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sarandipidy


Feb 17, 2011, 2:35 PM

Post #2051 of 2090 (11486 views)
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Re: [gcsumfa] NEW! The Creative Writing PhD Blog! Can't Post

Here's a question, gcsumfa. You say: "This is a pretty serious investment in literature, as most CW PhD's test under the same or similar format as the lit students." Are the qualifying exams for English and CrWr Ph.D students different in any way (even if the format is similar)? I take it that much of your committee will be your CrWr professors (usually people who identify as writers before they identify as scholars), right? I would think that would create a different dynamic and line of questioning, at least during the oral exam? I'm curious if it works at all differently, because, after all, they are two different degrees and graduates will have different goals and career trajectories.


spamela


Feb 17, 2011, 4:09 PM

Post #2052 of 2090 (11465 views)
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Re: [sarandipidy] NEW! The Creative Writing PhD Blog! Can't Post

heya, I'm obvs not gcsumfa, but this convo is interesting and I don't feel like doing my own work so here's my response (I'm at Utah): our exams are different in that the CWs have three lists consisting of theory, history and contemporary. The Lit students also have three lists but their third list is usually the period in which they intend to specialize (which affects their other lists, too). We get a contemporary list because that is, in effect, our specialty (ie we are contemporary authors), but you can always tailor that list toward a period if you want. A member of my CW cohort specialized in modernism and steered his contemp and history lists in that direction. Me, I'm focusing on the history of the novel and genre forms.

As to the sorts of exam questions: there's usually one question about our own writing, but by and large, the exam questions are what you'd expect for any qualifying PhD exam in lit.

Our committees are made up of two creative writing faculty, two lit faculty from the Eng dept. (one to "run" the history list and one to "run" the theory list) and one faculty member outside the department. So actually, it's an even split between CW and Lit people. My outside faculty is a Comp Lit guy, so my committee's actually heavier in lit people than writers. And my committee chair, though a creative writer, also has a PhD in Lit. He's as interested in asking theory and history questions as my lit committee members. I tell you this to give you an example of how it can all break down. Since you choose your committee (with some stipulations), it's really up to you how you want to "weigh" the focus.

And that's the view from Utah. ;)


(This post was edited by spamela on Feb 17, 2011, 4:10 PM)


gcsumfa


Feb 17, 2011, 4:10 PM

Post #2053 of 2090 (11462 views)
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Re: [sarandipidy] NEW! The Creative Writing PhD Blog! Can't Post


In Reply To
Are the qualifying exams for English and CrWr Ph.D students different in any way (even if the format is similar)? I take it that much of your committee will be your CrWr professors (usually people who identify as writers before they identify as scholars), right? I would think that would create a different dynamic and line of questioning, at least during the oral exam? I'm curious if it works at all differently, because, after all, they are two different degrees and graduates will have different goals and career trajectories.


Great question. First, let me backtrack a bit: qualifying exams vary by program (as spamela's post proves--Utah is known for its flexibility), so I would advise anyone interested in applying to a CW PhD program to pay careful attention to the exam format in each respective program’s grad handbook. I can't emphasize this enough, and if I could go back in time, I would spend more time researching this area, as it seems that many CW’ers never consider the magnitude of qualifying exams; there’s this perception that such a program is just “a few more lit courses” and a creative dissertation. I would argue that, at many places, qualifying exams are more stressful and rigorous than the dissertation, a line of thought that applies to lit folks too (many of my lit friends would agree with me). Finally, if you enter a CW PhD program you should decide on your exam areas in the first semester and try to match coursework with those areas. This is HUGE and will help your studying immensely--if you want to test in Victorian Lit, be sure to take at least one Victorian course ASAP, etc.

Okay, to your specific question: there are usually separate committees for exams and the dissertation. At most places, a CW PhD student has to test in at least two literature areas chaired by a literature faculty member from each area. The CW’er is expected to perform as well on the exam (exams are usually pass/fail) as lit students. These are general qualifying tests for all PhD students, regardless of the student's specialty, and many programs stipulate that all students test in at least two areas OUTSIDE their specialties, since one of the aims of a PhD is to prepare students to balance specialization with breadth, a balance that will likely manifest itself throughout one's career, to varying degrees (esp. in today’s competitive market).

The third (or fourth) area is usually related to the student’s specialty, and is typically chaired by the candidate’s diss. advisor. At some places, this exam is a take-home, while at other places, it’s another sit down. This is the exam component that seems to vary the most according to the program.

Same with the oral, though in that case, the candidate would be dealing with multiple lines of inquiry across fields/areas instead of one. This is another component that tends to vary highly according to the program; some places don’t even have an oral component.

