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libbyagain


Sep 21, 2009, 3:55 AM

Post #1251 of 2090 (17623 views)
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Re: [gcsumfa] The Future of PhD Study for Poets and Writers [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow. Fascinating, and thanks for the honesty. I'm trying to figure how that impacts outlook--for you and others, I mean, who are in this boat.

Here's my story in brief: I got a degree just at the end of a collapse (one of the many) of the conventional lit. higher education marketplace. The year I entered my program, everyone coming out placed in a tenure-track position. The year I left, one out of sixteen did. During seven years in the L.A. area, where I went with my spouse who got the only job in the nation in his discipline, the year we both finished, not a single job offered f-t in American lit. So, I switched to the 2-year system so that we could pay the mortgage. 2-year was and is still more or less considered to be death to 4-year prospects. Anyway, with no library worth a crap within driving distance, and with no need to publish lit. crit anyway I turned to creative writing because it was all I had time to do, in my free hours between 4 and 7 a.m. No library research necessary (this was all prior to easy-access internet library), and I'd pretty much done all the reading I needed to do already, except for contemporary stuff and that was easy to get at Barnes and Noble (then).

I'm pretty sure I would not have gotten a conventional lit. doctorate if my primary interest then had been creative writing. I also don't think I would have gone for the creative doctorate only either (the experience of one colleague who got a doctorate in poetry (after failing his prelim exam) was less-than-stellar, and he wound up teaching in a 2-year school anyway--where, actually, one more or less needs a doctorate to get hired, these days, job market pressure being what it is). I think, though, that a hybrid could be fabulous, in every way. IF I could (speaking hypothetically, here) manufacture it with great care. Seriously, when I think about UW (where I got my doctorate) in light of Seth's thoughts about UW being one of the better places for same, I really have to squint, HARD, to see how that could work extremely well, given the faculty that are there. Maybe they get along better now than they used to. Seriously, maybe Lynn Keller's brand of feminism (the best brand going, then) has quelled the other snagglier, snarlier brands that got a lot of the elder statesmen STEAMED and gunning for grad students like hunters gunning for deer in season. If so, then great. Maybe Lori Moore is really happy there, now. She seemed to hate it when she first arrived, in 1992, and was always either gone or writing lampoon-style stories whose theme was "I detest the Middle West and am only alive when I go back to NYC." Ron Wallace is and always was a prince--but he was quiet, and I don't know how well he is/was able to wrestle some of the lit. types down. And they needed wrestling, then. Maybe they've subsided (one of them croa. . . um, passed away, and he was one of the worst, so. . . one can hope). I only mention all this because. . . I really tend to think a super-wise doctorate strategy is necessary, these days. One needs mentorship and support not just to get through it, well and happily, but to segue to the job market. At least, that's still my opinion.

Sorry to wax prolix. I'm still kind of gob-smacked to think of going through the whole doctoral process without a lot of fire in the belly, though. Maybe a pragmatic approach is possible, and even advisable, these days. Times have changed, though, for sure. Well. They do that, I suppose.


gcsumfa


Sep 21, 2009, 1:18 PM

Post #1252 of 2090 (17569 views)
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Re: [libbyagain] The Future of PhD Study for Poets and Writers [In reply to] Can't Post

Libby, I certainly have fire in my belly. I didn't mean to imply that my entire life revolves around landing a tenure track job. For instance, as much as I want a tenure track job, I chose a PhD program that would improve my job prospects while still complimenting and accommodating my writing, which still comes first.




In Reply To
Wow. Fascinating, and thanks for the honesty. I'm trying to figure how that impacts outlook--for you and others, I mean, who are in this boat.


Sorry to wax prolix. I'm still kind of gob-smacked to think of going through the whole doctoral process without a lot of fire in the belly, though. Maybe a pragmatic approach is possible, and even advisable, these days. Times have changed, though, for sure. Well. They do that, I suppose.



