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22 February 2010 @ 05:32 pm
 
Well, got my rejection letter from Stanford today. I can't say I am surprised although I must admit I am deeply disappointed. This means I am three notifications away from making a decision. It really won't be an easy one. My old mentors from Davis are emailing me letting me know how excited they are for me to come visit. I feel like there is so much positive energy around that place, so many good memories from my undergraduate years, a real feeling of homecoming. Not to mention research clearly in line with my own, and a care for me as an individual that I found sorely missing in my graduate experience thus far.

UCLA seems so foreign; I can't pinpoint what it was about my application that they thought fit. I can see a lot of potential but no clear match. But I know that there is a lot of room for me to grow. And maybe it is time for me to think about how I can expand as a scholar, not how I can just support what I already know and have done. Davis could support me but it could also confine me. Yet UCLA could allow me to grow in unexpected ways. Maybe it is time to move. Or maybe it is time to come home.

I suppose I should keep my mind open about the schools I am still waiting to hear back from. I just find it hard to even think about expanding out of California now that I have been offered the opportunity to be back near family and friends. Even the same time zone seems comforting.

I feel like I should be feeling a lot happier right now, so now I feel bad about feeling unhappy. Sigh.
 
 
 
Clare Littlebit Blueambtiondata on February 22nd, 2010 11:14 pm (UTC)
"UCLA seems so foreign; I can't pinpoint what it was about my application that they thought fit." - Ditto. I mean, they're strong in my field generally, and coming from Irvine I think my letters of rec carried a lot of clout, but I keep looking at the website and failing to get excited about specific faculty.

I think it's definitely ok to be disappointed on the day a rejection arrives. A moment of mourning is appropriate.
debsinenglishdebsinenglish on February 23rd, 2010 12:27 am (UTC)
Thanks, ambitiondata. I appreciate the note. I AM excited about specific faculty; Eric Sundquist is major and I would get a lot out of working with him and others like Jenny Sharpe and Elizabeth DeLoughrey. And I looked through the graduate student list and I am definitely in conversation with the potential cohort. Plus one of the granddaddies of Holocaust memory (Saul Friedlander) is in the History department. Sundquist just got a Melon grant and between him and Friedlander there is a lot of scholarship. Having them there means also that they bring a lot of events, lectures, potential funding to campus which would be nice. And as a young single 20 something, Westwood sounds pretty compelling.

Davis has ONE scholar who I adore and who has put out some great work that I think is groundbreaking. But his research that I am interested in is, bizarrely, totally out of his area. He is a Wordsworth scholar (in fact, I took his undergraduate course on Wordsworth and he wrote my letters of rec to get into my current grad program) and the research that compelled my interest was his recent work on the memory of September 11th. I can see myself working well with a few others but I am not familiar with their work so it is hard for me to get excited about it. But I know that even if I were to work in the department, I would have mentors and friends, if not direct research "soulmates." But of course, the only reason I know he does this work is because I know the work of the department so well since I went there for undergrad. I am anticipating that vising UCLA will make more clear the reasons why I match their department. I did go through the grad student list and interestingly, there are a few students doing similar work.

For the record, the two scholars who I ARE my academic "soulmates" are at my current institution. Yet I find myself in the process of leaving because I am not satisfied with the program as a whole or the place. So this time, I am determined to make my decision much more holistically. I don't want to dismiss the importance of working with someone you admire, but it does not necessarily follow that admiring someone's scholarship will mean working well with them as a graduate student. Of course you want to be around people who inspire you, who understand your approach and who can direct you where to find answers to your research questions. But you also want people who will give you time, feedback and who you feel you can talk to. I want to walk into a department and feel like I am surrounded by peers (cohort and faculty) with whom I can have a generative conversation, who can push me to realize the power of my ideas and who understand what is informing them.

Does that make sense?
Clare Littlebit Blueambtiondata on February 23rd, 2010 03:08 am (UTC)
That makes perfect sense. I am definitely looking for personalities I can work with, and that will significantly inform my final decision. I only applied to one school that boasted a professor that is something like an intellectual hero to me, and I didn't get into that program (also, the professor in question is probably leaving). Reading your comments to intextrovert below, I feel we had a similarly nurturing undergraduate experiences, and the programs I'm considering most strongly at this moment boast a similar reputation. I'm going to be very careful to look at the big picture during visits.

And we should be sure to cross paths at LA!
debsinenglishdebsinenglish on February 23rd, 2010 03:22 am (UTC)
Yes, definitely! Which way are you leaning right now in terms of making decisions? (congratulations by the way on all of your successes!).

Let's be sure to meet up in LA. I am so excited to finally put a face to an online personality! PM me and we can connect through email/facebook/phone.

