Writing Program

Academic Program Introduction

Writing is a powerful tool for building knowledge and engaging with the world. All students take one semester of First-Year Writing (FYW), working closely with faculty who offer a lively, practical introduction to college-level academic writing. Courses are designed around a wide array of inspiring topics, and they provide a supportive community in which students share their ideas, practice writing and revision, conduct research, and develop speaking and presentation skills.

Beyond FYW courses, the program offers an advanced writing workshop and tutorial as well as a selection of upper-level writing courses. It also operates a thriving peer writing-tutor program.

Learning goals

Students who have completed a first-year writing course will be able to:

  • Approach writing as an evolving process that requires brainstorming, drafting, sharing, reflecting, and revision.
  • Understand the mechanisms of sentence structure and writing design that produce precise and reader-friendly prose.
  • Write with an attentiveness to genre, medium, and audience.
  • Make appropriate choices regarding language, register, evidence, and argument.
  • Locate, analyze, and evaluate different types of sources, and integrate them into evidence-based writing.
  • Write with purpose and have a stake in their ideas.

Research highlights

  • A group of students and professor Erin Battat standing outside. They are mid laugh.

    In Expanding Natick History (2022–2023), a project directed by Lecturer Erin Battat in partnership with the Natick Historical Society, students researched the colonization of the town of Natick, created public activities at the Natick Farmers Market, and facilitated conversations with local residents about the past and how it is remembered today.

  • Heather Corbally Bryant sits at a table and talks to students, who are out of focus in the background.

    Senior Lecturer Heather Corbally Bryant recently published her 11th collection of poetry, The Coffin Makers (Finishing Line Press, 2023).

  • Justin Armstrong helps a student hang artwork on the wall. There are six other students hanging are in the background.

    Senior Lecturer Justin Armstrong’s book Anthropology, Islands, and the Search for Meaning in the Anthropocene was published by Routledge in 2022.

Course Highlights

  • What makes a world? And what makes a world beautiful, sustainable, inclusive, or just? At a time when humanity faces myriad global challenges, we can seek insight in writing that reimagines the world and helps us change it for the better. Reading the work of activists, philosophers, fiction writers, and political theorists, we will examine how past worlds shape those of the present and future. In particular, we will investigate the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in these different visions of the world, asking questions such as: Who enjoys freedom, and when? What is a “human right,” and should those rights be the basis of social organization? In what ways has the nation-state been a force for emancipation, and in what ways a vehicle of empire? What would it look like to live in a world that was fully feminist in its design, or that was built on reparations for past injustices, or that prioritizes the health of the planet above all? What are the conditions necessary for individuals and societies to undergo transformation, improve, and thrive?
  • The growing field of data humanism recognizes data as foundational to our economic, political, and social systems, while also seeking to recenter people in the process of its curation. In this course, we will explore the use of data through a humanistic lens, not only to better understand the critical role data plays in our lives, but also to discover how we can use data to become more humane. We will ask: if the word data comes from the Latin root for “the thing given,” by and to whom is it given? When exactly did data get “big”? What do we mean when we identify projects as “data-driven”? How can data intersect with social justice activism? And with art and storytelling? Students will engage these questions by drawing on the work of historians, cultural critics, journalists, social scientists, data analysts and designers, performing their own data tracking, and using their research to craft opinion pieces, reviews, reports, and other forms of public writing.


  • Writing tutors

    Students of all class years can meet with trained peer tutors to discuss any aspect of their writing or the writing process. Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors may apply to work as a tutor and contribute to the strong writing culture at Wellesley.

  • Internships

    The Writing Program and the Department of English and Creative Writing jointly sponsor funded summer internships at Slate, W.W. Norton & Company, Maven Screen Media, Calligraph, and Speculum.

  • Prizes

    The Writing Program recognizes excellence through awards for first-year writing, and writing in the sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities. These awards are generously endowed by the Three Generations Fund. The program also administers the Rebecca Summerhays Award for Growth in Writing.

Writing Program

Gray Lot Modulars
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
Jeannine Johnson
Program Director