Departmental Writing Fellow

Nathan Roberts, 2020-2021


Nathan Roberts PhotoThe Departmental Writing Fellow is a resource for all undergraduates enrolled in AFVS department courses – including Gen Ed courses taught by AFVS affiliated faculty – who would like help with their writing. The DFW can help with topics ranging from writing a formal, argumentative paper for an AFVS class; to figuring out how to write a compelling personal statement for an artistic project, or using creative writing as an extension of one’s artistic practice.

Individual writing appointments can be scheduled here. Please read the entirety of this page before scheduling your first appointment.

About the DFW

The DWF can help you focus on the unique skills required to write for an AFVS course. This distinguishes the AFVS DWF from Writing Tutors at the Harvard College Writing Center, who offer similar academic writing advice without the discipline-specific expertise offered by the AFVS DWF.

For highly analytic writing, the AFVS DWF will consider your paper or chapter as a piece of argumentative prose, typically oriented around a set of aesthetic ideas and (audio)visual texts. The AFVS DFW can help you craft a strong piece of academic writing – with an overarching thesis, clear claims, robust evidence, convincing arguments, and sound logic – in the sphere of aesthetic analysis. The DFW can help you avoid temptations common to the discipline, like leaning on the crutch of excessive jargon or obscuring arguments with lyrical description.

For “creative” writing – i.e. nonlinear, personal, eccentric, freeform, and/or experimental writing – the DFW can help you consider your own creative writing practice with reference to the goals that you spell out, at whatever stage of development they might be in. Having some sense of what you want your creative writing to do, in reference to your own artistic practice, can allow the DFW to brainstorm ways of pursuing your unique goal. (I have much experience with creative nonfiction writing, and I would love to brainstorm with you throughout your unique creative process!)

Instructions for Students

You are welcome to schedule an appointment at any stage in the writing process! Please send over the relevant assignment prompt, if possible, as well as any preexisting writing, relevant outline materials, sketches, notes, or general thoughts. These preexisting materials are by no means required, but may help us spark ideas.

Special Instructions for Draft Feedback

In addition to sending the assignment prompt, if available, I also ask you to email me your draft at least two hours before your appointment. On this draft, you are encouraged – but by no means required – to lead with an informal opening paragraph summarizing why you wished to schedule the appointment: the problems that you’re working through, the direction you wish to go with the written piece, anything that will help contextualize the piece at hand. Although it is by no means required, this kind of informal description will help me read with an eye for your own concerns.

I will read a maximum of twenty pages per appointment. If you wish to discuss a longer piece, please indicate which shorter section you’d like to discuss during our appointment. Thesis writers may schedule multiple appointments in order to discuss their theses in relevant chunks.


I will host occasional workshops, focused on AFVS-related writing, throughout the semester. You can find these events on the AFVS website calendar, where they will be posted on the homepage under “upcoming events.”


If you have any further questions, please email me at nathanroberts [at]!