Creative writing has always been an important part of the English department and major. Students may pursue a creative writing concentration within the major by completing three creative writing course, one of which is in addition to the courses required for the major, for a total of eleven courses.
The department offers a variety of creative writing courses, including an introductory and an advanced workshop in poetry writing (ENGL 1225 and 2852), an introductory and advanced workshop in fiction writing (ENGL 1228 and 2853), a variety of creative non-fiction courses, and "Telling Environmental Stories” (ENGL 2854/ENVS 2423), 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 course in another genre) toward the creative writing concentration. (Students may also count two of these classes toward the traditional English major.)
To register for certain creative writing courses, a student must submit a sample of written work to the English department. Course instructors review samples and select the most accomplished students. These courses are intended to provide serious and professional instruction to the most skillful creative writing students on campus, regardless of their major.
The creative writing concentration is regarded not as an offshoot of the traditional major, but rather as a rigorous investigation of the importance of such a major. Students who wish to earn an English major with a creative writing concentration must take the same literature courses required for the traditional English major in addition to the three required creative courses.
By taking both creative writing courses and a wide range of literature and theory courses, students learn about creative writing as a craft - and as an engagement with a long, diverse tradition of writers and scholars. The creative writing classes (and readings by visiting creative writers) act in harmony with the literature classes. Students learn about literature by writing it, and gain a sharper sense of literary form, making certain features of the literary endeavor—such as the effect of influence, the role of the authorial person, and the usefulness of specific literary traditions and techniques—even more vivid.