Writing Center

2012-13 Workshops for Students

This page lists Writing Center Workshops from the 2012-13 academic year.
You may find the current year's workshops listed here.

March * February * Interterm * December * November * October * September

March

Research Poster Design Principles
Thursday, March 7, 6:00 to 7:15 p.m. in Barker Room, Frost Library A LevelSorry, this workshop has been cancelled.

Are you preparing a research poster for an upcoming presentation? In this workshop, we will discuss visual and rhetorical design for this format, critique some examples, and draft the layout for a poster of your own. Taught by Jessica Gorman (Writing Associate) and Kristen Greenland (Science Librarian).

February

Complete your Honors Thesis in 60 Days and Live to Tell About It   
Friday, February 15, noon to 1:00pm

Learn practices that will help you complete a thesis project you can be proud of, without losing your mind. This workshop will introduce you to strategies for writing more in less time, for avoiding procrastination and writer’s block, as well as for restoring creativity and finding joy in your work. Taught by Jessica Gorman (Writing Associate). 

Reading Closely II: Prose
Friday, February 15, 3:00 to 4:15 p.m.

Close reading - reading a text with careful attention to words, their meanings, and the relationships between them - is the first step to writing successful papers in literature and other humanities disciplines. Writing assignments often require that you analyze and interpret key passages of a text. In this workshop you will continue to improve your close reading skills by applying the tools of close reading to two short prose passages. We will focus on how to decide what details of a text are important, how to connect them, and how to interpret those connections. Participation in Reading Closely I is recommended but not required. Taught by Magdalena Zapedowska (Writing Associate). 

(Re)Invent Your Process, Part I: Inspiration and Organization
Tuesday, February 19, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Many writers start their task by staring at a blank screen, waiting for inspiration, only to procrastinate until the last possible moment and then turn in a paper that is under-developed or unfocused. There is a different way! In Part I of this two-part workshop, we will adventure into the beginning stages of the writing process to unearth new and interesting methods of generating and organizing ideas that will get you primed for the later stages (drafting and revising). Activities suited to different learning styles will be highlighted. Please bring with you a current or past assignment that interests you. Taught by Cassie Sanchez (Writing Associate). Online registration is required.

Clear and Concise
Wednesday, February 20, 3:30-4:30 p.m. Sorry, this workshop has been cancelled.

You might be aiming to impress a potential employer with a captivating cover letter, or perhaps you would like to simply reduce the number of “awkwards” your professor scrawls in the margins of your essays.  Learn a simple method for revising sentences to be more concise and clear, and thus more lively and vigorous.  This workshop will introduce you to the Paramedic Method, from Richard Lanham’s Revising Prose.  Participants are asked to email at least one page of a writing sample to the instructor by February 15. Taught by Jessica Gorman (Writing Associate).

Deciphering Writing Assignments
Thursday, February 21, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sorry, this workshop has been cancelled.

Perplexed by writing prompts?  Confused by complex writing assignments?  Don't be scared by seemingly difficult writing prompts -- learn how to approach them methodically!  Join this hands-on workshop to learn the best ways to decipher a writing assignment.  This workshop will offer techniques that work for you and your individualized learning style. We'll work together as a group and individually as well. Please bring a writing prompt that you're currently grappling with or we'll have ones to work through together.  Taught by Lydia Peterson (Writing Associate).

Reading Closely I: Poetry
Friday, February 22, 3:00 to 4:15 p.m.

Close reading - reading a text with careful attention to words, their meanings, and the relationships between them - is the first step to writing successful papers in literature and other humanities disciplines. Writing assignments often require that you analyze and interpret key passages of a text. This workshop will help you improve your close reading skills by applying the tools of close reading to two short poems. Many readers are intimidated by poetry. It has a reputation for being difficult, so we approach it with dread, and it often is difficult, which confirms our fears. In this workshop we will break down the process of reading a poem into small, manageable steps, learning how to decide what details are the most important, how to connect them, and how to interpret those connections. Taught by Magdalena Zapedowska (Writing Associate).

