Writing Fellows Courses

One of many student-driven organizations at Brown, Writing Fellows work in a spirit of collegiality, helping to extend intellectual discourse beyond the classroom. Mutually engaged, Fellows and Fellowees ultimately do more than focus on writing; they shape their own and each other’s education, and in so doing they help to keep vibrant what is most unique and valuable about Brown. As peers, Fellows serve as sympathetic readers, providing informed, constructive criticism directed toward the argumentation, analysis, organization, clarity and style of papers. After drafts of papers are returned, Writing Fellows meet with each of their Fellowees in conference. These conferences provide a chance to discuss revision strategies and work through additional concerns.


AFRI 1330: Africana Studies Junior Seminar 

  • Professor: Lisa Biggs & Oladotun Ayobade 
  • Course Description: This junior seminar course is designed to support students’ growth as academic writers and will prepare them to better complete their culminating senior thesis projects. While specifically geared towards Africana Studies concentrators, the class is open to any undergraduate student who has successfully completed AFRI 0090: An Introduction to Africana Studies and at least four semesters of coursework overall towards the Bachelor’s degree. Course materials will delve deeply into the history, spaces, peoples and cultures of the African Diaspora, exploring a selection of critical writings, performance pieces, fiction and non-fiction works by leading scholars and artists. (WRIT) (DIAP)

AFRI 1930: Race, Difference and Biomedical Research: Historical Considerations

  • Professor: Lundy Braun
  • Course Description: This advanced seminar places the current debate over race, health, and genetics in historical context. An overarching goal is to understand how the social world informs the scientific questions we ask, design of research studies, and interpretation of findings. How have the theories and practices of biomedical science and technology produced knowledge of “race” and racial difference historically? How does race relate to gender and class? What are the implications of this debate for understanding health inequality? Previous coursework in Africana Studies preferred. Enrollment limited to 20; instructor permission. (WRIT) (DIAP)​

BIOL 0285: Inquiry in Biochemistry: From Gene to Protein Function

  • Professor: Kristina Cohen
  • Course Description: In this inquiry-based research course, students work in teams to formulate and test a hypothesis about how a change in genetic sequence affects enzyme function. Students will cultivate skills in scientific visualization, experimental design, data analysis, and laboratory techniques in molecular biology and biochemistry. In discussion, students will learn scientific writing through peer editing and iterative revisions to write a full scientific paper. This course is WRIT designated and will prepare students for writing an honors thesis. Expected: Students have previously taken or be concurrently enrolled in BIOL 0280. Enrollment in one lab section and one discussion section is required.

BIOL 0160: Plants, Food, and People

  • Professor: Peter Heywood
  • Course Description: This course examines the challenges of feeding a world population that might expand to 10 billion people. Will it be possible to produce enough nutritious food for everyone without loss of biodiversity due to converting natural habitats into farmland, or without damaging environments with agricultural pesticides and fertilizers? What will be the effects of global climate change and agricultural pests on the productivity of food plants? Will shortages of water and essential plant nutrients (such as phosphate) compromise food production?

EDUC 1860: Social Context of Learning Development

  • Professor: Jin Li
  • Course Description: This course focuses on the social environment that contributes to the development of children’s minds, language, self-understanding, relations with others, affect, and attitudes toward learning. The course covers the period from birth through young adulthood. Topics include children’s cognition, social interactions, parental expectations and socialization practices, and the influences of family, peers, school, and immigration. Differences in social development and learning within and across ethnicities/cultures will be considered. We will review theoretical frameworks as well as empirical research. (WRIT)

ENGN 1010: The Entrepreneurial Process: Innovation in Practice

  • Professor: Danny Warshay
  • Course Description: Entrepreneurship is innovation in practice: transforming ideas into opportunities, and, through a deliberate process, opportunities into commercial realities. These entrepreneurial activities can take place in two contexts: the creation of new organizations; and within existing organizations. This course will present an entrepreneurial framework for these entrepreneurial processes, supported by case studies that illustrate essential elements. Successful entrepreneurs and expert practitioners will be introduced who will highlight practical approaches to entrepreneurial success. Enrollment limited to 35. (WRIT)

