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Stanford MTL & Berkeley Rhetoric--better choice than English?


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Hey folks,

I'm back in the ring for the 2012 round!

Brief precis on me: BA in English followed by MA in Gender, Sexuality and Culture (offered by Manchester's English and American Studies dept.). Interests in gender and sexuality, medicine, literature, disability studies, ageing, the body, anti-psychiatry. Degrees have been largely focussed on C20 and 21 texts and ideas (so consequently bombed the Subject GRE...).

Researching applications for this year, i have (spurred by a growing worry about the proximity of the East Coast to the UK...) taken a fresh look at Stanford and Berkeley and discovered their interdisciplinary programs. My initial feeling is that these are a far better fit for me than the straight English doctoral programs they offer, but i'm here to see if you agree--especially from anyone already attending at those schools in those programs.

I've never studied Rhetoric, which makes me a little concerned about applying for Berkeley's program, but then i've read that it's really nothing like a traditional Rhetoric program (and i wouldn't want it to be!)... how true is that? Looking at both the Rhetoric program and the MTL program, i've fallen in love with them. My whole academic career thus far has been interdisciplinary (esp. compared to others coming from the UK) and i'd like it to continue that way. (I'm also very much attracted to the fact that neither program cares about Subject test scores.)

But, i dunno. Thoughts?

Edited by harpyemma
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I am also quite interested in Rhetoric at Berkeley and Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford. I'll offer some thoughts.

-Rhetoric at Berkeley is not the kind of degree that you'd receive from a composition/rhetoric program. The Berkeley Rhetoric program is very critical theory-heavy, and it does not concern itself with the issues that are studied in comp/rhetoric programs. Based on your listed interests, you seem to be a better fit for English literature/interdisciplinary programs (including Rhetoric at Berkeley and MTL at Stanford) than comp/rhetoric programs.

-Interdisciplinarity is usually welcomed in literature departments. Rhetoric at Berkeley and MTL at Stanford are designed for projects that go beyond the interdisciplinarity of English/literature departments (the MTL website explicitly states this, actually).

You state that your work has been very interdisciplinary thus far. I'd imagine that these two interdisciplinary programs would be a good fit. I'd advise you to also apply to several traditional programs that have flexible course requirements and encourage even greater interdisciplinarity than their peers.

Edited by Two Espressos
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From my interaction with Berkeley PhD candidates (in both Comp Lit and Rhetoric), I agree with the previous poster. Great CT-heavy program (though Prof. Butler is probably setting sail for Columbia). I'd also recommend the Cultural Studies program at Davis, which besides being one of the most renowned CS programs in the States, is an extremely interdisciplinary, malleable program with a tremendous faculty (though if teaching appointments are a concern, keep in mind that younger fields have weaker departmental support, which in the humanities is really saying something).

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I'd also recommend the Cultural Studies program at Davis, which besides being one of the most renowned CS programs in the States, is an extremely interdisciplinary, malleable program with a tremendous faculty (though if teaching appointments are a concern, keep in mind that younger fields have weaker departmental support, which in the humanities is really saying something).

Yeah, the trouble with the UCs in general, really, is that as an international applicant i have pretty much no hope of funding. I'll give it some thought, of course, but, argh, even if i got accepted it'd still more than likely be a wasted $100+.

Also, someone PMed me recommending Duke's Lit program--thank you. I could have sworn i checked recently, in the last couple of weeks, and the website said they required the Subject Test--but apparently not. Woo! Seriously, my score is abysmal. 36th percentile.

I

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