totally different projects for English and for Comp Lit, so the hardest thing will be to choose what discipline I'll go into. My heart says Comp Lit, my brain, fearful of the job market, says English (and I'm not even sure if English actually has more jobs, it just feels like it will be easier to explain and place my work during the job search).

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@FiguresIII ahhh, so many thoughts on all this!  

For one thing, a very dear rec writer met with me and Made me look at the actual job listings on an academic website--there were hundreds of jobs looking for English PhDs, and only like..2..for Comp Lit. She's a French PhD and her partner's a Comp Lit Phd (both from Ivy Leagues), and her comp lit partner has been out of work since he graduated, while she's been consistently hired. 

Do you feel like choosing one of your project proposals necessitates *not* doing the other? i wonder if programs--upon accepting you--expect that you'll pursue specific projects, or whether you can do a total 180 upon arriving...Comp Lit is so inherently dynamic, it'd be strange to have to stick to a single thing...??

 

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1 minute ago, pdh12 said:

@FiguresIII ahhh, so many thoughts on all this!  

For one thing, a very dear rec writer met with me and Made me look at the actual job listings on an academic website--there were hundreds of jobs looking for English PhDs, and only like..2..for Comp Lit. She's a French PhD and her partner's a Comp Lit Phd (both from Ivy Leagues), and her comp lit partner has been out of work since he graduated, while she's been consistently hired. 

Do you feel like choosing one of your project proposals necessitates *not* doing the other? i wonder if programs--upon accepting you--expect that you'll pursue specific projects, or whether you can do a total 180 upon arriving...Comp Lit is so inherently dynamic, it'd be strange to have to stick to a single thing...??

 

No I don't think my applications commit me to any one project at all. And there's a distant sense in which the two projects are related, so who knows I'll get to do one first, then something related to the other. But that's getting way ahead of myself. And anyway I expect to be changed deeply in ways I cannot predict by the coursework, the people I'll meet, the department culture, etc, of whatever place I end up choosing. I've heard this directly during my interviews, actually, that my own lack of direction in my studies so far means I'm more 'malleable' as it were (this sounds weird, now that I think about it).

That's true about the lack of comp lit jobs. So, as you probably know, what every comp lit department will tell you is that you just have to do work that fits a national literature dept. with some other languages or whatever sprinkled in. However much buzzwords like transnational and global get thrown around, the institutional legacy of national literature departments is too deep. And so I've also been told not to worry too much about the comp lit / English divide, because many positions in English have been filled by comp lit people as well (says my undergrad advisor). One reason I'd study comp lit anyway is that I would like to work with people who are comfortable and familiar with several literary traditions and languages, plus that I'd get to study more languages (and an ancient one! I can't wait, honestly). One consequence of this that I do worry about is that my main literature in comp lit will have to be anglophone, since there is probably no way I'd get hired at a French department with a francophone comp lit project, because that would also require language teaching.

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