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.
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. As students complete a series of writing assignments, they engage in a process of reading, drafting, reviewing and revising, working in peer groups and individually with their instructors. All students must 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 2021-2022, for example, the topic was "Community." 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.