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Herrman

On Failure

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This is my first time actually posting to the sight. I have, however, been a constant lurker and want to thank everyone for all the intelligent comments and support in evidence here. I applied to six schools this year and found out yesterday that I did not get into any of them. I'm sure others must have experienced this, and even if you didn't, most people realized some form of rejection.

I've posted a few thoughts about it here for anyone interested: My link (http://heatherherrman.wordpress.com/)

To the rest of you, Congratulations! I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I'm glad to know that there are people out there who still care about, study, and promote literature.

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This is my first time actually posting to the sight. I have, however, been a constant lurker and want to thank everyone for all the intelligent comments and support in evidence here. I applied to six schools this year and found out yesterday that I did not get into any of them. I'm sure others must have experienced this, and even if you didn't, most people realized some form of rejection.

I've posted a few thoughts about it here for anyone interested: My link (http://heatherherrman.wordpress.com/)

To the rest of you, Congratulations! I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I'm glad to know that there are people out there who still care about, study, and promote literature.

After reading your blog, I'd say your proper home is with us rhetoricians, compositionists, and applied linguists. Ditch literature. Academic literary studies is nothing but a giant circle jerk. Do you really want to be someone who can crack a joke about "The Laughing Medusa" or talk for more than two minutes about post-colonial queer theory's relation to contemporary Caribbean poetry? Psh. Useless. The work you're doing has a place in the academy. Come on over to the rhet/comp pool. Water's nice and warm.

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I don't know if this is something you want to hear or not... But I don't think you should see these rejections as being failures.

There are a number of factors which are taken into consideration by departments when accepting or rejecting students and some of these are not within our control.

Asides from having good grades, LOR and SOP etc., the programme will probably have a quota of students they can accept. This means that if you've applied in a year where the cohort have been outstanding, you may have been pushed further down the list. This is all due to a limit on how much funding the school has - not something you can control.

Another factor may have been dependent on who you were interested in working with - perhaps they are not planning on taking on students in the next couple of years and other advisers were not a good fit to your research interests?

While we as applicants do all we can to impress the selection panels, sometimes it just isn't within our power, and luck does play a role.

I can understand that it hurts to be rejected like this, but if you're really keen to pursue a PhD, I would definitely encourage you to try again next year. Your luck might just change :)

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After reading your blog, I'd say your proper home is with us rhetoricians, compositionists, and applied linguists. Ditch literature. Academic literary studies is nothing but a giant circle jerk. Do you really want to be someone who can crack a joke about "The Laughing Medusa" or talk for more than two minutes about post-colonial queer theory's relation to contemporary Caribbean poetry? Psh. Useless. The work you're doing has a place in the academy. Come on over to the rhet/comp pool. Water's nice and warm.

Well, I NEVER! ;)

Really, though, these are not failures. Even getting to this point is a giant accomplishment, and you should be proud of yourself!

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Linguists, eh? My mother warned me about you folks... Just kidding. Thanks for the kind words. They made me smile. :D

After reading your blog, I'd say your proper home is with us rhetoricians, compositionists, and applied linguists. Ditch literature. Academic literary studies is nothing but a giant circle jerk. Do you really want to be someone who can crack a joke about "The Laughing Medusa" or talk for more than two minutes about post-colonial queer theory's relation to contemporary Caribbean poetry? Psh. Useless. The work you're doing has a place in the academy. Come on over to the rhet/comp pool. Water's nice and warm.

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Thanks for the encouragement! I might just jump back into the shark-pool next fall. We'll see. Good luck on your studies!

I don't know if this is something you want to hear or not... But I don't think you should see these rejections as being failures.

There are a number of factors which are taken into consideration by departments when accepting or rejecting students and some of these are not within our control.

Asides from having good grades, LOR and SOP etc., the programme will probably have a quota of students they can accept. This means that if you've applied in a year where the cohort have been outstanding, you may have been pushed further down the list. This is all due to a limit on how much funding the school has - not something you can control.

Another factor may have been dependent on who you were interested in working with - perhaps they are not planning on taking on students in the next couple of years and other advisers were not a good fit to your research interests?

While we as applicants do all we can to impress the selection panels, sometimes it just isn't within our power, and luck does play a role.

I can understand that it hurts to be rejected like this, but if you're really keen to pursue a PhD, I would definitely encourage you to try again next year. Your luck might just change :)

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Great post. Thanks for sharing it.

