Intensive Writing (IW) courses provide unique opportunities for students to study and practice academic writing. While IW classes may have distinct themes, the main focus of all IW classes is writing itself. These courses aim to build students’ writing skills and confidence in expressing their own voices in argument, analysis, research, and more. In IW classes, students can expect frequent feedback and support from their professors in a small class environment.

Broadly speaking, they will learn about:

  • writing processes, including revision
  • how to analyze and write arguments and analysis
  • how to transfer writing skills to other classes
  • drafting clear and organized prose
  • reading strategies
  • how to research and cite sources properly
  • writing to specific audiences
  • the norms of academic genres
  • developing a voice in academic writing

The Difference Between Intensive Writing and Writing Attentive

Amherst College does not have a first-year writing requirement beyond First Year Seminars, which are often tagged as writing attentive. The writing attentive label means that writing is assigned or taught in the class, even though the class might focus on a different subject. In contrast, writing is the main focus of an Intensive Writing class, and you can expect to spend a great deal of time working on your writing both inside and outside of class.

You will be able to tell the difference between these two types of classes because writing attentive tags are applied to many courses in a range of departments at all levels; there are often more than 100 courses at Amherst each semester that carry this tag. Intensive Writing courses are usually 100-level courses that accommodate 12-15 students and indicate that writing is the main topic of the course in both the title and the course description. There are usually only a few courses at Amherst each semester that carry this designation.

A person sitting outside writing in a journal

Intensive Writing Courses: Fall 2023

ENGL-128/EDST-128: introduction to academic writing: The right to read and write

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. Students will consider how basic literacy serves as a foundation for accessing rights, such as freedom of expression, and how it is instrumental in advocating for other rights, such as equitable participation in government, education, and culture.

An exterior photo of teh Frost Library

Intensive Writing Events

Alongside The Creative Writing Program, the Writing Center, and The Common, the Intensive Writing Program co-sponsors monthly writing events to support student writers at any stage of the writing process.

Kristina H. Reardon

Kristina H. Reardon

Director of the Intensive Writing Program and Lecturer in English

Johnson Chapel Room 003

Kristina Reardon is a lecturer in English and Education Studies and serves as the director of Intensive Writing. Read Kristina’s faculty profile to learn more.