ENGN 0120A: Crossing the Consumer Chasm by Design

  • Professor: Rick Fleeter
  • Course Description: Technologies have shaped human life since tools were sticks and flints to today's hydrocarbon powered, silicon managed era. Some spread throughout society; bread, cell phones, airlines, but most never do; personal jet packs, Apple Newton, freeze dried ice cream. Space Tourism, the Segway, electric cars: Can we predict which ones will cross the chasm to broad application? Can we help them by combining design, engineering, marketing, communications, education, art, and business strategies. Student teams identify potential new products, conceptualize, package, and define their business mode. By plotting their course across the chasm, we confront the cross-disciplinary barriers to realizing benefits from technology. Enrollment limited to 18 first year students. Instructor permission required. (FYS) (WRIT)

GEOL 0240: Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet

  • Professor: James Russell
  • Course Description: Introduces Earth's surface environment evolution - climate, chemistry, and physical makeup. Uses Earth's carbon cycle to understand solar, tectonic, and biological cycles' interactions. Examines the origin of the sedimentary record, dating of the geological record, chemistry and life on early Earth, and the nature of feedbacks that maintain the "habitable" range on Earth. Two field trips; five laboratories arranged. Prerequisite: GEOL 0220 or 0230, or instructor permission. (WRIT)

HIST 1430: Truth on Trial: Justice in Italy, 1400-1800

  • Professor: Caroline Castiglione
  • Course Description: Why do we think that one human being can judge another? How did this activity, enshrined in legal and political systems, profoundly shape society? This course examines the changing face of justice, from the medieval ordeal to judicial torture; the expansion of inquisitorial and state law courts; and the eventual disillusionment with the use of torture and the death penalty in the eighteenth century. Using Italy as a focus, the course explores how law courts defined social, political, scientific, and religious truth in Italy. Students may pursue a project of another geographical area for their final project for the course. (WRIT)

HIST 1978B: Bearer of Light, Prince of Darkness: The Devil in Premodern Christianity

  • Professor: Charles Carroll
  • Course Description: Satan. Lucifer. The Prince of this World. The personification of evil in the Abrahamic traditions has gone by many names and titles. To premodern Christians, the devil was not an abstract entity; they felt the real presence of Satan and his demonic army all around them. This course explores the devil as a dynamic concept evolved in accordance with cultural and political priorities. It looks at the relationship between the premodern Christian perceptions of personified evil and the Jewish and Islamic traditions. It will also look at the ways in which misogyny and racism shaped ancient and medieval demonologies. (WRIT)

PHP 0030: Health of Hispaniola

  • Professor: Timothy M. Empkie
  • Course Description: Two developing countries, Dominican Republic and Haiti, have widely differing health outcomes despite centuries of shared experience on the Caribbean Island of Hispaniola. This course will examine the history, politics, economics, culture, international relations, demography, and geography, as well as epidemiology and health services, to demonstrate that multiple factors, both recent and long-standing, determine the present health of these populations. Enrollment limited to 20 first year students. Instructor permission required. (FYS) (WRIT)

POBS 0990: Mapping Cross-Cultural Identities

  • Professor: Patricia Sobral
  • Course Description: How do we construct our own identity as life becomes a multitude of narrative threads intersecting and overlapping like roadways on a map? How do we reconfigure identities vis-à-vis those who surround us? We will investigate the ever-changing map of cultural identities and its repercussions on human existence via contemporary literature and a series of projects that incorporate the arts (visual, digital, literary) and oral history. Some of the writers include Julia Alvarez, Kiran Desai, Junot Diaz, Milton Hatoum, Chang-Rae Lee, Clarice Lispector, Dinaw Mengestu, Nélida Piñon, Salman Rushdie, Taiye Selasi and others. No experience in the arts necessary. (SOPH) (WRIT) (DIAP)

SC 0020: Perspectives on Social Interaction: An Introduction to Social Psychology

  • Professor: Greg Elliott
  • Course Description: An introduction to the discipline of sociology examining the individual in society. Explores the social development of the person, the development of interpersonal relationships, and the problems of integrating the individual and social system. For each area, the personal and structural factors that bear upon the issue are investigated. The objective is to deepen understanding of the behavior of people in a social context. (WRIT)



CLPS 1181A Canine Behavior (Online) 

  • Professor: Ruth Colwill 
  • Course Description: This discussion-based online course focuses on the psychology of dogs using primary readings on canine perception, cognition, communication, development, genetics, social behavior, and common behavioral pathologies. Case studies of domestic dogs are used to illustrate the diagnosis and treatment of aggression, fear, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. The natural behaviors of wolves and other wild canids are explored to facilitate our understanding of the domestic dog. After taking this course, you will be so much closer to knowing a dog!

