Impending Epistles


July 8, 2011 by Jen

Two days ago, I did a very strange thing. I started writing a personal statement for my PhD applications. It was incredible how quickly the sense of panic began creeping over my fingers, not unlike the cricket that skittered over my foot later that night.

I can’t help wondering if the cricket was a personification (cricketification?) of my application-related anxiety…In that case, I should be set for the year, as said anxiety is now irretrievably d-e-a-d.

After taking an hour to write a few paragraphs, I was left with the impression that something was still missing. I pondered the question for a while before realizing that no graduate application can begin without a dedicatory epistle.



Professor of English,&c. Unwilling Protector to the
University’s most Pressing Budgetary Concerns.


Professor of English,&c. Dedicated Defender of the Arts’
Both Guardians of the most Noble Order
of the MLA, and our singular good

Right Honourable,

Whilst I studie to be thankful in my particular, for the many favors I hope to receive, I am falne upon the ill fortune, to mingle two the most diverse things that can bee, feare, and rashnesse; rashnesse in the enterprize, and feare of the successe. For, when I valew the place you sustaine, I cannot but know your dignity greater, then to descend to the reading of these trifles: and, while I name them trifles, I have depriv’d my selfe of the defence of my Dedication. But since you may bee pleas’d to thinke these trifles some-thing, heeretofore; and have unsealed them: I hope, that you will use the like indulgence toward the Statement of Purpose, as you have done unto the applicants before. There is a great difference, whether any Graduate Student choose her University, or finde it: This hath done both. For, if it please you, the severall parts of the Writing Sample, although not published, are yours. I have but applied, without ambition either of selfe-profit, or fame: onely to keepe the memory of so worthy a Friend, & Fellow alive, as was our M A S T E R S P R O G R A M , by humble offer of continuance, to your most noble patronage. Wherein, as I have justly observed, no woman to come neere you but with a kind of religious addresse; it hath bin the height of my care, who am the Presenter, to make the present worthy of you by the perfect proofe-reading. But, there I must also crave my abilities to be considerd. I cannot go beyond my owne powers. And the most, though meanest, of comma errors are made more precious, when they are dedicated to Applications. In that name therefore, I most humbly consecrate to you these remaines of your servant’s Writing Sample; that what delight is in it, may be ever the reputation yours, & the faults mine, if any be committed, by one so carefull to shew her gratitude, as is

Your Committeeshippes most bounden,


Now that’s more like it. Let the Personal Statement writing commence…next month.

2 thoughts on “Impending Epistles

  1. Abby says:

    Hi, Jen! Thanks so much for the comment. I was happy to find your blog as well (and enjoyed this funny post). I'll be interested in reading about your Ph.D. adventures! It's something that I'd like to pursue one day myself… Best wishes.

  2. Emily says:

    Bahahaha. Winning.

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