Isn't there a genre called "weird fiction" in which horror and sci-fi come together? H.P. Lovecraft would be one of them, right?

Anyhow, I hope you give it another shot. Don't ditch your passion!

TB

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I think you're right, TB. Most of the time the labels are pretty arbitrary to begin with. Heck, I'd consider "The Yellow Wallpaper" horror. In the meantime...Ever Onward!

Great post. Thanks for sharing it.

Isn't there a genre called "weird fiction" in which horror and sci-fi come together? H.P. Lovecraft would be one of them, right?

Anyhow, I hope you give it another shot. Don't ditch your passion!

TB

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This is my first time actually posting to the sight. I have, however, been a constant lurker and want to thank everyone for all the intelligent comments and support in evidence here. I applied to six schools this year and found out yesterday that I did not get into any of them. I'm sure others must have experienced this, and even if you didn't, most people realized some form of rejection.

I've posted a few thoughts about it here for anyone interested: My link (http://heatherherrman.wordpress.com/)

To the rest of you, Congratulations! I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I'm glad to know that there are people out there who still care about, study, and promote literature.

Herrman--I enjoyed reading your blog post and it resonated with me. I am my early 30s as well and I feel that (for me) time is running out to get into a doctoral program. I think, however, if you have a passion for something in life, you should not give up on it at all. No matter the age. I faced a disappointing application season myself, yet I am ready to kick the dirt off my pants, stand up and face round two next year with a fresh round of SOPs, LoRs, and writing samples. I learned some things this past round on how to strengthen myself as an applicant and I am going to use all feedback. Thanks for sharing and don't give up on your dreams!

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Agreed! Passion is rare and dangerous thing, but it's the point of it all, isn't it? Good luck to you and keep fighting the good fight! (pretend I've posted a gunslinger emoticon #here#)

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I was also going to say (in a slightly different way) that the work you are doing now with immigrants made me think of how at home you might be in a Rhet/Comp program. I'd suggest checking out Louisville if you do this again-- they have Bruce Horner and Min Zhan Lu who are both doing exciting work with trans-lingual studies right now. There's a lit requirement, and from the students I've spoken with it sounds really flexible about what kind of lit you do for your comps. (meaning-- horror might be a possibility). But whatever you do, I wish you well.

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This is my first time actually posting to the sight. I have, however, been a constant lurker and want to thank everyone for all the intelligent comments and support in evidence here. I applied to six schools this year and found out yesterday that I did not get into any of them. I'm sure others must have experienced this, and even if you didn't, most people realized some form of rejection.

I've posted a few thoughts about it here for anyone interested: My link (http://heatherherrman.wordpress.com/)

To the rest of you, Congratulations! I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I'm glad to know that there are people out there who still care about, study, and promote literature.

Hey I just wanted to give you my experience. I'm sorry you got rejected from all your schools.. last year I did too. It hurt. But I reapplied this year, and applied to 16 schools this time around! And I have been successful, I have a fully funded admit to my dream school. If I had applied to just 6, I might not have. So I just want to encourage you in that, if you truly believe this is what you should do, keep trying. It really is a lottery at one point and you only want to go to a school that really fits and really wants you. So please try again, you'll make it next year, I know it!

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Sorry to hear about your applications. Those crazy adcomms!!! :angry:

Give yourself some time to grief; it is normal and necessary. Then, get back to work on those applications!! I wish you the very best on the next application season. Here's hoping you'll get into your dream program next year B)

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Thanks and good luck to you in your studies!

Sorry to hear about your applications. Those crazy adcomms!!! :angry:

Give yourself some time to grief; it is normal and necessary. Then, get back to work on those applications!! I wish you the very best on the next application season. Here's hoping you'll get into your dream program next year B)

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Interesting.... I never knew the Rhet/Comp folks were so nice! Thanks for the suggestion and good luck in your work!

I was also going to say (in a slightly different way) that the work you are doing now with immigrants made me think of how at home you might be in a Rhet/Comp program. I'd suggest checking out Louisville if you do this again-- they have Bruce Horner and Min Zhan Lu who are both doing exciting work with trans-lingual studies right now. There's a lit requirement, and from the students I've spoken with it sounds really flexible about what kind of lit you do for your comps. (meaning-- horror might be a possibility). But whatever you do, I wish you well.

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That's very inspirational. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm dusting my knees off as we speak....