Finally, some programs have a portfolio/take-home format.

However, I don’t know of many CW PhD programs (or any, really) where the candidate isn’t expect to test in at least two areas outside of CW, since one of the major points of the degree is to make CW’ers more versatile academics.

“they are two different degrees and graduates will have different goals and career trajectories.”

I think the “CW” part is often overemphasized. Regardless of one’s specialty at the PhD level in English, at most programs, there is still a common ground of coursework and exams that all students must navigate successfully.


(This post was edited by gcsumfa on Feb 17, 2011, 4:13 PM)


spamela


Feb 17, 2011, 4:20 PM

Post #2054 of 2090 (11450 views)
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Re: [gcsumfa] NEW! The Creative Writing PhD Blog! Can't Post

Yes--programs don't all do it the same. It's good to get a handle on the differences, although I don't know that the differences would have meant much to me when I was applying to programs (it's all so abstract at that point). Utah's exams are a three-hour oral (45 min to 1 hr for each list), followed by a three-day take home paper (the committee gives you your question) and you have 72 hours to write a 20-25 page paper in response to the question. Qualifying exams are definitely the tougher thing to get through here. The dissertation defense is sort of seen as a celebration after all that examining.


gcsumfa


Feb 17, 2011, 4:25 PM

Post #2055 of 2090 (11446 views)
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Re: [spamela] NEW! The Creative Writing PhD Blog! Can't Post


In Reply To
Yes--programs don't all do it the same. It's good to get a handle on the differences, although I don't know that the differences would have meant much to me when I was applying to programs (it's all so abstract at that point). Utah's exams are a three-hour oral (45 min to 1 hr for each list), followed by a three-day take home paper (the committee gives you your question) and you have 72 hours to write a 20-25 page paper in response to the question. Qualifying exams are definitely the tougher thing to get through here. The dissertation defense is sort of seen as a celebration after all that examining.


Agreed. And I think we can agree that, regardless of the format, there is no way one can seriously argue that any CW PhD program is similar to an MFA program in terms of req's outside writing the diss. Even the format you describe, one that is pretty darn flexible, isn't close to anything going on at MFA programs, and I'm guessing that the PhD faculty you're working with outside CW expect you to possess the same critical thinking skills of any other PhD student.

Nothing I've ever done in academia comes close to comparing to the rigor of qualifying exams. I actually laugh when I think about how I complained about lit seminars in the past and reading one book a week and writing a 20 pg. paper at the end of the semester. I've been reading 150 pages 5-6 days a week for like 8 months.


(This post was edited by gcsumfa on Feb 17, 2011, 4:30 PM)


spamela


Feb 17, 2011, 4:32 PM

Post #2056 of 2090 (11437 views)
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Re: [gcsumfa] NEW! The Creative Writing PhD Blog! Can't Post

Yep. Incredibly rigorous and very tough. Nothing like my MFA and most decidedly not a studio degree. Coursework does not compare to studying for exams. (Good luck on yours!)


gcsumfa


Feb 17, 2011, 4:37 PM

Post #2057 of 2090 (11432 views)
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Re: [spamela] NEW! The Creative Writing PhD Blog! Can't Post


In Reply To
Yep. Incredibly rigorous and very tough. Nothing like my MFA and most decidedly not a studio degree. Coursework does not compare to studying for exams. (Good luck on yours!)


Thanks! You too! I'm testing in a month...gulp.


spamela


Feb 17, 2011, 4:50 PM

Post #2058 of 2090 (11425 views)
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Re: [gcsumfa] NEW! The Creative Writing PhD Blog! Can't Post

You'll do great (or anyway, you will pass and that is great)! Oh to be done with all this in a month...envy.


gcsumfa


Feb 17, 2011, 4:58 PM

Post #2059 of 2090 (11421 views)
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Re: [spamela] NEW! The Creative Writing PhD Blog! Can't Post


In Reply To
You'll do great (or anyway, you will pass and that is great)! Oh to be done with all this in a month...envy.


Thanks. I do feel confident. As long as one puts in the work, he's fine, but man, the work and the feeling of the test date hanging over one's head for a year or so is a bear!


sarandipidy


Feb 17, 2011, 8:49 PM

Post #2060 of 2090 (11372 views)
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Re: [gcsumfa] NEW! The Creative Writing PhD Blog! Can't Post

Thanks for sharing your experiences, guys! That was really helpful.


lytonya
Lytonya Wename

Feb 24, 2011, 3:27 PM

Post #2061 of 2090 (11092 views)
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RE: LesK Can't Post

Cincy? Any word from anyone? Anywhere?

