Department of English

Nonfiction FAQs

Concentrating in English requires a good background in critical reading and writing. If you are reasonably competent at critical reading and writing, taking an introductory literature course first will help you learn more about your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. You will then be able to choose a writing course that more precisely meets your needs.

Taking ENGL0900 in your first semester will give you a good background in the skills of critical reading and writing helpful in other academic courses. If you are reasonably competent at critical reading and writing, however, taking other lower-level courses in English should give you what you need and/or help you to assess your writing abilities so that you can choose a writing course that more precisely meets your needs.

Can my AP scores or my SAT scores guide me in choosing a writing course? If I have already had analytical writing instruction in high school and have written relatively long research papers, why should I take a writing course at Brown?

ENGL0900 will instruct you in the concepts and methods of critical inquiry, whereas ENGL1030 -- which deals more with individual research -- requires a higher level of writing competency. Although high scores in standardized tests demonstrate knowledge and competence, the specific demands of university writing often differ from those evaluated by standardized tests

Read the individual descriptions for each section and choose the one that interests you the most. The number of sections offered allows you to choose a section that works well with the rest of your schedule. 

Although high GCE scores reflect competence in the English language, ESL students benefit from the intensity of individual writing instruction. ENGL0900 will familiarize you with the practices of writing in an American university.

 You must check with your department to see what is required.

For nonfiction writing courses that require a writing sample, individual instructors have different requirements; these will be explained on the first day of class.

ENGL0930 will introduce you to creative nonfiction and to its various subgenres; it has no prerequisites, although you should be personally committed to writing. ENGL 1050, an intermediate-level seminar in nonfiction, also has no prerequisites but has been designed for experienced writers wanting to concentrate on specific subgenres. As an advanced writing course, ENGL1180 requires a high level of competence in writing and a working familiarity with creative nonfiction. For more information, please see course descriptions.