Writing Seminar: Composing the Academic Essay

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Course registration will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

Course Description

Based on Brown’s well-regarded Academic Essay course, in this class 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 using an engaged, intelligent voice. Topics typically focus on current issues of concern, and involve research across the disciplines.

This course will also familiarize students with essential research methods, including:

-How to develop a well-focused research topic
-How to identify the types of 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 period, students will read and analyze exemplary academic writing, participate in group discussions, and share their work with their peers. They will learn to plan, draft, and revise their writing in response to group and instructor critiques 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 thinkers on the topic of their choice.

Based on Brown's popular "Critical Reading and Writing: The Academic Essay," this course, is one of the three writing courses offered in Summer@Brown that together focus on the three core elements of this first year, undergraduate writing course: self-expression (Putting Yourself Into Words); responsive writing (Writing the Expository Essay); and research, analysis and argumentation (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." Students may take a single one of these writing courses, or any two, or all three, and may take them in any order that suits their schedule.

Composing the Academic Essay (three weeks) stresses observation, investigation, and argument through close reading, evaluation and analysis of academic sources, developing an argument, and writing a research paper.

Putting Yourself Into Words (one week) explores the balance between self-expression and effective communication essential to writing powerful personal narratives, college admissions essays, and creative reflections.

Writing the Expository Essay (two weeks) models college-level, expository writing; after analyzing primary texts, students write an argument in response to them, correctly incorporating paraphrases and quotations.

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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