Creative Writing

 Lect. Rachel DeWoskin (right) leads students in a fiction writing course at Taft House.

Making its home south of Midway Plaisance in Taft House, The Program in Creative Writing is an intersection of imagination and critical inquiry. Creative Writing offers an array of writing-workshop-based classes in a variety of genres, from fiction and poetry to creative nonfiction and translation. In addition, MAPH students focusing in creative writing have the unique opportunity to inform their creative projects with rigorous analytic research in a variety of subjects, such as Art History, Cinema and Media Studies, Comparative Literature, English Language and Literature, Gender and Sexuality, Philosophy, and Visual Arts.

Selected Faculty

Sample Courses

There are two open spots in every Creative Writing course with a grad section; MAPH students in the Creative Writing Option get priority in these courses, and require instructor permission to register for open slots. There is no prerequisite on any grad section and all MAPH students are exempt from prerequisites. You can find the numbers for grad sections on Class Search or CIM.

If the two grad spots are already taken there is still a chance that the instructor would be interested in adding additional graduate students. In that case, students should write to the instructor, ask to be added to the waitlist and once they get the OK, plan to enroll during add/drop.

Please visit the Creative Writing page for more details on classes and registration.

CRWR 40229 - Technical Seminar in Fiction: 3D Character Builder (Rachel DeWoskin)
This reading and writing course will acquaint students with one of the essential tools of fiction writers, characterization. We will read works by authors including Baldwin, Guo, Nabokov, Munro, Sharma and Wharton, toward exploring how some of literatures most famous characters are rendered. How do writers of fiction create contexts in which characters must struggle, and how does each character's conflicts, choices, and use of language reveal his or her nature? How do we make characters whose behaviors are complicated enough to feel real, and why are some of the worst characters the most compelling? Students in this technical seminar will complete both creative and analytical writing exercises, reading responses, and a critical paper that focuses on characterization in a work of fiction.

CRWR 40411 - Technical Seminar in Poetry: Urban Image and Poetic Play (Garin Cycholl)
This technical seminar focuses on poems’ development of image through the work of urban writers. We will explore the lineage of urban lyric within the nineteenth century, then reflect on its development in the contemporary city. What impulse defines an “urban poetics?” What is urban lyric’s relationship with painting and photography? Do all city poems reflect one “city” in the end or is a more local impulse at work in cities as foci for writing? This course seeks to establish a solid, working basis in examining “image” and its lyric development through critical reflection and field work. To this end, we will work with a range of urban writers, including Paul Blackburn, Andrew Colarusso, Wanda Coleman, Kevin Killian, Frank O’Hara, Salima Rivera, Ed Roberson, and David Ulin.

CRWR 44021 - Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: The Trouble With Trauma (Dina Peone)
In “The Body Keeps the Score” Bessel van der Kolk writes, “The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.” Many trauma survivors begin writing reluctantly, even repulsed by the impulse to query their woundedness. The process is inhibited by stigma surrounding the notion of victimhood, entities that would prefer a survivor's silence, plus our tendency to dismiss and devalue ones suffering in relation to others. Students in this class will shed some of these constricting patterns of thinking about trauma so they may freely explore their stories with confidence, compassion, curiosity, and intention. We'll read authors who have found surprise, nuance, and yes, healing through art, honoring the heart-work that happens behind the scenes. Half of class-time will include student-led workshops of original works in progress. Paramount to our success will be an atmosphere of safety, supportiveness, respect, and confidentiality. By the quarter's end each student will leave with a piece of writing that feels both true to their experience and imbued with possibility.

CRWR 49300 - Thesis/Major Projects in Poetry (Margaret Ross)
This thesis workshop is for students writing a creative BA or MA thesis in poetry, as well as creative writing minors completing the portfolio. Because it is a thesis workshop, the course will focus on various ways of organizing larger poetic “projects.” We will consider the poetic sequence, the chapbook, and the poetry collection as ways of extending the practice of poetry beyond the individual lyric text. We will also problematize the notion of broad poetic “projects,” considering the consequences of imposing a predetermined conceptual framework on the elusive, spontaneous, and subversive act of lyric writing. Because this class is designed as a poetry workshop, your fellow students’ work will be the primary text over the course of the quarter.

A more comprehensive list of courses and descriptions is available at the Creative Writing course page

Creative Writing Option

Students who plan to do a creative writing thesis project in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction can choose to pursue the MAPH Creative Writing Option. Students who complete the following requirements will receive a Creative Writing notation on their MAPH transcript:

  • The MAPH Core course (Foundations of Interpretive Theory)
  • One creative writing course in the student's chosen genre in Fall Quarter
  • Creative Writing Thesis/Major Projects workshop in Winter Quarter
  • Three academic courses relevant to the student’s proposed thesis area
  • Two elective courses to be taken in any area of student interest

Two-Year Language Option for Creative Writing

MAPH's Two-Year Language Option is a great way for students to pursue advanced work in literary translation in their second year. Some possibilities might include advanced workshops on literary translation in various genres, upper-level undergraduate seminars and graduate courses in non-Anglophone literatures across a range of geographical regions and historical periods, and courses on translation theory.

Lawrence Grauman Jr. Fellowship Fund

The Grauman Fellowship, made possible by a generous legacy gift from Lawrence Grauman Jr. (AM '63), supports MAPH students studying English and/or Creative Writing, with a strong preference whenever possible for students who focus their studies on nonfiction writing or literary journalism. 

MAPH applicants who plan to work on creative nonfiction or literary journalism can indicate an interest in the Grauman Fellowship on their application.

Recent Creative Writing Thesis Projects

"Wonders of Unsung Black Life: A Poetic Interpretation on Living in Blackness"
Tia White, MAPH '21
Advisor: Margaret Ross

"Once and Future Gardens"
Sarah Hobin, MAPH '21
Advisor: Lina Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas

"Love Me, Love Me Not, Love Me Again: Stories for Bibliotherapy"
Casey Glynn, MAPH '20
Advisor: Rachel DeWoskin

"From the Well That Washes Itself: A Novel (Excerpt)"
Hajrije Kolimja, MAPH '20
Advisor: Rachel DeWoskin

"The Confrontation Exercises: Essays"
Jiaying Liang, MAPH '19
Advisor: Daniel Raeburn