The series of courses in the creative writing minor offers students a practical, theoretical, and historical understanding of the art and craft of writing nonfiction and fiction prose and poetry, as well as experimenting in digital storytelling and interactive media. The minor encourages students to use those skills and insights for interdisciplinary projects and the enrichment of their careers and personal lives.
Notes about this minor:
Posting of the minor on the student's academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.
Notations may appear in the curriculum chart below outlining pre-requisites, co-requisites, and other curriculum requirements (see footnotes).
The program code for Creative Writing Minor is CRWRIT-MN.
This course gives students the opportunity to write in different creative genres such as fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. In producing a portfolio, students will learn concrete elements of craft and techniques of improvisation to generate creative work. The course uses readings, peer feedback, workshops, and collaborative brainstorming to develop and refine texts for the printed page and beyond.
Is it true that literature makes nothing happen? Experimental writing is built on the opposite assumption! This course introduces students to innovative texts that challenge our usual ways of thinking about the relationship of language to the world: the cultural contexts within which language functions, the conflicts out of which it arises, the aesthetic pleasures with which it is associated, and the purposes – intentional or other – which it serves. Writing experiments can test boundaries and break limits, offering us ways to reconsider and redefine our own experience – social, intellectual, emotional, spiritual. Moving from magic to modernity, from monster to machine, we will explore the transformative power of experimental writing. Students are expected to post weekly responses to the readings in Discussions on MyCourses, work with a group to research and prepare a class presentation on a significant experimental writer, and submit a final paper on a theme to be announced. Expect reading quizzes and a take-home final exam.
World Building Workshop
This course focuses on the collaboration construction of fictional worlds. Students will learn to think critically about features of fictional worlds, such as the social, political, and economic structures that influence daily life for the characters who inhabit that world. Students will also participate in extensive character development exercises, and then write short fiction from these characters’ perspectives describing the challenges they face in these worlds. Students will critique each other’s fiction and submit revised work.
Each class will include considerations of sophisticated fictional worlds in print and in other media and discuss world building features relevant to teach.
Digital Creative Writing Workshop
Digital creative writing involves much more than simply writing in digital formats - it can include computer-generated poetry, bots, hypertext fiction, Augmented Reality, or locative narrative. This course is for students who want to explore digital creative writing in all its forms. Through reading, discussion, and exercises, students will produce born digital writings in different applications. Students will learn style and craft techniques for digital environments while also exploring the relationship between content and digital applications. Peer critiques will help students rethink their work and become better editors. Programming knowledge is helpful but not required. This course can be taken up to two times for a total of six semester credit hours as long as the instructors are different.
Creative Writing Workshop
This course is for students who want to explore the techniques of a single genre of creative writing and add to their skills as a creative writer. Through reading and discussion, students will see their own writing in a larger context. Reading/reflection and writing/revision will be emphasized all semester. The focus will be on the creation of creative works and the learning of stylistic and craft techniques. Ongoing work will be discussed with peer editors, which will not only help students rethink their work but teach them to become better editors. Group critiques will provide the opportunity to give and receive helpful feedback. Each class will rely extensively on the creative writing workshop model, and will focus on a specific genre of print-based creative writing.
The course may be taken up to three times for a total of 9 credit hours, as long as the topics are different.
Advanced Creative Writing Workshop
This course is for students who want to explore the techniques of a single genre of creative writing and have already completed a creative writing workshop. Through reading and discussion, they will see their own writing in a larger context, culminating in a substantial body of work ready for publication. Reading/reflection and writing/revision will be emphasized all semester. The focus will be on the creation of creative works and the learning of stylistic and craft techniques. Ongoing work will be discussed with peer editors, which will not only help students rethink their work but teach them to become better editors. Group critiques will provide the opportunity to give and receive helpful feedback. Each class will rely extensively on the creative writing workshop model, and will focus on a specific genre of print-based creative writing. The course can be repeated up to three times, for 9 semester credit hours, as long the topics are different.
Advanced Topics in Creative Writing
This course is for students who have completed a college level writing course creative writing workshop and want to explore in-depth a literary genre or add to their skills as a creative writer whether interested in poetry, fiction, non-fiction, or a combination of genresa specific topic within creative writing. The focus will be on the creation of a significant piece of writing for a final project. In addition to planning and producing a single, sustained creative work, students will complete other exercises and assignments in order to experiment with other genresa variety of writing techniques. Through reading and discussion they will see their own writing in a larger context. Weekly Regular class critiques will provide the opportunity to give and receive helpful feedback.
