Department of Writing, Literature & Publishing

First-Year Writing Program

First Year Writing Program

The First-Year Writing Program (FYWP) is dedicated to designing the curriculum and teaching a year-long sequence of writing courses for undergraduates at Emerson College.

The FYWP provides teaching opportunities for MFA creative writing and MA publishing students in the Writing, Literature & Publishing Department (WLP), with an emphasis on their professional and intellectual development. As part of Emerson’s mission of public engagement, FYWP has extended the core principles of the program intocommunity and transnational writing projects in Boston and Medellin, Colombia.

The FYWP staff consists of Steve Himmer, Director; John Trimbur, Associate Director; Mary Kovaleski, Tamera Marko, and Elizabeth Parfitt, Senior Lecturers; and an experienced group of affiliated faculty and graduate instructors.

  • A recognition of the power and creativity of writing in various aspects of human experience
  • Peer collaboration and community, among both students and among instructors
  • Writing as a process and as a conversation both with others and with oneself
  • A sense of social responsibility and an understanding of writing as a means of participating in public life
  • An emphasis on helping students develop a strong awareness of situation, purpose, audience, and genre in order to understand writing as an activity that extends beyond the classroom and that takes on consequence in both academic and public settings
  • Creative and innovative approaches to intellectual inquiry

The FYWP enacts its core principles in Emerson’s undergraduate curriculum through the courses WR 101 and WR 121. As General Education requirements, these writing courses encourage students to develop a repertoire of rhetorical strategies to approach multiple genres of writing, from the academic to the literary to the public, and to transfer these strategies into their work in their other classes and their majors. Over the course of this two-semester writing course sequence, students learn to add their voices to existing conversations, to become familiar with numerous genres of academic writing and public writing, to conduct extensive research, to collaborate with classmates, and to become more confident in evaluating their own work and the work of others. Student work is highly valued in the FYWP and celebrated annually during the First-Year Writing Program Showcase.

Graduate Students

At the graduate level, the FYWP provides numerous opportunities for professional development to Emerson MFA and MA students, who can apply to teach WR 101 and WR 121, to teach or tutor in the FYWP’s community writing projects, and to contribute to the ongoing development of the program. The FYWP also offers intellectual development to Emerson graduate students through the course WR600: Teaching College Composition; practicums, mentoring groups, and affinity groups; and opportunities for independent study in rhetoric and composition.

FYWP is recognized in the department for its creative curriculum and its contribution to undergraduate education. It is valued especially for the role it plays in the MFA creative writing program. The creative writing and literature faculty who teach in the MFA program understand the value of FYWP providing teaching opportunities annually for 15 or so MFA students in first-year courses and an additional 15 or so in community writing projects.

Community and Transnational Projects

The FYWP’s community and transnational writing projects grow out of the program’s fundamental commitment to serving the communities of which Emerson College is a part and to fostering the interests and aptitudes of FYWP lecturers and instructors in disseminating the creative powers of writing. These projects consist of emersonWrites, Proyecto Boston-Medellin, the Emerson Maintenance Workers Class, and the Snowden International High School Writing Center (2008-2013).

Public Engagement

FYWP’s commitment to public engagement, in both the first-year writing curriculum and its community and transnational writing projects, is aligned to Emerson College’s mission statement: “Our mission is to inspire students to create and communicate with depth, honesty, courage, and passion, both as professionals in their fields and as informed and articulate participants in society.” Through its community writing projects, FYWP contributes directly to college initiatives to diversify the student body and to form partnerships with diverse communities in Boston by working closely with the offices of Enrollment, Human Resources, Service Learning and Community Action, and Diversity and Inclusion to change the image of Emerson to a more inclusive place that reflects the racial, ethnic, national, and linguistic diversity of the contemporary world.