Which programs are you considering and what criteria are you using in making your choice?
Clare Littlebit Blueambtiondata on February 23rd, 2010 03:50 am (UTC)
I've been leaning toward Rutgers from the beginning and that hasn't changed, but Chapel Hill is going to make steep competition for them. Buffalo has some faculty I am ecstatic about, but their program's structure isn't my favorite: still, they're getting serious consideration. I'm just not sure that Princeton's resources are as deep in Early Modern as these other schools - a couple of great names, but I don't think it adds up holistically. UCLA's funding offer isn't as sound as the others are going to be, and I'm not excited enough about the program to overlook that, I don't think. I don't think the faculty in my field are necessarily doing so much exciting, new research, but they do have great libraries and critical theory stuff I can get excited about. I'm also not so sure I want to live in SoCal again.

My research has been orbiting and nurturing a particular set of questions in a particular general period for about 5 years now. I take a lot of detours (into film, philosophy, whatever) but they always relate conceptually. I'm looking for a program strong in 17th century lit and skepticism/ lit of science, not overly focused on drama (though I like drama plenty) and with an openness to interdisciplinary work and a willingness to let me play with theory. Ideally the faculty would get along and be pretty deep in my areas of interest - also, of course, interested in their students work. I also want a reasonable and varied teaching structure and a pretty secure funding offer, though this is by no means a "highest bidder" situation. I'm looking for a brainy, collegial cohort. Of course, I'm also going with my gut after visits. I can see myself in a variety of locations, but some are obviously more attractive than others: Rutgers and Chapel Hill are both proximate to great friends.... Of course, so is LA!

I will now run off and PM you my non-LJ contact info!
debsinenglishdebsinenglish on February 23rd, 2010 04:07 am (UTC)
Awesome. You have a ton of great choices and you have enumerated your criteria well. I need to also sort out what my deciding factors are and what priorities I want to honor.

I learned a lot from mistakes I think I made in choosing the last time and while I don't want to make false analogies or make this round of decisions an inversion of last time, I also want to remain wary of the fact that research interests shift, academics are undependable, and that ultimately I am committing myself to a place and to a program for seven years. I can do research anywhere. I can study anywhere. I need a network of support from a cohort that understands me and a place where I can put down roots, where I feel comfortable, where I trust in the integrity of the institution as a whole, and where I feel that I CAN succeed.

I want a place that I can call home, and people who I can consider family. I want a community of like-minded scholars with similar preoccupations, and support (financial and emotional).

I will make this decision with my head, but also with my heart. I just hope they agree with one another!
intextrovertintextrovert on February 22nd, 2010 11:25 pm (UTC)
I got my Stanford rejection in the mail today as well and feel very much the same - it was also my top choice, I also feel deeply disappointed, and I also feel bad about feeling unhappy. But I think it's okay to grieve it for a little bit, as long as we soon get past it and remember we've got some great options, too.

I love hearing all this positive stuff about Davis from you! You make it sound pretty wonderful, and it makes me excited about the program, and for the visit.
debsinenglishdebsinenglish on February 23rd, 2010 12:37 am (UTC)
(Hugs)

I can certainly sympathize with your disappointment. Thanks for your kind comments.

Please feel free to ask me anything and everything about Davis. I really really loved being there and I am really torn about my decision and the opportunity to go back. My old professors are emailing me with congratulations and I'm very touched; I have rarely met such genuinely kind and interested people.

Of course, Davis does have drawbacks to it. I do not wish to paint it as some sort of Edenic enclave. However,I tend to find fault in its limitations as a college town rather than within the department. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the English department or, for that matter, the campus. But do realize that if you are a city person, you may find yourself confined. On the other hand, as a college town Davis is phenomenal. And if you are interested in eco-criticism and environmental issues, Davis has a wealth of things going on in and out of the English department that would make this a very fertile (pun intended) space for you.

Will I see you at the admit week event?
intextrovertintextrovert on February 23rd, 2010 12:57 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'm definitely not a city person. I like the idea of cities, but not the reality (hey! That's the same way I feel about graphic novels!). Or actually, it's this: I love cities, but not living in them. I think the two times in my life I was the most unhappy were when I was living in Paris for a semester and when I was living in Manhattan for a year; the times I was happiest were in rural Vermont. Though there were other factors, certainly, considering I was surrounded by wonderful people in all those places, I can't think that's totally a coincidence. I applied largely to programs in small to mid-size towns with my sanity in mind.

On the other hand, as a single 20-something living in rural/suburban Louisiana, I'm also very much coming to recognize the value of larger cities for meeting people and a host of other benefits. But I just can't envision myself doing my best work in an extremely urban environment, so I think I have to stay true to that.

I'll probably be PMing you with more questions - they're starting to pile up as it becomes more real that I am actually going to have to make this enormous decision. Thanks for the offer!

