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SOP Hook--Thoughts?


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During my breaks from studying for the GREs, I've began work on my SOP. I'm wondering if anybody out there (particularly individuals interested in Lit.) could take a quick look at it. I'm wondering if it's too long, too (or inadequately) wordy, if I'm on the right track or way off my rocker, etc.

Thank you in advance for the help

In my first semester of college teaching, I was challenged to create a class that fulfilled the institution’s requirements for an introductory research based writing course. Given license to construct the course around a theme of my choice, brainstorming and researching produced a course I titled “Virtual Realities, Virtual Bodies: Technology And Identity.” While the curriculum focused primarily on 20th century texts (the first assignment centered on William Gibson’s Neuromancer), students were encouraged to reflect on the effects of technology in a larger historical sense. My current interest in narratives depicting science (real or imagined) and its effect on identity in the 19th and early 20th centuries continues along (or in?) this vein.

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I'm not a lit major, but it doesn't feel like a hook to me. Nothing grabs my attention as a lead and makes me want to read more. Who are you? Where is your voice? How is this you passion? What makes me want to care?

I like the paragraph though, a lot actually, but if feels like paragraph 2 or 3.

my take and being honest.

During my breaks from studying for the GREs, I've began work on my SOP. I'm wondering if anybody out there (particularly individuals interested in Lit.) could take a quick look at it. I'm wondering if it's too long, too (or inadequately) wordy, if I'm on the right track or way off my rocker, etc.

Thank you in advance for the help

In my first semester of college teaching, I was challenged to create a class that fulfilled the institution’s requirements for an introductory research based writing course. Given license to construct the course around a theme of my choice, brainstorming and researching produced a course I titled “Virtual Realities, Virtual Bodies: Technology And Identity.” While the curriculum focused primarily on 20th century texts (the first assignment centered on William Gibson’s Neuromancer), students were encouraged to reflect on the effects of technology in a larger historical sense. My current interest in narratives depicting science (real or imagined) and its effect on identity in the 19th and early 20th centuries continues along (or in?) this vein.

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A passive verb in the first sentence? For an English program?

It feels...heavy. It's about your students and the class, not you. "The students were encouraged"? Not "I encouraged my students"? And it seems like there are a lot of unnecessary details (name of course; that you 'brainstormed' and 'researched' to come up with the idea; books that you used in the class--especially b/c Neuromancer is far outside the time frame you want to study; etc). Like padding that is itself padded.

As it is written, I think you could cut the whole thing (except the last sentence, of course ;)), mention later in the SOP that your experience designing and teaching college classes has helped you refine your interests as you managed to get your students excited about an introductory writing course, etc., and be just fine. I do think that with a good rewrite it is salvageable. You want an exciting hook, not dry exposition.

Sorry to be harsh :unsure: , but--that's already 111 words. That seems like a lot to waste on an unexcitingly-worded intro.

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Not harsh at all--honest... and I appreciate honesty. My intent from here was to discuss how my interest has backtracked a bit to the 19th century ESPECIALLY because the 19th century saw a lot of innovations in science and technology. This reflects in more "genre based" novels of the time (starting with Mary Shelley, and including Verne and Wells) but is also evident in novels about the every day.

However, if it's not working, it's not working. It's a rough draft anyways and thus quite changeable!

And I so hate passive voice. It's a f**ker that sneaks in there when you're not looking and then sticks around like a bad house guest.

Thank you both for your time!

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Okay... Here's a different, more direct approach. I kinda feel like it lacks a little "spice" and might be too broad (in terms of defining my interest)...but it's shorter and to the point. I'd appreciate thoughts on this one.

My current research interests lie in narratives depicting science (real or imagined) and the subsequent technologies effect on identity in the 19th and early 20th centuries. More specifically, I am interested in the metaphorical and literal representations of science/technology in texts and the ways these depictions address and construct social, cultural, national, and gendered identity.

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Okay... Here's a different, more direct approach. I kinda feel like it lacks a little "spice" and might be too broad (in terms of defining my interest)...but it's shorter and to the point. I'd appreciate thoughts on this one.

My current research interests lie in narratives depicting science (real or imagined) and the subsequent technologies effect on identity in the 19th and early 20th centuries. More specifically, I am interested in the metaphorical and literal representations of science/technology in texts and the ways these depictions address and construct social, cultural, national, and gendered identity.

I DEFINITELY like this opener more than the previous one.

You wrote that you just started working on your SOP ... may I suggest that you put the opening paragraph aside and concentrate on the body of the essay for now? The opening and closing paragraphs are the most difficult ones to write, but they become easier to deal with once you've gone through a good 10-15 iterations of writing and re-writing the main portions of the SOP. I think you'll find that you'll need to spend a great deal of thought precisely defining your interests as they relate to the interests of potential advisors and the resources that the schools you're applying to can provide. Once you have a good sense of what you want to do, the 1-2 opening sentences describing your research will become much easier to write. In any case, I think the direction you have now is a better one and I think what you currently have is pretty good.

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fuzzylogician,

thank you for the input. I'm working on drafting the whole SOP; every once in awhile I hit a bit of a wall. It helps me (believe it or not--it's my crazy "writing process") to go back and obsess over parts I've already written. Beginnings have always been the most difficult for me to write--false starts and everything. However, your advice is excellent. I think, for now, I'll stop obsessing over the beginning and move on to the middle. :huh:

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