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Creative Writing Track for English Majors

The creative writing track weaves craft, imagination, and a lively literary framework in order to support English majors dedicated to their writing. Through a breadth of literature and creative writing courses including courses taught by renowned visiting writers, students have the opportunity to gather writing skills and techniques, inspiration, and knowledge.

This journey as creative writers within the English Department includes attending and participating in our Visiting Writer Series, departmental and AMC college writing contests, our Literary Publishing Practicum, SpeakEasy (a student-led spoken word group), and any of the college’s magazines and publications including the department’s own Hairstreak Butterfly Review. Creative Writing courses are also supported by or include a connection with the Press at CC, the Fine Arts Center, and Tutt Library’s Special Collections. Students are encouraged to take classes with the Press at CC, the Journalism Institute, the department’s literary journal adjunct, and attend literary events throughout a number of disciplines.

Students are advised on courses and experiences needed to complete the major and their senior thesis project. In addition to taking creative writing classes, students are advised on their literature requirements and elective classes that would further develop a comprehensive engagement with literary and art tradition and its ability to foreground environmental, political, sociological, and judicial concerns across centuries, movements, and through a medley of topics. These classes and the creative writing track’s supportive engagement with writers and writing culminate in the student’s final Spring semester through a series of Senior Seminar courses, which concentrate wholly on their senior project and ensure its completion—not just as a final product, but as a commitment to their own writing development and towards a publishable manuscript or future writing.

Course Path

The Creative Writing track is one of three possible tracks for the English Major and articulates powerfully with the learning outcomes of courses centered in literature, literary theory, and film studies. The literary and critical elements of the track provide a foundational understanding of genre, texts, and theoretical approaches that challenge students to develop critical reading and thinking skills. The scaffolded creative writing courses provide clear levels of progress centered upon eventually completing the senior project and for deepening student engagement with the craft of developing voice and narrative. Students take an introductory and advanced course in one chosen genre before moving into the senior sequence as described above. Students also take one elective in creative writing or another art discipline as a way of broadening, deepening and diversifying their engagement with creative productivity more generally. Students interested in more than one genre are encouraged to begin their progress through the track by taking the multi-genre “Introduction to Creative Writing” class before choosing a genre path. Further, senior sequence courses are designed to support hybrid projects that cross and complicate genres, as well as incorporate other mediums and areas of studies.

 

Applying to the Creative Writing Track

Students must declare the English Major by the end of their second year. A student can apply to the Creative Writing track after taking a beginning course (EN282, 283, or 285) in their chosen genre track. Students unsure of which track to join are encouraged to enroll in Introduction to Creative Writing (EN286) as an elective and to explore genres. Please see the Courses page for requirement details and scheduling. Documents for declaring the major and applying to a Creative Writing track are on the Forms page.

 

The Senior Thesis and Thesis Courses

The Senior Thesis can take the form of a collection of poetry, essays, short stories, a novella, or even a novel. Hybrid works are also possible upon approval. Length of the project is determined by the genre, style, and intention of the project. In general, prose works are 60+ pages with some novels as long as 250. Poetry collections vary from 25-40 pages and include an essay on the student’s development as a literary artist and community member.

 

Senior Seminar Sequence: Workshop/Project

The Senior Seminar Sequence for prose theses runs blocks 6 and 7 only. No exceptions.

For poetry theses, the Senior Seminar Sequence runs currently in blocks 6 and 7.

EN481 Senior Seminar: Creative Writing Workshop

Advanced study of creative writing, either fiction or poetry, culminating (after the Senior Project block, EN 485) in a creative thesis such as a collection of short stories, a novella or novel, a collection of poems. Required of all senior Creative Writing English majors.

EN485 Senior Project: Creative Writing

Advanced study of a creative writing topic chosen by the student, approved by the department, in which the student completes a creative senior project (either fiction or poetry) in a workshop setting. Required of all Creative Writing Track seniors.

 

What is the Creative Writing Senior Sequence?

The goal of the Senior Seminar sequence is the submission of a finalized senior project at the end of Block 7 as part of the English Major requirement.

In the Senior Seminar Workshop (block 6) the class will operate as a workshop. This means its purpose is to give students an opportunity to have their work read and critiqued by others. Being a member of the workshop entails the following: submitting writing under strict deadlines and ready for critique, discussing the scope of the project at the beginning of the block with a plan for moving forward, reading the work of peers thoughtfully and within the context of their project and the craft of writing, and providing both written and oral feedback that is well-supported and constructive. Additional assignments and engagements provide support towards completing a finished first draft of the full thesis, which is due on the last day of block 6. This is a complete draft with a developed story arc or thematic cohesion. It is not, however, a final draft and may have errors, omissions, etc. The Block 6 draft will be ready for revision and final edits. This step of provisional completion is a crucial intermediate moment for the thesis and a necessary prelude to the refining and editing of the work as a whole that takes place the following block.

In the Senior Seminar course (block 7) students are required to meet with and consult with their assigned faculty member frequently and to keep them abreast of their progress. Goals for revising towards a final draft will be developed towards the growth of the work itself and differ from project to project, requiring our expertise in a number of genres and styles. These goals will be discussed at the beginning of the block once a supervisor has been assigned. The Senior Seminar course gives each student one-on-one focused time with their advisor for help in everything from writing and revision processes to specific methods in writing and further reading, and to discuss the project’s range in terms of topic, theme, style, and genre. Each year students are excited, but also nervous at the prospect of finishing their thesis within those two blocks and each year they have amazed themselves and all of us by how well-developed, professional, and engaging their projects prove to be. Senior projects are celebrated with a series of Senior Reading events of all creative and critical theses and can be submitted to Tutt library for a bound copy.

 

Creative Writing Faculty

Poetry: Nate Marshall (author site)

Creative Nonfiction: Brandon Shimoda

Fiction: Steven Hayward (author site)

Fiction: Natanya Pulley (author site)

Creative Writing Affiliates

Felicia Rose Chavez

Jane Hilberry

Report an issue - Last updated: 09/29/2021

Related Links

Creative Writing Minor

CW Minor Announcement

Creative Writing Core Courses (Offered yearly)
EN286  Intro. to Creative Writing
EN283  Beginning Fiction
EN282  Beginning Poetry
EN285  Beginning Creative Nonfiction
EN309  Advanced Fiction (and Creative Nonfiction)
EN308  Advanced Poetry
EN481/485  Senior Seminars & Projects

Sample of Creative Writing Elective Courses (Offered intermittently)
EN286  Topics in Creative Writing (Moving Line, Inspiration Lab, Three questions, etc.)
EN284/FM202  Screenwriting
EN288  Writing for Performance
TH200 Writing from the Well
TH217  Playwriting