In-Class Workshops

The Writing Center offers a variety of workshops, led by our professional staff, for delivery in your classes. The following is a list of our most frequently requested workshops. If there’s a topic you would like us to cover that’s not here, let us know and we’ll do all we can to meet your needs.

We ask for 2-3 weeks notice to schedule and prepare a workshop for your class. We’ll begin by meeting with you to understand your needs and expectations. Workshop scope and time frame are flexible; we can give an overview presentation for an hour or lead a series of three one-hour workshops, giving students more hands-on experience. To discuss and schedule a workshop for your course, please e-mail the respective presenter (Meredith Barrett or Jen Liese).

Liberal Arts–focused Workshops

E101 Literary Analysis: Overview and Q+A
Presented by: Meredith Barrett

You may already be familiar with writing about literature from high school, but college-level assignments will take you deeper into literary analysis. Your E101 professor will guide you through conventions in the discipline, but this workshop will provide a refresher, a chance to further your practice of writing as a reader, and a place to ask questions. We’ll cover topics including annotating texts; close reading; quoting from the text; and analyzing character, plot, dialogue, symbols, and metaphors.

H101 Formal Analysis Paper: Overview and Q+A
Presented by: Jen Liese

Your first H101 paper assignment—the formal analysis—is probably entirely new to you. Your H101 professor will guide you through the conventions, but you may want to learn more. In this workshop, we’ll review the essentials and the finer points of this cornerstone of art history writing, share approaches for looking, describing, and analyzing, and raise the questions you thought no one else would have.

Making a Statement
Presented by: Meredith Barrett

Writing in the Liberal Arts disciplines often requires the writer to take a stand. It’s not always easy to express your own scholarly argument, especially while encountering so many experts in the research process. In this workshop, we’ll break down the practice of moving from a general topic through research, questioning, and testing hypotheses. We’ll also test thesis statement samples against criteria for strong statements as practice for developing our own persuasive claims.

Research-focused Workshops

Research Writing: Best Practices
Presented by: Meredith Barrett

Research-based writing requires a number of steps: locating and gathering sources, engaging with the sources through reading and annotation, integrating the sources into your writing, and citing the sources. In this workshop, we’ll unpack the strategies, skills, and standards behind each of these steps, providing both context and practical tips. We’ll emphasize not only the nuts-and-bolts rationale for understanding and enacting academic research conventions (avoiding plagiarism), but how an intentional research process generates analytical thinking and situates the writer in scholarly conversation. This workshop can be offered in full or in part (for example, gathering sources can be addressed in a session with the Fleet Library, after which we follow up); it can be offered as a condensed presentation in one hour, or extended into a three-hour series of participatory class workshops. It can also be an in-depth follow up to our Writing Research Papers video tutorial (see next listing). Meredith will work with individual faculty to customize.

Grad-focused Workshops

Grad Written Thesis: Anything and Everything
Presented by: Jen Liese

Jen has taught graduate written thesis courses and workshops at RISD for about a decade, and welcomes the chance to collaborate with studio faculty to integrate writing assignments and workshops in your courses. Topics/approaches might include: developing an effective writing and research process; formulating a “thesis” in your thesis; writing about influences on and precedents for your work; contextualizing your work in relation to history, theory, current discourse through shared “field notes”; writing project descriptions; integrating autobiography; arts-based research methods; and why (and which) artists and designers write. Jen will work with individual faculty to design a 1-3 hour workshop, which may include follow-up and/or peer review exercises.

Art and Design–focused Workshops

Writing for Crit
Presented by: Jen Liese

Critiques are an opportunity to share your work with an insightful audience and gain feedback for a project’s development. So why are crits so often sources of stress? And how can we get the most out of the experience? This workshop will invite us to experiment with prompted list-making, self-interviews, and “objective” formal analysis designed to help you articulate your intentions, observations, and questions before crit. We’ll also review quick note-taking methods for crit time itself, and using writing post-crit to reflect and self-direct.

*Participants: please bring a piece you’ve made to engage with in this session.

Writing Your Artist or Designer Statement
Presented by: Jen Liese

While an artist or designer statement is a professional document—often included in grant applications, websites, and the like—it can also be an expressive form. Some of the most effective statements are ambiguous rather than explicit, poetic rather than literal, playful or political rather than safe. Structures and guidelines are helpful, but this workshop will also explore breaking out of formulas to encourage experimentation and the development of an authentic voice.

Grant-writing Basics
Presented by: Jen Liese

An introduction to writing grants and related project proposals, emphasizing the qualities grant-givers are looking for. Among our topics: understanding and reflecting the grant-giver’s mission; following guidelines; writing clear project descriptions; highlighting relevant experience; budgeting; and convincing others that your ideas and work matter. Exemplary models will be shared. If participants have a grant opportunity in mind, please bring the guidelines.

Public Speaking in Art and Design
Presented by: Jen Liese and Meredith Barrett

Art and design students—and artists and designers—have multiple opportunities to speak publicly, from the formal to the informal. But we rarely prepare ourselves to do so comfortably and effectively. This workshop is designed to precede in-class public speaking such as presentations, artist talks, and formal crits. In 1-1.5 hours, we will, through exercises, discussion, and demonstration, review the basics of breathing, posture, eye-contact, sign-posting, using story structure, eliciting empathy from the audience, using rhetorical questions to keep the audience engaged, and “being yourself.” Students are encouraged to make follow-up appointments with our public speaking tutors (whose names are followed by a “PS” on our online schedule).

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