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Lately, I've gotten into the habit of looking back through old GC threads to distract myself from the waiting game. One thread that looked particularly helpful to past applicants was the medieval-specific conversation, and I thought we could start it up again for this round of applications. Especially since there's a good chance some of us will end up in programs together, it'll be fun to start building relationships now!

If you're a medievalist, what's your focus/what are your areas of interest? Working on anything particularly fun at the moment? Gotten any responses yet from programs?

I tend to have done most of my work with late medieval English texts, though I do have a keen and burgeoning interest in the sagas, and I'd like to explore that further. My particular areas of interest lie in medieval community formation and in medieval understandings of cognitive processes -- the bulk of my academic background has been in linguistics, and I'm fascinated by the cognitive elements of language.

So far I've gotten a yes from Pittsburgh, an interview with ND, and rejections from Northwestern and Wisconsin-Madison.

Looking forward to getting to know you all!

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Since the crickets on this post make me want to wail weylaway, I'm adding my voice to the choir even though I'm a medievalist already enrolled at a PhD program. (UT-Austin, in my case; and, for what it's worth for prospective medievalist PhD applicants, I'm a poet who got an MFA before applying to PhD programs). There are / have been quite a few medievalists around this forum, including some who interlope like me already in programs (looking at you, unræd!). 

Late Middle English -- 14th and 15th century poetries -- is my area of focus, too. I have long-standing interests in the cycle plays, devotional/visionary writings (Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe in particular), vernacular theology more generally, and the cult of saints and lay devotional culture. My PhD application foregrounded the latter, but when I got to UT I rediscovered the glories of Chaucer and, to my surprise, have become more of a Chaucerian than I ever thought possible. The dissertation I'm working on now reflects this sea change and, also to my surprise, combines a variety of these interests, which I guess is a testament to the fact that interests and passions grow and assemble in unexpected ways over time. 

Hopefully, some other medievalist applicants and/or currently attending students will chime in, too -- but I'd be happy to correspond further with medievalist applicants and/or prospective UT-Austin students.  

 

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I'm a medievalist! I've been ignoring the forum a bit because the gradual trickling in of Berkeley acceptances makes my eye twitch a bit when I think about it too hard, so I'm glad I came back to see this thread.

I'm mostly an Anglo-Saxonist, focusing on the construction of masculinity and the monstrous in Old English verse, but really my unifying interest is liminality throughout the Middle Ages. I'm really interested in non-normative experiences of gender and sexuality and how those experiences relate to the construction of human identity as separate from the animal, since weird sex stuff is often tied up uncanny, monstrous, partially animal figures, and I've recently been expanding that focus to look at intercultural contact with the Islamicate world and the later Mediterranean. I often get into community formation in early medieval Northern Europe with that as well, so it looks like we have something in common, @loganondorf.

Right now I'm working on a reading of "Wulf and Eadwacer" where I look at the narrator as a human woman and Wulf as an actual, literal wolf, since contact with the animal in AS poetry is a lot more complicated than I think a lot of folks acknowledge, and tbh I should probably get on writing that because I'm supposed to present it at Kalamazoo in May.

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14 hours ago, cloudofunknowing said:

There are / have been quite a few medievalists around this forum, including some who interlope like me already in programs (looking at you, unræd!).

Well, since I was looked at!

As cloudofunknowing notes, I'm already in a program, but I still hang out here now and then. I'm an Anglo-Saxonist at UC Berkeley; while I applied with an SOP that talked about using old-school philological methodologies to explore non-normative sexuality and gender in Old English and Anglo-Latin texts, my interests have (as cloud also notes, they really do!) shifted during my time in the program. Now I'm focusing more on coordination between institutional (i.e. religious, and especially liturgical) textual cultures and more ostensibly "literary" textual production, but who knows what sort of sharper definition that will take as it reaches the dissertation stage. My methodologies tend to be fairly eclectic, although grounded in old-fashioned rigorous textual study -- I do some manuscript studies and some DH, still have a sweet spot for hardcore philology, and given my research interests I've been thinking a lot lately about stuff as different as anthropological theorizations of ritual and New Formalist work. 

I'm always happy to answer questions/correspond with applicants, medieval or otherwise -- about Cal or the field or whatever. I did my undergrad work  at UMN and Ohio State, and was very involved in the program/with the faculty at the latter, so I can also answer (at least some) questions about medieval life there, too!

