Writing Seminars

All Princeton undergraduates take a Writing Seminar in the Fall or Spring of the freshman year.

Taught by scholars with special training in the teaching of writing, the Writing Seminars help students build a critical research and writing toolkit for their later work at Princeton, including junior independent work and the senior thesis. The Writing Seminars are grounded in interdisciplinary scholarly debates, ranging from scientific breakthroughs and historical events to influential artistic traditions and contemporary social questions. The seminars are small, with no more than 12 students, and meet for 80-minute sessions twice per week. In the second half of the semester, students produce a substantial research essay under the guidance of their instructor.

The Writing Seminars give students an early opportunity to participate in a scholarly community. Through intensive instruction in academic writing, students learn to pose interesting questions, structure complex ideas, and make original claims that engage with a variety of sources and contribute to ongoing academic conversations. Peer review, a core intellectual practice, is an integral part of the seminar experience. In the course of completing a series of major essay assignments, students submit drafts for review, provide feedback to their peers, and attend individual and small group conferences with their professor, which helps them hone their ideas and become better readers and revisers of their work. 

The interdisciplinary focus of the seminars offers students a chance to cultivate an awareness of important differences in disciplinary practices and approaches. In the process, they learn to assess a wide variety of sources and navigate the University library using advanced research tools.

The Outcomes Statement for the Writing Seminar describes the knowledge, skills, and strategies that faculty in the Princeton Writing Program help students to develop.