Hey I just wanted to give you my experience. I'm sorry you got rejected from all your schools.. last year I did too. It hurt. But I reapplied this year, and applied to 16 schools this time around! And I have been successful, I have a fully funded admit to my dream school. If I had applied to just 6, I might not have. So I just want to encourage you in that, if you truly believe this is what you should do, keep trying. It really is a lottery at one point and you only want to go to a school that really fits and really wants you. So please try again, you'll make it next year, I know it!

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That's very inspirational. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm dusting my knees off as we speak....

What helped me was that I was lucky to be near a top 25 university and I audited a graduate course as soon as I found out I was rejected from all my schools. I had to send them a transcript to let them know I was serious, but it was no problem getting in the course when I explained what I was doing. I audited the course, attending and working just as hard as the other students, gave a presentation, got to know the professor, and most of all, worked on a writing sample. The professor was very very helpful in critiquing the sample, and she also ended up writing me a letter of recommendation. I also had a year to study, think, and write about my interests and I ended up really changing them and now I feel like I have a clearer focus. It helped my SOP and my professional outlook.

I can't recommend this course of action enough; it's what got me in this time.

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Interesting.... I never knew the Rhet/Comp folks were so nice! Thanks for the suggestion and good luck in your work!

I second the Louisville suggestion. Also check out Syracuse, where I'll be headed. One of their newest professors came from Louisville and is doing some awesome work on global Englishes and transnational literacy. And I don't think we're nice (that's as may be; I know I'm kind of an ass hole) as much as we're committed to community impact and the belief that writing is not a private, personal affair but a social act that can and does affect the "real" world. And honestly, your work experience would be highly valued on a rhet/comp or applied linguistics application. If you're going to audit some classes, audit some in TESL, composition theory, or rhetoric. (I'm in sales pitch mode, can ya tell?)

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Hang in there. Your rejections have nothing to do with you or your application and everything to do with politics and bureaucracy. You're in a limited field as far as subject area goes. Every school has X number of funded slots. I would be willing to bet that you didn't receive an admissions offer because they couldn't fund you and didn't want to insult you with an unfunded offer, rather than because your stats weren't good enough. You have an MA/MFA and excellent board scores. You're also in a fairly limited specialty area. Adcomms aren't going to weigh your experience lightly, and they're not going to offer you unfunded admission at your level of experience. I have two suggestions:

A. Try again next year

and

B. Think about the rhet-comp path. It would be interesting to do the rhetoric of horror, no? How the author persuades the audience to buy the horror aspects of a work, the various forms and genres and sub-genres, the use of various literary techniques within the texts to enhance visceral reader responses. And it IS easier, with an esoteric subject, to get in through the rhet-comp path than traditional literary studies.

Last year I was completely shut out, and you can read my story in my blog. This year I have a fully funded offer to my top choice. I will be 37 years old next Monday.

''There will be time for a hundred visions and revisions, before the taking of (your) tea'. Dust yourself off and try again. :)

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Hang in there. Your rejections have nothing to do with you or your application and everything to do with politics and bureaucracy. You're in a limited field as far as subject area goes. Every school has X number of funded slots. I would be willing to bet that you didn't receive an admissions offer because they couldn't fund you and didn't want to insult you with an unfunded offer, rather than because your stats weren't good enough. You have an MA/MFA and excellent board scores. You're also in a fairly limited specialty area. Adcomms aren't going to weigh your experience lightly, and they're not going to offer you unfunded admission at your level of experience. I have two suggestions:

A. Try again next year

and

B. Think about the rhet-comp path. It would be interesting to do the rhetoric of horror, no? How the author persuades the audience to buy the horror aspects of a work, the various forms and genres and sub-genres, the use of various literary techniques within the texts to enhance visceral reader responses. And it IS easier, with an esoteric subject, to get in through the rhet-comp path than traditional literary studies.

Last year I was completely shut out, and you can read my story in my blog. This year I have a fully funded offer to my top choice. I will be 37 years old next Monday.

''There will be time for a hundred visions and revisions, before the taking of (your) tea'. Dust yourself off and try again. :)

Easier to get in through the rhet/comp path to do literary work? Wow. This is why I can't stand you literary types.

I'd say about 2% of us have any interest in literature. If the OP takes your advice, she will be sorely disappointed. She should take the rhet/comp path only if she wants to do work that involves more than her, a book, and a computer screen.

