Nonfiction at Brown for First-Year Students

The Nonfiction Writing Program brings together three forms of writing: academic essay, journalism, and creative nonfiction. All classes are conducted in small seminar settings.  For information on how to register for these limited enrollment courses, see the registration guidelines.

Nonfiction courses particularly suited to first-year students are listed below.  For full descriptions see the courses page.

For the Nonfiction Writing track in the newly launched model of the English concentration, consult the concentration requirements.


Q: Should I take ENGL0900 (formerly ENGL0110) in my first semester/year? Or should I first take an English course in the area of my interest?

A: Taking ENGL0900 (formerly ENGL0110) in your first semester will give you a good background in the skills of critical reading and writing helpful in other academic courses. If you are reasonably competent at critical reading and writing, however, taking other lower-level courses in English should give you what you need and/or help you to assess your writing abilities so that you can choose a writing course that more precisely meets your needs.

Q: How can I determine if I should take ENGL0900 (formerly ENGL0110) or ENGL1030 (formerly ENGL0130)? Can my AP scores or my SAT scores guide me in choosing a writing course? If I have already had analytical writing instruction in high school and have written relatively long research papers, why should I take a writing course at Brown?

A: ENGL0900 (formerly ENGL0110) will instruct you in the concepts and methods of critical inquiry, whereas ENGL1030 (formerly ENGL0130) -- which deals more with individual research -- requires a higher level of writing competency. Although high scores in standardized tests demonstrate knowledge and competence, the specific demands of university writing often differ from those evaluated by standardized tests. 

Q: If I am interested in concentrating in English, should I take a writing course, or should I take one of the introductory topics courses prior to taking a writing course?

A: Concentrating in English requires a good background in critical reading and writing. If you are reasonably competent at critical reading and writing, taking an introductory literature course first will help you learn more about your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. You will then be able to choose a writing course that more precisely meets your needs.

Q: For which section of ENGL0900 (formerly ENGL0110) should I register?

A: Read the individual descriptions for each section and choose the one that interests you the most. The number of sections offered allows you to choose a section that works well with the rest of your schedule. 

Q: As an ESL student, how can I determine my preparedness for writing at Brown? Can my GCE scores serve as a guideline for assessing my writing abilities?

A: Although high GCE scores reflect competence in the English language, ESL students benefit from the intensity of individual writing instruction. ENGL0900 (formerly ENGL0110) will familiarize you with the practices of writing in an American university.

Q: My concentration requires that I take two English courses. Which courses will fulfill that requirement?

A: You must check with your department to see what is required.

Q: How do I submit a writing sample for a course that requires one?

A: For nonfiction writing courses that require a writing sample, individual instructors have different requirements; these will be explained on the first day of class.

Q: What are the differences among ENGL0930 (formerly ENGL0180), ENGL1050, and ENGL1180? How can I know which is best for me?

A: ENGL0930 (formerly ENGL 0180) will introduce you to creative nonfiction and to its various subgenres; it has no prerequisites, although you should be personally committed to writing.  ENGL 1050, an intermediate-level seminar in nonfiction, also has no prerequisites but has been designed for experienced writers wanting to concentrate on specific subgenres.  As an advanced writing course, ENGL1180 requires a high level of competence in writing and a working familiarity with creative nonfiction.


* indicates new

ENGL0900 (formerly 0110) Critical Reading and Writing I:  The Academic Essay

  • ENGL0900 S01 (Jackson)
  • ENGL0900 S02 (Stanley)
  • ENGL0900 S03, (section reserved for first-year AND sophomore students) (Adhikari)
  • ENGL0900 S04, (section reserved for first-year AND sophomore students) (Lasasso)
  • ENGL0900 S05 (McNish)
  • ENGL0900 S06 (Holman)
  • ENGL0900 S07 (Darrow)

ENGL0930 (formerly 0180) Introduction to Creative Nonfiction 

  • ENGL0930 S01 (Hardy)
  • ENGL0930 S02 (Readey)
  • ENGL0930 S03, (section reserved for first-year AND sophomore students) (Rush)
  • ENGL0930 S04 (Ward)

ENGL1030 (formerly 0130) Intermediate Critical Reading and Writing II:  The Research Essay

  •  ENGL1030F, The Artist in the Archives (Stewart)

ENGL1050 Intermediate

  • ENGL1050A, Narrative (Hardy)
  • ENGL1050B, True Stories (Schapira)
  • ENGL1050E, Sportswriting (Readey)
  • ENGL1050F, Line-Work: Experiments in Short Form Writing (Stewart)
  • ENGL1050H, Journalistic Writing, (section reserved for first-year AND sophomore students) (Mooney)
  • ENGL1050Q, Writing the Family (Hipchen)


  • ENGL1140A, Intellectual Pleasures: Reading/Writing the Literary Text (Stanley)
  • ENGL1140D, Writing Diversity: A Workshop (Jackson)
  • ENGL1140E, Writing for Activists (Schapira)
  • ENGL1160F, Reporting Crime and Justice (Breton)
  • ENGL1180M, Special Deliveries: Letters and Diaries (DeBoer-Langworthy)
  • ENGL1180X, Anne Carson, Maggie Nelson, Claudia Rankine (Arnold)
  • ENGL1190C, Advanced Creative Nonfiction: Biography (DeBoer-Langworthy)
  • ENGL1190F, My So-Called Life: The Art of the Literary Memoir (Arnold)
  • ENGL1190U, Nature Writing (Rush)
  • ENGL1190Z, The Art of Craft (Ward)