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Author Comment
Fianna
Registered User
(9/22/04 3:03 pm)
Graduate schools
Hello all. I know I've asked this before but I could use some advice...I'm a senior in college and am thinking about going on to grad school. One of the areas I'm very interested in is mythology and folklore. My questions are: 1) what schools have good programs in this field? and 2) what sort of jobs are available? It's all well and good that I'm interested in it, but unfortunately, if it doesn't pay the bills...well, you know. Anyway, any information anyone could give me would be very much appreciated. Thank you all!

Fianna

Helen J Pilinovsky
Registered User
(9/22/04 5:03 pm)
Re: Graduate schools
Dear Fianna:

This is a question that pops up every once in a while: you can find the most recent discussion here:

p084.ezboard.com/fsurlalu...1970.topic

Iíd also recommend that you tale a look at this post from the archives (which, uh, I started myself four years ago when I was in the same situation that you are in now, and the advice really helped Ö well enough that Iím now in my 4th year of grad. school ).

www.surlalunefairytales.c...c_pg1.html

This one might also be helpful:

www.surlalunefairytales.c...c_pg1.html

Iím sure that thereís more useful material in the archives, and that others will chime in, but these might make for a good starting point in weighting the pros and cons. Good luck!

Best,
Helen

Ailanna
Registered User
(9/22/04 6:57 pm)
Postgrad programs for editing?
Oh good! It's a relief to know I'm not the only one beginning to worry ('panic' might be a more suitable term for me) because the end of undergraduate coursework is in sight. The information about postgraduate programs seems to be a lot more scattered than about undergraduate, and I'm finding it difficult to know where to get started.

I took a look at some of the past archives, but I'm primarily interested in going into the copy editing and publishing fields. I loathe postmodern lit criticism with a passion, so academic English is looking like less of a possibility these days. My reading interests are almost exclusively in fantasy, and I'd love to end up doing something related to that, but I don't think I can afford to be that picky at the outset. I know this isn't specifically to do with fairy tales or mythology, but if the editors on this board could offer any general advice, I would be extremely grateful.

Helen J Pilinovsky
Registered User
(9/23/04 8:27 am)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
Well, I'm not an editor, but, two pieces of advice: first the academic, and then the editorial. You don't actually have to do a great deal of postmodernism in graduate school. You do have to *learn* about it, you will have to write a paper or two on Barthes, but it needn't necessarily become your main focus. I write on fairy tales and the fantastic, and I mainly utilize socio-historical critiques: so far, it doesn't seem to have hurt me. So if that's your only reason to reject the option of graduate school ... don't worry about it too much. But since that doesn't seem to be your only reason, and since you really seem to want to go into publishing, my biggest piece of advice would be to try to get an internship at one of the houses that publishes the material that interests you - for s-f, I'd highly recommend Tor Books, where they actually give their interns the opportunity to learn *a lot* about the business. Just my two cents!

Veronica Schanoes
Registered User
(9/23/04 10:46 am)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
Sometimes you don't even have to write any papers on Barthes....

Erica Carlson
Registered User
(9/23/04 4:57 pm)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
Yes, sometimes you get to write about Foucault...
Just kidding. Kind of.
You might want to check out theory requirements, which vary from program to program. A lot depends on who you wind up working with and whether or not they see theory as a means to understanding or as an end in and of itself. If you're looking at grad programs, definitely check out faculty bios on the web sites and look for people who sound interesting and good to work with. This should also give you an idea of the prominence of pomo theory in the program.
Best,
Erica

Ailanna
Registered User
(9/23/04 6:26 pm)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
I haven't even heard of Barthes!

I've had a bellyfull of Freud and Althusser and Derrida and Foucault, however. I can't face the thought of having to slog through "Linguistics and Grammatology" again! Derrida can eat his signifieds and signifiers. My lit theory class was an overview of those and other delightful authors; an overview that made it quite clear to me that I never ever ever wanted to do anything with them ever again.

Ahem. Excuse me.

However, I might be able to stomach writing one, possibly two essays on them, now that I've had two years away from them. It's still not what I ever want to do extensively.

I haven't dismissed graduate school; in fact the idea of going out right after uni and finding a job and settling into adulthood sounds terrifying. I just assumed that to be an editor, you found yourself a nice little editing/publishing postgrad course and started there. No? But the suggestion of trying to find an internship at a publishing house is an excellent one. I just need to find one on the west coast of the country!

Helen J Pilinovsky
Registered User
(9/23/04 11:02 pm)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
*Completely* with you on Grammatology and co.

