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Creative Writing and Literature

RC alumna Allison Epstein, '14 RC Creative Writing and LSA English


Note: The Creative Writing and Literature Major is open to ALL LSA students.

Creative Writing and Literature Majors write fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction under the close guidance of faculty mentors, and may workshop their writing with other student writers in small writing seminars. Majors also study the art of writing through the study of literature. Majors specialize in fiction, poetry, or nonfiction early in their studies.

Creative Writing graduates pursue successful careers as writers, editors, educators, advertising professionals, and many other writing related-fields.  Every year our graduates are admitted to competitive graduate school programs in the fine arts, education, law, business, public policy, social work, and other courses of professional study that demand proficient writing skills and creative approaches to problem solving.

RC Creative Writing students have demonstrated unparalled success in the esteemed U of M Hopwood Awards, winning over 100 awards since the 1994-95 school year.

Advising

  • Students meet with the creative writing major advisor when declaring, making course substitutions, discussing transfer/study abroad credit evaluations, internships, preparing major release forms, and information on graduate school study and career paths. 

Although students may pursue study in multiple genres, most specialize in a single genre:

  • Fiction / Creative Nonfiction

  • Poetry

  • Digital Storytelling

Advising appointments can be made here or by calling RC Academic Services at 763-0032.

Requirements

Minimum Credits: 28

The major is structured into four genre tracks. In addition to the Fiction / Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, and Digital Storytelling tracks, students may elect a multi-genre track in consultation with their principal writing instructors and the major advisor.

Each track consists of:

  1. Four elective creative writing courses

  2. Five elective upper level literature courses

 

Fiction / Creative Nonfiction Track

Students complete a minimum of four creative writing courses, at least three of which must be at the 300 level or above and at least three of which must be taken in the RC. A usual track is an introductory course (Narration) and three upper-level courses. Students may count one non-RC creative writing course towards the writing requirement.

Creative Writing Courses: Students may elect any combination of seminars and tutorials from the following:

  1. RCHUMS 220 Narration: Intro to Fiction Writing

  2. RCHUMS 325, 326, 425, 426 Tutorials: Permission of instructor required

  3. RCHUMS 320 Narration: Advanced Fiction Writing

  4. RCHUMS 334 (Section 005) Memoir: Writing from Within

  5. Other departmental offerings listed under RCHUMS 334 or RCCORE 334. Details here.

Literature Electives: Students complete five literature courses, at the 300-level or above. One literature course must focus on either ancient literature or medieval literature (pre-1600). The ancient / medieval requirement may focus on non-Western or Western literature, but must pre-date Shakespeare if a Western literature course is elected. English 367 – Shakespeare’s Plays does not fulfill this requirement, although the course can count towards the literature requirement.

Students are encouraged to take literature courses in the RC Arts and Ideas Major, the Department of English or the Comparative Literature Program. Students majoring in a second language may count one upper-level literature course in that language, or one upper-level literature course completed during a full semester studying abroad in a non-English speaking country. Upper-level literature courses taken abroad also may be counted. All literature courses counted toward the Creative Writing and Literature Major must be at least three (3) credits.

 

Courses that have been used to meet the requirement in the past include:

  • RCHUMS 354 Race and Identity in Music

  • RCHUMS 344 Reason and Passion in the 18th Century

  • RCHUMS 342 Representing the Holocaust in Literature, Film and the Visual Arts

  • Other RCHUMS courses listed in the Arts and Ideas in the Humanities major

  • English 350 Literature in English to 1660 (for ancient/medieval requirement)

  • English 328 Writing and the Environment

  • English 379 Literature in Afro-American Culture

  • Other English Department courses with a literature focus

  • CLCIV 385 Greek Mythology (for ancient/medieval requirement)  

  • Asian 314 Strange Ways: Literature of the Supernatural in Pre-modern Japan and China

  • MEMS 386 Medieval Literature, History and Culture 

Poetry Track

Students complete a minimum of four creative writing courses, at least three of which must be at the 300 level or above and at least three of which must be taken in the RC. A usual track is an introductory course (Writing Poetry) and three upper-level courses. Students may count one non-RC creative writing course towards the writing requirement.

Creative Writing Courses: Students may elect any combination of seminars and tutorials from the following:

  1. RCHUMS 221 Writing Poetry

  2. RCHUMS 325, 326, 425, 426 Tutorials: Permission of instructor required

  3. RCHUMS 321 Advanced Poetry Writing

  4. RCHUMS 334 Workshop with Incarcerated Poets and Artists

  5. Other departmental offerings listed under RCHUMS 334 or RCCORE 334. Details here.


Literature Electives: Students complete five literature courses, at the 300-level or above. One literature course must focus on either ancient literature or medieval literature (pre-1600). The ancient / medieval requirement may focus on non-Western or Western literature, but must pre-date Shakespeare if a Western literature course is elected. English 367 – Shakespeare’s Plays does not fulfill this requirement, although the course can count towards the literature requirement.

Students are encouraged to take literature courses in the RC Arts and Ideas Major, the Department of English or the Comparative Literature Program. Students majoring in a second language may count one upper-level literature course in that language, or one upper-level literature course completed during a full semester studying abroad in a non-English speaking country. Upper-level literature courses taken abroad also may be counted. All literature courses counted toward the Creative Writing and Literature Major must be at least three (3) credits.

