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Please shatter my SOP (Phd in Spanish)

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Hi there, I am not a Native speaker, and I NEEED help!


Please feel free to make any direct, honest comments...


This is it:


Statement of Academic Purpose


This is the second time I apply to NYU. The first time I was selected as a finalist for admission to the PhD program in Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature. I had the opportunity to be interviewed by the Graduate Committee, including Professors Gabriel Giorgi, Gigi Dopico-Black, Jacques Lezra, and Jordana Mendelson. In the time between the two applications I have been preparing for this occasion. I have organized international literary conferences, such as the symposium on gay history in Mexico presented at the opening of the festival Celebrate Mexico Now at NYU in 2011, where I also was a featured speaker. I have also published the essay book El deshielo as well as the first translation to Spanish of Mikhail Kuzmin’s novel Wings, and I have been working as an editor of history schoolbooks used by millions of students in the public high school system in Mexico. Further information on my background is in my resume and can also be found in my personal website www.etc.com

I want to combine my passion for creative writing and my abilities to research, write and promote literature with the extensive formation that I will get at New York University in order to create original research work.

As an undergraduate student of French literature I felt somehow constrained by the typical narrow field of specialization at the bachelor level in Mexican universities; that is why I explored other topics, such as art history, sociology, aesthetics or Russian history, sometimes as a standing student. During a yearlong student strike at my university I began to work as journalist and was only able to obtain my degree several years later.

However, my passion for research was stoked when I returned to college to finish my dissertation, which was about the author as a discursive function in Little Red Riding Hood. My perspective on the matter was that the role of the authorial figure inside the story had been overshadowed by Charles Perrault’s perceived role as the first compiler of the French folktale. By analyzing several versions of Little Red Riding Hood in literature, cinema, publicity, visual arts and erotica, I tried to rediscover fundamental, original characteristics such as irony, malleability, and moral ambiguity, introduced by a voluntarily evasive author.

I then came to understand that any meaningful literary research endeavor should be informed by an analysis of the subject from many different perspectives, encompassing many fields from the humanities; that is why I want to complete my doctoral studies with a focus in Comparative Literature.

A study of Little Red Riding Hood certainly may include the analysis of the forms and functions of the folktale, but also may delve on other subjects. These include the transit from orality to literature; the transformation of old literary motifs and their use in new literary works, the analysis of life in French society in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the reception of the story, and the instauration of new perceptions of childhood with the corresponding imposition of new codes of behavior. All these themes were discussed in my dissertation, which was directed by Dr. Cristina Azuela, at the time director of the Center of Poetics in the Institute of Philology at UNAM, who strongly encouraged me to pursue a career in the academic field.

It is this confluence of interests and circumstances what has led me to graduate studies at this time. The type of work that I would like to do requires the sort of rigorous research and systematic analysis that are only possible to perform at a doctoral level.

I am particularly interested in how heterodox literary speeches have undermined Modernity and Coloniality in explicit or implicit ways, voluntarily or involuntarily. One example is found at different times in fairy tales. Fairy tales defined Modernity with their combination of elements from different narrative traditions; but many times those same elements surreptitiously disturbed and undermined Modernity. I am also interested in the role of memory and perception in the process of creation, and how it crosses the permeable borders between different genres and languages.

A research subject that I find very appealing is the migrant as a sort of trickster figure in American and Mexican literature, as tricksters are natural border crossers and carriers of new knowledge, and their mythological narratives are related with migrants’ ability to transform modern forms of mythology, art and literature.

I envision my long-term career goal as a scholar that will impact society in a positive way. My dream is to create a center for interdisciplinary research that brings together literary theory, aesthetics, history, mythology, and performing arts. 

That center will be innovative in its approach to the relationship between literary and mythological discourses, and how they actually reflect and inform cultural change in countries that have experienced massive migration, such as Mexico, and the destination countries, such as the United States.

At its core, the center would foster and finance residence programs for scholars and artists from all over the world. They would be invited to explore subjects such as migration, cultural change and social mobility, and how language, literature and art symbolically inform and are informed by those social changes.

A crucial step to achieving that purpose is to join the doctoral program at NYU. NYU offers the strength of its extraordinary faculty and its excellent reputation, in a campus that offers the best research facilities at the center of a city that has been marked by constant migration, symbolic and physical change from the time of its conception at the dawn of Modernity.  This is why I would be for me a great honor to study at NYU, and I will make my commitment to respect the program with my best intellectual effort. 

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I suppose someone who has successfully reapplied might be able to speak to this better, but I’m not sure I like the way your essay begins. You certainly want to highlight what you have done since being rejected last year, but it would feel more appropriate later in the essay I think.


Also, the essay is well-written overall, but I would have a native English speaker review it if possible, as there are a few awkward grammatical constructions peppered throughout. For example, the first sentence should read “This is the second time I am applying to NYU”. Another awkward sentence is "I envision my long-term career goal as a scholar that..." That could be rewritten a number of different ways, including "My long-term goal is to become a scholar who..."

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