Frequently Asked Questions about the Nonfiction Writing Program

Q: Should I take ENGL0900 (formerly 0110) in my first semester/year? Or should I first take an English course in the area of my interest?

A: Taking ENGL0900 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  or ENGL1030? 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 will instruct you in the concepts and methods of critical inquiry, whereas ENGL1030 -- 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 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 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, ENGL1050, and ENGL1180? How can I know which is best for me?

A: ENGL0930 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. For more information, please see course descriptions.