Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

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hey look, an update

My brother and i went to visit Brown on Wednesday. It reminds me a lot of Smith. More Cambridge than Northampton, though, with its plethora of brick. That place is far too hilly, plus far too urban with the whole traffic thing. If i go there, i will find the within-walking-distance supermarket and otherwise never leave campus. (Wonder if there’s a shuttle to the mall.)

Anyway, we i went on the 11am tour. Our tour guide (Kara from Westchester) mentioned getting into a heated discussion with a bio professor about Yankees vs. Red Sox. My brother, of course, was wearing his Red Sox cap. “Hey, we took Nomar from you, what can you say?” I was expecting my brother to shoot back with his usual about how losing Nomar wasn’t a big loss, and on the tip of my tongue was “You stole Ruth Simmons from my school,” but we both kept quiet.

I learned what the Rock and the Ratty are. Allie, the John Hay library houses the world’s largest comic book collection (as well as the world’s largest collection of toy soldiers, and a lock of Napoleon’s hair, but i figured that was of less interest to you).

We at lunch at Faunce (Blue Room, i think). I had hummus and tabouli on marbled rye ‘cause they were out of wheat bread and half a Tropicana piña colada smoothie ‘cause it was too heavy on the pineapple (and coconut).

Then we went to the 2pm info session, and Brown continued to remind me of Smith.

I randomly got a bad headache as we were heading home. (Yes, mommy, i’ve been taking ibuprofen when i’m in pain.) I hate this whole being in pain thing; makes it a damn sight harder to function.

Read the My Turn in the August 23, 2004 Newsweek (“Red State, Blue State: It’s All in the Family,” Cindy Schweich Handler -- subtitle: “Dad watches Fox News, I’m a Michael Moore fan. We drive each other crazy, but we keep talking.”). Partly it makes me happy, but mostly it makes me sad that this is worthy of a full page in a national newsmagazine, that it isn’t how everyone operates by default.

For those of you who haven’t read it, final three paragraphs:
My husband wonders why we keep at it, when there's the downside of driving each other crazy. I answer that as long as we're talking, there's hope. Not that we can get the other person to switch teams—we both gave up on that long ago—but that we can understand how we each arrive at our conclusions, which can lead to small concessions and the possibility of meeting halfway. When I see "I agree with you that..." on my screen, I know how a diplomat must feel when she signs a treaty, and it feels better than just getting something off my chest.

Unfortunately, it seems that discourse these days is often limited to just that. It's especially easy to develop an "us" versus "them" mentality when, as demographers point out, more and more members of our mobile society choose to live in like-minded communities. That's true in my town, with its nearly 4: 1 ratio of Democrats to Republicans. My friends are accustomed to being vehemently agreed with every time they discuss access to abortion or better gun-control legislation, and it shocks them to hear that I'm closely related to a Bush booster. What follows is usually wonder at how anyone could possibly support tax cuts for the rich and the illegal war in Iraq. I tell them that the only way to find out is to ask.

Granted, it's easier debating your father than a stranger. We're bound to each other not only by our interest in polemics, but by love. We know that we share the same concern about leaving the world a better place for my children, his grandchildren. But as the political divide in this country widens, it might help to remind ourselves that Americans on both sides want the same thing. They're just in bitter disagreement about how to make it happen.

"I am really amused by Harry and the Potters, though I don't know that I would spend money on them." -lilithchilde
Yeah, pretty much. I enjoy Track8 “The Foil (Malfoy)”: “Blood may be pure, but your heart is spoiled. You wouldn’t be so tough without Crabbe and Goyle. Malfoy wouldn’t be so cool if I weren’t around. I’m his enemy at school; he really wants to get me down.”

Thursday i came home early (having run out of things to do at work) and went to hedy’s goingaway party. Was the only person there not related by blood or marriage. Didn’t have the opportunity to out myself or Heather to her family. Le sigh. ;)

Her father recognized me in the driveway, which was rather disconcerting. Her family is less prim-and-proper than i was expecting. Crazy, which i had been warned about, but it was the kind of crazy that felt familiar. Dinner was all vegetarian, and dessert was from Mike’s. “For here or to go?”

Piñatas are a disgrace. If they were actually paper mache, you might be able to bust them, but they’re decorated cardboard. They’re in two compartments, though, which are held together only with papier-mache and a little masking tape, so that’s what busts open when (if) you do manage to bust open the piñata.

