For Princeton Professors interested in teaching a Writing Seminar

About the Writing Seminars

The Writing Seminars are small, interdisciplinary courses in intellectual inquiry and academic writing designed to give Princeton freshmen an early opportunity to belong to a lively scholarly community. A microcosm of the University, the Writing Seminar enables groups of readers and writers to work together to strengthen and refine their arguments and position them in scholarly conversations.

Students choose from among dozens of topics representing a wide range of scholarly interests—from scientific breakthroughs and historical events to influential artistic traditions and urgent social issues. Each topic is grounded in ongoing academic debates, giving students compelling questions to write about. The interdisciplinary focus of the seminars also offers students an opportunity to learn about commonalities and differences in disciplinary writing.

With a maximum class size of 12, Writing Seminars provide a highly collaborative environment that encourages intense, dynamic discussions of course readings and each other’s writing. Students meet regularly with their professor for detailed conversations about drafts. They also participate in writing workshops, engaging their classmates’ drafts in depth. Everyone benefits: writers learn firsthand how real readers respond to their work, and readers become adept at constructive critique, the central building block of peer review. In short, the Writing Seminars aim to teach revision as a fundamental intellectual practice, helping students use the writing process to deepen and clarify their thinking and position their investigations in relevant scholarly conversations. Students also write a research paper, laying the foundation for their junior independent work and senior theses by learning to use advanced research tools and integrate and assess a range of sources.

Rhodes Scholar Henry Barmeier ’10 sums up his experience in the Writing Seminars this way: “Above all, my Writing Seminar taught me how to ask a worthwhile question and develop an original, well-researched argument in response.”

The Writing Program Faculty

Writing Program faculty come from diverse fields of study—anthropology, biology, history, literary studies, politics, psychology, and sociology, among others—and participate in comprehensive training in the teaching of writing. The faculty comprises postdoctoral Lecturers and advanced Princeton graduate students, as well as Princeton professors and qualified administrators. All faculty work closely with Writing Program directors on developing their course, including readings, assignments, and syllabi. We welcome professors to join our interdisciplinary community and teach a Writing Seminar when spaces are available.

Proposing a Writing Seminar

If you’re interested in proposing a Seminar for Fall 2019 or Spring 2020, please submit the following materials to Amanda Irwin Wilkins, Director of the Princeton Writing Program, at by January 30, 2019.

  • A letter reflecting on your approach to teaching writing, briefly summarizing your current scholarly project, and offering a 200-word tentative course description for an interdisciplinary Writing Seminar (see this year’s course descriptions on our website for models).
  • Your teaching evaluations from two recent semesters.
  • A copy of the comments you offered on a recent piece of student writing.

In recognition of the substantial effort of preparing for and teaching a Writing Seminar, participating professors receive a salary override of $8,000. Professors normally teach the seminar in place of a regular course. Individual departmental chairs may request up to 0.17 FTE from the Office of the Dean of the Faculty to replace a course that the participating professor would otherwise have taught.

Faculty teaching for the first time in the Writing Program are required to participate in all-day workshops May 28 - May 30, 2019, and workshops and a retreat in early September. Faculty new to the Writing Program also attend additional workshops during the term in which they're teaching.

Please note that professors should discuss their interest with their Chair and secure his or her approval before proposing a Writing Seminar.

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