The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Junior Year Writing

From the University's founding document for the schoolwide writing program, "Students write better when they are expected to write better; they are likely to develop the habit of careful writing when this expectation is satisfied in various intellectual contexts over a number of years. Based on these assumptions, all students, including transfers and those exempted from the first year writing course, will complete a writing intensive course during their third year. Each department, school or college, in consultation with writing specialists, will determine what kinds of writing competence its majors need. Based on these decisions, departments, schools or colleges will, when possible, develop and offer courses that meet the specific needs of their students. For example, Engineering might require technical writing, Business might require speaking and writing, Nursing might require report writing. In each instance, the faculty or graduate assistants teaching the courses will consult with writing specialists about setting up the curriculum, and the faculty committee which oversees the writing program will initially recommend approval and periodically review these courses."

For Comparative Literature (or LLC majors in general) the particular writing competence is inextricably bound up with reading and both are done critically. Thus, Junior Year Writing in Comparative Literature includes not just the instruction on writing more sophisticated scholarly papers, but acquiring the reading tools that make that kind of paper possible.

Writing competence in the field of Literature also includes issues of form and style, and learn and practice writing following MLA and Turabian standards. In addition, writing advanced literature papers involves research of secondary literature in the field so students learn how to use the library and its article databases to their best effect, as well as how to utilize programs such as RefWorks to organize and develop bibliographies.

The ultimate goal of the course is to complete and refine a 10-page piece of critical literary criticism and present it at the annual Junior Year Writing Conference at the end of the semester. In this way, students are introduced not just to the process of writing a typical piece of work in Comparative Literature, but in presenting and defending it. Whether students are planning to move on to graduate school or to another kind of career, the experience of both writing and presenting is an exceptionally valuable one.