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Hey friends,

I am excited to be back to GradCafe for another cycle! I will be applying to PhD programs in English Lit. this fall. I am excited for my semester to be over, so I can start doing more research on programs!

Edited by illcounsel
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Hi again.

I was going to create a separate thread, but I will ask this question here first. Statement of Purpose --

Do any current PhD students have their SoP that they'd be willing to share with me? You can send it to me as a message.

Does anybody have any other SoP resources that they've consulted that helped them? I know there's old threads about the SoP.

I'm looking to get a survey of what other people did so that I can get a sense of what effective SoPs look like. Thank you.

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So at OSU, they have S/U and graded course sections. I was wondering what the difference would be between these two grading types. If anyone at OSU knows about this, I would appreciate it if you can provide me with some info. 

I plan on taking two S/U and two graded courses my first semester as recommended by my department. 

 

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This seems like a school-specific policy so your best bet is to look through the graduate school, department, or registrar websites about grading policies. Assuming S/U means Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, my first instinct is that this is a COVID-based policy that allows students to take a course for transcript credit but without being graded (so anything between a C - A+ would be the same), since my school has the same policy, and it was just meant to give students flexibility given our current situation.

 

 

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I'm planning on applying both for US programmes that require just a SoP, and programmes in other places (like UK) where I need a full research proposal, so right now I'm mainly just wondering if I'll be needing to make my interests more general and less defined for my US applications. 😂 At this point I'm luckily still orienting on which programmes I'll be applying to so I'll worry about that later. However, I currently am hoping to write a specific SoP for every programme I'll be applying to, as well as maybe/hopefully separate writing samples specifically attuned to every programme's focus and faculty. Not sure though, but for the SoP I'll definitely make it specific to each programme, as that seems to be kind of a must. @thecat00 I'd recommend Casey Fiesler's Youtube channel - she talks about these things really clearly, even though her field's completely different, and is really encouraging, as opposed to some other channels I've encountered lol.

To introduce myself a little, I think I'll be applying to mainly English PhDs (over comp lit), as well as more specific literary/critical theory/criticism programmes. I'm lowkey eyeing the Binghamton programme as it provides both philosophy and literature opportunities, but I'm getting kind of weird vibes from it lol, and I'm mainly thinking of applying to my dream schools in the US as it would be quite a big move and if I go for it, I do want it to be as worth it as it can possibly be. However, I'll also be applying in the UK (just having a bad feeling about funding, especially post-Brexit), and in my own country (no chance though lol). Is anyone else thinking about applying internationally (either in different countries than they're currently in or just in non-US countries)?

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The official rule is that the instructor has the final say on what distinguishes the S/U version of the class from the graded version. In practice, every S/U class I took at OSU was the same as the graded class except that I didn't have to write a final paper.

Edited by Ramus
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  • 1 month later...

Hi everyone, 

First of all, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to all the active users on this forum. I discovered GradCafe a few months ago and it has been an immensely helpful resource as I figure out the next steps in my academic career. 

I finished my BA in English Literature last May and am now starting the process of applying to grad programs for fall 2022. It has, quite frankly, been really overwhelming for me. I’ve been in touch with a few professors/faculty members from my alma mater, but I got a lot of conflicting information from them, so I really appreciate all the insight I’ve gotten from various threads on here. I wasn’t able to find any prior discussion on this topic, however, so I wanted to bring it up and hopefully maybe get some advice on my specific situation as well. 

I am under the impression that it would be best for me to pursue a (fully-funded) MA before applying to PhD programs, although a few of the schools that I’m looking at don’t require a masters degree. My dream is to be a professor, but I know the job prospects for a tenure-track position are bleak, so I figure an extra year or two to develop my interests, improve my writing, make connections, etc could only help improve my chances at actually making it as an academic. 

I attended the University of Cincinnati for undergrad and, while I really love the English department there, I have lived in the area my entire life and am really ready to move on to somewhere else. Ideally wherever I get my MA I will stay to pursue my PhD, but I would be open to moving again after another few years. 

All that being said, I was wondering if you guys had any advice on how to figure out what I want to research and the best way to get in touch with professors out there who align with my interests. I know that I generally want to study contemporary American literature with an emphasis on new media. I have always had an interest in digital tech so I think it would be very cool to look at how digital media forms, the internet, algorithms, big data, and things of that nature are shaping the way we experience, interpret, and discuss stories, as well as expanding the scope of what we consider literature. I have been told I might be a good fit for a program with a Digital Humanities focus (Kind of a long story, but I work in IT right now), but I am having a little trouble deciphering what that field really entails. 

