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How do I pick programs?

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Hi. I hope this isn't too off-season.


I'm researching into applying for Comp Lit programs for 2016, and I've come into a bit of a dilemma. My field covers one geographical area, but involves 2-3 different languages and cultures, and I am moreover interested in a particular theoretical framework. When I consider whether a school would be a good fit for me, should I consider the scholarship being done in the national literature departments that pertain to my languages, or just the comp lit program? I've been advised by a professor that I should look at the strength of the national literature programs when I am considering a comp lit program at a university for job market purposes, but I wonder if this advice holds when applying in terms of showing program fit. In my home comp lit program, people were allowed to write comp lit theses under advisors who were not affiliated with comp lit, but I wonder if this is a thing elsewhere? If I find a grad student (or a couple of grad students) with interests similar to mine, is this a sign that the program is open to my area of interest, or is it a sign that they won't be taking on people in my area until these guys graduate? Finally, how do you know if a journal in the humanities is considered good?

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I can only answer a few of these questions, and I'm not sure how great my answers will be, but let me give it a shot to get stuff rolling. 

For journals: One way to find a good journal is to look at where the people you want to work with have published. If Professor Button at Harvard has an article in Comp Lit Bonanza, then that's probably something for you to look into. Otherwise, there are a few big name journals in the humanities, and here are several top-tier ones: Critical Inquiry, New Literary History, Modernism/Modernity, Representations, perhaps Boundary 2 as well. There are more, of course, but that depends on your specific subfield. 


Fit is important, up until the point that it's not. In other words, if you find that focusing on fit has limited where you want to apply to a very small number of programs, then you need to think about expanding your interests. I can't talk about national lit vs comp lit, so I'll just bracket that issue. If you find a grad student with similar interests, then yes, the program is willing to take on more students with your interests. If you want to work with a star in the department, then you might have some difficulties getting them on your committee/ being accepted for that person, but not necessarily. 

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