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Slightly Tangential Writing Sample?


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4 replies to this topic

#1 bax

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 03:49 PM

So I'm trying to decide what writing sample to submit with my applications.

I'm in the middle of an undergraduate thesis, but I'm not confident that I will be able to get it into good enough shape to send part of it off in the few weeks I have left.

The paper I'm considering most heavily is one I'm proud of, that I've presented at a national conference, and commented on favorably by some people in the field.

Two problems:

1. That field is fat studies. It is undeniably a political theory paper, as it is about the political implications of fat, but it is a new and controversial field. I'm worried about banking my applications on identity politics issues.

2. It's slightly tangential to my research interests. There are key points of intersection, but it is mostly about APT (american political thought), while I'm more interested in modern democracy theory. Is it misleading to have a sample that is a little tangential like this?

Any advice would be appreciated.
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#2 snes

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 04:10 PM

Unless you find programs with really specific requirements, send your best work. And bonus points if it's only slightly tangential to your research interests. :)
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#3 especially

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 01:16 AM

My professors have said that even if it's slightly tangential, send your best work.

However as to it being a touchy subject - if you can find out about the schools you're applying to, if they are friendly to these topics then feel free to use it. If you think they might not be, a strategic move might be to use another paper (I was planning on using a foucault paper myself, but after talks with profs I'll use another for strategy reasons since foucault still isn't widely respected in philosophy departments).
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#4 snes

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 12:18 AM

Dang, who voted me down? It's just advice I've heard from everyone else, but here's more detail:
Really, I think if you had to choose between a paper right in your research interest vs. something that's better but somewhat outside your research interest, send the better one! But I wouldn't send anything outside of your FIELD, for example.

Anyway, I've heard the advice from a professor on an admissions committee of a highly selective humanities program that they read the statement of purpose first, then references, and then writing sample, which might not even be read carefully. This professor suggested I get into detail about my methodologies (of my primary research interest) in my statement of purpose....this info is also in my writing sample, but again, they're more likely to see it in the SoP.
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#5 rainy_day

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 03:42 AM

I'm in a similar position (my writing sample is on 16th century drama and I do contemporary American cultural studies). Send your best work. Just make sure, in your SOP, you make it clear how this project relates to your work as a whole.
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2013 it is, then.




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