The Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies teaches students the craft, forms, and traditions of contemporary writing and communication. Some students explore writing as a means of artistic expression. Some learn how to communicate the results of their science and technical work to broad audiences and members of their professions. Others work collaboratively within the evolving framework of digital media to become skillful in interactive and nonlinear forms of communication. All subjects in the program emphasize the development of the foundational skills, creative initiative, and critical sensibility necessary to become a good writer.
Subjects in the program's three options—creative writing (fiction, nonfiction prose, poetry), science writing, and digital media—are taught at both introductory and advanced levels. All subjects require extensive writing and revision. Student work is typically discussed in workshops and receives the written commentary of the instructor.
Concentrations in writing establish a course of study in fiction, prose nonfiction (including rhetoric), science writing, or digital media, and offer engineering or science majors an opportunity to develop abilities that will play a key role in their professional careers.
The Minor in Writing and Humanistic Studies offers students a sustained opportunity to work in one of the program's three options while also exploring offerings in the program's core curriculum.
The program also offers a one-year master's degree (SM) in science writing. Students in the graduate program receive intensive training in the craft of turning technically complex ideas and discoveries into compelling writing and productions for broad audiences. Approaches in the graduate curriculum range from daily journalism to long-form prose, documentary audio and video, and digital media; students complete a required internship.
The Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies offers three undergraduate options leading to the Bachelor of Science in Writing. The curriculum in creative writing is designed to develop expertise in writing and reading a genre of the student's choice (e.g., fiction, poetry, or nonfiction prose forms), familiarity with related genres, and a three-subject focused exposure to an allied discipline, usually in the humanities, arts, or social sciences. This curriculum offers students flexibility in designing their courses of study for both breadth and depth.
The curriculum in science writing is designed to enable the student to develop mastery of the craft and rhetoric of writing about the worlds of science and engineering for broad audiences. This writing major is an option for students interested in science journalism, longer forms like the science documentary, and communication issues related to the public understanding of science and technology. It is also designed to work as a complementary major for students majoring in science, engineering, or another field of study at MIT. This major includes a three-subject exposure to an allied field such as science, technology, and society; political science; or comparative media studies. Students also fulfill an internship requirement, which provides in-depth practical experience.
The digital media major offers in-depth study of emerging interactive and nonlinear styles of narrative, as well as individual and collaborative experience in producing digitally mediated forms, both aesthetic and utilitarian. Students gain extensive experience in using a variety of authoring systems to develop large-scale websites, web-based hypertext products, computer games, interactive fiction and poetry, and digitally mediated visual worlds. Knowledge of programming is often helpful, but not necessary.
The Minor in Writing consists of six subjects focusing
on one of the three areas mentioned above, arranged into two tiers
of study as follows:
|Tier I||One subject from the following:|
|21W.011–21W.013||Writing and Rhetoric|
|21W.021–21W.024||Writing and Experience|
|21W.031–21W.035||Science Writing and New Media|
|21W.041J||Writing about Literature|
|21W.042J||Writing with Shakespeare|
|21W.755||Writing and Reading Short Stories|
|21W.756||Writing and Reading Poems
|Tier II|| Five subjects from among the remaining writing subjects
Joint degree programs are offered in writing in combination with a field in engineering or science (the 21E and 21S degrees). See the joint degree programs listed under Humanities.
The one-year Graduate Program in Science Writing is aimed at students who wish to write about science and technology for general readers, in ordinary newsstand magazines and newspapers, in popular and semi-popular books, on the walls of museums, or on television or radio programs. Students may be graduates of undergraduate science, engineering, journalism or writing programs; experienced journalists and freelance writers; working scientists or engineers; historians of science and technology; or other scholars, including those already holding advanced degrees.
The program is built around an intensive year-long advanced science writing seminar. In addition, students choose one elective each semester, write a substantial thesis, and complete an internship.
The graduate program maintains links to MIT's Program in Science, Technology, and Society; to the Comparative Media Studies program; and to the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships program. For more information, see the descriptions of the Science, Technology, and Society and Comparative Media Studies programs in Part 2. See Interdisciplinary Research and Study in Part 3 for more information about the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships program.