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14 minutes ago, unræd said:

I'm an Anglo-Saxonist at UC Berkeley; while I applied with an SOP that talked about using old-school philological methodologies to explore non-normative sexuality and gender in Old English and Anglo-Latin texts, my interests have (as cloud also notes, they really do!) shifted during my time in the program. Now I'm focusing more on coordination between institutional (i.e. religious, and especially liturgical) textual cultures and more ostensibly "literary" textual production, but who knows what sort of sharper definition that will take as it reaches the dissertation stage. My methodologies tend to be fairly eclectic, although grounded in old-fashioned rigorous textual study -- I do some manuscript studies and some DH, still have a sweet spot for hardcore philology, and given my research interests I've been thinking a lot lately about stuff as different as anthropological theorizations of ritual and New Formalist work. 

I'm always happy to answer questions/correspond with applicants, medieval or otherwise -- about Cal or the field or whatever. I did my undergrad work  at UMN and Ohio State, and was very involved in the program/with the faculty at the latter, so I can also answer (at least some) questions about medieval life there, too!

My SOP and writing sample were both really focused on non-normative sexuality and gender in OE and Latin as well--not quite as philological. Can you tell me a little about what it's like to be an Anglo-Saxonist at Berkeley? I haven't heard from them at all, and given that there have already been a bunch of acceptances around here I'm doubtful that I got in, but I'd love to hear about your experience in the program anyway just in case.

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Hey, a medievalist thread! I signed up just to say hi. I'm doing my MA right now and waiting to hear back from everyone on my awfully short list: U British Columbia, Toronto, and McGill. My strategy's been to just forget I applied and prepare for the rest of the year as if a PhD isn't on the table at all, but uh, discovering this place might throw a wrench into that.

I do mostly late-medieval heresy and political propaganda, especially around public dissent and revolt. English Lollardy and its suppression are my main "thing," but I'm just halfway through a one-year MA, so I don't wanna pigeonhole myself too soon. So for now, I bounce around heretics and rebels from England and Wales down to Italy, focusing less on the ins and outs of academic doctrine and more on the political consequences and propaganda rhetoric, both from the state and the dissenter. Manuscript codicology on bureaucratic poets like Hoccleve and Usk are taking up most of my time right now, and I've done a little work with chronicles recently that I'd like to keep rolling. That and some recent papers on the breakdown of rebels in the Great Rising have gotten my attention, so Wyclif and his followers' writings are going to be on the table for the foreseeable future.

I'm over in the UK right now, but can't wait to get back to North America, maybe even make it back to Kzoo next year!

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On 2/10/2017 at 8:25 AM, eadwacer said:

I'm a medievalist! I've been ignoring the forum a bit because the gradual trickling in of Berkeley acceptances makes my eye twitch a bit when I think about it too hard, so I'm glad I came back to see this thread.

I'm mostly an Anglo-Saxonist, focusing on the construction of masculinity and the monstrous in Old English verse, but really my unifying interest is liminality throughout the Middle Ages. I'm really interested in non-normative experiences of gender and sexuality and how those experiences relate to the construction of human identity as separate from the animal, since weird sex stuff is often tied up uncanny, monstrous, partially animal figures, and I've recently been expanding that focus to look at intercultural contact with the Islamicate world and the later Mediterranean. I often get into community formation in early medieval Northern Europe with that as well, so it looks like we have something in common, @loganondorf.

Right now I'm working on a reading of "Wulf and Eadwacer" where I look at the narrator as a human woman and Wulf as an actual, literal wolf, since contact with the animal in AS poetry is a lot more complicated than I think a lot of folks acknowledge, and tbh I should probably get on writing that because I'm supposed to present it at Kalamazoo in May.

I suppose I will piggyback off this, since @eadwacer and I share similar focuses! I am a medievalist interested in the Viking Age, with particular focus on the performance of gender, magic, and the conversion as attested to in the Icelandic sagas. It's nice to see someone also focused on liminality! I know that's a fledgling area of study in medieval European history, as I've seen some conference papers from the last few years. I am also interested in identity, such as the identity of the English based on Scandinavian settlement and the Danelaw. Last thing I'm interested in is Scandinavian material culture, specifically weaponry and forging techniques, with a mild interest in HEMA.

If we both get into Toronto, we may see each other! I am applying for the MA. I have yet to hear anything other than the adcomms meeting in the next week or so. The suspense is killing me. I hope to hear something by spring break, so I can start planning moves.