Saw my first and probably only of the Olympics at her house before my dad came to get me. Hey, i watch almost no TV, plus i’ve been kinda busy with work and all. (I totally think of Olympics, particularly summer, as a daytime thing.) I have fond memories of watching gymnastics and figure skating with my mom as a kid (both Olympic and non-). I figure one of these days i’ll be a grownup settled into my own place and will watch and i wonder how the experience will compare.

Watched some of Smackdown after i came home. Guerrero calls out Angle, says they’re tied ‘cause he won at WrestleMania and Angle won at Summerslam, wants a rematch. Angle shows up (with his top off, like he’d been about to take a shower or something), says he’d come here for some action, “Latino Heat” Guerrero says “That’s my kinda language.” I’m totally feeling the slash vibe, and it gets better. Angle refuses the rematch, and Guerrero starts sweetalking him, all “I admit you outwrestled me at Summerslam, no one’s ever outwrestled me like that, you’ve earned my respect and that’s something not many people do” and asks Angle to come into the ring to shake his hand. Angle’s all, “You expect me to fall for that? You’re a liar, a thief, a cheat.” Of course Guerrero looks like the good guy here, so you know Angle’s gonna do it, ‘cause it just looks bad not to. And i’m thinking, We all know this script, of course Guerrero’s gonna take a low blow or whatever -- but Guerrero’s the good guy here, so he can’t cheat. Lo, they shake hands and Guerrero attacks him. “You know me better than that, ese. You know i’m a liar.” And the audience cheers Eddie. I think that is the most disturbing thing to ever happen on WWE -- a wrestler openly admits he’s a scuz, and the audience cheers him. Say what you will about the assorted badnesses of the WWE, and i’ll agree with quite a few of them, but i’ve never seen them advocate such moral ambiguity amorality (there’s a better word i want but can’t think of) before. “He may be a bastard, but he’s their bastard,” my father says.

Also watched some of Nightcast at 10. Didn’t Roger Clemens retire? Okay, so then he got some sweet deal from the Astros. And then they put him on waivers and the Sox tried to get him back? Look, you cannot be a Red Sox and then go play for the Yankees, ever. (Yes i know he played for the Blue Jays before going to the Yankees.) It’s like changing your religion, but worse. It’s like going to play for Satan. Unforgivable sin; you don’t get to come back. (This is, of course, news that’s not news, since we didn’t make a deal in the 48 hour window so the only long shot opportunity is if he gets put on waivers again before the 31st and we do manage to make a deal with the Astros.)

I read The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels I & II. Gets quite darker (and more sexualized) in book 2 and is quite different from the movie throughout. I actually prefer the movie.

Friday, did further research into the details of the programs on my short(er) list and sent out e-mails (12 programs, 33 e-mails). Yes that did take all day. I had the list of programs narrowed down Monday night, but i hadn't yet drafted e-mails. So Friday i took my Statement of Purpose and worked that into a standard e-mail and then tailored it to every professor/grad student who looked promising. And learned that i hadn’t in fact done all the research i should have on faculty/students, so good chunks of the day were spent reading faculty/student profiles for a variety of programs. Now all i have to do is study math for the GREs and work on application essays. Though i think i’ll spend this weekend catching up on LJ and watching movies :)

My father mentioned to someone tonight that i’m looking at grad schools. Somehow i feel all like a grownup to be looking at grad schools. (At the same time, i feel rather like an undergrad first year again, e-mailing all these people querying about whether their program is right for me.)

Notes from the grad programs e-mails so far.

Have i mentioned how impressed i am that i got a good few helpful responses the very day i e-mailed, despite it being a Friday in late August?

I e-mailed Nancy Armstrong of the Brown program on the recommendation of a brownuniversity commenter, and in her reply she said: I should warn you that MCM is highly selective, admitting only 2-3 grad students per year. The admissions committe looks for applicants who are "theoretically sophisticated" and work in more than one medium. *gulp*

Nina Auerbach (Our Vampires, Ourselves) teaches at UPenn!

Herman Beavers misspelled my surname, but that’s hardly uncommon, and his e-mail made me so excited about UPenn. I bounced, seriously.


"I'm glad to know that you're considering pursuing a career in academia/teaching. The profession needs committed individuals with a passion for learning to enter into its midst."

"I'm intrigued by your interests, though I must say that I don 't do as much with popular culture at Penn as others. I am interested, however, in narratives and your interests do overlap with mine in a broad sort of way, which is all that matters since my job (should you opt to attend Penn) is to help you to pursue your research interests and rather than mine."

(Though i would be applying to the English program, i'm interested in stuff in the CompLit and Folklore departments as well as the Annenberg School for Communication, and i mentioned that in my e-mail.)