The MIT Writing and Communication Center offers free individual writing consultation on an appointment or drop-in basis to all members of the MIT community. In addition, the center gives mini-sessions each term on a variety of writing topics, and also offers workshops for people for whom English is a second language. For further information, contact the Writing Center at 617-253-3090.
The Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) staff of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies helps provide the integration of instruction and feedback in writing and speaking in subjects in all undergraduate departments and programs. The writing tutor program supports enhanced writing instruction in Communication Intensive in Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CI-H) subjects. WAC lecturers collaborate with faculty in all schools in the teaching of Communication Intensive in the Major (CI-M) subjects.
Subjects in writing are described in the online MIT Subject Listing & Schedule, http://student.mit.edu/catalog/index.cgi. Further information on subjects and programs may be obtained from the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies Office, Room 14E-303, 617-253-7894.
James Paradis, PhD
Robert M. Metcalfe Professor of Writing
Marcia Bartusiak, MS
Professor of the Practice of Science Writing
Junot Díaz, MFA
Professor of Writing
Professor of Science Writing
Director, Graduate Program in Science Writing
Alan Lightman, PhD
Professor of the Practice of the Humanities
Kenneth R. Manning, PhD
Thomas Meloy Professor of Rhetoric and the History of Science
Ed Schiappa, PhD
Visiting Professor of Rhetoric
Rosalind H. Williams, PhD
Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology
Visiting Associate Professor
Martin Luther King Jr. Fellow
Douglas A. (Fox) Harrell, Jr., PhD
Associate Professor of Digital Media
Helen Elaine Lee, JD
Associate Professor of Writing
Nick Montfort, PhD
Associate Professor of Digital Media
Vivek Bald, PhD
Assistant Professor of Writing and Digital Media
Sasha Costanza-Chock, PhD
Assistant Professor of Civic Media
Seth Mnookin, BA
Assistant Professor of Science Writing
Joe Haldeman, MFA
Adjunct Professor of Fiction
Edward Barrett, PhD
Senior Lecturer in Writing
Atissa Banuazizi, MA
Karen Boiko, PhD
Harlan Breindel, MA
Stephen Brophy, BA
Mary Caulfield, MA
B. D. Colen, BA
Jane Abbott Connor, MA
William Corbett, BA
Jennifer Craig, MA
David Custer, BA
Kathleen Delaney, PhD
Nora Delaney, MA
Thomas Delaney, MA
Rebecca Faery, PhD
Elizabeth Fox, PhD
Erica Funkhouser, MA
Gay Haldeman, MA
Elizabeth Harris, MA
Louise Harrison-Lepera, MA
Diane Hendrix, MA
Robert Irwin, PhD
Nora Jackson, MA
Sonal Jhaveri, PhD
Suzanne Lane, PhD
Acting Director, Writing Across the Curriculum
Marilyn Levine, MA
Shariann Lewitt, MFA
Lucy Marx, MA
Janis Melvold, PhD
Marilee Ogren, PhD
Karen Pepper, PhD
Kym Ragusa, MFA
Leslie Ann Sulit Roldan, PhD
Thalia Rubio, MEd
Susan Ruff, BA
Juergen Schoenstein, MA
Pamela Siska, MA
Amanda Sobel, MA
Susan Spilecki, MA
Jessie Stickgold-Sarah, PhD
Cynthia Taft, PhD
Donald Unger, PhD
Kim Vaeth, MA
Lydia Volaitis, PhD
Andrea Walsh, PhD
Jeanne Wildman, JD
Gretchen Henderson, PhD
Anita Desai, BA
John E. Burchard Professor of Humanities, Emerita
Robert Kanigel, BS
Professor of Science Writing, Emeritus
James H. Williams, Jr., PhD
SEPTE Professor of Engineering, Emeritus
Cynthia Griffin Wolff, PhD
Class of 1922 Professor of Literature, Emerita