WRIT 1370/80 - Elements of Academic Writing

Book appointment with a writing specialist

The Writing Workshop offers an alternate route First-Year Writing Seminar, WRIT 1370 (Fall) and WRIT 1380 (Spring) titled "Elements of Academic Writing." This course is designed for students who may not have had robust formal writing instruction in high school, are less familiar with academic writing, have difficulty completing writing assignments, or feel a general lack of confidence about their writing. Some sections of these First-Year Writing Seminars are designed for international students and multilingual writers and include special instruction on developing fluency in academic English and navigating new cultures of writing. 

Course Description

WRIT 1370/80: Elements of Academic Writing

Join this course to study the essential elements of academic writing and to learn flexible and sustainable strategies for producing interesting, clear, and precise academic prose that can address a variety of audiences and meet diverse rhetorical aims. Writing 1370/80 is a smaller FWS (capped at 12 students) that spends more time navigating the steps in the writing process in order to respond to each student’s individual needs and build confidence and reflective practice. As in all FWSs, students practice higher-order thinking, close reading, and analyzing evidence. They also complete 4-5 major writing assignments. This course places greater emphasis on in-class writing, one-on-one conferences with the teacher, peer workshopping, discussion, and learning to talk about how different types of writing work. Students will deeply engage diverse course materials (journalism, scholarly articles, podcasts, films, etc.) on topics like art, literature, and relevant social issues to explore ideas about a text, write for specific audiences, and develop creativity, style and voice.  See below for specific section details.

Recent Topics

Check Student Center for the current semester's section details.

  • Food for Thought (Carrick) How does the food on your table tell a story about you, your family, your community, your nation? How do we make food choices, and how are these choices complicated by the cultural, socio-economic, and political forces that both create and combat widespread international hunger and food insecurity? By collaborating with peers to pose questions, examine ideas, and share drafts, students develop the analytic and argumentative skills fundamental to interdisciplinary reading, research, and writing.
  • Writing & A.I. (Navickas) What does it mean to write and be a writer in an era of generative A.I. writing tools? What are the ethical considerations of using A.I. to write? How does A.I. affect higher education and learning experiences? To answer these questions, we will read recent work on the intersections of writing, education, and A.I.; experiment with A.I. writing tools and reflect on these experiences; and develop researched arguments and writing philosophies that emerge from this work.

  • Scrolling, Posting, Liking—Studying Social Media’s Grasp (Navickas) How does the use of social media apps, like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, influence how we think, feel, and engage with the world around us? Beyond the personal effects, how are social media controversies around content moderation, politics, or activism shaping society? We will analyze social media and our experiences with it as well as summarize and synthesize different perspectives and research to come to our own conclusions about social media’s influence.

  • Bridging Differences (Navickas) In a world increasingly divided along lines of identity, language, politics, and religion, how do we enact change? How do we talk across our differences when we cannot even agree on what count as facts? In this studio-style writing course, we’ll read broadly about a variety of divisive topics and potential solutions related to the course theme of “Bridging Differences.”
  • Language, Identity & Power (Navickas) How does language shape our world and our sense of who we are? How do identity factors like gender, sexuality, race, class, culture, and nationality influence our meaning-making practices? How do labels and names construct meaning and carry power? What languages and language practices do we associate with power and why?
  • Writing Back to the News (King-O'Brien) Students will ensconce themselves in debates raging within the contemporary news media—such as politics, conflicts within higher education, gender equality, international crises, American popular culture—and will write about contemporary controversies to different audiences in a variety of mediums, such as argumentative essays, investigative pieces, and blog posts.
  • Data, Environment, and Society (Robinson) From smartphones to satellites to backyard air quality monitors, new technologies generate vast quantities of data about humans and our environments. Data optimists believe our unprecedented capacity to create information will allow us to address tough social and environmental problems. But big data also raise new questions: what can data tell us, and what are its limits? Who controls data, and what do they do with it? In this course, we will explore the social and technological processes that produce data, and how data shapes contemporary environmental problems. Students will write with and about data, develop evidence-based arguments, and practice communicating for different audiences.
  • The Long Game: choices for a healthy life (Sands) Living longer without living better doesn’t make much sense. Maybe you’ve been interested in health and wellness for years, or maybe you have a newfound curiosity? This writing seminar focuses on practices to help us live healthier and longer lives. We notably consider Western medical author, Dr. Peter Attia, and Eastern health expert, Dr. Pandit Vamadev Shahstri, for a worldview of wellness. We will reflect upon personal health choices, especially, nutrition, sleep, mental health, and movement to promote good health. We practice reading, writing, discussing medical media, and stories as well as our own personal thoughts and experiences. By collaborating with peers to pose questions, examine ideas, and share drafts, students develop the analytic and argumentative skills fundamental to interdisciplinary reading, research, and writing. *This course is ideal for multilingual, international, and refugee students.