Game-Based Fiction Workshop
This course is for students who have completed a creative writing workshop and want to explore how games and rules can be used to produce unique and unpredictable narratives. Projects will include individual writing exercises, collaborative writing practice, and critiques of peer writing. Students will examine how different game mechanics produce different kinds of narratives and may be encouraged to develop their own game-based writing projects. Through the reading and discussion of other narrative media, students will learn the affordances and limitations of game-based storytelling systems.
Literature from Around the World
Offering a representation of literature from at least three continents and intending to be introductory in nature, this course will explore literature drawn from a variety of cultures. Literature from Around the World will explore the nature, function and value of literature from a global perspective: students will become familiar with world literatures, as well as methods of studying literature and culture across national boundaries.
Storytelling is one of the primary ways we make sense of the world, communicate, share human experiences, and entertain ourselves. This course introduces students to methods used by literary critics and creative writers. Reading stories and analyzing the basic elements of story, the course builds understanding of how stories work, demonstrates the importance of artistic strategies, to enable greater appreciation of the creative choices storytellers make as they craft and communicate their stories in a variety of mediums. The course will explore distinct storytelling modes – such as oral, written, visual, dramatic, digital, ASL, augmented or mixed-reality – and consider the contributions different genres, or kinds of storytelling make to these practices. It will also explore how stories circulate in a culture, or across cultures, and examines the dynamic interrelations between stories, audiences, and changing cultural or historical contexts. Students will read, analyze, discuss, compare, and creatively rewrite or remix stories in order to better understand the range of storytelling practices, how stories work on us as readers, and why they are so significant to human cognition and cultures.
Mythology & Literature
This course is a scholarly investigation into the cultural, historical, social, psychological, religious and spiritual, literary and performative dimensions of world myth. It examines different approaches to the study of myth emerging from disciplines such as anthropology, history, literary studies, and psychology. Special attention will be paid to the effects of these narratives on literature and other kinds of cultural texts, past and present. We will also use myth to develop, and critically reflect on, comparative approaches to world cultures.
In this course students will read, study, and discuss some of Shakespeare's dramatic work in an attempt to determine the nature of his significance. What political and institutional factors account for the reverence accorded to Shakespeare? In addition to reading a range of Shakespeare’s plays, the course will develop deeper understandings of contemporary literary theory and practices that allow various interpretations of these plays. The approach will be comparative and reflect on the influence and effect of Shakespeare’s work on contemporary culture. Attention will be paid to issues of gender, historicity, iconicity and textual analysis among others
Topics in Literary Forms
This course explores the evolution of an influential literary form ( the short story, drama, poetry, autobiographical literature, or the novel). Reading a series of variations on this literary form, likely bridging cultural or historical contexts or themes, the course develops critical perspectives and artistic insights into this genre of writing. Criticism and theory appropriate to the genre will be discussed as a way to understand the form, its social functions, and its cultural and political significance. The course can be taken up to two times, for a total of 6 semester credit hours, as long as the topics are different.
Since the initial development of the computer, writers have collaborated with programmers, illustrators, and soundscapists to create digital literatures. Following from radical techniques in print literatures such as concrete poetry, Choose Your Own Adventure novels, and reorderable/unbound fictions, digital literatures exploit the potential of digital formats to explore questions of interactivity, readership, authorship, embodiment, and power. In this class, we will learn to analyze and appreciate digital literatures not simply through their content, but also through the relation of content to form, media, programming platforms, and distribution formats. Our consideration of digital literatures will lead us to cell phones, web pages, video games, virtual reality environments, and genome sequencers.
This course presents a study of global literature by engaging in critically informed analysis of texts from different geographical regions or cultural perspectives. Students will discover new modes for thinking about what global literature is, and how globalizing impulses have changed and shaped our world. One of the goals of the class is to analyze and discuss the works in their respective socio-historical contexts, with a special focus on the theme of encounter or contact zones. The impact of various factors such as migration, nationality, class, race, gender, generation, and religion will also be taken into consideration. The course can be repeated up to two times, for 6 semester credit hours, as long as the topics are different.
From Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, forms of popular literature have existed alongside more literary forms of narrative. In this course students will focus on the distinguishing thematic, structural, and formal distinctions between popular and literary fiction (and in some cases drama and poetry) with an awareness of the historical trends that produced this distinction (the dime novel). The course may focus on popular forms either within broader genres (such as fiction, drama, or poetry) or could be organized thematically and use several of these larger genres. Some sub-genres may include, for example, detective fiction, gothic and horror, the western, romance, etc. Analysis of popular treatment of certain themes and ideas will give students a lens through which to understand how important social, political, and cultural issues enter into the popular imagination, and can in some cases become part of ideological contestation through popular literary discourse.
