University Writing Seminar

The University Writing Seminar introduces students to the power of writing as a means of communication and a process of thinking and understanding. It is the centerpiece of the First-Year Experience, which welcomes students into the rich intellectual life of the university.

In the UWS, students are offered a selection of topic-driven seminars that challenge them to formulate meaningful ideas, support them with evidence and analysis and convey them clearly and persuasively. Every seminar teaches transferable writing skills that students will use across the Brandeis curriculum and beyond. Students select and complete a UWS during their first year at Brandeis.

The UWS curriculum consists of two major units: a comparative analysis and an extended unit on research. The comparative analysis unit consists of a close reading predraft assignment, a comparative analysis essay and a comparative genre analysis assignment. The CGA asks students to read writing from varying disciplines and work independently and in groups to identify how writing across the disciplines varies and is similar in content, style,and organization. The research unit consists of an extensive research proposal and a research essay.

As part of the University Writing Seminar, students attend one or more Critical Conversations in which faculty from different departments meet to discuss a topic chosen for that academic year; for 2019-2020, the topic is "Truth." This part of the course brings first-year students into direct contact with scholarly discourse and the variety of ways in which Brandeis faculty engage with each other and the world.

Students are invited to continue the conversations in follow-up, small-group discussions. Each University Writing Seminar also assigns an experiential-learning activity to expand the boundaries of the conventional classroom.

Spring 2020 Courses

Course Number Course Title
UWS 1a Stories of Illness
UWS 2b Darwinian Dating: The Evolution of Human Attraction
UWS 6b Guilty Pleasures and Pop Culture
UWS 9a Crowded Futures: Population Horror in Dystopian Cinema
UWS 12b Domestic Labor: Class, Race and Gender
UWS 15a From Sea to Shining Sea: Women Immigrants in America
UWS 16a Sex and Advertising
UWS 25b Engagement and the Environment
UWS 30b 140 Characters or Less: Social Media and Public Conversation
UWS 32a Turth or Truthiness?
UWS 32b Twenty-first Century Addiction: Stories, Policy, Medicine
UWS 33a Dystopic Worlds
UWS 37a The Biology of Mortality
UWS 40b Diners, Drive-ins and Discourse
UWS 41a Sentenced: Reading and Writing the American Prison
UWS 42b Images of Africa
UWS 43b Animals in a Human World
UWS 44a Our Bodies, Our Selves
UWS 45b Environmental Literature: Ecocriticism and Writing
UWS 48a Love: Where, When, How, Who?

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