Program in Creative Writing

Faculty

Director

  • Jhumpa Lahiri

Executive Committee

  • Su Friedrich, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Judith Hamera, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Aleksandar Hemon, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Brian E. Herrera, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Jhumpa Lahiri, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Deana Lawson, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Yiyun Li, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Susan S. Marshall, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Paul B. Muldoon, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Kirstin Valdez Quade, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Joe Scanlan, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Susan Wheeler, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Jeffrey Whetstone, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Rhaisa Williams, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Stacy E. Wolf, Lewis Center for the Arts

Associated Faculty

  • Michael W. Cadden, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Jane F. Cox, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Martha Friedman, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Rebecca J. Lazier, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Danez J. Smith, Lewis Center for the Arts

Sits with Committee

  • Michael C. Dickman
  • A.M. Homes

Professor

  • Aleksandar Hemon
  • Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Yiyun Li
  • Paul B. Muldoon
  • Susan Wheeler

Assistant Professor

  • Kirstin Valdez Quade

Professor Emeritus (teaching)

  • Joyce Carol Oates

Lecturer

  • Michael C. Dickman
  • Mark Doten
  • A.M. Homes
  • Daphne Kalotay
  • Sheila Kohler
  • Christina Lazaridi
  • Susanna Moore
  • Idra Novey
  • Nicole Sealey
  • Susanna Styron

Visiting Professor

  • Tyehimba Jess
  • Rowan R. Phillips
For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.

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; explore the possibilities of contemporary 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 to a craft-based consideration of published writing, and to the 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-length 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, an extensive portfolio of work in the relevant genre, and a thesis project proposal. 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 Path E, 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.

 

Courses

CWR 201 Creative Writing (Poetry) Fall LA

Practice in the original composition of poetry supplemented by the reading and analysis of standard works. Each student is expected to prepare a manuscript each week. There will be a weekly workshop meeting and occasional individual conferences. Prerequisite: by application. Instructed by: Staff

CWR 202 Creative Writing (Poetry) Spring LA

Practice in the original composition of poetry supplemented by the reading and analysis of standard works. Each student is expected to prepare a manuscript each week. There will be a weekly workshop meeting and occasional individual conferences. Prerequisite: by application. Instructed by: Staff

CWR 203 Creative Writing (Fiction) Fall LA

Practice in the original composition of fiction supplemented by the reading and analysis of standard works. Each student is expected to prepare a manuscript at least every other week. There will be a weekly workshop meeting and occasional individual conferences. Prerequisite: by application. Instructed by: Staff

CWR 204 Creative Writing (Fiction) Spring LA

Practice in the original composition of fiction supplemented by the reading and analysis of standard works. Each student is expected to prepare a manuscript at least every other week. There will be a weekly workshop meeting and occasional individual conferences. Prerequisite: by application. Instructed by: Staff

CWR 205 Creative Writing (Literary Translation) (also
COM 249
/
TRA 204
) Fall LA

Practice in the translation of literary works from another language into English supplemented by the reading and analysis of standard works. Each student is expected to prepare a manuscript each week. There will be a weekly workshop meeting and occasional individual conferences. Prerequisite: fluency in a language other than English and by application. Instructed by: P. Muldoon

CWR 206 Creative Writing (Literary Translation) (also
TRA 206
/
COM 215
) Spring LA

Practice in the translation of literary works from another language into English supplemented by the reading and analysis of standard works. Each student is expected to prepare a manuscript each week. There will be a weekly workshop meeting and occasional individual conferences. Prerequisite: fluency in a language other than English and by application. Instructed by: J. Lahiri

CWR 207 Yaass Queen: Gay Men, Straight Women, and the Literature, Art, and Film of Hagdom (also
GSS 220
/
THR 207
) Spring LA

Modern queer writers have long written about the rich and complicated relationship straight cis women have had with queer men. And yet, outside of queer literary circles, little attention has been paid to how these relationships challenge or replicate traditional family structures, and form a community outside of the status quo. We will examine the stories male writers constructed and analyze women writers who held a mirror up to those straight and queer men who were drawn to lesbian culture. By examining photography and painting, we will further look at the artist's relationship to and identification with queerness, or straight female power. Instructed by: H. Als