But that’s basically all I got.. where can I go from here? Is there maybe some sort of database where I could search through literary research being done right now? And, if I do find a professor studying something that I want to study, how could I go about reaching out to them? What’s the likelihood they would even care to hear from/get back to me?

I am quite anxious about putting together my applications and navigating all the rejected/waitlisted/accepted but without funding situations that I’ve seen others on here dealing with, so I just really want to make sure I’m applying to places where I’m a good fit and I am writing the best possible personal statements. So any other advice, recommendations, or thoughts would be much appreciated! Thank you in advance! 

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I'm applying internationally! I've studied in the U.S. before (three times, including an MA), and am planning to return for my PhD. I'm interested in applying for programs in other English-speaking countries too, but funding is a problem. I agree that it might be harder to get fundings for programs in the U.K.. As a matter of fact, I've applied for (and been lurking on this forum) programs in the U.S. for a few years already. I really do hope that I will get in at least one program this time. 

Edited by EverBetter
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I was worried that you might not know your interests at all, but honestly, your interests seem relatively specific already (but still broad enough), so that is good! I think if you look at what research is currently being done in your field (maybe find a journal that deals with it a lot?) that could potentially be quite helpful to you.

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6 hours ago, labradoodle said:

I was worried that you might not know your interests at all, but honestly, your interests seem relatively specific already (but still broad enough), so that is good! I think if you look at what research is currently being done in your field (maybe find a journal that deals with it a lot?) that could potentially be quite helpful to you.

Yeah, thankfully I was able to narrow my interests down a bit during my senior year. Appreciate the input!

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YMMV but I've found that reaching out to professors whose work aligns with yours isn't super necessary for lit PhD admissions programs - my partner has a PhD in STEM and from what I've seen, it's more common there because you're applying to work with just one prof and their lab. In my program, for example, the admissions committee is made up of like six profs so it's likely the professor you reach out to won't even be reading your app and deciding on admissions. 

As far as your interests go, I think you do have some fairly defined research interests. It's good that you know what period you want to study and have an angle (new media studies) through which to analyze that period. I recommend reading some recent issues of relevant journals to get a sense of what sort of scholarship is being published right now (Contemporary Literature comes to mind immediately as one you might check out). It's also helpful to carefully pore over the works cited pages of people whose work you admire and find interesting - by doing this, you'll quickly learn who the major scholars are in your areas of interest. Then, you can read their work and begin to get a sense of where your own work and research interests fit into the field. What major questions and concerns are people grappling with? Are there areas that you feel are understudied or intersections of certain fields that you feel would be fruitful? For your statement of purpose, you'll need to be able to articulate 1) that you understand the field you are applying to enter and 2) that you can ask interesting questions about said that could potentially lead to your own project that contributes original knowledge in said field. You certainly don't have to (in fact, I would say the adcoms don't want you to) propose a whole dissertation project but you want to appear informed. 

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3 hours ago, helloperil said:

YMMV but I've found that reaching out to professors whose work aligns with yours isn't super necessary for lit PhD admissions programs - my partner has a PhD in STEM and from what I've seen, it's more common there because you're applying to work with just one prof and their lab. In my program, for example, the admissions committee is made up of like six profs so it's likely the professor you reach out to won't even be reading your app and deciding on admissions. 

As far as your interests go, I think you do have some fairly defined research interests. It's good that you know what period you want to study and have an angle (new media studies) through which to analyze that period. I recommend reading some recent issues of relevant journals to get a sense of what sort of scholarship is being published right now (Contemporary Literature comes to mind immediately as one you might check out). It's also helpful to carefully pore over the works cited pages of people whose work you admire and find interesting - by doing this, you'll quickly learn who the major scholars are in your areas of interest. Then, you can read their work and begin to get a sense of where your own work and research interests fit into the field. What major questions and concerns are people grappling with? Are there areas that you feel are understudied or intersections of certain fields that you feel would be fruitful? For your statement of purpose, you'll need to be able to articulate 1) that you understand the field you are applying to enter and 2) that you can ask interesting questions about said that could potentially lead to your own project that contributes original knowledge in said field. You certainly don't have to (in fact, I would say the adcoms don't want you to) propose a whole dissertation project but you want to appear informed. 

This is really helpful- thanks so much! Particularly what you've said about digging deeper into the works cited/references on what I'm reading, that feels like the best place to start. 

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Hi everyone, long time lurker here, hope you are all doing great!

As an international student whose native language is not English and who intends to apply for a CompLit PhD program in the U.S., I feel like it is essential to improve my academic writing skills since the quality of my writing sample matters so much during this whole application process, so would you please recommend some books that would be helpful here? It doesn't have to be a technical book, any book that you think is enlightening, or anything where you find the prose and style is beautiful, is very very much appreciated.

