This programme founded in 2019 aims to prioritise reflection on the use of language at Sciences Po and to develop students’ skill in writing and speaking, inventiveness, and appreciation of literature. Key to its success is a writers-in-residence scheme offering teaching and several events each year.
Oratory and rhetoric have formed part of Sciences Po’s identity since its founding. Marcel Proust, Julien Gracq and Leïla Slimani are just a few of the alumni who demonstrate Sciences Po’s strength at educating talented writers.
The spread of fake news, declining standards of written and spoken expression in the age of social networks, and the creativity imperative magnify the need to develop critical, original thinking and offer more courses on these themes.
Writer in Residence Chair
The Writer in Residence Programme was officially launched on 30 January 2019. Our first writer in residence, Kamel Daoud, teaches two courses in creative writing, takes master classes on the regional campuses, and participates in various literary events. A new writer in residence is welcomed each semester.
Delphine Grouès, Executive Director of Studies and Educational Innovation
Offer of courses
The intention is to stimulate dialogue and enrich the teaching and learning relationship by inviting students to take part in writing projects. They will be able to develop their creativity through workshops in which they practice creative writing and discuss it with their peers. Such creative exercises empower students. The cognitive impact of writing is well known: writing encourages depth and clarity of thinking and helps put students in a more favourable position for learning in other disciplines.
The Chair and the Centre will be developed with a focus on three key areas:
- Argumentation: this area concentrates on the importance of mastering strategic communication in an academic or professional context. The classes help students to increase their proficiency in writing dissertations, giving presentations, and sitting oral or written exams, and develop the skills necessary to express themselves clearly and persuasively in a professional setting.
- Public speaking: this area focuses on engaging in one’s message, building a relationship with the audience, learning to listen and persuade, and mastering the fundamental techniques of stress management in public speaking, delivery (vocal charisma and body language), and oral style. A speaker should be the author, composer, conductor and performer of his or her speech.
- Creative writing: the last area aims to create a space where students feel free to be inventive, to play with language and, if they so choose, to share their writing with their peers and with recognised writers and publishers.
These three areas will be developed at Sciences Po through the Writing and Rhetoric Centre. The Centre is intended to centralise the courses and workshops that are at present unevenly dispersed across the various undergraduate and graduate programmes.
The only initiative of its kind in France
The creation of the Writer-in-Residence Chair will echo similar initiatives at universities abroad. Stanford’s programme in Writing and Rhetoric, the writing centres at Harvard and King’s College, Oxford’s Centre for Life-Writing, Cambridge’s Language Centre, and the Writing Hub at University of Sydney are some examples. Partnerships could be established and faculty and student exchanges planned as part of summer schools dedicated to writing and rhetoric. Collaboration could be initiated around the various teaching practices and formats that have been developed to build students’ writing skills and creativity, beginning with Princeton, one of the most advanced universities in terms of writing centres.
In addition, partnerships could be established with university and national libraries for readings and events related to literary creation.
To achieve this funding goal, we are seeking support from several partners willing to commit for a three-year period.