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Easier to get in through the rhet/comp path to do literary work? Wow. This is why I can't stand you literary types.

I'd say about 2% of us have any interest in literature. If the OP takes your advice, she will be sorely disappointed. She should take the rhet/comp path only if she wants to do work that involves more than her, a book, and a computer screen.

I need to stand up on behalf of other rhet/comp people here-- Not picking a fight, but I think this is something that needs to be said. I know plenty of people that go to English PhD programs that do rhetoric and lit, so I'd disagree. I would say that RockDenali is correct to say that you can't take the rhet/comp path just as a way to pursue literature. But there are programs out there, I'm fairly certain, that can be a productive place in which to pursue rhetorical analysis of literary texts. These would have to be programs that offer an English PhD with an emphasis in rhetoric and not a standalone rhetoric department, of course. The key would be to look at the dissertations that come out of these programs to see if this type of work is valued and encouraged by the department. There are departments out there where lit and rhet folks (gasp) actually get along.

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Easier to get in through the rhet/comp path to do literary work? Wow. This is why I can't stand you literary types.

I'd say about 2% of us have any interest in literature. If the OP takes your advice, she will be sorely disappointed. She should take the rhet/comp path only if she wants to do work that involves more than her, a book, and a computer screen.

RockDenali, you seem doggedly determined to get a rise out of the literary studies folks, and I’m not entirely sure why. Granted, you could have meant for the comments you made to come across ironically, however they don’t naturally lend themselves to that interpretation. Whichever you intended, I’m surprised anyone who studies languages and communication (literature or rhet/comp) doesn’t take extra special care to guard tone while participating in an online forum, where the absence of intonation and body language in conversation increases the likelihood of miscommunication.

In any case, I don’t know why seemingly apropos of nothing you’ve chosen to post antagonistic remarks in a thread where people are legitimately trying to provide the OP and others with helpful advice. We all have varying interests within the English discipline (none of which, in my opinion, maintain an inherently superior or inferior status to another, but contribute to a collective understanding of the language), and whether they’re literature, rhet/comp, Early Modern studies, Victorian studies, or flying carpet theory, there’s no need to discredit the posts of literary studies GCers (especially on the basis that we can’t seriously consider their input because they focus on literature rather than rhet/comp—which, speaking of argument analysis, I believe is an ad hominem.). Personally, I view rhet/comp methodology as critical to my literary studies approaches, so I take particular offense at some of the assumptions you make about scholars in my field. What’s more, setting one field against another is unnecessary, unproductive, and worst of all, destructive; as society continues to dismiss the relevance of the humanities, those of us who recognize and believe in their intrinsic value need to band together and endeavor to put our best intellectual foot forward for the sake of preserving the discipline. We don’t stand a chance if we’re constantly bickering among ourselves.

I assure you that I’m not trying to pick a fight here, RockDenali. I’ve read some of your posts in other topics, and I sincerely appreciate your contributions. I think you’ve made many insightful, down-to-earth comments that others have undoubtedly found helpful—hence why I’m particularly confused by these aggressive bursts. Sorry for the monologue: I just want the sandbox to be as amiable an environment as possible. B)

Edited by ecg1810

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I respect the 100% focus of the purely rhet/comp crowd; and I agree that Rock has been a great contributor to many of the discussions -- but I'm not sure it's that black and white.

I was on a TT faculty search last year for a rhet/comp position, and our most successful candidates were the ones who could wear different hats -- which is exactly what we sought. Many of them specialized in rhet/comp during their grad training, but some focused on literature from a more compositional angle. Some were just straight up lit, but had found innovative ways to incorporate rhetorical and linguistic approaches into their projects. But what made these candidates stand out from the relatively few applicants who identified as purely rhet/comp was that they were much more flexible in their roles.

My only concern with suggesting that the OP ditch literature for rhet/comp is that her passions may not align with something more technical in nature (hence the need for balance). There does seem to be a divide between the straight up literary scholars, and those who choose more rigid work such as technical writing. But must these two areas really so far removed? I, myself, study rhetorical technique in literature and visual arts -- less about interpretation, and more about the mechanics of effect in relation to historical significance and social implication. Consequently, I see myself as someone who will most likely need to strike a middle ground. And much of this focus and desire for flexibility stems from what I saw on the job search -- but of course this may all change.

Rock, your hostility to the lit folk has been pretty evident in a few posts, but don't you think there can be some movement between the fields?

