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Doing a Phd in Spain

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Joined: 18 Jun 2007
Posts: 177

PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:23 pm    Post subject: Doing a Phd in Spain Reply with quote

I have been thinking, recently, of taking a Phd here in Spain. I am living and working in Valencia, and a few of my Spanish friends and students are doing Phds.

I would love to do a Phd, just not too keen to return to England at the moment. I have a BA and MA in English Literature, and I have a rough proposal on the topic-area (The Resonance of Cain and Abel in Spanish Literature)

What is my next step? Should I try and contact lecturers at the Universities here, and see if I can speak to someone? The time-frame might be a problem. How long does a Phd take here, and roughly how much does it cost?

AND, my Spanish is not too good either. What sort of effect is that likely to have? Would I be expected to read and write ALL texts in Spanish? Maybe I could do a comparative study on the different ways Spain and America treat the Cain/Abel myth?

Thanks in advance.
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Joined: 22 Aug 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know if you're still around, but it's an interesting topic. I haven't done a PhD in Spain, but have recently completed a PhD in French literature in the UK. At my university here, it's possible for French nationals in the French Dept. to write their theses in French.

However, doctoral research is at a very high level, and if you're planning to study comparative literature, many of the critical texts you'll be expected to refer to will be in Spanish. You won't be able to analyse the Spanish reception of the Cain/Abel myth without a reading knowledge of Spanish. I presume that only the most famous literary texts will exist in translation, but a PhD is about original research, so it would be far more impressive if you could incorporate an analysis of some lesser known writing. And what happens if the most interesting Spanish depictions are in poetry or drama? They're unlikely to be available in translation, but if you've never engaged with them your examiners won't be pleased.

What you could do is find a university that's working to increase its intake of English-speaking students, and apply to study a non-Hispanic topic. My impression is that most of these courses focus on finance/business, etc., but maybe not all. Or, you could do a PhD by distance study with a British or American university. But studying Spanish literature is still unlikely to be an option if you don't read Spanish, so you'd have to focus on something else.

If you want to incorporate Spain into your research, perhaps you could make a study of representations of Spain/Spaniards in British/American/Anglophone Post-colonial/etc. literature? Spanish would still be useful though, because it would be interesting to see how Spanish commentators have responded to such representations. Since so much English writing is translated into Spanish, Spanish reviewers are likely to have some interesting responses to the ways in which Anglophone writers have depicted their country.

Start trying to read serious material in Spanish! You don't need a tutor if you already have a basic knowledge of the language - just some literary classics, a good dictionary and an advanced grammar book.

And do some googling.
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Joined: 18 Jun 2007
Posts: 177

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the really good advice, MsBlack. I particularly like the idea of an exploration of the portrayal of Spanish-speakers in English or American Literature.

But, this is a long-term project. And, in reality, I'm not sure if doing a Phd here would help or harm my employment prospects, in terms of British or European Unis, and of course in terms of teaching English.

At the moment, I am reading Calvin y Hobbes, en espanol. Despuis, puedo leer Miguel de Unamuno and some studies of fratricide in Spanish Lit ; )
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Joined: 22 Aug 2012
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The question of how a PhD in literature would fit in with a TEFL career is something I'm reflecting on at the moment. Although I want to work in an academic environment, there's lots of competition in the UK for lectureships and postdoctoral fellowships in the arts, and I don't know if I want to jump through all the necessary hoops. But I've taught EFL before, and I think it might be possible to teach EFL at foreign university and use that as a context in which to explore cultural perspectives, particularly postcolonial ones, since that's what my PhD work focused on. It would take a bit of creative thinking and good career choices to bring all these things together, but it wouldn't be impossible.

If you're interested in both literature and a TEFL career, maybe you could study the use of literature in TEFL. My experiences of this are few (summer schools with adults), but they've been successful, perhaps because I've been able to communicate my own enthusiasm for the subject. The University of Westminster has an MA in TESOL and Creative Writing, so they probably offer PhD supervision in this as well.

I'm told that employers at Saudi Arabian universities would be impressed by my PhD in French. It stands to reason, though, that a PhD in English literature would be an easier sell in a TEFL context, so you'd have an advantage over me for such a job. But I can't imagine that a PhD in literature would advance someone's career if they wanted to teach EFL to businessmen or children at a language school.
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