LesK
Les
e-mail user

Sep 21, 2009, 7:31 PM

Post #1253 of 2090 (17504 views)
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Re: [gcsumfa] The Future of PhD Study for Poets and Writers [In reply to] Can't Post

Bravo to this:


Quote
For instance, as much as I want a tenure track job, I chose a PhD program that would improve my job prospects while still complimenting and accommodating my writing, which still comes first.


And let's be clear, none of the hypothetical scenarios that have been tossed about may not be applicable to everyone, or in all likelihood, anyone. Bottom line (as always, or always already?) is publish or perish. Period.

So, in all frankness, it's actually very difficult for me to imagine candidates to a particular TT job whose CVs align in terms of publication & type of publication, wherein the degree (which is what, 1/10 of a very small CV?) could be the differentiating factor. For me, it's easier to imagine critical work (or rhet/comp) as additional to my primary goal, rather than vice versa. Hence, CW PhD.....


prothen


Sep 23, 2009, 5:21 PM

Post #1254 of 2090 (17433 views)
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Prof bios [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been researching into CW fiction professors/teachers at various schools to which I'm thinking of applying. There are some obvious disparities, for instance in numbers: FSU seems to have the biggest number of fiction teachers of my group (at least 6), while I only see that Georgia State has 3. Of course number doesn't mean much so long as one or two of the profs are a good match for the applicant.

So, considering quality, I've started my research by reading bios, and one difference here seems to be how well the department websites are put together, because some sites allow for much more info than others. Denver and UIC, for instance, have decent bio pages with lots of information. Perhaps conincidentally, I am now that much more interested in attending one of these schools. Whereas other departments' bios are quite small or limited, and thus I am not learning much about the profs beyond the titles of their published books or articles.

At some schools, half the profs listed under CW seem to have published only critical works, which doesn't sit so well with me...

So, my question is: how much should new appliacants depend on these bios? Are bios a good way for applicants to match themselves with schools? I obvioulsy don't want this discussion (should anyone reply) to turn nasty, so I will phrase this positively: are there any programs that are renowned for "excellent" teachers?

Thanks


Pir


LesK
Les
e-mail user

Sep 23, 2009, 6:26 PM

Post #1255 of 2090 (17421 views)
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Re: [prothen] Prof bios [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Pir,


Quote
So, my question is: how much should new applicants depend on these bios? Are bios a good way for applicants to match themselves with schools?


I won't throw any names (of profs or schools) out there, but I'd advise using bios as a good place to start. Keep in mind that whether or not the bios are current & accurate can have a number of causes. Like, hypothetically, a professor who is more interested in her work & students, for example....or perhaps the department has not updated its website in a while....or perhaps they've just landed a contract for their next book.

That said, if you like what you see & think you could work with Prof X at Y school...definitely dig a little deeper, read some more (as much as you have time for) & see whatever else you might be able to find out.


prothen


Sep 29, 2009, 8:27 PM

Post #1256 of 2090 (17282 views)
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Re: [LesK] Prof bios [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the advice, LesK. I'm actually finding the process of researching into potential profs somewhat rewarding now. For instance, one prof's writing I found I didn't like much, which weighs on my decision to apply. Another prof's writing & projects I enjoyed a lot; I found a conference nearby where he'll be reading, so it's an opportunity to meet him and talk with him face-to-face about the program (and my chances of getting in and being a good fit).


Pir


Woon


Sep 29, 2009, 9:56 PM

Post #1257 of 2090 (17263 views)
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Re: [prothen] Prof bios [In reply to] Can't Post

I personally wouldn't put too much stock on whether or not I like a professor's work to affect which schools I apply to. One of the best creative writing professors I've ever had writes stuff I absolutely abhor -- in subject matter and style. And yet, he's a great teacher!


bighark


Sep 29, 2009, 10:35 PM

Post #1258 of 2090 (17253 views)
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Re: [Woon] Prof bios [In reply to] Can't Post

I concur.

And let's not get started about the professors whose writing you love but whose teaching you hate.


gcsumfa


Sep 29, 2009, 11:17 PM

Post #1259 of 2090 (17241 views)
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Re: [bighark] Prof bios [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree as well.

