This essay argues that those applying to graduate programs in English now professionalize at an unprecedented and unacknowledged rate. After surveying several websites where applicants share information and advice, I suggest that these applicants already think of themselves as specialized research scholars—that they are prepreprofessionalizing, to adapt John Guillory’s idea of “preprofessionalism.” To establish what this means, and why it matters, I compare these applicants to the few previous discussions of graduate admissions; I also analyze their reactions to the popular rankings of English departments and to the reduction of graduate programs. While literary scholars have examined many of these issues, they have consistently overlooked applicants, and I argue that we should remember how applicants shape and are shaped by metaprofessional issues—from graduate admissions to the job market.


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pp. 184-210
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