----- Original Message -----
From: Mr. Rupert Russell
Sent: Thursday, June 15, 2006 8:42 PM
Subject: [Foucault-L] Foucault Graduate Studies Recommendations
I've just done the whole grad thing this year, for Sociology in the US - I've just finished a social sciences degree at Cambridge (UK). Sociology depts. in the US and the UK tend predominately to be research/empirical orientated, theory is a means to an ends, not the ends in itself.
Me: But that doesn't mean students don't do purely theoretical research. Even in England they do. Sociology at Essex, for instance.
However, the Berkeley dept. of Rhetoric is world class if you're main interest is theory, it's headed by Judith Butler (one of the leading interpreters/advocates of Foucault - not an interpretation I agree with tho!!) and has some big names. Butler also runs a Critical Theory grad seminar with Martin Jay (big expert on the Frankfurt School) and Silverman (semiotics/post-structuralism) - sounds as good as you're going to get. http://rhetoric.berkeley.edu/graduate.html
As for the whole "brand" element of universities it depends ultimately on what your career goals are. If its academia find the best dept. with the prof. you want to work with, where you will produce the best thesis.
Me: But if you have a supervisor whose main interest is career advancement (within the university) and achieving power, while supervising students come second, then there will be a problem. That's why they have a complaints process, and a Visitor to help resolve them. doing a PhD isn't always problem free.
If you want to do something outside the academic field then the branding of the university becomes increasingly important.
Me: Reputation means everything, character, nothing.
Essex probably has a better sociology dept. that Cambridge, but Cambridge is "Cambridge" as they say.
I would also recommend you apply to as many programs as you possible can and afford to. Good, well funded programmes are incredibly competitive - you cannot underestimate the competition.
Me: But keep in mind it's the person who is funded. If you have the right connections, you stand a better chance.
I applied to four and got one offer, I know people who have applied to 7 with top grades from Cambridge and been rejected from every one. The key is to target your personal statement/interests to the particular dept. in question, contact professors and if possible visit them and apply to a lot, there is always a bit of lottery element to these things.
Me: And do what they tell you. Don't cause trouble. Like when I was a student and the prof said, What are you going to do in class today, and I explained what I would be teaching. But the other TA, the one who told me she had had no training in research methods, in response to the same question, said, What do you want me to do? Despite having no training, and only a 3-year BA, she got to teach Research Methods the following year again, while by that time I was on my way out.
Live and learn!
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