The English Major
— Creative Writing —
Creative Writing at MUW has grown to encompass three levels of classes and has become an official concentration for an English Major. Since 2003, we have also been members of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, a national organization for creative writing. This page is designed to introduce you to our program and help you navigate through it. While the final word on curriculum requirements will always be your catalog of record (the Bulletin you entered with or one you've chosen since then), this page is meant to summarize those requirements in more everyday language.
In order to earn a concentration in Creative Writing, you must declare an English major. A significant part of the creative writing program at MUW involves the study of literature. In order to be a writer, you need to read and be well versed in interpretation of literature and in the literary canon. Therefore, you must take the same number of literature courses as any other English major. Creative writing students also take three advanced writing courses (see below). One advanced writing course must be EN 312 Creative Writing, and one advanced writing course must be at the 400-level (EN 411 or 412). You may also count the scriptwriting course offered through the theater department as one of your advanced writing courses. (Please note: this additional writing requirement does have the effect of adding three credit hours to your degree.) The final step for the creative writing concentration is the completion of a senior portfolio (see below).
How to declare the concentration
To declare a concentration in creative writing, you must fill out a change of major form. Even if you are already an English major, you must fill out the form. You'll change from your old major (even if it's English) to English -- Creative Writing. It doesn't cost a cent--if you're an English major, your advisor won't even change--but it does help us know who is pursuing the concentration.
Why declare the concentration?
The most important reason to declare it is to let your advisor know what you want to do before you graduate. It will also help the university keep track of its majors and help the creative writing program demonstrate its growth. But what's in it for you? Since we are now members of AWP, we receive the Writer's Chronicle (a magazine about creative writing with articles and ads from literary magazines seeking submissions). Each student in the concentration can get her or his copy from Dr. Dunkelberg or Dr. Smith. Once those are distributed, interested students who are taking creative writing classes may be able to get a copy as well, and one copy will be available in the division office for anyone to look at. Students in the creative writing concentration are also eligible to apply for one of the Neill James Memorial Scholarships in Creative Writing offered each year for up to $4,000. Students who are not yet in the concentration may apply, though one of the terms of the award is to declare the an English Major with a concentration in creative writing.
The Creative Writing Minor
As of Fall 2011, students can minor in creative writing. The requirements are essentially the same as the Concentration in Creative Writing, except you don't complete an English major, so you take fewer literature classes. You must take EN 312 Creative Writing, and you must take at least two additional creative writing classes, one of which must be at the 400 level (Poetry or Fiction Writing Workshop). In addition, you take at least six hours of other English classes, which may be in literature or writing (except for the core composition and literature survey courses), and you complete the Senior Portfolio. This option should help those who are majoring in another subject and don't have room in their schedules for a double major.
You can still earn an English Minor. by taking 15 hours of English beyond the 9-12 core English hours. Of those five classes, any number can be creative writing classes. For that matter, even if you are not an English major, you can take all the Creative Writing courses listed below. Your transcript just won't say 'Creative Writing. 'We recommend that you take at least one 300-level writing course and one 400-level writing course if you are interested in pursuing creative writing, and we recommend that you take several literature courses as well. Writers need to be well read to know what they are doing. Of course, you should also read widely outside of your classes, especially in the genres or styls that interest you most.
Students who are not officially listed with the Creative Writing Concentration, but who are interested in taking more than one writing course should contact Dr. Dunkelberg to become an Affiliate of the Creative Writing Program. This is an unofficial designation, but it will allow us to contact you about creative writing events, classes, and other information.
Creative Writing Courses
There are three levels of creative writing courses at MUW, which you can identify by their course number: 300-level courses are advanced writing courses that introduce you to creative writing. 400-level courses offer advanced workshop experience that give you more time to concentrate on one genre and, with smaller class sizes, more individual attention to your writing. EN 415 Advanced Writing Workshop offers you the opportunity to do independent study work in creative writing or to take a second workshop in the genre of your choice, concurrently with other students.
EN 312 Creative Writing This is the entry-level creative writing course. It focuses on both poetry and fiction, and provides a foundation in the key concepts we will be using in the more advanced workshops. Therefore, it is a prerequisite for all other creative writing courses. You should take it in your sophomore or junior year if you are interested in the creative writing concentration. It is usually offered every year in the fall.
