Fall 2024

Introduction to Academic Writing: Writing (About) the News

Listed in: , as EDST-115  |  English, as ENGL-115


Kristina H. Reardon (Sections 01 and 02)


This course functions as an introduction to academic writing at Amherst College. As an intensive
writing course, the main topic of the course is writing itself. In this class, students will examine
the way that journalists present the written word in print and digital spaces to inform, analyze,
and present opinions–as we do the same in our own writing. We will pay close attention to the
way that reporter teams explicitly and implicitly build arguments, use evidence, organize texts,
and edit their own work, with an eye on developing strategies for using these skills in class
assignments, and transferring them to other classes as well. The class challenges students,
through critical writing, to come to terms with our responsibilities as engaged citizens for
understanding, and acting on, the information we encounter in the news. Through writing
projects that ask students to examine conversations on current events, particularly those relating
to social and racial justice, students will develop skills to evaluate and contribute to the
multimedia news landscape.

Readings will explore media literacy and the rhetoric of news and will include a range of news
and academic articles, as well as digital forms (such as podcasts, videos, and web texts). Students
can expect to learn about: developing and strengthening ideas; paragraphing; building and
sustaining arguments; using and citing evidence; and offering and responding to feedback.
Students will explore pre-writing, drafting, and revision practices. They will have the
opportunity to write low-stakes, informal assignments like journals as well as three formal
papers. Students should expect a mixture of class discussion, writing exercises, and peer review
during class time. They should also expect to attend writing consultations with the professor
outside of class. Ultimately, students will come together as a community of writers who support
one another as they develop their own academic writing voices.

Preference given to first-year Amherst College students. Limited to 15 students. Two sections in the fall semester. Lecturer Reardon.

How to handle overenrollment: Preference given to first-year Amherst College students. Students admitted in consultation with the Dean of Students’ office and/or their academic advisor.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: emphasis on written work, readings, and group work in the form of frequent peer review

Course Materials


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2022, Fall 2024