Grad School: MFA in Comic Studies

This weekend, after doing home work, I spent some time looking further into the different MFA programs I am interested in to determine which ones to apply to. Only a few nationwide are in schools that have comic studies classes available. Even then, those programs are only for undergrads. The Center for Comics Study does have a comics MFA, but it isn’t funded at any level, so it’s not a program I am interested in.

The school that looks the most promising is Virginia Commonwealth University, but its connection to comic studies seems pretty vague. I’m going to spend some time and check it out further, but right now it seems pretty weak sauce.

Google tells me the Universities of Florida and Oregon have some sort of connection to comic studies, but the MFA programs do not seem to be connected to their comic studies programs at all. This is a problem.

Comics and Graphic Novels are an important part of American literature in particular and a part of the literature of many other nations as well, but for some reason, no one is taking it very seriously. In the US anyway. There are a few programs in England, but I can’t attend those because I am quite poor and I do not want to go into any more debt than I have to. Starving during my masters and probable PhD will be alright since the schools I want to go to are funded, meaning I won’t accrue more debt unless I take out a loan. If I go to the University of Dundee for comic studies, I’d pile up debt in a hurry.

Blah. I’m going to work it really hard and see if I can come with a connection. If I can’t, I’ll pursue the MFA anyway and then work on comic studies once I’ve graduated.


GRE Essay Questions

I’ve noticed a pattern in how I am answering the argument questions compared to the issue questions. I can start writing about the issues right from the start, but I have to spend quite a bit of time dissecting the language of the argument questions. I am spending a too much time thinking through the arguments instead of writing.

My longest argument essay is five hundred words and my shortest is four hundred and twenty five words. All of my issue essays are over five hundred and fifty words. The next part of the pattern is that I have only ever finished my conclusion in the argument essay once out of three attempts, but I have always finished my issue essays and have had time to review my writing for obvious mistakes.

This blows and logic sucks.

It is a really good thing I have started practicing this stuff now instead of later or even worse: right before the test.

Spring Break: Whatever

Spring break started yesterday right after I left my French conversation class. Yeah right. My spring break has nothing to do with doing the fun stuff normally associated with “spring break.” First of all, I’m too old for that crap. I’m 49. It would be way creepy for me to show up to a beach some place and party with all the young-uns running around doing stupid stuff even if I probably would rock a wet t-shirt contest.

Nope. None of that. I’ve got way too much homework.

  • I have an outline for a philosophy term paper to create (I already turned in the abstract and annotated bibliography, so I’ve already done a bunch of the leg work).
  • I have an outline for a rhetoric term paper to create (this one is based on three smaller papers I already wrote for this class, so not hard either).
  • I have a paper to write for my French class that has to be in French.
  • I have to write a movie review of a French movie to write for my French conversation class that also has to be in French.
  • I have to write a presentation for my French class and memorize it, because the presentation must be in French with no notes.
  • I have to write a paper about a religious studies conference I attended last month for the philosophy class.
  • I have to write a paper about the eight novels we covered in my English Genres class.
  • I have to write a small reading response about Chaim Perelman for my Rhetoric class (due tonight).
  • I have to read Toni Morrison’s Beloved for English Genres.
  • I have to do a bunch of online French homework so it won’t interfere with the rest of the semester.
  • I have to write a French journal entry for every day of spring break which will be pretty repetitive since I’m not going any where.

Oh yeah, I’m gonna have a great spring break. Maybe I’ll eat some cake to celebrate spring break. Maybe a candy bar or something.

Grad School Prep: The Groundwork

After walking a mile after French Conversation 115R class ended, I went to the professional development stacks here in the library and picked up a copy of the GRE prep book by ETS (the dweebs who make the test). 

In the previous sentence, you can see four things that have to do with preparing for grad school: walking, French, professional development, and the GRE. The other things I’m doing is researching the professors who teach at my prospective schools, researching the campus experience at each school for grad students, and also researching the community surrounding the campus I’ll be renting an apartment in.

Walking. I am walking right now as exercise. So far today, I’ve walked 2.2 miles and yesterday, I walked 4.1 miles. I’m averaging 2.8 miles so far this week. I’m trying to get back in shape without killing myself. I have started a small calisthenics program and I walk a bunch, but it isn’t much. Again, I want to get into shape without killing myself. I am slowly improving how much I walk and how much I exercise.

I will be going to grad school for English and while there, I’ll be teaching. Most students are resentful they have to take two sections of beginning English classes after they took all those English classes in high-school (yes, English 101 & 201 are beginning classes, don’t fool yourself). I get it, but I don’t want students to hate English just because I am a fatty. There are loads of other reasons to hate intro English.