EN 311 Nonfiction Prose Writing This is also an entry-level creative writing course. It focuses on writing creative nonfiction, not academic analytical writing, but memoir, commentary, and other forms that don't fit the category 'fiction' because they are based on fact and experience (incidently, fiction can be, too). This course can be substituted as prerequisite for the Fiction Writing Workshop, since there are so many similarities. It is usually offered every year in the spring.
EN 317 Technical and Business Writing This is a another option for literature majors to fulfill their advanced writing requirement (EN 311/312/317). It focuses on practical skills in writing in the workplace. Since it offers creative writing students exposure to writing they might use in their careers (to earn an income...), it can be included as one of your three creative writing courses, even though, technically, the subject matter isn't creative writing. It can not be a substituted as a prerequisite for any creative writing course, however.
EN 411 Fiction Writing Workshop This course focuses solely on writing fiction and includes more workshop sessions than EN 312. The demands of the portfolio are higher, and students read essays on the craft of writing fiction. The prerequisites are EN 312 or EN 311. It is offered every other year in the spring.
EN 412 Poetry Writing Workshop This course focuses solely on writing poetry and includes more workshop sessions than EN 312. The demands of the portfolio are higher, and students read essays on the craft of writing poetry. The prerequisite is EN 312 or permission of the instructor, so if you've had 311 and 411 already, see the instructor about whether you can get in. It is offered every other year in the spring.
EN 415 Advanced Writing Workshop This course was set up to allow students to retake EN 411 or EN 412 with additional requirements for the portfolio or under a different instructor. It may be taken as an independent study or concurrently with the EN 411 or EN 412. The prerequisite is EN 411 or EN 412. The course is offered on demand only, so see Dr. Dunkelberg or the division head of Humanities if you are interested in this course.
As their crowning achievement in Creative Writing, each student in the concentration will complete a senior portfolio to consist of a collection of the best work from their creative writing classes and possibly other work they have written outside of class. The creative section of the portfolio should be 20 or more pages. Ideally, this work will have been revised after it was submitted as a final portfolio in a class, though students who are taking a creative writing class in their last semester may turn in work from that class as part of their senior portfolio. The portfolio should also include an introduction that discusses themes in the student's work and describes her or his thoughts on writing and his or her experience and growth as a writer at MUW. A copy of this portfolio will be kept on file in the Humanities division for future reference.
Senior Portfolio Class
Starting in Spring 2012, the Senior Portfolio will be offered as a one-credit-hour class. Students will meet in regular conferences with one of their creative writing professors to discuss the portfolio and their goals as writers. We see this as a way to give students more feedback on their portfolios and to provide more mentoring to our seniors. Occasionally, we may meet as a group or organize senior readings.
Students who are using a prior Bulletin may not be required to take the Senior Portfolio class in order to graduate; however, we recommend that all Seniors sign up for the class in their last semester. This will help us to know who plans to graduate, and we hope it will be a valuable experience for you.
Creative Writing Alumni
Hilary (Palmer) Hamblin
The Color of Love, 2007 Novel published by Capstone Fiction
In an interview published in the Commmercial Dispatch Hamblin stated: "I actually wrote the rough draft of the first chapter as a class assignment. I took a creative writing class during my senior year under Dr. Dunkelberg... I wrote a short story, and I pulled that manuscript out and started with that."
Those Like Us. Short story collection. Stephen F. Austin State University Press 2011
MFA in Creative Writing, 2007, McNeese State University; editor at Fiction Weekly
Chris wrote: "My fiction has recently been featured in Fiction Weekly, Superstition Review, and Bellevue Literary Review, and one of my stories was selected for Sundress Publication's Best of the Net 2008 Anthology."
"The Old Tree is Dying," 2005 Poetry Finalist
"In the Night," 2004 Poetry Semi-Finalist
William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition
Maria wrote: "I used so many things from our writing classes when I worked on it ["The Old Tree is Dying"]. I know they made a difference!"
Christy Collins Christian
MA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, 2011, Mississippi State University.
Christy is teaching at LSU and was recently accepted into the Ph.D. program in Creative Writing at University of Louisiana at Lafayette.