Beyond the Writing Requirement

Writing Courses Beyond FYW

The first-year writing courses are only the beginning of a student's experience as a writer at Wellesley. Students will receive focused writing instruction in many of their courses at Wellesley. But if they want to study writing in and of itself, the following options are available:

Writing 201 is a workshop and tutorial intended for students who have already taken FYW, but who still feel they would like to improve their writing further. Students who enroll in this course meet once a week with a specially trained teaching assistant (a Wellesley junior or senior) who works under the close supervision of the faculty member in charge of the course. The TA and student develop assignments individually tailored to the needs and interests of the student; the assignments are academic in nature, and at least one paper involves research. Students meet a second time each week as a group with the faculty member. In that meeting, they discuss common readings and workshop their papers. Listen to what students have to say about Writing 201.

Writing 250: Independent Study in Writing. Students who are self-motivated and have some experience writing can choose to do an independent study with a member of the Writing Program staff. In a Writing 250, the student is responsible for choosing the faculty member to work with and establishing the agenda of the course. Normally, a student would not take this course to improve her writing, but rather to explore writing as an intellectual pursuit; she may want, for example, to study in some depth a particular genre of writing, or the social conditions of writing, or the teaching of writing. Writing 250 is available for a full or a half-unit of credit, and may be taken in either the fall or the spring semester. Permission of the supervising faculty member is required, as well as the consent of the Director of the Writing Program.

Writing 290: Advanced Writing in the Social Sciences is designed for social science majors who want more practice writing in their major discipline. Students, primarily juniors and seniors, do several kinds of social science writing: journal keeping; reviews of academic literature from the disciplines of law, political science, sociology, anthropology, history and religion; analysis of constitutional law issues; and analytic writing using techniques from the social sciences. Students learn to write persuasively about court opinions, contemporary social issues and legal controversies; do report writing based on field work; compose oral histories using established academic guidelines; and produce informative and persuasive writing on blogs and wikis. Documentation systems widely used in the social sciences, use of both print and electronic research, and field work are central to this course. In addition to shorter writings, each student undertakes an original research project and writes a capstone essay based on traditional scholarly print and electronic sources and her fieldwork. Not offered in 2016-2017.

Writing 291: Advanced Academic Research and Writing is designed for humanities and social sciences majors who want more practice writing in their major discipline. Not offered in 2016-2017.
Topic for 2015-2016: Secrets of the Library.  Students will explore library archives, special collections, and rare books, learning how and why to study and write about these rich primary materials. They will have access to the physical collections at Wellesley and Harvard’s Houghton Library, as well as both schools’ vast digital archives. Librarians will introduce students to the collections, and, as a group, they will make trips to area libraries. Students will learn how to work with library materials as scholars do, devising a viable topic and approach, doing hands-on research, producing a significant writing portfolio, and offering oral presentations of their work. The materials in these collections will appeal to students interested in the humanities and social sciences, and in the history of science, medicine, and the law. 

Writing 307/Sociology 307: Learning by Giving: Nonprofit Organizations and American Cities in the Twenty-first Century. The goals of this team-taught course are several: 1) to develop a community-based research experience that will strengthen students’ substantive understanding of American cities and the organizations that serve their populations; 2) to offer students the opportunity to hone their social science research skills; 3) to strengthen students’ communication skills by offering them an alternative venue and audience for their writing; and 4) to foster collaboration among students on a project of consequence. Students will work in teams to research, write, and submit a grant application for a nonprofit organization. Course participation will require travel to Boston. Preference will be given to students who have a demonstrated commitment to service. Offered in 2016-2017.

Writing 390: Calderwood Seminar in Public Writing: Law, Medicine and Ethics. Should young women serve as egg donors? What happens if Roe v. Wade is overturned? Should there be “markets” for organ donations? Does Obamacare call for “death panels”? Should parents be allowed to genetically engineer a perfect child? In this course students will engage with these and other issues in law, medicine, and ethics, from the perspective of public writers, trying to inform and influence public opinion. Students will write op-ed articles, a position paper, blog posts, and book and film reviews. This course is intended for juniors and seniors who want to develop their writing skills and gain expertise in headline debates in law and medicine. Offered in 2016-2017.

Writing in other disciplines: Many faculty at Wellesley teach their upper-level courses as writing-intensive courses. Students studying in the sciences, especially, will find themselves receiving good and ample instruction in writing in many of their science courses. Students who wish help finding writing-intensive courses should feel welcome to consult with the Director of the Writing Program.

A note on creative writing: All creative writing courses are handled through the English Department. Students wishing to do an independent study involving creative writing should enroll in English 350 with a member of the English Department creative writing faculty.