GNSS 1090W Bodies Out of Bounds 

  • Professor: Gail Cohee
  • Course Description: What happens to bodies—and the world around them—when they refuse to stay within “normal” boundaries? Against the backdrop of fiction written over the past four decades, and within the context of contemporary theory and film, we will look at what is considered normal in various locations and by whom. When are bodies we would consider “normal” somehow not suitable? How are boundaries changing because of technology, medicine, politics, etc.? How are bodies constructed/deconstructed/reconstructed? In addition to fiction, memoir, essays, and theory, we will assess ideas about bodies as observed and depicted in contemporary media. We will think about bodies in terms of gender, especially as gender intersects with other markers of identity, including race, gender identity and expression, dis/ability, and hybridity.



ENGL 0900 Critical Reading and Writing I: The Academic Essay

  • Professor: Austin Jackson    
  • This course provides an introduction to university-level writing. Students produce and revise multiple drafts of essays, practice essential skills of paragraph organization, and develop techniques of critical analysis and research. Readings from a wide range of texts in literature, the media, and academic disciplines. Assignments move from personal response papers to formal academic essays. Enrollment limited to 17. Banner registrations after classes begin require instructor approval. S/NC. FYS

ENGN1010 The Entrepreneurial Process

  • Professor: Danny Warshay
  • Entrepreneurship is innovation in practice: transforming ideas into opportunities, and, through a deliberate process, opportunities into commercial realities. These entrepreneurial activities can take place in two contexts: the creation of new organizations; and within existing organizations. This course will present an entrepreneurial framework for these entrepreneurial processes, supported by case studies that illustrate essential elements. Successful entrepreneurs and expert practitioners will be introduced who will highlight practical approaches to entrepreneurial success. Enrollment limited to 35. WRIT

ENVS0700c Transcending Transportation Impacts

  • Professor: Kurt Teichert
  • Students will be engaged in interdisciplinary analyses of the life-cycle costs, environmental impacts, technical developments, and policy innovations at the local and regional level. We will discuss technical modifications in vehicles, such as plug-in hybrids, as well as policy and planning on intermodal systems, recycle-a-bike programs, intelligent transportation systems, and other innovations. Enrollment limited to 20 first year students. Instructor permission required. FYS WRIT.

ETHN0090A: The Border/La Frontera

  • Professor: Eveelyn Hu-DeHart
  • We will examine the historical formation, contemporary reality and popular representation of the U.S.-Mexico border from a bilingual (English-Spanish), multicultural (U.S., Mexican, and Latino), and transnational perspective within the framework of globalization. We will explore the construction of border communities, lives and identities on both sides of the international divide, and pay particular attention to the movement of peoples in both directions. We will read materials, watch films, and conduct class discussions in English and Spanish. Comfort and reasonable proficiency in Spanish is required, but native command is not necessary. Enrollment limited to 19 first year students.

ITAL 0975: Let’s Eat, Italy: Italian History and Culture Through Food​

  • Professor: Filomena Fantarella         
  • We are what we eat. In this course, we will focus our attention on Italian traditions and its daily culinary practices to understand how food shaped and continues to shape Italian culture and identity. We will explore the historical, economic and social factors that have influenced the development of a national cuisine. How does food connect memory and identity? Among the sources we will consider family memoirs and cookbooks; the political programs of Futurism and Fascism and their relationship to Italian foodways; how food has been represented in literature and cinema. We conclude the course with a look at Italian - American cuisine and its key role in shaping identities in the new world.