And in fact, often, the best readers for your work are writers who write in a different style/aesthetic (i.e., they have a bit of personal distance from your kind of work).


prothen


Sep 30, 2009, 7:50 PM

Post #1260 of 2090 (17167 views)
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Re: Prof bios [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, the value of all of my past creative writing teachers has resided in their ability to teach, not in how well (i.e., how much I like) the things they write. It's a lucky thing to find a great teacher, weather or not you admire their writing. But as far as choosing schools, it can't hurt to seek writers you also enjoy. I mean, what the hell, right? The chances are equal that they might be great teachers, too. Anyway, we certainly don't seek programs where we detest the writing of all the teachers! It's just one more item to consider. Thanks for the comments.


Pir


mgoss7


Oct 27, 2009, 12:14 PM

Post #1261 of 2090 (16710 views)
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Choosing a PhD program [In reply to] Can't Post

Since I've already gotten a Masters degree (in English with focus in creative writing) I'm wondering if a PhD is the next logical step. I have no real goal for a PhD other than to have even more time to work on my writing and immerse myself in other authors (I currently teach at a private school and assume that I will go back to doing that after I'm done with my degree--and in the private school world my degree will be a great thing for me). But, I digress. I am starting to look at PhD programs and have come up with a short list, but was wondering if anyone had any other suggestions.

University of Illinois
Binghamton
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
University of Cincinnati
Cornell (MFA plus PHD)
University of Denver

I'd rather look at programs that are focused on fiction writing, rather than just an English Lit PhD with option to write a creative dissertation.


BLUECHEESE


Oct 27, 2009, 9:11 PM

Post #1262 of 2090 (16659 views)
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Re: [mgoss7] Choosing a PhD program [In reply to] Can't Post

Well if you want time to write more than anything, you totally CAN apply for an MFA degree with an MA. You might want to mix it up a bit if that is what you're interested in... but an MFA is much more likely to give you time to write than a PhD... you're going to be very busy with other stuff while working on a PhD


LesK
Les
e-mail user

Oct 27, 2009, 9:38 PM

Post #1263 of 2090 (16649 views)
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Re: [mgoss7] Choosing a PhD program [In reply to] Can't Post

  
Hi mgoss7,

I'm a poet @ Cincinnati & can tell you that the majority of my peers hold MFAs. More, I think that a few of the MFA programs out there actually (ironically) offer more funding than most PhDs. Indeed, if you're more interested in a place where you can simply hone your writing (without thinking of conferences, etc), I'd actually advise against a PhD.

So, depending on your goals and how strong your CV is, you may want to expand your search to include MFA programs. That said, if you're interested in continuing more work from the critical, scholarly perspective and honing your craft then a PhD might be perfect for you (I think most require MA or MFA). But be forewarned that the applicant pool for CW PhDs does seem to be getting stronger and stronger each year.

Regardless, if you'd like more info about UC, feel free to PM me. Personally, I'm really happy with the program, frequently amazed by my luck, and continuously impressed by my peers, but I can tell you that UC would not, in my opinion, be a good fit for a person who wants to take as many workshops as feasible or wants to avoid theory at all costs.

Good luck!

Les


(This post was edited by LesK on Oct 27, 2009, 9:40 PM)


gcsumfa


Oct 29, 2009, 2:27 AM

Post #1264 of 2090 (16540 views)
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Re: [BLUECHEESE] Choosing a PhD program [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Well if you want time to write more than anything, you totally CAN apply for an MFA degree with an MA. You might want to mix it up a bit if that is what you're interested in... but an MFA is much more likely to give you time to write than a PhD... you're going to be very busy with other stuff while working on a PhD


Not really. PhD CW programs are usually 4-5 years long. That's more time to write, even with all of the other stuff.

It's not like MFA programs these days don't require students to do "lots of other stuff" either.


gcsumfa


Oct 29, 2009, 2:30 AM

Post #1265 of 2090 (16538 views)
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Re: [mgoss7] Choosing a PhD program [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To


I'd rather look at programs that are focused on fiction writing, rather than just an English Lit PhD with option to write a creative dissertation.