I haven't been on here since my MFA days back in '06.

Anyway, for complicated family reasons, I could only apply to one program this year (I know=dumb). But I really like the program and felt it was a good match.

I'm already in the hopeless obsessive stage. I just want to know so I can start planning for next year. It was gratifying to feel like my app was way better than what got me into alabama... and totally frightening that I am now convinced it was still awful.

Next year, for equally complicated family reasons, if I don't get into cincy, i'll be applying everywhere outside of the south and northeast.


Bagels


Feb 24, 2011, 7:44 PM

Post #2062 of 2090 (11039 views)
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Re: [lytonya] RE: LesK Can't Post

I don't think programs start responding till early March. Is this the impression others have?


In Reply To
Cincy? Any word from anyone? Anywhere?

I haven't been on here since my MFA days back in '06.

Anyway, for complicated family reasons, I could only apply to one program this year (I know=dumb). But I really like the program and felt it was a good match.

I'm already in the hopeless obsessive stage. I just want to know so I can start planning for next year. It was gratifying to feel like my app was way better than what got me into alabama... and totally frightening that I am now convinced it was still awful.

Next year, for equally complicated family reasons, if I don't get into cincy, i'll be applying everywhere outside of the south and northeast.



lytonya
Lytonya Wename

Feb 24, 2011, 9:45 PM

Post #2063 of 2090 (11021 views)
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Re: [Bagels] RE: LesK Can't Post


In Reply To
I don't think programs start responding till early March. Is this the impression others have?

cincy, at least, has a history of starting in late feb for first rounds. usc, ohio and uic have also begun to notify--per comments on seth's blog.

i know they (cincy) met at some point during 7-11 feb (per grad coordinator) because while they had my unofficial transcripts, they had not gotten my official. i freaked a little when she emailed me. but she said it was ok and not to worry.

my email chats with prof griffith were really what made me decide for sure to apply. i have an mfa, but was thinking of getting an ma (for when I get back to california--community college teaching). he encouraged me to apply for the phd and otherwise answered my questions and was, well, available (not always the case with programs). applying for the phd, and only to one place makes me so nervous. i hadn't taken the subject test, but he said as long as i take it in april that i can be considered for admission. so i'm also looking forward to THAT right around the end of the semester at the u where i teach. fun.


Bagels


Feb 24, 2011, 10:02 PM

Post #2064 of 2090 (11015 views)
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Re: [lytonya] RE: LesK Can't Post

Where on Seth's blog do you see people commenting on acceptances/rejections? Good luck with Cincy!


In Reply To

In Reply To
I don't think programs start responding till early March. Is this the impression others have?

cincy, at least, has a history of starting in late feb for first rounds. usc, ohio and uic have also begun to notify--per comments on seth's blog.

i know they (cincy) met at some point during 7-11 feb (per grad coordinator) because while they had my unofficial transcripts, they had not gotten my official. i freaked a little when she emailed me. but she said it was ok and not to worry.

my email chats with prof griffith were really what made me decide for sure to apply. i have an mfa, but was thinking of getting an ma (for when I get back to california--community college teaching). he encouraged me to apply for the phd and otherwise answered my questions and was, well, available (not always the case with programs). applying for the phd, and only to one place makes me so nervous. i hadn't taken the subject test, but he said as long as i take it in april that i can be considered for admission. so i'm also looking forward to THAT right around the end of the semester at the u where i teach. fun.



lytonya
Lytonya Wename

Feb 24, 2011, 10:35 PM

Post #2065 of 2090 (11004 views)
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Re: [Bagels] RE: LesK Can't Post


In Reply To
Where on Seth's blog do you see people commenting on acceptances/rejections? Good luck with Cincy!


In Reply To

here: http://sethabramson.blogspot.com/2011/01/2011-cw-mamfaphd-application-responses.html?commentPage=2
both in results and in the comments. there are, however, over 400 comments... and mostly about mfa stuff.



Bagels


Feb 25, 2011, 9:01 AM

Post #2066 of 2090 (10965 views)
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Re: [lytonya] RE: LesK Can't Post

Rejected by UIC for PhD in poetry. (Just checked online--no email or letter sent.)


lytonya
Lytonya Wename

Feb 25, 2011, 10:27 AM

Post #2067 of 2090 (10950 views)
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Re: [Bagels] RE: LesK Can't Post

I applied there back in '09 because some people wanted me to. I'm not joking, I really wasn't interested in the program. I know it's all great and whatnot, but I am not a fan of Chicago and don't really feel like the program is as experimental as it once was. I have a friend who went there. Anyway, I swear, it's like they let in 2.5 people a year. And there are people who go there non-degree and apply: again and again. Put that together without how many people apply... I would not sweat it.

