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Basic Writing

Basic Writing (ENGLWRIT 111) is an intensive reading and writing course designed for students who need additional preparation before taking College Writing. Basic Writing is a key part of General Education at University of Massachusetts Amherst and is overseen by the University Writing Committee, which reviews first-year writing at the University every five years.

Every Basic Writing course at UMass shares the following objectives:


  • to understand different perspectives
  • to find personal engagement and analyze personal experience
  • to analyze structure and rhetorical choices
  • to engage with, synthesize, and connect texts


  • to increase your comfort and fluency with writing
  • to develop invention and revision strategies
  • to analyze personal experience and outside texts
  • to incorporate outside texts into your writing through summary, paraphrase, and quotation using MLA style citation
  • to reflect on sentence-level choices and their meaning with attention to audience, cohesion, and register
  • to edit and proofread your work


  • to gain confidence to share your perspective with peers
  • to negotiate meaning and understand new perspectives

This course focuses on the theme of borders.  Students read and write about the physical, national, cultural, and linguistic borders that shape life in the United States, and produce essays incorporating what they read in class as well as their own personal experience and knowledge.  All classes are held workshop-style in computer labs to allow for collaboration and consultation among students, and between students and teacher.

Course texts for all Basic Writing classes include

  • UMass Writing Program, On Borders: Reading & Writing about Diversity. Hayden-McNeil Publishing, 2017. | ISBN: 9780738098265
  • Lunsford, Andrea A. EasyWriter. 6th ed. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. | ISBN: 9781319050764 | Edition: 6th
  • UMass Writing Program.The Student Writing Anthology, 2017-18. Plymouth, MI: Hayden-McNeil Publishing, 2017. | ISBN: 9780738093284

For assistance enrolling in Basic Writing classes, contact, and for questions about placement in Basic Writing, contact For more information about Basic Writing at UMass Amherst, please contact Anne Bello, Deputy Director of the Writing Program.