HIST 1272E: Paris: Sacred and Profane, Imagined and Real​

  • Professor: Charlie Carroll
  • Paris has been called the capital of modernity, the capital of the nineteenth century, and the capital of the black Atlantic. This course explores how Paris grew from a small settlement into a vast city with an enormous global impact. Covering the settlement of the Celtic Parisii in the mid-third century BCE through the present, the course investigates the dynamic relationship between urban space, public activism, racism, and colonialism. It also considers who has been excluded from the city’s complex mythology and how these myths impacted experiences of the “other” (including people of color, low-income people, Jewish people, and women).

PHP 0050 Pain and the Human Condition: Exploring the Science, Medicine, and Culture of Pain

  • Professor: Nisha Trivedi
  • Pain is a universal human experience, yet it is highly subjective. For most, pain represents an occasionally unpleasant, self-limited experience. However, for others, chronic pain persists beyond the recovery from an injury or as a result of a chronic health condition. Persons with chronic pain often describe their pain as permeating every aspect of their lives. While an active area of research, pain remains a significant challenge to the individual seeking treatment, the health care provider and society. This multidisciplinary course introduces students to scientific, medical, and public health aspects of pain and explores personal narratives and cultural meanings of pain. Enrollment limited to 20 first year students. FYS WRIT.

PHP 1070 The Burden of Disease in Developing Countries​

  • Professor: Stephen McGarvey
  • Defines and critically examines environmental, epidemiologic, demographic, biomedical, and anthropological perspectives on health and disease in developing countries. Emphasis on changes in the underlying causes of morbidity and mortality during economic development. Focuses on the biosocial ecology of diseases. Required major term paper worth 50% of final grade is scholarly centerpiece of course. Weekly discussion sections and small group research projects supplement the two exams and term paper. Guest lecturers cover different diseases and public health perspectives. Enrollment limited to 65. DPLL WRIT.

POBS 0810 Belonging and Displacement: Cross-Cultural Identities

  • Professor: Patricia Sobral​
  • Focuses on the representation of immigrants, migrants and other "border crossers" in contemporary literature from Brazil and other countries. How do people respond to the loss of home and the shift to a new culture? Is "going home" possible? How do individuals deal with their dual or triple identities? Piñon, Lispector, Scliar, Rushdie, Salih, Cristina Garcia, V. S. Naipaul and others. Conducted in English. Enrollment limited to 20 first year students. FYS WRIT.

SOC 0030D: Who Am I: Sociological Perspectives on the Self​

  • Professor: Greg Elliot        
  • A study of self in contemporary society. We examine the structural and situational forces that shape the self and their impact on personal development, orientations to the world, and interpersonal behavior; we investigate the development of the self as a way of being in the world that makes everyday doings and, ultimately society, possible. Enrollment limited to 19 first year students. Instructor permission required.

SOC 1116: Criminal Courts and the Law in an Era of Mass Incarceration​

  • Professor: Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve
  • This course provides a comprehensive introduction to America’s criminal court system and all its institutional stakeholders. We will examine America’s criminal court system from myriad of different perspectives: courts as organizations, courts as social arrangements of professionals, courts as providers of social services and courts as consumer institutions – providing the experience of justice to victims, witnesses, defendants and jurors. We will focus on state courts as well as the federal system.

SOC 1440: Intimate Violence​

  • Professor: Greg Elliot  
  • Explores sociological perspectives of violence in intimate relationships. Begins with theories of violence, including social learning theory, the frustration-aggression hypothesis, and violence as catharsis. Examines the contributions of gender, race status, media violence, and pornography to the issue. Investigates specific forms of intimate violence: sexual aggression (including "acquaintance rape"), partner abuse, elderly abuse, and child abuse. Not open to first year students.

POLS 1824T: Foreign Policy in the People’s Republic of China​

  • Professors: Tyler Jost
  • This undergraduate seminar examines the foreign policy of the People’s Republic of China. It aims both to teach students theoretical perspectives on international relations and to critically evaluate whether these theories explain past and present Chinese foreign policy. What explains China’s historical use of military force? Why did the alliance between China and the Soviet Union fall apart despite their institutional and ideological similarities? Has the personality of China’s leaders or its domestic institutions affected its international behavior? Why is China modernizing its military and how concerned should we be? To what extent has the world changed China and to what extent does it seek to change the world?