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thepeeps

Info about Writing Sample- Writing Background Applying for a Lit PhD?

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As you've perhaps noticed, I come from a writing background and will be applying to PhD programs in the Fall.  For anyone that hasn't read my other thread, my BA is in English with a concentration in Writing, Rhetoric, and Communication while my MA (which I'll be completing as a 4+1) is in Professional Writing.  Most of the programs I am applying to are Lit based, and it seems from what I've gathered online I can still apply.  I took a couple literature courses in undergrad in order to graduate.  I feel like this is a dumb question so I am embarrassed to ask my professors.   For the lit focused PhD, I should be sending in a literature centered writing sample correct?  Should I also only ask literature professors for letters of rec, or does it matter?  There's some programs that state they don't even care if your degree is not in English in the first place, so that's why I'm unsure about what the writing sample should even be geared towards.    

Totally sorry if this is dumb.  But I guess I wasn't sure about the writing sample, and would feel dumb submitting a rhetorical paper rather than a lit one for a literature PhD if that's not what would be recommended.  Thank you.

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15 minutes ago, thepeeps said:

For the lit focused PhD, I should be sending in a literature centered writing sample correct? 

Yes; ideally, you'll be sending in work that the program has faculty working in the same area. Ideally, your WS would also be current in understanding gaps within the field and where you fit into today's conversation.

17 minutes ago, thepeeps said:

  Should I also only ask literature professors for letters of rec, or does it matter?

Some places might prefer English professors but I don't think I've seen any programs care much about which area of English it is. Generally speaking, I think any professor in the humanities or social sciences would work fine for letters. A Language Professor might be helpful if your concentration was medieval or early modern.

 

22 minutes ago, thepeeps said:

There's some programs that state they don't even care if your degree is not in English in the first place, so that's why I'm unsure about what the writing sample should even be geared towards.    

Some programs might not require your degree to be in English but they still require you to prove that you'd be able to prove you can keep up with coursework/comps/dissertation work. They often don't distinguish between degrees so often you'll be held to the same standard. Some FAQs might state that you might require x amount of classes in Literature, but I don't think I've seen any that raise a fuss if your degree is in English.

 

24 minutes ago, thepeeps said:

Totally sorry if this is dumb.  But I guess I wasn't sure about the writing sample, and would feel dumb submitting a rhetorical paper rather than a lit one for a literature PhD if that's not what would be recommended. 

Depending on the program,  there are likely some programs that would very much welcome a rhetorical paper. There are some programs that are very heavy on theory; while others are very big on close readings. Most of the time, they just want to gain a sense of your writing style and how your interests and strengths line up with theirs. It's likely that you'll feel a better fit at bigger schools because they have more faculty but so does everyone else due to their wider range of interests. Some programs are also more cultural studies focused.

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1 minute ago, Warelin said:

Yes; ideally, you'll be sending in work that the program has faculty working in the same area. Ideally, your WS would also be current in understanding gaps within the field and where you fit into today's conversation.

Some places might prefer English professors but I don't think I've seen any programs care much about which area of English it is. Generally speaking, I think any professor in the humanities or social sciences would work fine for letters. A Language Professor might be helpful if your concentration was medieval or early modern.

 

Some programs might not require your degree to be in English but they still require you to prove that you'd be able to prove you can keep up with coursework/comps/dissertation work. They often don't distinguish between degrees so often you'll be held to the same standard. Some FAQs might state that you might require x amount of classes in Literature, but I don't think I've seen any that raise a fuss if your degree is in English.

 

Depending on the program,  there are likely some programs that would very much welcome a rhetorical paper. There are some programs that are very heavy on theory; while others are very big on close readings. Most of the time, they just want to gain a sense of your writing style and how your interests and strengths line up with theirs. It's likely that you'll feel a better fit at bigger schools because they have more faculty but so does everyone else due to their wider range of interests. Some programs are also more cultural studies focused.

Thank you so much.  I've taken I think four lit classes in undergrad (one professor screwed me over though) but I did great work in the other 3.  Since I've always done writing and rhetoric though is what had me nervous, especially because my MA will also be writing focused (and despite being close to my professors, apart of me feels like a traitor to tell my rhetoric professors I'm applying for English PhD's that are geared towards literature  haha.  Although one of my schools does have a rhetoric focus available for their PhD program). 

Now I know on most applications, they say "10-15 page writing sample" does that typically equal one full paper?  Or can I send in both a literature paper and a rhetorical one?  Or two literature writing samples?  Again, I'm sorry if these sound like silly questions.  I'm off of school currently and don't have anyone to discuss this with, and I want to get a headstart before fall/winter comes.

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2 minutes ago, thepeeps said:

Thank you so much.  I've taken I think four lit classes in undergrad (one professor screwed me over though) but I did great work in the other 3.  Since I've always done writing and rhetoric though is what had me nervous, especially because my MA will also be writing focused (and despite being close to my professors, apart of me feels like a traitor to tell my rhetoric professors I'm applying for English PhD's that are geared towards literature  haha.  Although one of my schools does have a rhetoric focus available for their PhD program). 

Now I know on most applications, they say "10-15 page writing sample" does that typically equal one full paper?  Or can I send in both a literature paper and a rhetorical one?  Or two literature writing samples?  Again, I'm sorry if these sound like silly questions.  I'm off of school currently and don't have anyone to discuss this with, and I want to get a headstart before fall/winter comes. 

Unless it states otherwise, I'd recommend sending in only 1 paper. Very few programs request two writing samples. They really want to see your ability to take a stance on your issue and how you progress through your ideas on a piece of literature(s).

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15 hours ago, Warelin said:

Unless it states otherwise, I'd recommend sending in only 1 paper. Very few programs request two writing samples. They really want to see your ability to take a stance on your issue and how you progress through your ideas on a piece of literature(s).

Would you recommend emailing/contacting each program about specifically the kind of writing sample they want?  Or would they think that's dumb?

Should I also take lit papers I've done in the past and bring them back to my professors in the fall and talk to them about how I would like to use the assignment as a writing sample?

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2 hours ago, thepeeps said:

Would you recommend emailing/contacting each program about specifically the kind of writing sample they want?  Or would they think that's dumb?

I think that information can be gleaned in a lot of cases. Certain programs are known for being theory-heavy while others are more known for their cultural studies or film studies or etc. Taking a look at recent dissertations done at said programs might also help you gain a better understanding of what they might be looking for.

 

 

2 hours ago, thepeeps said:

Should I also take lit papers I've done in the past and bring them back to my professors in the fall and talk to them about how I would like to use the assignment as a writing sample?

Whatever topic you're most interested in studying, choose that one and have multiple people look at it. Your writing sample and SOP should be on related topics.

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