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Hi, all –

I apologize in advance if any of my questions are glaringly obvious, but I require gradcafe wisdom on submitting a multimedia essay to PhD programs in English literature and similar disciplines like cultural/media studies. As a point of reference, my essay examines the ideological edifice of two Steve Bannon documentaries, Torchbearer and Generation Zero, and draws on the theoretical framework of S. Žižek's The Sublime Object of Ideology. Such analysis requires that I embed clips from either film as textual evidence, and the platform I decided upon was WordPress, buying my own domain to give a little autonomy to the project. 

To start, how do different PhD programs deal with this type of submission? I'm sure disciplines like media studies have pretty clear-cut protocol for what I'm describing, but I'm not sure how English literature programs might differ, if at all, but they're my main point of interest here, so it'd help to receive as much knowledge as I can on the subject. 

Further, might there be an advantage to briefly describing relevant scenes in my essay, as Žižek so often does, in lieu of embedded clips? On the one hand, this move would streamline the complication by maintaining a purely textual essay; on the other hand, I can't possibly imagine paraphrasing a literary text, e.g. Ulysses, for an entire paper without losing rhetorical effect on some demonstrative level. (Good grief, I never thought I would ever align Joyce and Bannon in a metaphorical capacity – I think I may need an ice-cold shower, or perhaps a holy water blessing from Dr. Buck Mulligan himself.)

If you're so inclined, I also have a few less-pressing questions: 

1) Preferentially, is WordPress the best platform for a multimedia essay such as mine?

2) How does one formalize your page-count with embedded videos, or does this ultimately not matter as much as word-count when submitting to programs?

3) Submitted multimedia essays should preclude peripheral or paratextual content, like expository "About" tabs, right? 

Thanks everyone!

Edited by Trystero0
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  • 1 month later...

Are you required by a track/certificate in the departments you are applying for to submit multimedia writing samples? If the answer is yes, contact them directly to see how each department deals with this. I know film, theater, and other performance arts departments have specific instructions for these type of work. 

Now, if you are applying for programs with no such support and the multimedia essay is your thing only, then you should minimize the multimedia stuff and give references to your website in the same way that others cite articles, books, scores, and images. A typical writing sample for admission in most humanities departments is evidence of good analysis, coherent narrative, cohesive thinking, and professional presentation. This is an opportunity to show that you can do critical work and present it properly to your audience. If your audience does not support multimedia, then you need to be smart enough to write the piece in such a way that they can click on your links if they want to but they don't need to. AdComms don't have time for this. 

If part of your future work involves multimedia in any form and your conversations with possible POIs led you to think that this should be present in your application materials, I would talk to them into how this can be done. As an outsider to English Departments but familiar with their work in digital humanities, my sense is that if they are interested in you and what to know more, they may request these materials. You are applying for admission to English, not Media Studies/Film Studies PhD so it seems to me you need to make a case of this (of course, this is based on your post, your SOP maybe stellar in this regard!). 

Bottomline: Why do you need to submit a multimedia essay? What can you gain from this? What are the disadvantages? 


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