  • Influential Essays (Sands)  In this Writing Workshop, we will focus on the writing process to develop writing strategies and practice essential skills that will help us be better writers in our disciplines. Our class will explore ideas in famous essays on politics, philosophy, culture, and technology. When students examine ideas from the past, questions about the present, and shapes of the future, they will become more aware of themselves as writers and thinkers.
  • Mind, Body, Self (Sands) The purpose of this course is to develop our skills as writers in order to competently navigate the communication and expression of thought for academic purposes. We will practice reading, writing, and discussing ideas with purpose. The framework of thought to help us study our writing will examine the relationships between minds and bodies, and what that means for having a sense of self. In short, we examine being-in-the-world, Many questions in this course pertain to relationships: How does the mind relate to the body; How does the body relate to the environment; How do I feel connected to myself and others? This course takes an interdisciplinary approach and incorporates materials from biology, philosophy, psychology, and sociology. For multilingual writers and international students.
  • Biohacks (Sands) Now more than ever, biology has the potential to contribute practical solutions for many major health challenges, but can we biohack our way to optimal health? To what extent can we regenerate the human body by manipulating factors like nutrients, sleep, and movement? We will write about how scientists across disciplines are working to optimize health in our environment and evolve our understanding of disease and well-being. For multilingual writers and international students.
  • Human Health & the Environment (Sands) How do environmental exposures effect our health? Chemical and ecological changes in the environment impact individual health as well as large-scale medical practices and public policy. In this class we will delve into research in order to think and write about problematic, positive, and innovative relationships between human health and the environment. For multilingual writers and international students.
  • Environmental Problems and Solutions (Sands) Human activities have ever-more serious impacts on our local regions and the planet. How can we think and write about improving public understanding of climate change, water scarcity, environmental health and agriculture and wildlife sustainability? For multilingual writers and international students.
  • Theories of Happiness (Sands) What makes you happy? And how does happiness differ between different people? How do complex factors like genetics, culture, family, education, socio-economic background, and gender determine how happy we are, and how do our life choices can contribute to our own and others’ happiness? For multilingual writers and international students.
  • Writing About Place (Sorrell) How do our own experiences shape the stories we tell about the cities-both large and small-where we live? By learning about the many different lives people lead in cities we can explore connections between social and environmental issues, and learn about the political and economic stakes of urban life today.

  • The Many Lives of Cities (Sorrell) How do our own experiences shape the stories we tell about the cities— both large and small—where we live? By learning about the many different lives people lead in cities we can explore connections between social and environmental issues, and learn about the political and economic stakes of urban life today.
  • Metaphor in Art, Science and Culture (Zukovic) Metaphor is the essence of human creativity—a form of thought, desire and the language of the unconscious mind. How does metaphor operate in literature, pop culture, politics, and the thought of theoretical scientists such as Einstein and Richard Feynman? Can we improve our capacity to think metaphorically?

Book Appointment with a Writing Specialist