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Writing Seminar III: Composing the Academic Essay

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Three Sections Available to Choose From:

Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
June 22, 2020 - July 10, 20206/22 - 7/10M-F 8:30A-11:20AOpenRobert Ward
July 13, 2020 - July 31, 20207/13 - 7/31M-F 8:30A-11:20AOpenRobert Ward
July 13, 2020 - July 31, 20207/13 - 7/31M-F 12:15P-3:05POpenJonathan Readey

Course Description

In this culminating Writing Seminar, which constitutes the fundamental core of Brown’s writing course for undergraduates, you will learn how to organize and craft a well-researched academic essay that explores a topic of your choice on an issue that matters to you. You will develop an idea, expand and support it with evidence, articulate it by means of a carefully-structured argument, and conclude it with implications for further investigation, all while utilizing a scholarly voice and the conventions of style and citation that are consistent with university-level writing. Topics typically focus on current issues of academic and social concern, and involve research across the disciplines.

This course will also familiarize students with college-level academic writing and its essential research methods, including:
-How to develop a well-focused research topic
-How to identify and utilize the types of primary and secondary sources necessary to support a researched argument
-How to access and navigate a library and its collections, physical and digital
-How to evaluate online scholarly resources
-How to use source materials to strengthen an argument

Over a three-week course, students will read and analyze exemplary academic writing, participate in group discussions, and workshop their work with their peers and in individual conferences with their instructor. They will learn to plan, draft, and substantially revise their writing in response to this feedback and from further research, and they will identify and assess arguments made in source materials, engaging with and expanding the critical conversation on their chosen topic. Students will not only learn how to be better writers, but also how to be better college-level thinkers.

This course focuses on one of the three core areas covered in Brown's popular course for undergraduates, "Critical Reading and Writing I: The Academic Essay:” self-presentation and writing letters of application (Presenting Yourself In Words); analysis within university-level writing (Writing About Media); and utilizing argumentation and evidence in a college research paper (Composing the Academic Essay). Taking all three courses effectively exposes students to the full range of writing taught in "Critical Reading and Writing: The Academic Essay." These courses have been designed in such a way that students may take a single one, or any two, or all three of these Seminars, and may take them in any order that suits their schedule.

Enrollment is limited to 12 students per section.

Writing Seminar I: Presenting Yourself In Words (one week) explores the balance between self-presentation and effective communication essential to writing powerful college admissions essays, personal narratives, and academic essays for the college level.

Writing Seminar II:Writing About Media (two weeks) teaches students to analyze and to craft expository writing for the university level; after close-reading primary texts in nonfiction, fiction, films and television, music, and/or other types of media, students write an argument in response to these texts, correctly incorporating paraphrases and quotations.

Writing Seminar III:Composing the Academic Essay (three weeks) guides students through the more in-depth process of writing a college-level research paper, teaching them the skills of close-reading, gathering evidence and evaluating scholarly sources, developing their own topics and organizing an argument, drafting an academic essay, undertaking substantial revision, and mastering the conventions of academic style and grammar.

Prerequisites: A proven facility with the English language, including grammar, and some confidence as a writer.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEEL0902
  • Length: 3 weeks

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2020.

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