Edited by truckbasket

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I respect the 100% focus of the purely rhet/comp crowd; and I agree that Rock has been a great contributor to many of the discussions -- but I'm not sure it's that black and white.

I was on a TT faculty search last year for a rhet/comp position, and our most successful candidates were the ones who could wear different hats -- which is exactly what we sought. Many of them specialized in rhet/comp during their grad training, but some focused on literature from a more compositional angle. Some were just straight up lit, but had found innovative ways to incorporate rhetorical and linguistic approaches into their projects. But what made these candidates stand out from the relatively few applicants who identified as purely rhet/comp was that they were much more flexible in their roles.

My only concern with suggesting that the OP ditch literature for rhet/comp is that her passions may not align with something more technical in nature (hence the need for balance). There does seem to be a divide between the straight up literary scholars, and those who choose more rigid work such as technical writing. But must these two areas really so far removed? I, myself, study rhetorical technique in literature and visual arts -- less about interpretation, and more about the mechanics of effect in relation to historical significance and social implication. Consequently, I see myself as someone who will most likely need to strike a middle ground. And much of this focus and desire for flexibility stems from what I saw on the job search -- but of course this may all change.

Rock, your hostility to the lit folk has been pretty evident in a few posts, but don't you think there can be some movement between the fields?

Point well taken, truckbasket. In fact, I have troubling viewing literature and rhet/comp as mutually exclusive; there's always some overlap, IMHO.

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RockDenali, you seem doggedly determined to get a rise out of the literary studies folks, and I’m not entirely sure why. Granted, you could have meant for the comments you made to come across ironically, however they don’t naturally lend themselves to that interpretation. Whichever you intended, I’m surprised anyone who studies languages and communication (literature or rhet/comp) doesn’t take extra special care to guard tone while participating in an online forum, where the absence of intonation and body language in conversation increases the likelihood of miscommunication.

In any case, I don’t know why seemingly apropos of nothing you’ve chosen to post antagonistic remarks in a thread where people are legitimately trying to provide the OP and others with helpful advice. We all have varying interests within the English discipline (none of which, in my opinion, maintain an inherently superior or inferior status to another, but contribute to a collective understanding of the language), and whether they’re literature, rhet/comp, Early Modern studies, Victorian studies, or flying carpet theory, there’s no need to discredit the posts of literary studies GCers (especially on the basis that we can’t seriously consider their input because they focus on literature rather than rhet/comp—which, speaking of argument analysis, I believe is an ad hominem.). Personally, I view rhet/comp methodology as critical to my literary studies approaches, so I take particular offense at some of the assumptions you make about scholars in my field. What’s more, setting one field against another is unnecessary, unproductive, and worst of all, destructive; as society continues to dismiss the relevance of the humanities, those of us who recognize and believe in their intrinsic value need to band together and endeavor to put our best intellectual foot forward for the sake of preserving the discipline. We don’t stand a chance if we’re constantly bickering among ourselves.

I assure you that I’m not trying to pick a fight here, RockDenali. I’ve read some of your posts in other topics, and I sincerely appreciate your contributions. I think you’ve made many insightful, down-to-earth comments that others have undoubtedly found helpful—hence why I’m particularly confused by these aggressive bursts. Sorry for the monologue: I just want the sandbox to be as amiable an environment as possible. B)

Meh, I do like picking fights with lit folks; no irony here. ;) It's not a personal or vitriolic fight, though. I do this over beers with my literature friendemies all the time!

I do see some overlap between the two fields, at least in an ideal situation. But I can count on two fingers the number of literature students I've met who can discuss the most basic concepts of rhetoric, grammar, and linguistics. Hell, I work with a UCLA grad and a UCI grad, and neither of them can explain when to use "who" or "whom." They read plenty of literature, but they've never bothered to figure out what "generative grammar" means or who Kenneth Burke is or, for Christs' sake, why ethos shouldn't rhyme with Cheetohs.

But I do agree that, ideally, the fields would complement each other. From the analysis of phonemes to the analysis of poetry, it is a long continuum of language use. The best class I ever took was Rhetoric and Poetics, which was nothing but rhetorical analyses of literature. Great stuff. But I don't know a single program that invites this kind of study at the dissertation level. I'll glandly stand corrected, though!

No real animosity here. And anyway, rhet/comp is the underdog, remember? Just trying to keep it scrappy.

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