The Creative Writing BA Program | Academic Requirements | Student Learning Outcomes | Courses | Faculty

The Creative Writing Program: Courses

1000–1999 (lower level, freshman)
2000–2999 (lower level, sophomore)
3000–3999 (upper level, junior)
4000–4999 (upper level, senior)


Poetic Techniques
CWR 1000
/ 4 credits / Every year
Introduces the essentials of poetry writing, including poetic form and forms (traditional and unconventional), line structures and rhythms, figures of speech, and other elements of rhetoric, voice, and subject matter. Regular writing exercises are the heart of the course, emphasizing problems to solve and techniques to master. Reading and study of important poetic models accompanies the poetry writing. Students produce a portfolio of original poems by the end of the semester.

Introduction to Creative Writing
CWR 1010
/ 3 credits / Every year
This introductory course in creative writing allows students to explore various genres. Poetry, the short story, and memoir are among the forms discussed. Students should be prepared to write, revise, and share portions of their work with other members of the class, and to read a selection of works by contemporary authors.

Narrative Techniques
CWR 1100
/ 4 credits / Every year
An introduction to the fundamental aspects of fiction writing, including dialogue, plot, point of view, character development, detail, and voice. Starting from a series of writing exercises and analyses of published stories, students explore the techniques involved in creating effective fiction, using these as a springboard to complete a short story.


Creative Nonfiction
CWR 2300
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
In this introduction to creative nonfiction, students explore a variety of forms within the genre, including personal narrative, memoir, reportage, and the lyric essay. Students also write and workshop their own original essays.
Prerequisite: CWR 1000 and 1100

Poetry Writing I
CWR 2400
/ 4 credits / Fall
Students begin to study and practice poetic strategies, producing a poem per week in response to assigned exercises. Students also develop skills in critiquing by commenting on each others’ work and by reading and discussing the work of established poets.
Prerequisite: CWR 1000

Fiction Writing I
CWR 2500
/ 4 credits / Fall
While continuing to explore narrative strategies, students write and submit several short stories during the semester. Students also learn the fundamentals of critiquing as they discuss their work and that of published writers.
Prerequisite: CWR 1100

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Travel Writing
CWR 3100
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Drawing on students’ personal experiences of travel as well as readings in fiction and nonfiction, this course explores the ways in which travel informs writing. Class time is divided between discussions of the students’ own work and published selections that represent various aspects of travel, from the “voyage” itself to “being there” and “remembering” place, character, and events.
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

Writing and Reading the Region
CWR 3105
/ 4 credits / Summer (offered in France)
Using the French location and selected readings related to the region, students explore the contexts and their responses through writing. Students meet at various locations, from castles and ruins to a local café, and receive writing assignments that draw on place and setting. Each week, students select one of their on-the-spot works to revise and develop into a short piece of fiction for submission. Emphasis is on capturing the nuances of one’s surroundings and experiences of these surroundings, and on how to use setting as a main “character“ in writing.

Alternate Worlds
CWR 3125
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
This writing workshop draws on a variety of texts, media, and film as students explore fictional portrayals of other worlds. In their writing assignments, students focus on elements that contribute to effective narratives—setting, character, situation, etcetera—in order to create alternate realities.
Prerequisite: CWR 2500

The Art of the Novella
CWR 3200
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
What makes the novella work? What power does the form offer that the short story and longer novel do not? Is there a subject matter best suited to such brevity? Students examine these questions through close reading of works by new and established writers (e.g., James, Conrad, Moore), and begin to structure and write their own novella.
Prerequisite: CWR 2500

Constructing Truths: The Personal Essay
CWR 3210
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Students are guided through the classical questions of form and style, the building materials of the personal essay, through reading and writing assignments. Students examine the elements that convince the reader of the truth of their tales and explore how to confront their own experiences creatively. Readings are various, but with a focus on the 20th-century essay in English.
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

Editing and Production Workshop: Editing
CWR 3215
/ 4 credits / Fall
Focusing on the art of editing, students learn best editing practices through a practical and historical context of the literary journal landscape in the U.S. Students apply their skills to editing content to be published in the creative writing program’s literary magazine, Italics Mine.
Prerequisite: CWR 1000, 1010, or 1100

The Screenplay
CIN 3325
Refer to Cinema Studies Courses (School of Film and Media Studies) for description.

Poetry Writing II
CWR 3400
/ 4 credits / Spring
This course assumes that students have a good command of basic poetic craft. Writing assignments put increased emphasis on students’ own work, though there are still exercises to guide the workshop, as well as study and discussion of poetry by established writers.
Prerequisite: CWR 2400 or permission of instructor

The Importance of Tone in Constructing a Poem
CWR 3430
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
How does a poet’s attitude or stance towards her or his subject create tone or voice in a poem? In this workshop, students read and analyze a range of poetry to understand the linguistic and syntactic underpinnings of tone, including its relationship to line break and simile. Poets include Louise Gluck, Marie Howe, Billy Collins, Tony Hoagland, Jane Kenyon, Brenda Hillman, Eamon Grennan, W.H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, and T.S. Eliot.
Prerequisite: CWR 2400 or permission of instructor

Poets at Work: First Books
CWR 3450
/ 3 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Students interact with contemporary poets who have recently published their first poetry book or chapbook. Most classes are structured as a brief reading by and discussion with visiting authors. Topics include each author’s influences, how one assembles a collection, how manuscripts evolve over time, and the editorial/publishing process. Students read each poet’s collection and compose critical and creative responses.
Prerequisite: CWR 1000

Fiction Writing II
CWR 3500
/ 4 credits / Spring
This course assumes a working knowledge of the craft. Students write and discuss short stories or chapters from a novel in progress, and continue to refine their critiquing skills through discussion of their own work as well as published stories. Revision of submitted work is an important component of this course.
Prerequisite: CWR 2500

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Special Topics in Creative Writing
CWR 4000
/ 3 credits / Fall
A series of mini-workshops, guest speakers, and activities focused on current trends in the field and on broader topics germane to students in their senior year.
Prerequisite: CWR 3200, 3400, or 3500
Corequisite: SPJ 4990 or 4991

Advanced Seminar in Fiction Writing
CWR 4510
/ 4 credits / Fall
Taught by a well-published writer-in-residence. Students work intensively on revising and editing their own work and each other’s fiction, as well as on critiquing published stories and novels. The course also familiarizes students with the professional writer’s market and the submission process, in order to encourage each student to prepare at least one story for possible publication.
Prerequisite: CWR 3200 or 3500

Advanced Seminar in Poetry Writing
CWR 4511
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
Advanced students with practiced skills in poetry writing and criticism work to produce poems of publishable stature. Students should be able to assume full responsibility for their creative process in this course.
Prerequisite: CWR 3400

Senior Project I and II
SPJ 4990
and 4991 / 4 credits per semester / Every year
The senior project in creative writing is the final step in the program, to be undertaken after all other requirements have been completed. Sponsored by an instructor in the program, the final product is either a work of fiction or a collection of poems. Each student meets weekly with her or his sponsor. Two semesters required (8 credits total).
Prerequisite: CWR 4510 or 4511
Corequisite: CWR 4000, in the fall semester only

Updated Mar. 15, 2016

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