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Expectations for participating in writing courses at City Lit

Close-up of students gathered at a deskClose-up of students gathered at a desk

The Writing Department at City Lit is committed to welcoming all learners, and to ensuring that all learning takes places within a productive, supportive environment. The following guidelines provide some more information on how your course will be taught and what will be expected from you as part of the learning experience.

This course promotes diversity and inclusivity

We are committed to welcoming all learners to City Lit Writing, and this course actively encourages and makes space for different perspectives and learning needs. In order to create a safe and productive environment for everyone, we ask that all members of our community demonstrate kindness and respect for each other. For more information, please see the college Student Code of Conduct and Equality and Diversity Policy available on our website.

This course contains a workshop element

Workshopping means that you will be encouraged to share your ideas and your written material so that you can receive feedback from your classmates and the tutor. Feedback may take the form of verbal and/or written comments. The college operates a policy of constructive feedback, which means that all comments from learners and tutors on student work should be designed to promote learning and to foster a productive, supportive environment.

Feedback is a key part of learning in writing classes. It can be daunting for some but with kindness, compassion, and practice it can become one of the most enjoyable parts of the writing process. In particular, learning how to give valuable constructive feedback on written work is one of the most effective ways of developing your own skills as a writer. Your tutor will provide you with guidelines on the principles of giving effective feedback.

This course supports the use of content notes

City Lit Writing endeavours to create a safe, creative, and welcoming space for all. For this reason, we strongly support the use of content notes to facilitate open and productive discussion. This means that you are asked to make your tutor and classmates aware in advance if any writing you wish to share contains material that may be deemed sensitive. Please ask your tutor for further clarification if you are unsure about what might qualify as sensitive content.

Some examples of appropriate use of content notes:

  • Your tutor invites you to submit a piece of your writing to Google Classroom for your classmates to read, analyse, and discuss. Your writing contains reference to a fatal drug overdose and is based on an event that happened in your personal life. To prepare your classmates, you add the following brief comment to your submission post: ‘hey everyone, just to let you know this piece contains a description of a man’s fatal drug overdose and deals with the aftermath of that act. This is based on what happened to a good friend of mine a few years ago. Thank you for reading.’
  • Your tutor asks you to bring a piece of writing you admire to class to share within a small group setting. The piece of writing you choose contains explicit reference to terminal illness. In order to prepare your classmates, you choose not to read it aloud and offer the following verbal warning before you share copies: ‘this piece focuses on a character’s experience with [illness]. The first paragraph is fine, but the second and third may be upsetting.’
  • Your tutor pairs you with a partner and asks you to share a small excerpt of your writing with each other for feedback. The excerpt you choose to share includes a character using a discriminatory slur. In order to prepare your partner, you choose not to read the slur aloud and offer the following verbal warning before you share your written copy: ‘this piece includes a character using a discriminatory slur. I won’t say the slur aloud because I understand that it’s offensive to lots of people, but just to let you know that it’s written in full in the first paragraph. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of its use in my piece.’

If you would like to learn more about content notes and why we at City Lit Writing support their use, you can refer to this helpful resource from the University of Cambridge Students’ Union.

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