CWR 208 Freedom-Restraint Fall/Spring LA

Poems are weird, wild, ancient machines from the future. Form is but one way to harness their power, another tool to add in your kit. In this space, together, we'll be formalist, inventors, rule-breakers, and dreamers in the name of poems. Be prepared for a generous amount generative work journaling, discussion, presentation and journaling, some poet-led workshopping in the later part of the semester. All the gorgeous restriction and possible chaos of form awaits us. Let's write. (Content Warning: Some of the work read in this course addresses violence that is at times sexual, colonial, racial, or gendered in nature.) Instructed by: D. Smith

CWR 209 Along the Edge: Leonora Carrington (also
ART 223
/
COM 240
/
GSS 277
) Fall LA

This interdisciplinary seminar will focus on Leonora Carrington. Students will be asked to respond to Carrington's oeuvre both critically and creatively, writing essays, responses, and imaginative texts inspired by a close reading of Carrington's idiosyncratic fiction and by studying her prints, drawings and paintings, which are part of the Princeton Art Museum's permanent collection. Knowledge of French and/or Spanish is recommended but not required, as we will also look at some of Carrington's writing in the original languages of composition, and consider questions of linguistic migration and experimentation. Instructed by: J. Lahiri

CWR 211 How to Write A Song (also
MTD 211
) Spring LA

An introduction to the art of writing words for music, an art at the core of almost every literary tradition from Homer through Beowulf to W.B Yeats and beyond. Composers and writers will have the opportunity to work in small songwriting teams to respond to such emotionally charged themes as Contempt, Gratitude, Revenge, Desire, Disgust, Joyousness, Remorse, Loneliness, Despair and Defiance. Assignments are based on the study of a range of works in the popular song tradition. The final exercise will be a public showcase of work from the semester. Instructed by: P. Muldoon

CWR 214 Graphic Design (See VIS 214)

CWR 215 Graphic Design: Typography (See VIS 215)

CWR 217 Latinx Stories (also
LAO 217
) Fall/Spring LA

We will read published literary short stories by contemporary Latinx writers and explore the vast range of Latinx experience in the United States as well as the vast range of fictional techniques employed by these writers. In discussing these published works, we will analyze how the formal elements of story--structure, plot, character, point of view, etc.--function in these pieces, so that students can apply these principles of craft to their own work. Students will write two complete short stories, which will be discussed in a traditional workshop format, and then submit a revision of one of those stories. Instructed by: K. Quade

CWR 218 Writing and Performance Fall LA

In this course we will write and interrogate poetry across many avenues. From written work to spoken word to instagram, traditional lineated verse to poems that see the blank page as more canvas than paper, we ask ourselves how this ancient holder for prayer, confession, and our wild strangeness performs across different manifestations of text and body. Analyzing works of contemporary American masters will be our foundation, adding our own experiments to the canon will be our goal reached through reading, watching, discussing, playing, writing, ritual making, and performing. Come prepared to write and play hard. Instructed by: D. Smith

CWR 223 360 Degrees With 7 Storytellers (See VIS 223)

CWR 240 Creative Non-Fiction (See JRN 240)

CWR 301 Advanced Creative Writing (Poetry) Fall LA

Advanced practice in the original composition of poetry for discussion in regularly scheduled workshop meetings. Prerequisites: Two 200-level CWR courses and by application. Instructed by: Staff

CWR 302 Advanced Creative Writing (Poetry) Spring LA

Advanced practice in the original composition of poetry for discussion in regularly scheduled workshop meetings. Prerequisites: Two 200-level CWR courses and by application. Instructed by: Staff

CWR 303 Advanced Creative Writing (Fiction) Fall LA

Advanced practice in the original composition of fiction for discussion in regularly scheduled workshop meetings. Prerequisites: 203 or 204 and by application. Instructed by: Staff

CWR 304 Advanced Creative Writing (Fiction) Spring LA

Advanced practice in the original composition of fiction for discussion in regularly scheduled workshop meetings. Prerequisites: Two 200-level CWR courses and by application. Instructed by: Staff