You will most definitely see me at the admit week events. I'm excited for it!
debsinenglishdebsinenglish on February 23rd, 2010 01:19 am (UTC)
Please do feel free to pm me with any questions. I will do my best to answer them as fully and candidly as I am able. You are also free to phone me to chat (I'll send you my number).

I am excited to meet during admit week! I will be exhausted; Full week of teaching/classes, then the ACLA conference is from April 1-4 (in New Orleans!- if you can make it you should come!) and I am chairing a panel this year so that will require a lot of energy. Then the 4-7 is UCLA's admit, then home for a day in Palo Alto because my brother is flying in from the Middle East that week; then Davis from the 8th to the 9th, then back to the East Coast!

By the way, to give you a sense of the kind of relationships I had with members of the department at UCD-- one of the professors (who has since retired) is coming with me and my dad to opening day for the SF Giants and another asked if I could join him and his family for dinner one night. A third (from the history department) asked if I would have time to grab lunch with him and his wife while I was visiting.

See what I mean by nurturing? I mean, I am literally nourished by the department!

intextrovertintextrovert on February 23rd, 2010 04:26 am (UTC)
Wow, you will indeed be exhausted. I just looked up the conference, and it looks really interesting, and right up my alley! I suppose that's not so surprising, as our interests are rather well-aligned. I'd love to go, so I'll definitely consider getting over there that weekend - incidentally, that's the start of my spring break. I generally take every opportunity I can to be in New Orleans, and I'll likely be flying out of there to California anyway.

Your relationships to your Davis profs sound so warm and wonderful! Very much like my college experience - and I thought it might be limited to SLACs. You're not doing a very good job of making it sound less Edenic. :) Though I certainly do that in my stories of undergrad, too.
debsinenglishdebsinenglish on February 23rd, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
Awesome! You should totally come! My panel is the "Righting and Re-Writing Wrongs" seminar. I presented last year at the one at Harvard and LOVED it; so much nicer than the MLA and a great opportunity to meet and hear the latest research of scholars in the field. Last year I made a ton of connections that I have kept up and that have been really helpful. Plus, just hearing the papers delivered sent my research bounding off in so many exciting directions!

Any suggestions of what I should do when I am there? I have never been.
intextrovertintextrovert on February 24th, 2010 02:04 am (UTC)
Sounds exciting! I've actually never even been to a conference (yes, I am that green), but it sounds like so much fun. I intended to look into some local ones but never quite got around to it.

Yes, plenty of suggestions! I don't know how much time you'll have, but you should do at least some of these things:
1) Take the streetcar along St. Charles. You'll pass by Tulane and Loyola, and see all the incredibly beautiful mansions with their columns, wrap-around porches, and balconies. You can get off around Canal Street so that you can
2) walk through the French Quarter. Sure, there are tourists, but you haven't seen New Orleans if you haven't seen the French Quarter. There, aside from shopping and window-shopping, and walking along Bourbon Street, you should
3) go to Cafe du Mode and get the beignets and coffee. I mean, it's basically fried dough with powdered sugar, but it's a New Orleans staple, and the place is an institution. If you feel like drinking, go to Pat O'Briens. They're famous for their outdoor bar/garden and their Hurricanes.
4) D-Day Museum
5) Warehouse district

For food, here are some of my favorite restaurants:
1) Jacques-Imo's - Uptown, delicious Creole/Cajun food in a fun venue
2) Dick and Jenny's - fun New Orleans cuisine
3) Boucherie - more creative food but still rooted in the New Orleans tradition
4) Creole Creamery for dessert - they have weird ice cream flavors (my favorite is Lavendar & Honey)
5) Bee Sweet Cupcakes - self-explanatory.

If you feel like going out at night, Magazine Street can be fun - the Balcony Bar is there, as is the Bulldog (though that one's a little crazier). Of course Bourbon Street is always hopping at night, and there are sometimes good bands playing (often brass bands), but it can be intense.

Hope that helps! It's such a wonderful city.
intextrovertintextrovert on February 24th, 2010 02:11 am (UTC)
I forgot the Columns - a beautiful, traditional mansion that is now a hotel. They've got a bar and a huge front porch right on St. Charles. I've passed man an hour there.
debsinenglishdebsinenglish on February 26th, 2010 01:47 am (UTC)
I'm staying at the Hotel Monteleone on Canal Street in the French Quarter. It seems like such a great location!
debsinenglishdebsinenglish on February 26th, 2010 01:47 am (UTC)
Wow! Thanks for all the amazing suggestions! This is awesome. I can't wait to go. Your enthusiasm and direction has really gotten me excited about this trip. It would be great to see you there so let me know if you decide to come!