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Non-Traditional Literary Studies

I am currently enrolled in a MA/PhD program and have applied to transfer. My area is fairly broad, grouped under what I would consider to be theoretical approaches to memory, space and the way in which spatial and narrative boundaries fortify social and communal structures.

While my research questions are literary in nature and my theoretical background is developed through literary theory, my writing sample that I submitted with my applications focuses not on literary texts but on these theoretical issues as they relate to an urban space, which I read as a text. I explain this in my SOP, but I am really worried that I weakened my application because my WS will place me outside the focus of an English department. My advisors here encouraged me to submit this piece, however I am really anxious about this and would really appreciate some feedback from this community (for those interested the paper was a reading of Hitler's Bunker as an uncanny space of memory, a "site unseen").


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 31st, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC)
I don't think that this is necessarily a problem at all. I would imagine that your advisers encouraged you to submit the piece because it both fell within the ambit of lit studies and because it was a great piece of work. You shouldn't worry.

For what it's worth, my writing sample was on C18th conceptions of urban space and seemed to be ok. Your sample sounds fascinating - a nice irony in using the Freudian 'uncanny' to read Hitler's Bunker, too. Good luck!
Feb. 1st, 2010 05:12 am (UTC)
Re: WS
Thanks so much for the feedback. Your piece sounds amazing as well. Did you base your argument in an exploration of literary text, historical, theoretical, or a mix of them all? I used theoretical approaches to memory, drawing on Freud, Halbwachs, Derrida, Marianne Hirsch, and James Young. Where are you studying? I know that Tamar Katz at Brown does some work in 18th century conceptions of urban space.

Thanks for the luck!
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:35 am (UTC)
i am in no position to offer you any advice, as i am waiting to hear back from my applications, but your research questions caught my eye. it resonated with some work i have done, on constructions of subjectivity in film noir, which is essentially a spatial process. you might be interested in this book, i found it really sort of galvanized my own thinking about this stuff::

Feb. 12th, 2010 01:56 pm (UTC)
Wow! Thanks so much for sending this on. I actually haven't done much with film so this will be highly informative. What is your particular approach and how are you applying it?
Feb. 23rd, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC)
i am taking a heideggarian aesthetic/metaphysic, and using it to tie together the concerns of film noir and high modernist poetry, as being different manifestations of a common set of underlying questions about the liminality of all subjectivity in the transition from the late modern to the postmodern.

that is a mouthful, and frankly it is not getting me any acceptances. if i didn't dig the intellectual challenge of it so much i'd be tempted to ditch all that noise and narrow my interests down to the typography of early manuscripts of _paradise lost_ or something else equally conservative.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )