"I don't know what I think until I write it down." (Joan Didion)
The creative writing concentration offers students the opportunity to focus on creative writing within the English major. Each semester, the department offers a range of courses in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Some of these courses are taught primarily as workshops, with an emphasis on drafting and discussing student manuscripts, while others take up special topics such as science writing or memoir and the psyche. All of these courses expose students to contemporary literature, teach them to read like writers, and allow students to explore countless approaches to telling stories, crafting images, and developing an ear for language.
The faculty who teach in the creative writing concentration are all themselves working writers. Each semester, the creative writing program also hosts a reading series that brings writers to campus to read from their work and interact with students in intimate afternoon craft conversations. Some recent guests have included Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Anthony Doerr, National Book Award winner Junot Diaz, environmental writers such as Gretel Ehrlich and Scott Russell Sanders, and the poets, Mary Jo Salter and Christopher Merrill. Writing contests, the 5x10 student reading series, and the literary magazine, The Purple, provide all students with opportunities to present their poetry and prose to a broader audience.
To complete the concentration, English majors must take three creative writing classes, including one introductory course in either prose or poetry and two intermediate level courses in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Only two Creative Writing Courses may be counted towards the English Major, so Creative Writing Concentrators will take a minimum of 12 courses in English rather than 11. Beyond the three required courses, the department offers creative writing electives such as screen writing and science writing so that students can deepen their practice as writers. Students may also apply to take part in a competitive multi-genre advanced workshop or complete a senior thesis in creative writing.
"For the writer, reading is part of the process of writing. Even before we know we will be writers, our reading is part of our preparation for writing. Conversely, our writing might be defined as the preparation for our reading of that writing unique to ourselves—the writing no one else except us can do. Every book, every story, every sentence we read is a part of our preparation for our own writing, so it’s wise to choose our reading carefully, as an athlete trains carefully, as a musician practices his or her instrument for hours and for years in pursuit of excellence, of fully realizing a talent." (Joyce Carole Oates)