Most of the editors whom I know went straight from internship to assistant editor to senior editor (keep in mind that this is a ten to fifteen year process, generally). I get the vague feeling that the courses on publishing are right up there with MFA's - fun in their own right, but not necessarily the means to professional advancement, unless one is already at the midway point and trying to gain points for further promotions. In terms of West coast publishing ... how far west are we talking? Tor actually does have an Arizona office, insofar as I'm aware ... you might think about contacting them.

Veronica Schanoes
Registered User
(9/24/04 3:02 am)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
Most of the people I know in publishing started out as an Editorial Assistant and worked their way up. If you're working full-time now and have to support yourself, an internship can be difficult.

Ailanna
Registered User
(9/24/04 6:47 pm)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
Oh, wasn't Derrida horrible? I had no idea what he was talking about because he kept inventing his own terms...and in the end, he claims that we can't really get at real meaning anyway?

I'm very west coast. California. Ten minutes from the beach, walking. It's a lovely day. Perhaps I'll take Oroonoko and associated criticism to read on the beach tomorrow.

But I'm feeling a bit more motivated now. I found the internship site for my school, so I'll look there first, and then start writing desperate letters to all fiction publishing firms in the area.

Erica Carlson
Registered User
(9/24/04 10:46 pm)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
Derrida is painful to read--I have a problem with the idea (I blame the French theorists--they started it) that theory SHOULD be painful to read, though I admit to kind of liking the French feminists. Now that I'm in library school I keep squelching the urge to use the term "always already," though, so I guess some times even the theory you don't especially like gets into your blood.

(As an aside, I've always wondered if Derrida might make more sense if you drank a lot before reading him. I will have to see if I can find a willing English grad student to make the experiment.)

The American Folklore Society also has a listing of folklore programs on their website that might be worth browsing: www.afsnet.org/aboutfolkl...tudyFL.cfm

My (just two) friends in publishing both started by doing the internship thing. This means that you get no money (or near enough) for about a year, but you do get experience and people to write recommendations for you.

Best,
Erica

Ailanna
Registered User
(9/25/04 3:00 pm)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
Forgive me, but I can't stand the French feminists either! Irigary or however you spell/pronounce her name was among the authors we had to read for Lit 101, and I can't remember that her essays were much of a reprieve from Derrida. I don't drink, so I can't try your Derrida+alcohol=sense equation, but it seems likely.

I was reading A. S. Byatt's Possession, and so much of what she has to say about modern literary academia rang true-- that perhaps in our new obsession with gender and sexuality and our drive to find new queer readings and things, we end up missing a lot of the bigger picture. (Byatt put it much more adroitly than I, naturally.) I think that book was a part of what scared me away from academic English. I want to avoid at all costs the Beatrice Nest fate...

Veronica Schanoes
Registered User
(9/25/04 4:04 pm)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
I love Irigaray and find her theories very intriguing. I wonder if a lot of what seems off-putting to us in terms of French theorists has to do with issues of translation. For instance, in reading Irigaray and in doing my language exam in French during which I had to translate a long (lo-o-o-o-ong) passage of Proust, it struck me that sentence fragments seem to be commonly used in French, and indeed, a normal part of writing. In English, of course, they're completely unacceptable and hard to understand. So I wonder if the "difficulties" of style in French theorists are not so much them being obtuse or difficult as they are them writing in French, which seems to have different conventions than English.

Edited to say that I think it's pretty easy to slam the lit-crit theorists, but it's important to recognize that none of them are an "all or nothing" proposition. I find it more productive to select out of their writings the issues or points that do speak to me and go from there. That said, I can't stand reading Foucault. I find his writing to be the mental equivalent of fingernails on a blackboard.

I've read a lot of anxiety about allowing concerns about gender, race, and sexuality to overshadow an appreciation of the work, and I've seen a lot of caricatures of such scholars but I've rarely seen that happen in real life. Perhaps I'm just lucky, perhaps not. But quite frankly, in my opinion academia just doesn't pay enough for anybody who doesn't love what they study to bother going into it. I don't know anybody who studies lit who doesn't find what they study lovely in some way.

Edited by: Veronica Schanoes at: 9/25/04 4:12 pm
Ailanna
Registered User
(9/26/04 9:40 am)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
I don't think I am cut out to be an academic; the thought of spending my life researching someone else's work depresses me. I love to write, and I love to read new books-- and if I could end up being paid to do either which I do for sheer pleasure now, that would be just about perfect. I love that feeling of writing or reading something really fantastic. A line of fiction can send shivers down my spine. An "always already" sentence from Derrida gives me headaches. I doubt I will ever find Derrida, or probably any theorist, exhilarating. My brain doesn't seem to be wired for that. I'll admire the theorists, because I could never write or think like that; at the same time, I'd much prefer to do it from a distance, thank you very much!

