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English vs. Comp Lit Writing Sample


Ryzhaya
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I am slowly but surely getting my act together to apply to masters programs. My undergrad degree is in Comparative Literature, and while I will be applying to some programs in Comp Lit, I'm also interested in applying to some English programs. The best piece of writing I have to work with, however, is a comparative paper; the primary texts are in English, Russian, and Spanish. Would it be a bad idea to use this paper as my writing sample for English grad programs? Should I still include quotations in the original languages, or should I only include the translations? Thanks for any and all advice!

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I can't speak about literature admissions committees from personal experience, but I think that one of the strikes against me on my first go at applying was that I left all the quotations in my writing sample in the original French. I suspect adcoms don't appreciate this because 1) not all the people who will be reading your writing sample will be competent in the languages that you're using and 2) one of the things that they are looking for in your application is evidence of an ability to translate. As such, I'd recommend translating everything into English and including a footnote which explains that you have done the translations yourself.

Edited by Gaijinhakuryu
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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm inclined to think that it would be best to have separate writing samples for comp lit programs and English programs. Remember, ad comms are looking to see what type of research you've already done in the field that you will be studying.

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