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Hey—this is a new kind of spam!

Ya think they’ll never come up with something new, and then this comes along:

Dear Dr. Gelman,

I am writing to inquire about the availability of obtaining a self-funded visiting scholar position in your institution for one year. I will cover all my expenses during my visit. I have completed a M.A. at Sichuan international Studies University in Comparative Literature and World Literature in 2011. My dissertation is entitled “Edith Wharton’s Views on Female”.

My scholarly interests range widely, from British and American literature and culture to intercultural communication to translation of English and Chinese and to English teaching methods, as well as TESOL, Business English, Linguistics. I have published some relevant papers at home. In a subsequent project, I plan to research American urban literature from the viewpoints of feminism and ethical literary criticism. In addition, I welcome the opportunity to conduct research related to English teaching methods as a foreign language in order to further enhance my teaching experience.

My dissertation investigates Wharton’s views on female from the aspect of feminism based on Wharton’s 4 important novels: The House of Mirth (1905), The Custom of the Country (1913), Summer (1917) and The Age of Innocence (1921). My inquiry focuses on awakening heroines’ images to have broken traditional bondages and developed constantly and explain how the heroines from Lily to Undine, Charity and Allen fulfill the sublimation from embryo, extreme, awakening and freely defining, which is the process of forming Wharton’s views on female and also indicates Wharton’s seeking for ideal woman. Then, from the comparison of heroines’ traits, it’s proved that the harmonious androgynous personality is the ideal pursuit for Wharton characters in her fictional world: and the single male or female disposition is not wholesome for individuals, and both male and female traits in balance seems to be an ideal solution to help free the human personality from sex-role stereotype. Last but not the least, this thesis touches upon the reasons to form the views on female from the social background dealing with social economy, women’s social position, female literature trends and female movements and so on and personal experience including Wharton’s friendship with James, bondage suffered in teenage and love and marriage life.

I am eager to broaden my horizon constantly. And I would appreciate being considered as a visiting scholar to do research under your supervision. I believe I can learn a lot from you and Coinweb, your outstanding team and your distinguished university. I have enclosed a copy of my curriculum vitae. Thank you in advance for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you. If you would like any additional information, please contact me.


A CV was attached in pdf form but I didn’t click on it. Safety first.


  1. Peter says:

    I keep getting those emails as well. Maybe it’s a new networking strategy.

  2. Rahul says:

    What’s their goal here? Just to harvest gullible email addresses? Get you to click on CV & install a trojan?

    OTOH, the dictum comes to mind: “Never attribute to malice when incompetence might suffice.” Could this be a silly attempt to brute force search for a post-doc position? Runaway script maybe?

  3. Cassandra says:

    Certainly likely a form letter, but why call it spam? Given a name, one could so easily check it out with the university – or one could reply without clicking on the cv. Is it a foreign method of position search? Sure, but in a global world, don’t we all have to adapt? And I mean, if you were in China with that academic interest, what would you do?

    • Andrew says:


      From Wikipedia: “Electronic spamming is the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages (spam), especially advertising, indiscriminately.” This one seems to fit the description pretty well. If a message about Edith Wharton scholarship has reached me, I think we can be pretty sure it’s being sent indiscriminately.

  4. Erin Jonaitis says:

    I got one of those emails a few years ago from a guy looking for a postdoc in engineering. Since I was neither faculty nor an engineer I was pretty certain it was phishing, but I also found it puzzling. I forwarded it to a friend who studies phishing attempts.

    I wonder whether university machines represent a particularly big draw for malware writers? If what they’re after is the computational power to, I dunno, mine Bitcoins or something, are they maybe hoping one university member with their guard down might accidentally give them access to a supercomputing cluster?

  5. Eli Rabett says:

    If the is the same thing that happened to Eli about a decade ago, they are looking for a letter saying you would work with them, which was the key to an exit visa. Did this for a dentist and got a set of nice china horses out of it.

  6. Jason S. says:

    Are you sure this isn’t a study run by researchers at other universities?

    By failing to respond, you could be demonstrating the racism/sexism/cishetism of your instituion.,%202004.pdf

    Tens of thousands of fraudlent cvs and the like are sent out each year, by other researchers.

    As they would call it, it’s a growth industry.

Leave a Reply to Jason S.