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Philosophy MA Writing Sample - Foreign Language


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Hello,

I am going to be applying to philosophy MA programs this coming spring, and had a question about writing samples that I couldn't find addressed in any past threads. Some background about my particular situation is below, but since this seems like a question that others might have as well, I'd like to try and phrase the question more generally:

If your writing sample deals substantially with a philosophical figure or figures whose works are in a language other than English, would it be expected that any references to his/her/their writings be from the original texts rather than translations? In other words, if I am submitting a writing sample on (say) Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, would it be expected that I 1.) know German, and 2.) am basing my analysis on the original German text rather than on a translation?

As far as my particular background, in case it is helpful:

I went to a relatively small Midwestern college and graduated several years ago with majors other than philosophy and a 3.9 GPA. Since that time, I have been working in the corporate world. My intent is to use the MA program as a stepping-stone into a philosophy PhD program. My interests are primarily in post-war French philosophy and Marx, so I would be targeting continental-oriented programs.

As far as my writing sample, given that I did not major in philosophy, I do not have any substantial philosophy papers from my undergraduate days that I would like to submit as part of an MA application. After kicking around several ideas for a topic, I have come upon an idea to write a paper comparing, contrasting, and evaluating two different interpretations of Marx (Gilles Deleuze's and Felix Guttari's in Anti-Oedipus and Moishe Postone's in Time, Labor, and Social Domination). The first of those books is in French and the other in English. What prompted this particular question is that while I do speak French and can work from the original text of Anti-Oedipus, I do not know German and so any use of textual support from Marx would have to be based on translations.

Thank you in advance for any insight you can provide!

Edited by determinate abstraction
Edited to remove repetitive sentence.
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  • 4 weeks later...

I don't think it will be a strike against you if you fail to use the original-language text. If you can effectively work from it, that might help ever so slightly. Also, it is worth noting the importance of working from well-reputed translations. You don't want your writing sample discredited because an expert on the subject on which you are working thinks the translation you are working from has substantially misled you. 

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