French. This one is easy. Many grad schools have a language requirement. I lived in South Korea for eight years, so I can speak a smattering of Korean, but English departments want French, Spanish, or German. It doesn’t matter if I’m fluent in Korean, I still need to study French.

Professional Development. I have worked for two fortune five hundred companies as a manager and know the professional standards those companies require, but do those standards apply to English as an industry? I don’t think so. What are the dress standards? What are the work hours? What types of meetings do grad students go to? How many and what types of committee meetings are there? Other than teaching, is there more management time I will need to spend? There are loads of these kinds of questions.

GRE. Right next to me are three GRE test prep books. I’m going to be flipping through them to get an idea of what the test is like. I already have been preparing for the two essays, but I also need to do well on the rest of the test.

Research. This area is really broad. I set up an excel spreadsheet to track all of the information I’m gathering about the different schools I applying to, the professors who work there, and the communities the schools are in.

GRE Prep: Essay Practice

Yesterday, I started doing timed essay practice for the GRE. ETS, the monkeys who write and administer the GRE, has a bunch of sample issue and argument essay questions on their website. Yesterday, I did an argument essay and today I did an issue essay. I practiced writing the essays in notepad so I would not have the spell check or grammar check options running just like what happens on the GRE.

I actually love writing in notepad. I do most of my first drafts in notepad so I don’t get hung up on formatting or hung up when word starts judging me. The reason to go this way is simple: the GRE makes most of the test takers type out their essays in a neutered program that tries to take away as many word-processing functions as possible because it would not otherwise be fair to the other test takers who have to hand write out their essays. Personally? I say screw ’em, but that’s only because I am the worst speller I know.

In high-school, I was the kid failing English because every other word on a test, paper, story, poem, or journal entry was misspelled. Sure, I’ve gotten better, but even in this blog entry, I’ve spelled a number of things wrong and I am going to have to go through and correct my punctuation. The only English class I passed in high school was with a teacher who actually read what I was writing and didn’t get pissed off at my spelling handicap. I got a ‘B.’ He said I was the best writer in class and that if I went into writing for a living, an editor would help clean up all my horrible screw ups.

So, yeah. When I went back and pasted my essays in word, I noticed I only spelled a few words incorrectly and that each essay was a little over 600 words. I’m not going to get too worked up over the spelling. The words I am misspelling are still recognizable. What I am going to work on is writing faster. I want to be able to submit a 750 word essay.

The other thing I need to work on is writing in a less personable style. I know in English as an industry, we don’t mind first person personal in academic writing, but I am not completely convinced other academic fields feel the same way (boy, what would they think of first person unreliable?). My philosophy teachers complain about it and also are constantly complaining that humor in a philosophy paper is inappropriate, but then they keep giving me ‘As.’ Maybe knowing they are wasting their breath on me, since I’m an English major, they’ve given up as a collective. I am just not sure about the essay test graders.

I have a friend who was one for a long time. Maybe he still is. We never talk about work, just basketball. He has pretty severe OCDs and I bet he would be pretty unforgiving. I don’t even think he uses first person in conversation. I’ll let you know what he says.

Grad Schools

I’ve just started looking at MFA grad schools and taking the GRE. I haven’t finished my BA yet, but I’m at that point if I don’t do my research and prep, I’ll be screwing myself over. The following are the schools I am the most interested in (alphabetical order):

  • Hollins University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Oregon State University
  • Syracuse University
  • University of Florida
  • University of Miami
  • University of Oregon, Eugene
  • University of South Carolina, Columbia
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Wyoming
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Virginia Tech

For my MFA, I’ll be focusing on poetry and if I can sneak it in, then I’ll try to do a little comic studies. The schools listed here are based simply on the parts of the country I am interested in living in (except University of Wyoming–a friend got his MFA there) and how much funding they have to offer. Over the next few months, I am going to be looking at the faculty and what they are writing and if they are people I am interested in studying under.

Getting Ready for School

So I’m still doing research. I’m supposed to, but I also have to do other things, too. I’m hoping to be able to post comics to the school paper. The kind of comics I’ve been doing for the last six years are political in nature. I really like doing political portraits. I have a problem doing funny comics, because I often don’t feel funny about some of the people I get to draw.

That’s how it is with this subject: Steve Bannon. I find his brand of Steve Bannon #putz alt-right republican political cartoonrepublican politics repugnant. Yes, I think he’s dangerous, but only because he works to force animosity between American’s based on ethnicities. I know other people do it, too, but Bannon is in the news now.

There things I’m doing to get ready for school is write poetry. Not just the easy going haiku I sometimes post here, but form poetry or poetry that is a bit more difficult. I also have been reading poetry and finding prose to re-edit. I haven’t been in school for ten years. I gotta get better at what student’s do.