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Hi everyone! First of all, I’m currently pursuing my Masters in Comparative Literature, and I’ll be applying to Comparative Literature Ph.D. programs next fall. 

I’ve already begun to work on my writing sample in preparation for the 2019-2020 application season; it’s an assignment for one of my courses, and I figured that I would kill two birds with one stone. 

Here’s the deal: my essay is in English, obviously, but I’m comparing two Lusophone authors. This means that all of my citations will be in Portuguese and that at least half of my sources will be in Portuguese, as well. Since I’m applying to Comparative Literature programs, is it a problem that the entire essay won’t be in English? Should I include an ad hoc translation of the texts and source materials in the footnotes? Or, is this expected in a Comp Lit writing sample, and I’m just overthinking the situation? 

Thanks in advance for any and all advice! 

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I am not a comp lit scholar so maybe I'm talking out of my rear, but given the context I can't imagine it would be a problem to have quotations from Portuguese texts in Portuguese, but I would assume that you would provide a footnote with the English translation like you would if you were publishing in a primarily English language journal.  Even in a comp lit department your writing sample is likely to be read by people from a variety of sub-disciplines, it could well be that there are no Lusophone scholars on the admissions committee that year.

Edited by jrockford27
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It's a great question, and one I grappled with when submitting my writing sample (I was accepted into an ivy comp lit program). My advice would be: they'll be impressed. If your sample is written in English, but your quotes are in another language, then that will seem ideal to many comp lit programs. However, I'd consider providing translations in the footnote. It's not entirely necessary, but it will demonstrate to your readers that you have a firm grasp of the material. 

Do PM me if you have any other questions! 

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Thanks for the advice, @jrockford27 and @foampoem. I think I will include translations in the footnotes, but I do wonder whether that could bring me too much over the page limit for my writing samples. I suppose the easy solution in case that happens is to really cut down the essay to its absolute essentials... 

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