Courses that have been used to meet the requirement in the past include:

  • Literature courses listed above under Fiction / Creative Nonfiction

  • English 340 Studies in Poetry

  • English 440 Modern Poetry

  • English 442 Studies in Poetry

Digital Storytelling Track

The digital storytelling track studies the ways story interacts with technology and the effect of digital media on writing and the creative process. Students electing this track pair writing practice with the study of the theory, ethics, and history of digital media.

Creative Writing Courses: At least 4 courses required over two categories 

  1. Creative Writing Courses: choose a minimum of two Residential College creative writing courses that focus on writing fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry. Only one course in a student’s major plan should be at the 200-level:

Introductory Courses (may elect 1 to count towards major):

  1. RCHUMS 220 Narration: Intro to Fiction Writing

  2. RCHUMS 221 Writing Poetry

Upper-level Courses:

  1. RCHUMS 320 Advanced Narration 

  2. RCHUMS 321 Advanced Poetry Writing 

  3. RCHUMS 325, 326, 425, 426 Creative Writing Tutorials 

  4. RCHUMS 334 (Section 005) Memoir: Writing from Within

  1. Digital Writing / Skills Courses: choose a minimum of two digital storytelling / writing courses at the 300-level or above that focus on digital media and/or electronic literature writing and practice. Courses that have been used to meet the requirement in the past include:

  • RCCORE 334 (Section 004) Digital Storytelling

  • English 420 Tech and the Humanities / Electronic Literature

  • RCSCI 360 (Section 001) Documentary Photography

  • RCHUMS 325, 326, 425, 426 Creative Writing Tutorials with a focus on writing for, and/or creating, electronic literature or digital media content (permission of instructor required)

Digital Studies Requirement: At least 2 courses required 

Choose a minimum of two digital studies theory courses at the 300-level or above that focus on the theory of digital culture and/or the digital humanities. Courses that have been used to meet the requirement in the past include:

  • AmCult 358 Topics in Digital Studies

  • AmCult 360 Radical Digital Media

  • FTVM 368 Topics in Digital Media Studies

  • English 405 Theories of Writing

Literature Requirement: At least 3 courses required 

Literature courses must be taken at the 300-level or above. Literature courses should not focus on digital studies but should offer complementary skills and additional context in the art and craft of literature. One course must focus on ancient/medieval literature. For more information on specific literature requirements, please see the Literature section listed under Fiction / Creative Nonfiction.

Honors

A student deemed eligible to attempt Honors typically completes the following process:

A student whose overall academic record meets the eligibility criteria for honors and whose creative work models originality and the promise of mastery in their chosen genre may apply for an honors thesis. Honors theses are typically 75-100 pages of polished fiction or creative nonfiction, or a collection of 25 or more poems. The student and their faculty advisor will determine the exact length and content of the final thesis. 

To be eligible to apply for honors, a student must demonstrate exceptional skill in the art and craft of prose, poetry, or creative nonfiction. The student must have completed a minimum of two Residential College creative writing classes, although honors students typically complete three or more by the start of their thesis sequence. The student also must hold a GPA of at least 3.4 overall. 

Students who meet the above criteria are eligible to apply for the honors thesis project in the winter term of their junior year, typically by late March. To apply, students shall submit:

  • A writing sample (10 pages of prose or 5 poems) that represents the student’s best, most polished work.

  • A brief statement (1-2 pages) describing the honors project. Applicants should also include the name of a faculty member they wish to request as their thesis advisor.

Questions about the submittal process can be directed to the creative writing major advisor here

The Honors Committee, consisting of faculty in the Creative Writing program, will judge the student’s work on its quality, originality, and promise of mastery in their chosen genre. The Committee reviews all honors applications after the submission deadline. Students are notified of the Committee’s decision in late March or early April. If the planned project is accepted for honors, the Committee will assign a faculty thesis advisor to the student. 

Honors Theses require a two-semester commitment. Students enroll in RCCORE 490 for the fall term and RCHUMS 426 for the winter term. A passing grade in RCCORE 490 earns a Y grade, indicating that the thesis work will continue into the next semester. At the end of the second term, the Y grade converts to the grade earned in RCHUMS 426. Exceptions to the two-semester requirement are rare but may be discussed with the thesis advisor.

When the honors thesis project is complete (typically the last week of March or the first week of April of the senior year), the student’s honors thesis advisor and one other member of the Residential College’s Creative Writing faculty will determine if the project qualifies for honors and (if so) what level of honors the student receives. Honors thesis students also participate in a public reading with fellow thesis students at the end of the winter term (typically the second week of April).

To download the honors information, click here.

Creative Writing faculty

Laura Kasischke Poetry; Fiction

Christopher Matthews Fiction; Poetry

Sarah Messer Poetry; Creative Nonfiction; Prison Creative Arts Program

Susan Rosegrant Creative Nonfiction; Journalism; Fiction

Laura Thomas Fiction; Creative Nonfiction

Darcy Brandel Poetry; Activism in the Arts (Semester in Detroit Program)
 

RC Writers website

Check out the RC Writers Website, for the Residential College writing community.