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Fit! (the artist formally known as "There's Got to be...")

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Here are my thoughts on Columbia. I don't go there but have been researching, asking, visiting, etc. I'd loooooove to hear from anybody with more direct experience.

Columbia pitches itself as possessing a kind of enlightened eclecticism: the faculty represent an unusually broad range of methodologies and approaches, and they sell the program as beneficial to students hoping to do something different or novel. The English side of the department seems colored or inflected by its partnership with Comp Lit. The potential disadvantage here is that the program is more loosely organized than many: there is no generals exam per se, for instance, and the course requirements are relatively loose. At the same time, there doesn't seem to be too much risk of falling through the cracks at the moment because the key players seem to be committed and attentive teachers. Maybe it's the kind of program held together more by the personal commitment and energy of the people involved than by uniform institutional policy? There does seem to be a strong institutional commitment to teaching the craft of writing (both at the undergrad and grad level), a major plus IMO. Cultural studies is as much of a shared interest among the faculty as any, or so I've been told. The program is somewhat less strong in the area of traditionally literary close reading: perhaps not a great place for people interested primarily in traditional poetics, for instance. The stipend is good and the subsidized housing helps, but making it as a graduate student in NYC isn't easy. One disadvantage: the teaching load is relatively heavy.

It also seems to me the kind of place that allows for students to treat school as a consuming but essentially limited day job, one that requires long hours but allows you to do other things. A number of students (and some faculty) are creative writers, for instance. It seems to be the kind of place that would allow for an outside interest, especially if such an interest dovetailed in some way with one's academic pursuits.

I'm interested to hear whether I'm wrong or right about all this from anyone who has more insight/experience than I. Other impressions?

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I, also, would love to hear more about Columbia. Unsurprisingly I was not accepted, but I was very interested in the kind of flexibility loft is describing.

In any case, I wanted to put a more general question out there, to perhaps use this resource in a different way which I hope is ok. My interest is in literary translation, both the practice and the theory, with a strong focus on 20th century Latin American and Arabic poetry, and their relevant post-colonial fields. So I researched as best I could, came up with a list of (primarily long-shot) programs that had at least one person doing literary translation, and in some cases a fairly strong departmental focus on it. It seems as if I may have mis-matched myself significantly though, and am now second-guessing everything starting with whether I should be looking at "English" or "Comp. Lit." and spiraling from there. Does anyone have experience or ideas of programs that are suited for an interest in literary translation?

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