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On 2/11/2017 at 9:20 PM, RurikNjalsson said:

I suppose I will piggyback off this, since @eadwacer and I share similar focuses! I am a medievalist interested in the Viking Age, with particular focus on the performance of gender, magic, and the conversion as attested to in the Icelandic sagas. It's nice to see someone also focused on liminality! I know that's a fledgling area of study in medieval European history, as I've seen some conference papers from the last few years. I am also interested in identity, such as the identity of the English based on Scandinavian settlement and the Danelaw. Last thing I'm interested in is Scandinavian material culture, specifically weaponry and forging techniques, with a mild interest in HEMA.

We share so many of the same interests, oh my goodness. I used to be kind of into HEMA as well, and Scandinavian is a secondary interest for me, partly because of the contact with the early medieval Middle East. I'm so into Ibn Fadlan. Also totally into magic! I've been thinking a lot about "shamanistic" modes of it, since that's also a form of liminal crossing, and one that seems really present in oral cultures like early AS and Scandinavia.

I'm applying for the MA there too (didn't feel competent enough for the PhD in medieval because my Latin is... like, barely even mediocre), and it's so stresssful how late they usually notify. Like, I just want to knoooooow. Here's hoping we both get good news from them eventually!

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  • 3 weeks later...

So far still radio silence from Toronto for me, @RurikNjalsson. Looking back through previous years on the results page, it seems like they don't typically notify MA applicants until somewhere from late in the first week until the end of the second week in March, so here's hoping we'll be hearing soon.

Side note, I'm not sure how to feel about their Medieval Studies MA being only a one year program, which for some reason I didn't start considering until recently. Like, my extremely vague knowledge of Canadian higher ed means that I have no idea what that means for later PhD apps, in comparison to a two year. Any thoughts?

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11 minutes ago, eadwacer said:

So far still radio silence from Toronto for me, @RurikNjalsson. Looking back through previous years on the results page, it seems like they don't typically notify MA applicants until somewhere from late in the first week until the end of the second week in March, so here's hoping we'll be hearing soon.

Side note, I'm not sure how to feel about their Medieval Studies MA being only a one year program, which for some reason I didn't start considering until recently. Like, my extremely vague knowledge of Canadian higher ed means that I have no idea what that means for later PhD apps, in comparison to a two year. Any thoughts?

Good luck! I applied several years ago to their PhD program and got offered the MA in the late first week of March, so that sounds about right. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you until you hear!

Honestly, in my experience a one-year program doesn't set you back. I did my MA in a year (though it was intended to be a two-year program), and I was still able to get into my first-choice program. I didn't explain that I condensed a two-year MA into one year, so it's not like they knew any differently -- if adcomms looked closely enough at my CV, they would likely have just assumed my MA was a one-year program. I wouldn't worry about it; Toronto is a great school for medieval lit (and in general, obviously), so I highly doubt it would set you back in any serious way. 

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Yeah, I think the merit of it being University of Toronto means that a one-year is expected and should be good for anyone considering PhD. For personal reasons, I like it, because it allows a bit of a jump on other applicants in two-year MA programs. As well, it probably means it's challenging, which I like, since it keeps me on focus. @eadwacer, I'm incredibly jealous you already have acceptances. But go you!

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8 hours ago, eadwacer said:

So far still radio silence from Toronto for me, @RurikNjalsson. Looking back through previous years on the results page, it seems like they don't typically notify MA applicants until somewhere from late in the first week until the end of the second week in March, so here's hoping we'll be hearing soon.

Side note, I'm not sure how to feel about their Medieval Studies MA being only a one year program, which for some reason I didn't start considering until recently. Like, my extremely vague knowledge of Canadian higher ed means that I have no idea what that means for later PhD apps, in comparison to a two year. Any thoughts?

I'm in a one-year MA in the UK, and I think it's got its ups and downs. I won't lie, it's really fast-paced, but in some ways that forces you to structure time and work independently better, which is nice if you have PhD plans. I don't think we're structured the same way Canada does it; we have 2-3 classes a semester that meet once a week, and our only marks each semester are the final papers, so we really have a lot of freedom as far as what we study, as long as we do it well. Then again, we also don't teach. The 'free' time is nice for things like brushing up on Latin or manuscript work. I'm helping with a conference, and I don't feel like it's a gigantic drain on time. On the other hand, I do feel like there's a lot I'm missing out on in the classroom that I'm expected to know but don't. Like, we did a class on medieval music and the lecturer was shocked when she realized none of us knew how monastic daily life was structured or even how the liturgy worked, and it kinda felt like she was going over 'old material' to explain it to us, even though we'd never been in a situation to read over that ourselves. But that's also part of why you spend a lot more time with your advisor when you can; any time I ask about a subject, they're happy to give me a pretty big bibliography on it, if it's on their radar. So in short, it's a crash course, but it sounds a lot like what PhD life is like, so I don't regret it at all! Plus, the year saved is nice.

