Program in Creative Writing

Academic Unit

Program Information

The Program in Creative Writing, part of the Lewis Center for the Arts, allows undergraduates to work with practicing writers while pursuing a regular liberal arts course of study. Students develop their writing skills; learn the possibilities of modern poetry, fiction, nonfiction, screenwriting, and translation; and gain a special access to the critical understanding of literature through their involvement in the creative process.

Small workshop courses in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, screenwriting, and translation are taught by the program faculty, and visiting writers. These courses are limited in enrollment to ensure the benefits of working closely with faculty. Students begin the creative writing course sequence in either the fall or spring with 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 348, 349, or 448. (Any of these may be repeated for credit with a different instructor.) Students who have taken two 200-level courses in poetry, fiction, and translation may apply for the 300 level. All creative writing courses require an application process. Screenwriting students may apply to intermediate and advanced screenwriting classes after one introductory screenwriting class, or any other two CWR courses.

Each workshop focuses on one genre only (poetry, fiction, nonfiction, screenwriting, or translation). Workshops meet for up to three hours weekly and are devoted primarily to discussion of student work.

All creative writing program courses are graded pass/D/fail but are not counted in the pass/D/fail budget.

Program of Study

Students may earn a certificate in creative writing by successfully completing the following requirements:

(1) Candidates for the certificate normally take two 200-level courses in creative writing by the end of sophomore year and two 300-level courses by the end of junior year, though a portion of this requirement may be waived in unusual circumstances. The courses need not be in a single genre; students are encouraged to experiment with kinds of writing new to them. Applicants for a screenwriting thesis must have taken one course in poetry, fiction, or translation; and at least two courses in screenwriting.

(2) Students may earn a certificate in creative writing by writing a creative senior thesis in one genre (e.g., collections of poems, stories, one feature or several short form screenplays, a novel, or literary translations in poetry or fiction) under the direction of program faculty.

During the spring term of junior year, candidates for the certificate apply to the Program in Creative Writing for permission to write a creative thesis. The application consists of a short form and an extensive portfolio of work in the relevant genre. Successful applicants are assigned specific deadlines and an adviser they meet with throughout senior year.

Accepted students seek permission from their home departments to use the creative thesis to satisfy departmental thesis requirements. For students in the Department of English creative writing track and Comparative Literature Program D, approval is routine, and several other departments have welcomed creative theses, but some students undertake the creative thesis as a "second thesis." Unlike creative writing workshops, which are pass/D/fail, theses receive letter grades.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill the requirements of the program receive a certificate of proficiency in creative writing upon graduation.