"Penn, and particularly English at Penn, is very flexible in terms of how students put together a program. Just recently, we graduated a Ph.D. candidate who simultaneously pursued a medical degree in hematology. And most programs recognize the value of interdisciplinary research, so I don't think you'll find barriers though programs are often propietary about how students fulfill prerequisites."

"Of late, I've been a lot more interested in poetry and poetics, along with African Diaspora Studies. But graduate education is wonderful in that it can be as rewarding for professors as it is for students. So, I'm pretty open to new ideas and interests."

I really like the idea that the professors can learn from the students, that choosing a grad program shouldn't just be about finding professors for whom you can be Research Slave and actually enjoy the topic you're researching -- that it can be about pursuing your own interests, with the professors just kind of along for the ride. I shouldn't be surprised by this. I mean, this is something i prize about undergrad, this is the kind of thing people talk about making higher education superior to compulsory education. I think all the talk about finding professors to work with and everything in all the grad books i've been reading has skewed my perspective.

(Also, anyone wanna fly me down to Philadelphia? "I'm teaching a course this term on African American writers under 40, which will allow us to explore issues of canon formation alongside constructions of the contemporary. The course meets, unfortunately, on Tuesdays from 9-12")

Oh, and did you notice the "should you opt to attend Penn" above? Near the end of his e-mail he writes, "Penn has lots to offer, so I hope you'll give us a look." I love the implication that it's almost as if the grad schools would be competing to get me as a student, rather than my recent feelings of "I'm not good enough to meet the hella high standards of any of these places, and i'll have to sell myself hardcore to make them let me in."

There’s a student who taught a course "Women and Monsters: Fantastical literary transformations" and is a Buffy fan. Her speciality is Renaissance studies (apparently UPenn is the best in the country for that) but she gave me a whole paragraph of people i "MUST" e-mail, none of whom i had caught on my previous forays through the website, so huzzah for that. Also interesting:
One thing I *can* tell you, is that the English Department at Penn is not a
cultural studies department, but a Literary Studies department. We do have one film guy, and some very strong 20th century theory-heads, but the department is very much divided into historical periods. It's not traditional per se, as again the most cutting edge work in English is going on here in Renaissance lit (which is very interdisciplinary); however, folklore, comp lit and English are all *very* different departments methodologically at Penn, so if you apply to any or all of these programs, you should know that you can't really lump them all together. Folklore is really more anthropology at Penn, and Comp Lit is probably the closest thing to literary theory or "cultural studies" (similar to Duke's Program in Literature). But then again, I really only know things from a Renaissance point of view!

Best of luck with the application process. As a soon-to-be professor, my advice would be to apply anywhere and everywhere, and leave the deciding until you get accepted. You are obviously asking the right questions, but I think the e-mailing and contacting of professors doesn't need to happen until you are actually deciding amongst programs. Graduate admissions are extremely difficult and arbitrary, and that's why it's important to cast your net wide.
Huh. In a sense i am deciding amongst programs right now. I mean, i don’t want to waste time and money applying to a program that isn’t a good match for me. Plus, how can i apply to a program not knowing whether it’s a good match? All programs want some sort of an essay, want to be convinced not only that i’m qualified but that i’m a good match with them.

Granted, UPenn just happened to have a lot of faculty and students who looked compatible so it got more e-mails than most and thus odds are in its favor, but it totally has a disproportionate percentage of people interested in Buffy *g*

As you've guessed I do share many of your intellectual interests. Although I
don't consider myself a television scholar, the Cinema Studies program we're
beginning to put in place is definitively interdiscplintary and geared towards
cultural studies. We do not have a Ph.D. program in Cinema Studies, but we
intend to institute a Gradaute Certificate in Cinema Studies to compliment the
departmental Ph.D. (all accelerated by our new Cinema Studies faculty, Karen
Beckman and Peter Decherney). I see your interests fitting in nicely.

On a personal note, I'm a devoted Buffy watcher.
-Timothy Corrigan (Director of Cinema Studies, Professor of English and Cinema Studies)

Interesting to hear how different people describe the program.
Folklore, which sounds the most in line with what you're talking about does I think still take some Ph.D. candidates, but its less of a going concern. I don't know where their students get jobs.

I think the way you describe your interests is a little too specific and thematic to appeal to admissions committees for English and COML: we tend to look for people in terms of periods and nationality and literary genre.

Still, Penn is very interdisciplinary, Comp Lit especially so, but we tend to draw from people with a great interest in Literary Theory and with very good training in several languages. You might look into the Annenberg School here or perhaps programs like they have at Bowling Green U in Ohio where thematic popular culture studies have been done for some time.

-Rita Barnard

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