And yeah, I haven't heard from any of the picks on my short list either. UoT's medieval PhD, McGill's and UBC's English PhD. Feels like an eternity compared to US programs, but the past few years make it seem like this is about the time Canadian programs start giving out decisions, so it seems normal.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm still waiting to hear back from Toronto for the Medieval Studies MA. Has anyone heard anything?

I'm curious about rankings (everything is made up and the points don't matter!) because while there's consensus on how to determine rankings, they do become more subjective/flexible once it gets down to subfield, and depending on the programs available. For instance, Yale is obviously a top tier program for History and for medievalists. But they've got the conventional departments (History, English, History of Art, etc) as well as a dedicated Medieval Studies PhD program which is much, much smaller. How would going the Medieval Studies route help or hinder TT applications in the long run? Is it likely to make a difference whether your degree was in a disciplinary department or not, assuming you can articulate why it wasn't if you went the Medieval Studies route? Is it likely that any difference in competitiveness for spots between the History or English departments as opposed to Medieval Studies (if there is any) would be overlooked, because Yale is already assumed to be so competitive an institution in the first place?

Food for thought! I'd appreciate input from those of us who know the subfield. :) It gets so hard to parse things at a granular level when folks from all sorts of different areas chime in on rankings!

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5 hours ago, LadyPole said:

I'm still waiting to hear back from Toronto for the Medieval Studies MA. Has anyone heard anything?

 

I applied for the Toronto's CMS PhD, but they offered me a spot MA that I turned down. But then again, I'm not sure how the PhD/MA decision order works up in Canada. Schools in the States usually do PhD offers then MA offers, but I saw a bunch of MA offers from UBC at the end of February and absolutely nothing yet on their PhD front. Last one I'm waiting on.

I wonder that a lot about Medieval Studies vs English/History. I'd imagine part of it depends on your CV. Two people could go into the same CMS and one could come out with a few papers on editing theory and the other with work in urban economies. But the field is niche enough that there's not much data that lines up with it on big lists and stuff. One idea could be to bring it up with your person of interest at the given program. Data on where alumni ended up would be good, too.

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Yeah, I think it must vary by program. Placement for Yale's Medieval Studies program in particular is excellent, although I can't find any more of their nice little summaries like this one, which is from 2011: https://web.archive.org/web/20121223192423/http://www.yale.edu/graduateschool/academics/profiles/medievalstudies.pdf

I also wonder how a Medieval Studies PhD plays in the job market down the line. Do you think it's common for people to try to swing across disciplines, ie. compete for an English TT position when they're really more of a historian? I'm not saying I'd necessarily do such a thing--though time will tell!--but I think there's already a certain amount of that at play with medievalists, if only because it's such an interdisciplinary field in the first place. Evidence either way would have to be anecdotal, of course, barring a statistical modeling of medievalists across the nation!

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On 3/12/2017 at 0:16 AM, LadyPole said:

I'm still waiting to hear back from Toronto for the Medieval Studies MA. Has anyone heard anything?

I got a rejection in the mail a couple of days ago. I would have posted earlier but the forums weren't working for me.

I honestly don't feel too bad about not getting in. They spelled my name wrong twice in that letter. Now I just have to decide whether I'm accepting the MA at UBC immediately because of their strong medieval ecocrit research, or waiting to hear from Minnesota (where I almost certainly won't get in according to my source there) or Rochester (which I like less as a program) just for the sake of going into a direct entry PhD.

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I'm officially shut out this cycle! Oh well, my list was just three long shots, and the rejections could have been worse, so I don't feel too bad. Just as well, in a lot of ways, but I you could probably say that's just sour grapes on my part. Glad for y'all who did get in! Seeya next cycle.

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Still waiting to hear back from the CMS as well... I have a feeling that I'll either get rejected or waitlisted (no Latin experience). Got accepted into UBC though, so I'll be staying there instead.

@eadwacer Congrats on choosing UBC :) I'll probably see you in Prof. Pareles' Ecocrit Beowulf seminar. Apparently, the number of medievalists attending UBC this year will be quite high. Hurrah!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Got a rejection from Toronto in the mail yesterday (letter marked March 9th though)... =/ Not surprised though, as I have zero knowledge of Latin and German.

The plan is to work on these for the next two years and try again when I apply to PhD programs. Onward!  

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