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Author Topic: Letter to Accompany Writing Sample?  (Read 2275 times)
mercury
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« on: November 30, 2007, 2:26:30 PM »

HelloóThis is my first post.  Iíve searched the site for suggestions about writing letters to accompany additional materials when requested (i.e., writing sample).  Iíve found great advice about the initial cover letter, and thank-you notes following interviews, but nothing about interim communications.  For people who have served on search committees: when you ask for a writing sample, what do you expect to see in the accompanying letter?  What might be off-putting?  Should a candidate take this as an opportunity to emphasize his/her interest in the job, or simply state that the materials requested are enclosed?  Will the search committee even see such a letter, or is it likely to be discarded by the department assistant?  Thanks!

--Mercury
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trabb
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2007, 2:54:07 PM »

I haven't been on a search committee that requested such a thing, but here's what I always sent.  It seemed to work fine in terms of getting interviews.

Dear Professor Chairofcommittee:

I am delighted that you are interested in pursuing my candidacy for the open position in 21st Century Medieval Studies.  Enclosed, please find a copy of my article "Modern Anglo-Saxon Poetry: The Caesuric Revival in 21st Century Poetry."  This article, taken from the first chapter of my dissertation, appeared in the 2007 issue of The Journal of Really Stupid Ideas.  If there are any other materials that I can forward to you, please let me know.

Sincerely,
Trabb

Interesting note: did anyone know that "caesuric" is, in fact, a real word and that the spellchecker doesn't even flag it as incorrect?  I just learned something new...
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sunanoonna
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2007, 3:01:36 PM »

I've been keeping mine super brief. It never ocurred to me to use it as another opportunity to "sell" myself. But maybe I've erred.
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heronhouse
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Posts: 275


« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2007, 3:15:56 PM »

I'm on an SC this year.  We've gotten some unprofessional-sounding letters/e-mails accompanying writing samples.  (Along the lines of "Yea!"  No, I'm not kidding.) 

So this letter is obviously another venue in which you present yourself.  However, I don't think it's a good opportunity for selling yourself.  You may want--very briefly--to explain that this is an excerpt from a larger chapter, etc., but I wouldn't add much more than that.  Trabb's sample letter is exactly what our strongest candidates did.
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seniorscholar
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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2007, 3:26:46 PM »

And if you don't have a published or in-press writing sample to send, and we've asked for 20-30 pages, please send an EXCERPT from your favorite 60-page dissertation chapter and use the letter to explain where it fits into your argument. (If you sent a dissertation abstract with the initial materials, you can either include it again -- it may have drifted off by now -- or cast it in even more brief form before adding that the excerpt you're sending is part of chapter 2 and focuses on  [darn: wish I could remember Trabb's fine example but I've been reading seminar papers all day] this-or-that work as a 21st century whatever.
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mercury
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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2007, 11:20:00 AM »

Thanks, all.  Your replies have been quite helpful.
--Mercury
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mended_drum
Potnia theron and
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Posts: 9,477


« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2007, 11:28:41 AM »

For some candidates, writing samples are included in a dossier; that means the "letter" is the form that comes from the service that sends it.  My sc has no problem with that.  But I agree with the previous post:  if the writing sample is an excerpt, give a brief explanation of where it fits in the larger project.

One or two candidates have using the letter accompanying the writing sample to add a few pieces of pertinent information as well, such as a changed phone number or corrected website address.
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"dr. mended_drum don't give a sh!t; she will chew me up like a cobra."
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