I can't be sure if my memory is right, but I think I finally got the rejection letter from them in late march.


LesK
Les

Mar 1, 2011, 5:50 PM

Post #2068 of 2090 (10731 views)
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Re: [lytonya] RE: LesK Can't Post

Sorry...didn't realize my name had been evoked. Re: Cincy. I think others have pretty well covered the state of application season at this point.... I don't have much to add there. I can say that historically, most programs do accept off their wait lists.

I got my wait list email for UC in mid-March. I got the acceptance phone call in late March.

Bottom line for lytonya and any one else waiting to hear from UC: Try to be patient at this point, and for heaven's sake, be super, super nice to Jessica (or better, don't email/call her unless you absolutely, positively must for some reason).

If anyone is curious about UC's exams: We read lots. There is no differentiation between our exams and those of our brothers and sisters in the Lit Track other than the simple fact that we're more likely to have a publishing creative writer on our exam committee, and that clearly, if your a poet (like me), you'll probably be doing 20th Century American Poetry as one of your exam areas. (And we have three exam areas, one of which must be either theory or rhet/comp). Finally, we have writtens followed by orals.

If you'd like more specificity, feel free to pm me.

Cheers,

Les


lytonya
Lytonya Wename

Mar 3, 2011, 11:51 AM

Post #2069 of 2090 (10636 views)
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Re: [LesK] RE: LesK Can't Post

Thanks, LesK.

I would never harass Jessica. Our admin person, Carol, when I was in Alabama is a damned saint.

Seth has it that some people get acceptance notifications from cincy starting in late feb. it sounds like they go in rounds i guess.

I'm going insane...


lytonya
Lytonya Wename

Mar 8, 2011, 11:20 AM

Post #2070 of 2090 (10466 views)
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Re: [lytonya] RE: LesK Can't Post

In which I reply to myself. I couldn't hold out any longer. I asked.

Cincy sent out the first round acceptances already and is sending out the second round this next week. After that, Jessica said they will let everyone know where they stand.

I know historically this does not really indicate if I have a chance or not, but still.


kliq


Mar 20, 2011, 6:36 PM

Post #2071 of 2090 (10282 views)
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University of South Dakota Can't Post

Does anyone have any info on this program? Browsing the thread, I rarely see anyone applying to USD.


LesK
Les

Mar 27, 2011, 7:42 PM

Post #2072 of 2090 (10136 views)
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Re: [kliq] University of South Dakota Can't Post

Just that they have a good journal... aesthetically a bit conservative (I think...they did publish one of my poems).

From the website the funding looks ok, with a 2/2 and a decent-sized stipend, but it looks like they only offer partial (2/3) tuition waivers to most (?). That might be a concern when applying, though I would imagine they have further waivers for some (just guessing).

I'd say it's certainly worth investigating for those planning to apply, but might not be near the top of your list?

I've yet to meet anyone who goes to South Dakota, but would certainly love to....

-Les


Tabby



Apr 2, 2011, 2:39 PM

Post #2073 of 2090 (10034 views)
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Re: [LesK] University of South Dakota Can't Post

There's a woman I know from OU at South Dakota right now for nonfiction. I haven't heart too much about it how it's going for her. I know that "prose" is one department. And that she gets to teach more than just Comp, which is nice. I get there isn't much of a social scene. But she's staying, so that's something!


http://www.kellykathleenferguson.com


MissEsquire



Jul 11, 2011, 6:22 PM

Post #2074 of 2090 (9453 views)
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Re: [Tabby] University of South Dakota Can't Post

Reviving this. I'm thinking of applying for PhD programs, and am intrigued by SUNY Albany's faculty -- Lydia Davis: would love to work with her. But: is she real, or is she a phantom faculty member who's never there? Anyone go to SUNY Albany? Better yet, anyone have Lydia Davis as their advisor? In which case, lucky you (?).


Tabby



Jul 11, 2011, 10:17 PM

Post #2075 of 2090 (9439 views)
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Re: [MissEsquire] University of South Dakota Can't Post

I think Lydia Davis is "real" faculty. But maybe they director would put you in touch with a few students (that's a normal thing to ask) and then you could ask them. I met Lydia at our Lit Fest and she's great. I was intimidated but she's very kind. She is reserved. I didn't get to "work" with her or anything so I don't know about her feedback or workshops. But she strikes as a thorough responsible professional, not one of those names cashing in on the check.


http://www.kellykathleenferguson.com

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