CWR 305 Advanced Creative Writing (Literary Translation) (also
COM 355
/
TRA 305
) Fall LA

Advanced practice in the translation of literary works from another language into English supplemented by the reading and analysis of standard works. Prerequisites: 205 or 206 and by application. Instructed by: P. Muldoon

CWR 306 Advanced Creative Writing (Literary Translation) (also
COM 356
) Spring LA

Advanced practice in the translation of literary works from another language into English supplemented by the reading and analysis of standard works. Prerequisites: 205 or 206 and by application. Instructed by: J. Lahiri

CWR 308 Autobiography: Writing Our Selves Spring LA

What compels us to write about ourselves? And what drives us to read about the lives of others? In this workshop we will examine different approaches to writing about the people, places and events that have made us who and how we are. Through the reading and discussion of a number of autobiographical texts, we will gather a set of writerly tools that will help us in writing about our own life experiences. In other words, we'll pay close attention to the craft-based choices made by writers of memoirs and personal essays, and see what those choices will yield when applied to our own material. Instructed by: Y. Li

CWR 309 Playwriting II: Intermediate Playwriting (See THR 305)

CWR 310 Writing from Life Spring LA

What compels us to write about ourselves? What drives us to read about the lives of others? Where is the intersection between public life and private life? In this workshop we will examine different approaches to writing about the people, places and events that have shaped us. Instructed by: Y. Li

CWR 311 Embodied Storytelling: Voice, Mediation and Address Fall LA

In this writing workshop, students will be invited to write literary nonfiction essays that address their chosen imagined audience. We will engage writing by authors who have done the same in their work. From the fields of Oral History and Memory Studies we will borrow ideas of listening as a dialogic and intersubjective encounter, and the embodied self. We will reframe conversations about voicelessness + facelessness, and consider instead concepts of un-hearing + un-seeing - inviting new agencies and accountabilities into our creative practice. Instructed by: Staff

CWR 315 Life Is Short, Art is Really Short LA

All literature is short - compared to our lives, anyway - but we'll be concentrating on poetry and prose at their very shortest. The reading will include proverbs, aphorisms, greguerias, one-line poems, riddles, jokes, fragments, haiku, epigrams and microlyrics. Imagism, contemporary shortists, prose poems, various longer works assembled from small pieces, and possibly even flash fiction. Students will take away from the thrift and edge of these literary microorganisms a new sense of what can be left out of your work and new ideas about how those nebulae of pre-draft in your notebooks might condense into stars and constellations. Instructed by: Staff

CWR 318 Oral History: The Art of Listening and Translation Spring LA

How do we craft narrative from the material of another person's life? We will look at the oral history interview as an act of spontaneous literature - one that contains both the individual story, and the larger history. Students will learn the art of listening, the ethics of interpretation, and approach the writing process as translation of experience. We will borrow from documentary practices across different media (film, visual storytelling, audio storytelling), allowing them to inspire our efforts to find the literary forms that respond to the lived histories that are shared with us. Instructed by: Staff

CWR 323 Writing Near Art/Art Near Writing (See VIS 323)

CWR 345 Special Topics in Creative Writing (also
AMS 345
/
GSS 383
) Not offered this year LA

Students gain special access to the critical understanding of literature through their involvement in the creative process. Topics include autobiography, prosody, non-fiction, revision and point of view. Students are expected to prepare a manuscript at least every other week. Specific topics and prerequisites will vary. By application. Instructed by: Staff

CWR 347 Screenwriting I: Short Screenwriting for Filmmakers (also
VIS 340
) Spring LA

This course will introduce students to the foundational principles and techniques of screenwriting, taking into account the practical considerations of film production. Questions of thematic cohesiveness, plot construction, logical cause and effect, character behavior, dialogue, genre consistency and pace will be explored as students gain confidence in the form by completing a number of short screenplays. The course will illustrate and analyze the power of visual storytelling to communicate a story to an audience, and will guide students to create texts that serve as "blueprints" for emotionally powerful and immersive visual experiences. Instructed by: M. Molson

CWR 348 Introduction to Screenwriting: Writing the Short Film (also
VIS 348
) Fall LA