I'm not sure such a program exists, to be honest with you. It sounds like you want a studio program--the only studio CW PhD programs that I know of are overseas.


__________



Oct 29, 2009, 2:41 AM

Post #1266 of 2090 (16536 views)
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Re: [gcsumfa] Choosing a PhD program [In reply to] Can't Post

There sure are studio MFAs that don't require "lots of other stuff". (Sorry -- this will remain in quotes!).

If you want time to write fiction or poetry and not papers, that seems like a good way to go. If there's some sort of studio PhD equivalent, please send me the link.

Otherwise, a job as a security guard or manny for some chronically sleepy child might do the trick for those same four to five years...and you'd be getting paid, instead of the other way around.


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Oct 29, 2009, 2:43 AM)


gcsumfa


Oct 29, 2009, 2:45 AM

Post #1267 of 2090 (16531 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing a PhD program [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
There sure are studio MFAs that don't require "lots of other stuff". (Sorry -- this will remain in quotes!).

If you want time to write fiction or poetry and not papers, that seems like a good way to go. If there's some sort of studio PhD equivalent, please send me the link.

Otherwise, a job as a security guard or manny for some chronically sleepy child might do the trick for those same four to five years...and you'd be getting paid, instead of the other way around.


Oh I agree that such programs still exist. I was pointing out, though, that many MFA programs might as well be combo programs, as students take as many lit hours as workshops.

Also, most studio MFA programs are only two years; you'd still have more time to write, over the long haul, in a 4-5 year PhD program. I'll be done with my lit courses this year and will basically have two years to write and study for comp exams (on top of the two years of work I will have already completed).


(This post was edited by gcsumfa on Oct 29, 2009, 2:46 AM)


mgoss7


Oct 29, 2009, 10:44 AM

Post #1268 of 2090 (16503 views)
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Re: [LesK] Choosing a PhD program [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks everyone for the mostly helpful comments.

LesK,
I totally get where you're coming from about many of the people in your program having MFAs, but at this point in my life I don't see myself going back to school for the possibility of 6-8 more years. I'm definitely going to look at some MFA programs as well, but am trying to weight my options at this point (I'm not looking to apply until the fall of 2010).

I'm curious what you mean about how strong my CV is? Are you talking about publishing? Teaching? I'm not sure what you mean here.

In terms of the critical, scholarly work that would need to be done in a PhD program, I'm not sure that it would be absent at an MFA, but I do understand your point. For me, I intend to return to my world of teaching afterwards, so any scholarly work done in would only help me in that regard.

And while I do agree that the pool for PhD students in CW is probably getting stronger and stronger each year, isn't that the case in almost every graduate program that exists, especially humanities based ones? And definitely in MFA programs? If I let that deter me I would probably not apply anywhere.


LesK
Les
e-mail user

Nov 13, 2009, 8:58 PM

Post #1269 of 2090 (16258 views)
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Re: [mgoss7] Choosing a PhD program [In reply to] Can't Post

mgoss7,

My apologies for not responding sooner. It's that time of the quarter (UC is currently on quarters, but converting to semesters soon).

Anyhow, on to answering your questions and providing a bit more information to the best of my ability. The MA is an absolutely fine gateway to the CW PhD. My apologies if I implied otherwise. Several students w/out MFAs are in UC. More, I can certainly understand your desire to complete your education as soon as possible.

However, I would like to reiterate that the CW PhD is most assuredly not a studio degree. The two years of coursework are more closely comparable to a PhD in Literature than an MFA...except I can take workshops (occasionally). Third year, as with a Lit PhD, is reading for Comprehensive Exams. More, given the pressures of the profession, there is much more pressure to write high-quality papers that are suitable for conference presentation and eventual publication.

Personally, my MFA experience was drastically different from that. The literature classes that I did take (for the most part) focused on craft rather than literary or cultural theory. More, while knowing a little about, say, Derrida might have helped me ever so slightly at my MFA. In the PhD such knowing a little isn't enough.

