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University of Toronto: Classics PhD


DevDoc82
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I am currently a MA Classics student looking to pursue a PhD in the field. I must say, however, that the University of Toronto's Collaborative Program in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy is my ultimate goal. My reason for posting on this forum is to ask for some advise on few things. 

 

I focused my undergraduate degree in Middle Eastern Studies/Arabic, where I procure advanced speaking and reading skills. This background has facilitated my interest in Medieval Islamic Philosophy. The more I read Averroes, Al-Ghazli, and Al-Farrabi, the more I am inclined to spend the rest o my life researching the fields. I am desirous to know what the admissions committee is looking for in terms of an applicant applying to this school. At the moment, I have 5 years of Arabic, 3 years of Latin, and I am just starting to undertake the acquisition of Greek. I am willing to prepare as much as possible to obtain admissions. 

 

Also, I desire to set myself apart from the rest. So, does anyone think that a CASA Fellowship in Arabic will help in convincing the admissions committee at Toronto? This fellowship will take advanced speakers and reader to superior levels.

 

Please respond. Any feedback is great!

 

Thanks!

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Ahlan wa sahlan! It's quite impressive that you're reading Muslim classical philosophers... after four years of Arabic, I can barely read the Qur'an. I would say the next step you take will depend on what, exactly, you want to study. If you'll be studying the Greek roots of Islamic philosophy, then I would say you should focus on learning Greek (maybe get a postbacc), since your Arabic is already advanced. I'm not sure how helpful going to Cairo would be. I understand that those programs are aimed more at improving your speaking, not your reading, skills. Reading skills are obviously more helpful for a graduate program.

 

Again, I'm not quite sure what you want to do, but you might also take a look at Yale's Graeco-Arabic program.

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اهلاً فيك Thank you for the reply. I had no idea Yale had such a program. This news is quite pleasant. I desire to study Medieval Islamic Philosophy, as well as its intellectual roots. Also, I am interested in St. Thomas Aquinas. Some articles have read seem to insinuate that he was influenced by many of the Islamic philosophers. 

 

I am currently teaching myself Greek, and will be taking graduate level Greek poetry in the fall. It is a sink or swim scenario, but I basically taught myself Arabic and Latin, so I hope that I will have the same results with Greek. A lot of hard work does pay off, especially when you study for about 16 hours a day or so. Sometime less.

 

That is what I have heard about CASA as well. It is not really geared towards Classical Arabic, but rather reading news articles and speaking MSA and Egyptian dialect. 

 

Thanks!

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I wonder about your decision to apply to the Classics Department as your "home" department. Would Philosophy or Medieval Studies not be more appropriate for such late (from a Classicist's point of view) authors? I only bring this up because I wonder how the Classics Dept's admissions committee would view someone interested in an area that falls on the extreme fringe of the field.

 

I don't know anything about the CASA fellowship, but just because it is not directly related to your interests doesn't mean it won't boost your admissions profile. It might demonstrate an ability to thrive in a difficult academic environment for instance - something obviously important to adcoms as they try to determine who's going to flop under the pressures of graduate work.

 

I'm also going to send you a PM in a few minutes with a few other thoughts.

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