You might be right about the translation being partly to blame. Isn't there a saying that nothing can ever be adequately translated? Still, unless we undertake to learn all the major languages, I don't see how that could really be remedied, especially since it also has to do with the connotations one gets with a mother tongue.

As for concerns of sexuality overshadowing more important themes...I think I had to read way too many queer/sexual readings of Dracula last year to believe that it doesn't happen! Some of them were astonishingly farfetched, even for my prof, who never once failed to mention a possible queer reading at any given seminar. Why must everything have to have a queer reading? It's so aggravating to have it ground in one's face all the time, especially in those cases where there is little in the text to support one except for the fact that it has two main characters of the same gender. Poe wrote that "Analysis is itself little subject to analysis," but I think that academic literature is largely that: analysis of the work itself and of others' analyses, of varying validity. Those ongoing skirmishes carried out in footnotes are fun to read, but I haven't found a topic for which I have the same enthusiasm as I have for young adult and children's fantasy books.

If the lit thing doesn't work out, maybe I'll just go with my minor and costume for a living, which will never require me to touch Derrida again (I hope!). "Why is there always already the wrong color thread in the bobbin?!" ;-)

Helen J Pilinovsky
Registered User
(9/26/04 1:26 pm)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
Dear Ailanna:

Just out of curiousity - have you ever read any of the less, for lack of a better way of putting this, theory-oriented critics? I once got slammed in Theory Boot-Camp for feeling similarly about theory for theory's sake; I can appreciate the concepts, and frequently use them to ground and/or explicate my own ideas about literature, but I'm unlikely to plop myself down with a mug of hot chocolate and some Cixous for comfort. Jack Zipes or John Clute would be different stories, however ... and their work relates to your chosen field. Give 'em a shot!


Re: the discussion on the forced politicization of literature ... I agree that anchronistic readings are amazingly irritating to me as a scholar. Yes, certain tropes in, say, early modern drama, may strike me, as a feminist, as being offensive. Yes, I might turn them over in my head looking for alternative interpretations. Will I ever say that my reading is The Truth? Um, no ... that sort of thing is at the root of my dislike for the idea that the Author is Dead, and only the text remains. Contextualization is crucial - but, then, the theorization and alternative readings frequently give rise to fascinating perspectives on the work itself, and on *our* culture, our need to read into the text in the context of modernity. Wow, I'm getting meta ... must be Sunday.

Best,
Helen

Erica Carlson
Registered User
(9/26/04 3:21 pm)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
It's perfectly acceptable (and in many cases recommended) to take a year or so off before jumping into a grad school program. Grad school puts off "the real world" in some ways, but still involves substantial committments in terms of time, money, and research (stress). If you don't find a program that excites you, it might not be worth it AND you may well find yourself facing a bunch of student loans later on. If you enjoy the work, then you won't regret doing it, but if you don't, you may just make yourself miserable for a long time. Sorry to sound so grim; all I'm saying is, try to be reasonably certain you WANT to do the grad school thing before jumping in.

It kind of sounds like you don't really need grad. school to do what you want to do--unless you want to teach?

Erica

Veronica Schanoes
Registered User
(9/26/04 3:54 pm)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
Quote:
I'm unlikely to plop myself down with a mug of hot chocolate and some Cixous for comfort.


Well, OK, but if that's how we're judging textual value and relevance then I have to limit my studies to Terry Pratchett, P.L. Travers, S.J. Rozan, and a few other children's book writers! I can think of worse fates, but my scholarship would be a bit on the thin side...

I don't think feminist analyses of Renaissance texts are anachronistic, Helen; rather I think it's an odd 20th and 21st century conceit to assume that we invented the idea of gender (not accusing you of saying this--just an issue that's come up over the course of my being a student and a teacher). I think Ren lit contains problematic and upsetting assumptions about gender exactly because gender was a social power hierarachy then, as it is now, though of course it was a different social power hierarchy. And of course, there numerous Ren texts (The Tamer Tam'd, Fletcher's massively popular sequal to the not very popular Shrew comes to mind as does Merry Wives) that suggest that gendered power issues were not frozen and are much more enjoyable for me to read.

Why yes, I have gone off-topic, why do you ask?

Ailanna
Registered User
(9/26/04 6:41 pm)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
I suppose part of the grad school thing is that academics are the only thing I've ever been really good at-- it feels absurdly like I'd be a high school dropout without an advanced degree. It is a silly reason. I know it. I just feel unready to grab my BA and go. (Also, have I mentioned I don't really know what I'm doing with my life yet?) I'm looking for a program that interests me, partly for the security of *knowing* what I'm going to be doing next year. But I don't think I'm desperate enough to apply to one in lit theory, or anything else which I don't really like.