This, of course, varies with the MFA program, with some (like Iowa) using more of a studio-based model than others.

As for CVs....I think a few of the CW PhD applications actually require them. To my mind, a strong CV would include all of the elements you mentioned: teaching, publications...and perhaps more.

Anyhow, I hope this helps, and of course, I wish you luck with the application process.


-Les


stephkarto1
Stephanie Kartalopoulos

Nov 14, 2009, 12:41 AM

Post #1270 of 2090 (16243 views)
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Re: [sayno] University of Missouri [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
ssouri ( if Iím correct, they didnít admit any outside applicants this year)


Hey there...

I am checking this board for the first time in eons to find so much activity, so much bustling, and so much--well--stuff. Don't know what to make of it. I'm still reading all of these months of posting to catch up.

I want to comment on the above quote, though, about Mizzou. Last year, the program admitted 1 student who was completing his master's program into the doctoral program. It was an exceptional situation; Eric is a really phenomenal fiction writer, and his writing--as well as his critical work--held up to snuff, ultimately, in final application consideration. The fiction side of the program also admitted one "outside applicant" who moved to Missouri from Wyoming to join our program. She is also a phenomenal writer, and her novella which fairly recently won a contest has just been published.

The non-fiction side of the program admitted two students to the doctoral program. One moved here from Miami, the other from Wyoming.

On the poetry side of things, we admitted one MA student and *four* PhD students. None of these students were from the MA program ranks or from the BA program ranks. All admitted doctoral students had their MFA degrees in Creative Writing before admission. The MA student didn't (but that's typical of an MA student).

Mizzou's funding is phenomenal, so much as these things go. Unless a student is on fellowship (which for the creative writers is a 1/1 teaching load guaranteed for 5 years), a student is on a 2/2 teaching load with funding guaranteed for 5 years. After the first semester (in which students teach composition), all students have the opportunity to teach composition, business writing, honors composition, American literature, British literature, World literature, creative writing (in their given genre), or Writing About Literature. While the stipend certainly does often feel a bit modest at around 13.5K/year, this is after tuition and student health insurance are taken care of. One can easily find a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment in town for under $500, and areas of town surrounding campus (especially the downtown area within a 2-ish mile radius) is very easily walkable and bikeable.

Mizzou's creative writing program prides itself on its excellent job placement rates (it officially states something over 90% of graduating students finding jobs) and the department holds very rigorous job workshops/application assistance/mock job talk sessions and professional writing workshops to help post-comps exam students who are ready to engage in such things. Students take these seriously, really tend to be of wonderful help to each other.

The department in general is great at rallying around its students endeavors (i.e. medievalists will go to creative writers' readings, CRW folks will go to colloquiua with visiting scholars in 18th C. Brit lit, etc.), the department's grad student association is incredibly active, and resources as well as conference, journal submission, fellowship, etc. opportunities are widely shared between faculty and students. The department also sponsors numerous publishing internship opportunities (I am working with the poetry series of a rather venerable independent press, and I am serving as poetry editor of one of the nationally-distributed lit journals on campus). As your work begins to really take a specific (dissertation-able...manuscript-like...etc...) sort of a shape for you, people have their doors open and are willing to help you out. I've been amazingly fortunate to get important support from my boss at my publishing internship (who has read my manuscript as if I submitted it to him to consider for publication and who has offered some important feedback) as well as the poetry professors in my program. And these people check in with me. They want to see my work get published, they want to see me submit my work to contests and see where it can land, and when some of my programmates have been lucky enough to get their books accepted for publication, these professors of ours--so accomplished as they are--kept their doors open to listen as things like contract terms, proof reading, publicity, etc. needed to be considered.