(Re)Invent Your Process, Part II: Context and Argument Development
Tuesday, February 26, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Many writers start their task by staring at a blank screen, waiting for inspiration, only to procrastinate until the last possible moment and then turn in a paper that is under-developed or unfocused. There is a different way! In Part II of this two-part workshop, we will move ideas from the organization stage toward the drafting stage by discussing how to contextualize and develop an argument. Activities for this workshop again will highlight how different styles of learning play into the later stages of the writing process. Participation in Part I of this workshop series is recommended but is not necessary. (If you do not participate in Part I, please bring with you a current or past assignment that interests you.) Taught by Cassie Sanchez (Writing Associate).

interterm

The Writing Center is offering a wide variety of programming during Interterm, as described on our Interterm page.

December

The Artful Academic Essay: Getting Started and Gaining Insights
Tuesday, December 4, 6:15 - 7:45 p.m. Sorry, this workshop has been cancelled.

The purpose of an academic paper is not to state obvious points, but to share an original, hard-won insight. This workshop offers exploratory drafting as a means to gain the kind of insight for which your professors long. It also aims to help you to find a less painful and more productive writing process, one that makes getting started easier and that eases the transition from idea generation to drafting. You will be introduced to and experiment with an approach that makes writing easier, yet ultimately leads to essays that demonstrate greater depth of thought, stronger development and synthesis of ideas, and more in-depth engagement with specifics. Please bring the prompt for an essay you need to write, along with two or three passages you plan to analyze. Taught by Kristen Brookes (Senior Writing Associate) and Jyl Gentzler (Professor of Philosophy and Associate Director of the Writing Center)

The Writing Process for Writing Theses
Thursday, December 6, 7:00 - 8:20 p.m.

Good instincts, clear thinking, and a sense of academic style may be enough for a writer to produce first-rate college papers, but to succeed at the greater challenge of bringing a senior thesis to completion, a considered approach to the craft of writing may be helpful. This workshop offers an exploration of the writing process—in terms of its stages of pre-writing, organizing, drafting, revising, editing, and presenting—for complex, multi-chapter projects. The twofold aim of the workshop is to equip you with (a) concepts and practical tips for cultivating an effective personal process for completing a well-developed, well-integrated thesis, and (b) a common vocabulary for working productively one-on-one with a Writing Associate/mentor. Following the workshop, we invite you to work on an ongoing basis with a Writing Center mentor in developing your writing craft, and in harnessing it to the particular challenges confronting you as a thesis writer. Taught by Michael Keezing (Senior Writing Associate). Enrollment is limited, with priority given to Amherst College Students. 

November

It’s Time to Manage Your Time 
Tuesday, November 6, 4:00-5:30 p.m.  

Now that the semester is two-thirds over and deadlines for final projects loom on the horizon, it’s time to put an end to procrastination and perfectionism. In addition to introducing a mindset that will help you improve your approach to your studies, this workshop will offer you strategies for gaining control over your own time, for managing long-term projects while still getting your daily work done, and for avoiding procrastination and unproductive perfectionism. Some of our time together will be devoted to planning your individual weekly schedule and routines, as well as to mapping out the remainder of your semester. Please bring any planner you use (online or paper), along with the syllabi for your courses. Taught by Kristen Brookes (Senior Writing Associate).  

Imitate! Writing with Models

See below for full description.

Part Five: Dialogue with Sources: Friday, November 9, 3:30-4:30 p.m. 


October

Imitate! Writing with Models

Think of a practical skill you have. Whether it’s making soup or swinging a bat, you’ve probably learned it by imitating someone else. It’s similar with academic writing: one of the best ways to learn it is by imitating others who do it well. In this series of workshops we will analyze and imitate model examples of various elements of the academic essay to learn strategies for a strong thesis statement, introduction, argument, and dialogue with sources, as well as ways to achieve graceful style. Taught by Magdalena Zapedowska (Writing Associate).

Part One: Sentences: Friday, September 21, 3:30-4:30 p.m. 