There's an internship fair soon at my uni, and I just attended a regents scholar society meeting and put my name on the list for research assistants, so hopefully something will come of that. And if not, I may be costuming a play this quarter; either of which will at least offer some experience and perhaps some guidance in what I should do about the whole messy business of After Graduation.

Veronica, I agree with you on the gender issue-- but would you agree that queer readings of anything much before Oscar Wilde are, at least to some extent, anachronistic? Are they still in your opinion valid?

Veronica Schanoes
Registered User
(9/27/04 1:11 am)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
It depends on what you mean by queer readings. If you mean readings that highlight eroticism between people of the same sex, no, I don't think they're anachronistic. The twentieth century didn't invent sex between men or sex between women. It's largely accepted that most of Shakespeare's sonnets were written to a young man (the ones before the Dark Lady sonnets), and given predilection of his heroines to dress up as boys, for women to fall in love with those "boys" and the presence of the boy actor, I think to dismiss the prospect of homoeroticism in Renaissance lit is willful blindness. There's also a play whose name I forget which has a character called Martha Joyless whose husband is not...satisfying...and she recounts of a memory of sharing a bed once with another young woman who "kissed and clapped" and caressed her. Of course, as with gender, the significance and ways of thinking of eroticism between people of the same sex was different back then than it is now. For one thing, the idea of defining a group by same-sex desire is a modern notion, as far as I can tell. For another, it seems to have been accepted wisdom back in that day that feminine males were attractive to both men and women. But difference in ways of understanding sexual desire between people of the same sex doesn't mean that desire was non-existant.

Of course there's crappy queer studies and crappy gender studies scholarship--but you know, I've read scholarship from fifty, sixty years ago, and there was a lot of crap then, too. A lot of everything that gets out into the world is lousy. Why should lit-crit based on theory be any different? Feminist and queer studies, for example, takes on a massive task in working to working against sexism and homophobia--how can we also expect it to produce scholarship that is uniformly qualitatively better than other approaches? Feminist and queer studies didn't invent lousy scholarship; 90% of everything is crap. New Criticism, the movement that gave us close reading, was also a new theory in its time.

The real point, though, is that you shouldn't go into academia because you think it'll make you a drop-out not to. It's really only worth doing if you love it. I don't think your feelings about not being ready to leave are silly; I think they're normal. But they're not the whole story, either, right? You're just finishing college right now, so to say that academics are the only thing you've ever been good at--well, I hear you, but you've spent almost all of your life in school up till now, right? Give yourself a chance to be good at other things. I think that the desire for security is normal too. In my case, for the first time in my life when I finished college, I didn't have a set path for what came next--after 18 years of knowing what grade/college year was ahead of me! That's quite disorienting and a hell of a difference to get used to. But you're quite right not to do something you won't enjoy just to have it set up already. I think you'll figure it out; it's just that being near graduation is a disorienting liminal state and it's scary. In my opinion.

Helen J Pilinovsky
Registered User
(9/27/04 8:43 am)
Re: Postgrad programs for editing?
I am getting very frustrated ... I've tried to post a response twice now, and both times the EZ system has eaten it. Grr. Maybe the third time will be the charm?

"Well, OK, but if that's how we're judging textual value and relevance then I have to limit my studies to Terry Pratchett, P.L. Travers, S.J. Rozan, and a few other children's book writers! I can think of worse fates, but my scholarship would be a bit on the thin side..."

Nope - not talking about textual value or relevance at all, but rather necessity. I don't think that the theorists (or, to be specific, *all* of the theorists) need to hold a near-and-dear place in our collective little scholarly heart, a la Pratchett, or in my case, Donoghue. They do need to feel like intellectual goads pushing the advancement of ones own thoughts rather than chores. Theory is a fundamental part of the discipline, but it's not the discipline in its entirety ... my point is, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Theory is integral, but it doesn't need to hold that "favorite child" position. One *can* go to grad. school without signing on for a specialization in signification.

My first two attempts were considerably more eloquent, so I'll cross my fingers and move on now. I'm too tired to repeat the parts on the question concerning anchronism, so I'll stick with an enthusiastic "Seconded!"

Helen J Pilinovsky
Registered User
(9/27/04 8:51 am)
Argh!
And it won't let me edit, either.

Just wanted to add: I don't think that gendered readings of Renaissance texts are anachronistic (Gendered Anachronism Argument # 1 as opposed to Gendered Anachronism Argument # 2 ... we've definitely got this one on our minds!) ... however, nor do I think that they're the last word. Actually, regarding both questions: I think that even the most brilliant discursion presents an alternative position which requires both historical positioning and acceptance of the likelihood that the matter in question was probably perceived quite differently during the time in question. Are our alternative interpretations invalidated by that? Not at all. But I keep feeling that our responses to the texts say a lot more about us as a society than they do the texts, or the societies in question.

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