The Course

Time and place: to be announced.

This is a (roughly) four-week course intended to introduce participants to the basic principles of Writing Process Reengineering. The course consists of two 3-hour seminars, a masterclass (of varied length depending on the amount of participants), and 20 hours of individual writing (between meetings). It is organized around the composition of a roughly 8000-word draft research paper in the social sciences. Though a participant who follows the whole course should end up with a complete draft, the aim is not to get a paper finished and ready for publication. The aim is to become a better writer and to master a discipline that will foster continuous progress after the course is over.

I. Introductory Seminar

The structure of the course is presented. Participants will be told how we approach the relationship between “knowing” and writing, what a paragraph is, how to become better at composing them, and how to arrange them into full research papers. The importance of having a number of deliberate, formal writing experiences before the masterclass will be emphasized.

For next time: 9 hours of writing. Using the “standard” outline, participants will write 18 paragraphs, covering all of the sections of a research paper. This will constitute a short draft.

II. Masterclass

Participants submit their short drafts of ca. 18 paragraphs in advance of the masterclass. Each participant will be assigned a 20-minute slot in 4-person group. Each group is allotted 1.5 hours. The masterclass is a series of group sessions (as many as is necessary to get through all the participants. E.g., if there are 12 participants, the masterclass lasts 4.5 hours in three groups.) Participants must attend their group session actively, and are free to audit the other groups passively.

Each group proceeds through four paragraphs (chosen by the authors). The paragraph is read out loud, analyzed, and work-shopped by the group, led by the instructor. The author of the paragraph under examination does not participate in the discussion, but learns from the reactions of the other participants (who represent the reader).

For next time: 11 hours of writing. Participants will write another 22 paragraphs, filling in the holes of their short draft, resulting in a first draft of a full paper.

III. Capstone Seminar

The experience of the preceding weeks is discussed. Participants will ideally have had at least 40 highly structured, very explicit experiences of writing, and there will be much to talk about on their basis alone. The seminar also offers a model of time management particularly suited to scholars and some tools for implementing and maintaining the process going forward.