Part Two: Thesis Statement: Friday, October 5, 3:30-4:30 p.m. 

Part Three: Introduction: Friday, October 12, 3:30-4:30 p.m. 

Part Four: Argument: Friday, October 26, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Part Five: Dialogue with Sources: Friday, November 9, 3:30-4:30 p.m. 

It’s Time to Manage Your Time  
Tuesday, October 16, 6:15-7:45 p.m.

Whether you have a great deal of unscheduled time yet find you aren’t getting your work done, do nothing but study, or simply wonder whether you might be able to use your time more effectively, it’s time to come learn some new ways to think about time and to manage your unruly self. In addition to introducing a mindset that will help you improve your approach to your studies, this workshop will offer you strategies for gaining control over how you use your time, for managing long-term projects while still getting your daily work done, and for avoiding procrastination and perfectionism. Some of our time together will be devoted to planning your individual weekly schedule and routines, as well as to mapping out of your semester as a whole. Please bring any planner you use (online or paper), along with the syllabi for your courses. Taught by Kristen Brookes (Senior Writing Associate). 

Active Reading, Part 2: Reading as a Dialogue
Tuesday, October 23, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

This workshop will introduce and offer you the opportunity to practice strategies that will help you not only to better understand what you read, but also to have something insightful to say about it in class. We will also practice varying—and  increasing—our reading speed (not by speedreading). During the workshop, you will apply the strategies we discuss to readings for your own classes, so please bring a couple of texts (articles or books) you have yet to read. By the end of the workshop, you may be readier for class than you’ve ever been! Students need not have attended the previous workshop in this series in order to participate in this one. Taught by Kristen Brookes (Senior Writing Associate).

Getting Your Thoughts in Order
Wednesday, October 24, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Don't let your organizational skills (or lack thereof) get in the way of a solid piece of writing! Whether you're trying to organize your initial thoughts for a response paper or to rearrange your final paragraphs for an 8-page essay, this workshop is for you.   You'll learn, or perhaps re-learn, techniques that will help you progress from your early musings to your final draft.  Bring your questions AND whatever stage of whatever piece you're working on that could use some organizational help.  We'll work on them together as a group and individually as well.  Taught by Lydia Peterson (Writing Associate).

The Artful Academic Essay
Tuesday, October 30, 6:15-7:45 p.m.

How is writing at Amherst different from writing in high school or in other contexts? What do your professors expect of you? While there are many types of writing that one might be asked to do “in the academy,” the American academic essay is a particular sort of writing, designed to accomplish a particular sort of goal. In this workshop, we will discuss the function of academic essays, provide an overview of the elements and qualities that constitute artful ones, and offer some strategies for producing them. Please bring hard copies of a few essays you have written for your classes, so that you can consider—either on your own or with a partner—how to make your own academic writing more clear and compelling. Taught by Kristen Brookes (Senior Writing Associate) and Jyl Gentzler (Professor of Philosophy and Associate Director of the Writing Center).


September

Active Reading, Part One: The Savvy Reader
Tuesday, September 18, 6:15-7:45 PM

The reading load for many classes can sometimes seem overwhelming and unmanageable. This workshop—the  first in a series—will help you take control over your reading and stay on top of it, rather than drowning in it or avoiding it altogether. In addition to being introduced to approaches to large reading loads and long texts, you will have the opportunity to practice strategies for reading more effectively and, when necessary, more efficiently. Taught by Kristen Brookes (Senior Writing Associate). 

Planning, Managing, and Retaining your Thesis Research
Monday, September 24, 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Writing an honors thesis often entails more substantial research than you’ve done before. A project of this magnitude requires more planning and management to ensure that stuff doesn’t get lost, forgotten, or otherwise wasted as the year progresses. Learn about ways to find, process, remember, integrate, and use your research effectively. We’ll talk about our research processes, and how database tools, citation managers, and note-taking techniques can save time, effort, and heartache.  Taught by Jessica Gorman (Writing Associate) and Missy Roser (Head of Reference and Instruction, Frost Library).