This course will introduce students to core screenwriting principles and techniques. Questions of thematic cohesiveness, plot construction, logical cause and effect, character behavior, dialogue, genre consistency and pace will be explored as students gain confidence by completing a number of short screenplays. The course will illustrate and analyze the power of visual storytelling to communicate a story to an audience, and will guide students to create texts that serve as "blueprints" for emotionally powerful and immersive visual experiences. Final portfolio will include one short exercise and two short screenplays. By application. Instructed by: C. Lazaridi, A. Hemon

CWR 349 Introduction to Screenwriting: Writing for a Global Audience (also
VIS 349
) Spring LA

How can screenwriters prepare for the evolving challenges of our global media world? What types of content, as well as form, will emerging technologies make possible? Do fields like neuroscience help us understand the universal principles behind screenwriting and do tech advances that alter the distance between audience and creator, man and machine, also influence the content of our stories? This class will use fairytales, films, games and new media to illustrate universal script principles while creating a rich interdisciplinary lens to explore the innovative intersection of narrative screenwriting, science and technology. Instructed by: C. Lazaridi

CWR 351 Archive Writing (See COM 350)

CWR 352 Advanced Fiction: Imitating Italians (also
ITA 352
) Spring LA

A reading-based advanced fiction workshop designed to introduce students to the practice of imitation as a point of creative departure. Reading the works of a series of twentieth-century Italian masters--Ginzburg, Lampedusa, Levi, Morante, among others--we will analyze a range of techniques and styles and focus our discussion on themes of linguistic crossing and hybrid identity. All readings will be in translation from the recently published Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories edited by Jhumpa Lahiri. Italian concentrators and certificate students will read the stories and produce all written work in Italian. Instructed by: J. Lahiri

CWR 385 The Art of the Essay (See FRE 385)

CWR 401 Advanced Creative Writing Tutorial Not offered this year LA

Tutorials in the original composition of fiction, poetry, or translations, open to those who have demonstrated unusual commitment and talent through four terms of creative writing or who provide equivalent evidence of their capacity for advanced work. Open also to qualified graduate students. Individual conferences to be arranged. Instructed by: Staff

CWR 402 Advanced Creative Writing Tutorial Not offered this year LA

Tutorials in the original composition of fiction, poetry, or translations, open to those who have demonstrated unusual commitment and talent through four terms of creative writing or who provide equivalent evidence of their capacity for advanced work. Open also to qualified graduate students. Individual conferences to be arranged. Instructed by: Staff

CWR 403 Special Topics in Screenwriting (also
VIS 406
) Not offered this year LA

This class will familiarize students with the complex use of metaphorical, emotional, and visual threads in long form screenplay writing. Analyzing examples of international, independent, and classical structures, students will be exposed to the rhythms and demands of the process of conceiving and writing a long form narrative film. Prerequisite: Introduction to Screenwriting and by application. Instructed by: Staff

CWR 405 Advanced Screenwriting: Writing for Television (also
VIS 405
) Fall/Spring LA

This advanced screenwriting workshop will introduce students to the fundamental elements of developing and writing a TV series in the current "golden age of television." Students will watch television pilots, read pilot episodes, and engage in in-depth discussion about story, series engine, character, structure, tone and season arcs. Each student will formulate and pitch an original series idea, including season arcs, and complete most or all of the pilot episode by end of semester. Instructed by: A. Homes, S. Styron

CWR 409 Revision Workshop (See THR 409)

CWR 448 Introduction to Screenwriting: Adaptation (also
VIS 448
) Fall LA

Introduction to screenwriting adaptation techniques, focusing primarily on the challenges of adapting "true stories" pulled from various non-fiction sources. The class will address the ethics of adaptation, questions and techniques surrounding the need to fictionalize truth for dramatic purposes, as well as touch on the differences between fictional and nonfictional original materials. Students will be exposed to various contemporary non-fiction adaptations, and will write a short film and one longer project. By application. Instructed by: C. Lazaridi

CWR 494 Princeton Atelier (See ATL 494)

CWR 496 Princeton Atelier (See ATL 496)