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Information on this website is posted for historical reference only. Please visit the Office of the Registrar for current requirements.

Writing Program

Chair: Thomas H. Cormen

Executive Director: Karen Gocsik

Director of Student Writing Support: Stephanie D. Boone

Writing Program courses include the first-year writing courses Writing 2-3, Writing 5, and the First-Year Seminars. The Writing Program also includes peer-tutorial programs that support students in their writing and research activities.

All students must successfully complete either Writing 2-3 or Writing 5 (unless they are exempted from Writing 5) and a First-Year Seminar during their first year.

Individual section descriptions for Writing 5 can be found on the College website.


First-Year Seminars offer every first-year student the opportunity to participate in a course structured around independent research, small group discussion, and intensive writing. By vote of the Faculty and Trustees, successful completion of one seminar has long been a requirement for the A. B. degree. First-Year Seminars are administered by the Writing Program.

The function of the First-Year Seminar program is threefold. First, by means of a uniform writing requirement, it emphasizes the importance of written expression in all disciplines. Second, it provides an attractive and exciting supplement to the usual introductory survey course in many disciplines. In the seminar chosen a student may explore, both alone and with a small group, a topic of special interest to the individual student, to classmates, and to the instructor. Third, in its emphasis on independent study, the program enables each first-year student to have an early experience of the kind of scholarship that fuels Dartmouth's upper-level courses.

A First-Year Seminar may serve in satisfaction of specific General Education requirements, provided that the individual seminar has been approved for this purpose, and for the specific year and term, by the Committee on Instruction. Students are not eligible to participate in Off-Campus Programs until they have satisfied the First-Year Seminar requirement.

Entering students who have been exempted from Writing 5 must elect their First-Year Seminar in the fall term. A limited number of first-year students may satisfy the First-Year Seminar requirement by substituting both Humanities 1 and 2 for a regular seminar. All seminars are listed and described on the College website at

These seminars are open only to first-year students. First-year students are permitted to enroll in a second seminar within the limit of sixteen per group after all students who have not yet met the requirement have had a chance to elect one.

2. Composition and Research: I

06F: 11, 12 07F: Arrange

The course description is given under Writing 3. This course and Writing 3 are open only to first-year students invited after an on-line placement process to participate in the Integrated Academic Support program. All students enrolled in Writing 2 will continue with Writing 3. Boone, Chaney, Gocsik, Lenhart, and Moody.

3. Composition and Research: II

07W: 11, 12 08W: Arrange

This two-term course in first-year composition works on the assumption that excellence in writing arises from serious intellectual engagement. To achieve this excellence, Writing 2-3 enrolls students into intensive, seminar-style classes in which literary and other works (including the students' own) are read closely, with attention to substance, structure, and style. The primary goal of Writing 2 is for students to learn to write clearly and with authority. By submitting themselves to the rigorous process of writing, discussing, and rewriting their papers, students come to identify and then to master the essential properties of the academic argument.

In Writing 3, students engage in the more sustained discourse of the research paper. These papers are not restricted to literary criticism but might employ the research protocol of other academic disciplines. Throughout the reading, writing, and research processes, students meet regularly with their tutors and professors, who provide them with individualized assistance. Writing 2-3 is taken in lieu of Writing 5 and meets the college requirement for composition.

Students who take the Writing 2-3 sequence defer their First-Year Seminar until the spring term. These courses do not serve in partial satisfaction of the Distributive Requirement. Boone, Chaney, Gocsik, Lenhart, and Moody.

5. Expository Writing

06F, 07W, 07F, 08W: 9, 10, 10A, 11, 12, 2, 2A

Founded upon the principle that thinking, reading, and writing are interdependent activities, Writing 5 is a writing-intensive course that uses texts from various disciplines to afford students the opportunity to develop and hone their skills in expository argument. Instruction focuses on strategies for reading and analysis and on all stages of the writing process. Students actively participate in discussion of both the assigned readings and the writing produced in and by the class.

Note: Writing 5 (or 2-3) is required of all first-year students except those exempted for proficiency. It never serves in partial satisfaction of the Distributive Requirement. The staff.

8. Writing with Media

08S: Arrange

New media calls for new rhetorical practices. This course introduces students to the principles and practices of writing with media, offering instruction in how to read and to write multi-media compositions. Assignments include creating visual arguments; “re-mediating” texts to the Web and/or to PowerPoint; envisioning quantitative information; and composing a video documentary. Students will also produce written analyses of multi-media compositions in order to demonstrate their visual literacy.

Prerequisite: Writing 5 or its equivalent (Writing 2-3 or exemption from the Writing 5 requirement). Dist: ART. Gocsik.

9. Composition: Theory and Practice (Identical to English 9)

07S: 12

This course explores the complex relationship between writing and knowledge as it is theorized and practiced, focusing on the important pedagogical shifts in Composition and Rhetoric over the last fifty years. Special topics may include how writing is taught (and knowledge constructed) within the disciplines; the intersections of rhetoric, power, and culture; debates concerning collaborative learning and intellectual property; the challenges of multimedia composition; conversations between composition and critical theory.

This course is strongly recommended for those pursuing Secondary Teaching Certification through the Education Department's Teacher Education Program. This course does not carry major credit. Dist: ART. Gocsik.