Creative Writing

Creative Writing has always been an important part of the English Department and Major, and now students have the opportunity to pursue a creative writing concentration within the English major. The department currently offers six creative writing courses: an introductory and an advanced workshop in Poetry writing (Eng 125 and Eng 216), an introductory and advanced workshop in Fiction writing (English 128 and English 217), an introductory class in Creative Non-Fiction writing (Eng 139), and “Telling Environmental Stories” (Eng 213/ES 216) a class that connects the study of creative writing with environmental studies. A student may count three of these courses (two courses in one genre, plus a class in another genre) toward the creative writing concentration within the English major; a student may also count two of those classes toward the traditional English major. Students who wish to take the introductory and advanced poetry workshops, and the advanced fiction workshop, submit dossiers of written work; instructors review the dossiers and select the most accomplished students. The courses are intended to provide serious and professional instruction to the most skillful creative writing students on campus, regardless of their major.

That said, we see the creative writing concentration of the English major not as an offshoot of the traditional major, but rather as a rigorous investigation of the importance of such a major. This is why we have decided that the students wishing to earn an English major with a creative writing concentration must, in addition to the three creative writing classes, take the same literature courses required for the traditional English major. In having the students take both creative writing courses and also a wide range of literature and theory courses, we believe the students learn about creative writing not only as a craft, but also as an engagement with, and continuation of, a long, diverse tradition of writers and scholars. The creative writing classes--and various classroom visits and readings visiting creative writers--act in harmony with the literature classes to enable students to learn about literature by writing it; to give students a sharper sense of literary form; and to make certain features of the literary endeavor—such as the effect of influence, the role of the authorial person, and the usefulness of specific literary tradition and techniques—even more vivid.