Even on my most frustrated day, I do not at all regret coming here. Even on my days where I miss living in Boston the most or miss being on the East Coast, I do not regret moving to central Missouri and coming to this university. When someone is admitted to the program, the faculty hopes like hell that you come here and will do what they can to help you get here. Once you are here, the faculty cares about you--so sincerely--and is there to listen to you and to help you be as successful as possible in pursuing your goals and finding your confidence as a writer with a definite sense of voice, specific professional interests, and as much smarts as creative talents to really be as seriously considered a scholar as you are a poet/essayist/memoirist/fiction writer/etc.

I'm happy here. I'm thriving quite ridiculously well. I'm grateful as all hell that all worked out, but I also knew when I applied that this was my top choice. I researched my programs incredibly well, and I put together applications that I believed were sincere, thoughtful, and representative of my intelligence, my accomplishments, the "holes" in my education that I thought Mizzou (and my other programs) could help me fill, and my own understanding of my sense of poetics and where I had yet to investigate and come to understand. I've made many sacrifices to be here (and I won't lie--there are times where money feels tight--doable, but tight), but things that opened up for me--that I never thought possible, or that I never even had a means of articulating--between having a manuscript that is now out at contests and really transforming my notion of "yeah, I guess I'm a smart kid..." to an understanding of all of the things I have to say--and the voice that I have as a scholar of 20th C. American poetry--is phenomenal.

Apply to Mizzou. Even if you're on the fence about it. Do some research, get on the website, fill out the online application. You have a couple of weeks. And message me. It's a crazy point in the semester right now, but somewhere in the next few days I can respond to your questions.


abcd

e-mail user

Nov 17, 2009, 8:54 PM

Post #1271 of 2090 (16115 views)
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Statement of Purpose for PhD Applications [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi everyone,

It is so awesome to follow the posts of those who have kept in touch from the applying stage all the way to enrollment. I hope a few of you currently enrolled in programs might be able to offer a bit of advice?

I'm applying to PhD's in poetry and working on my statement of purpose now. It is a bit long and rambling. Not things one wants to display to the PhD committee!

Those of you that are currently in programs, would you mind sharing how you structured your statement? Did you use a 'hook'? Did you keep it pretty formal? How much did you talk about your own work and how much did you talk about your scholarly interests?

Mine is something like:
Intro-??
Why PhD-scholarly research time, writing time, community of writers, etc
Theoretical interests-research questions, writers of note
Analysis of my work-themes, approach
Link to their program-why their program, specifically
future career goals-teaching, writing, etc
reiteration of why phd-

Any feedback would be a delight.


klondike


Dec 3, 2009, 9:47 AM

Post #1272 of 2090 (15685 views)
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Re: [stephkarto1] University of Missouri [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm wondering if anyone else can give us info on the teaching loads for phd programs? Stephkarto says Missouri is, for most, 2/2. Is that about standard? Are there any programs that offer 1/1?


Forum Apps


Dec 3, 2009, 10:36 AM

Post #1273 of 2090 (15674 views)
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Re: [abcd] Statement of Purpose for PhD Applications [In reply to] Can't Post

I was just wondering if any poets have thought about applying to SUNY Buffalo or Berkeley English? These are decidedly NOT programs with creative dissertations. Yet, a lot of great poets graduate from them. They arenít included on many of the lists or on the rankings. There might be more programs like this. I just thought Iíd throw them out there to maybe open up some possibilities for people.


Tabby


e-mail user

Dec 3, 2009, 12:26 PM

Post #1274 of 2090 (15651 views)
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Re: [klondike] University of Missouri [In reply to] Can't Post

Ohio U is one section per quarter. The quarter system is more intense but manageable. I confess my heart sinks every time a load of comp papers thuds on my desk. Two stacks? Crikey.


http://www.kellykathleenferguson.com


spamela


Dec 4, 2009, 12:30 AM

Post #1275 of 2090 (15599 views)
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Re: [klondike] University of Missouri [In reply to] Can't Post

Unless you get a VP fellowship which means no teaching for the first 2 years, Utah is 2/1 (1/2 your first year); start with comp then move on to a mix of comp, creative writing and lit classes. USC is 1/1 but you only teach comp the whole way through.

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