I am sorry if I am posting on the wrong forum (there is a specific Writing, Publishing forum at the gradcafe). I was just wondering that academic writing in different disciplines may vary a lot, so I really hope I could hear your advice.

Thanks in advance!

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Hi all! I applied to 10 PhD programs last year and received ~0~ acceptances (that really boosted my self-esteem and did not at all lead me to eat loads of junk food through tears). I'm hoping to either apply to 1 specific program this year or will wait to apply to multiple places (in literature and joint lit/WGSS programs) after I finish my master's.

yay for the lurker-to-forum-participant-pipeline!

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On 4/23/2021 at 3:34 PM, labradoodle said:

I'm planning on applying both for US programmes that require just a SoP, and programmes in other places (like UK) where I need a full research proposal, so right now I'm mainly just wondering if I'll be needing to make my interests more general and less defined for my US applications. 😂 At this point I'm luckily still orienting on which programmes I'll be applying to so I'll worry about that later. However, I currently am hoping to write a specific SoP for every programme I'll be applying to, as well as maybe/hopefully separate writing samples specifically attuned to every programme's focus and faculty. Not sure though, but for the SoP I'll definitely make it specific to each programme, as that seems to be kind of a must. @thecat00 I'd recommend Casey Fiesler's Youtube channel - she talks about these things really clearly, even though her field's completely different, and is really encouraging, as opposed to some other channels I've encountered lol.

To introduce myself a little, I think I'll be applying to mainly English PhDs (over comp lit), as well as more specific literary/critical theory/criticism programmes. I'm lowkey eyeing the Binghamton programme as it provides both philosophy and literature opportunities, but I'm getting kind of weird vibes from it lol, and I'm mainly thinking of applying to my dream schools in the US as it would be quite a big move and if I go for it, I do want it to be as worth it as it can possibly be. However, I'll also be applying in the UK (just having a bad feeling about funding, especially post-Brexit), and in my own country (no chance though lol). Is anyone else thinking about applying internationally (either in different countries than they're currently in or just in non-US countries)?

Hi, @labradoodle! Thanks for sharing about Casey Fiesler's YouTube Channel - I just watched, like, 100 videos. I feel like we're living opposite lives - I'm US based and this is my third cycle (ugh) and I'm really considering also applying to some UK schools. It's wild how different everything is (or feels?) and moving away for an extended period of time seems daunting. But, my area is in the medicine/literature in the long eighteenth century. I'm particularly interested in a poet out of Bath, so it seems like it may make more sense to be there rather than here. It's all so difficult to decide, even three years in haha. 

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On 4/19/2021 at 12:01 AM, labradoodle said:

Since I said I would make this topic; here it is! I've just started my first spreadsheet, and would love to find others applying next fall!

Many thanks for this! Just saw this. I am applying for Fall 2022 as well. I mostly do comics with a focus on its temporal aspects and relations (thinking of philosophy of time here but that sounds too daunting). Looking forward to interacting with you all and all the best!

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Hi, all! To preface, sorry if a similar question has been answered, first time posting here. 

I’m a rising Senior in undergrad planning to apply to English Lit PhD programs this fall, and am a little stuck when it comes to presenting a specialization and addressing program fit. A lot of the research I have been doing has focused on 19th c. British lit, with a grant and several conference presentations in that area. However, my thesis this upcoming year is focusing on Early Modern poetry, and I’d like to primarily work on Early Modern poetics, philosophy, and classical reception in graduate school.

So my question is, do you all think it would be harmful to my applications to focus on Early Modern interests/research questions while still acknowledging my work in Victorian studies and that secondary interest, or would this just come off as unfocused and confusing? I’ll most likely have possible writing samples in either subfield, but am just a little lost on where to focus in general, since I know “fit” is quite important. Any help or advice is really appreciated! 

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I think you're fine, we've all done work in multiple fields and reasonably have interests beyond the artificially-delimitated fields we ultimately work/market ourselves in, so committees are aware of this. You can make connections between them if you think it will help your cause but otherwise you can just talk about the work you want to do.

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1 hour ago, WildeThing said:

I think you're fine, we've all done work in multiple fields and reasonably have interests beyond the artificially-delimitated fields we ultimately work/market ourselves in, so committees are aware of this. You can make connections between them if you think it will help your cause but otherwise you can just talk about the work you want to do.

Thanks so much! I figured it was probably fine, but since I’m in my head about it and overthinking, thought I might get a few more opinions. 

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