Students will learn about foundational texts in one or more category of genre fiction and review its development in the 19th, 20th, and/or 21st centuries. Genre is a category characterized by similarities in style, or subject matter. Examples include science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, fanfiction, magical realism, or historical fiction. The course approaches genre fiction as literary form, as cultural artifact, and as philosophical speculation; students will learn to distinguish key features of genre fiction, including the historical inspiration as well as contemporary trends. The course may be taken up to two times for a total of 6 credit hours, as long as the topics are different.
This course introduces students to the field of adaptation studies and explores the changes that occur as particular texts such as print, radio, theatre, television, film, and videogames move between various cultural forms and amongst different cultural contexts. The course focuses upon works that have been disseminated in more than one medium.
Games and Literature
Who studies game studies? Writing in games can often be hit or miss, so relying on an established story can provide support and allows the medium to evolve to cover more interesting stories than the typical mass-offering affairs. Still, literature and games are fundamentally different media- and as such these differences must be accounted for when mapping literature onto video games. Will game studies ever be as highly regarded as is critical scholarship on, say, literature? Can a video game possess substantial literary merit? Can a video game offer the same depth of characters and insight into the human condition as a novel? Do video games invite the player to do the same things that works of great literature invite the reader to do: identify with the characters, invite him to judge them and quarrel with them, and to experience their joys and sufferings as the reader’s own? In this course we will have these conversations and then go beyond. We will examine works that have visually evocative and varied settings; narratives that make readers wonder what is going to happen next; and a rapidly changing culture that prompts even more questions than it answers.
Storytelling Across Media
This course introduces the basic elements of narrative, reflecting on key concepts in narrative theory such as – story and plot, narration and focalization, characterization, storyspace, and worldmaking – to enhance your understanding of how stories work and your ability to understand how such storytelling strategies convey their meaning and themes. After an initial exploration of storytelling traditions emerging from oral myth and short stories in print, we expand our inquiries into what a narrative is and what it can do by considering what happens to storytelling in graphic novels, digital games, and in recent electronic literature. Reflecting on competing definitions and varieties of narrative, the course raises the overarching question of why how we access, read, write, and circulate stories as a culture matters. Expect to read stories in a variety of media, to review basic concepts and conversations drawn from narrative theory, and to creatively experiment with the storytelling strategies we are analyzing in class. No familiarity with specific print, digital, or visual media necessary, though a willingness to read and reflect on stories in various media and to analyze their cultural significance will be essential.
This course will examine how suppression of information has been orchestrated throughout history in different contexts. The process of suppressing information –of people in power attempting to hide images, sounds and words– must itself be viewed in perspective. We must recognize acts of censorship in relation to their social settings, political movements, religious beliefs, cultural expressions and/or personal identities. The texts that we will study were all considered dangerous enough to be banned by governments. They are dangerous because they represent sexuality, race, politics, and religion in ways that challenge the current political/cultural norms of their given culture. What, then, is so dangerous about a fictional representation? What is it that makes a certain work dangerous at a particular time and how does this danger manifest itself in stories, novels (print and graphic), and poetry? Studying these dangerous texts and watching some dangerous films we will ask: what features of political and cultural regimes do artists tend to single out for criticism? What is the range of expressive tools they use, including the contemporary context of digital media? What is it that makes intellectuals in general and imaginative writers in particular so potent a threat to established power? Do issues like these matter only in totalitarian regimes, or can we learn something about the book-banning pressures in our own society? How do social media technologies complicate discussions of censorship and creativity?
Literary & Cultural Studies
A focused, in depth study and analysis of a selected topic in literary and/or cultural studies. Specific topics vary according to faculty assigned.
Topics in Women’s and Gender Studies
This course will explore a key theme or critical question in women's and gender studies as an introduction and line of inquiry into how and why women's and gender studies matter in the contemporary world and in our individual lives. Drawing from and reflecting on approaches to women's and gender studies from a variety of disciplines and cultures, we will use these theoretical lenses to read social, cultural, and artistic texts and cultural practices in a new light. How has women's and gender studies and the creative, activist and academic practices theorized in this multidisciplinary, global space, challenged gendered and racialized power structures in the past, in the present, and how might it transform its methods to confront current challenges?
This course provides an in-depth look at literary giants and the masterpieces of prose or poetry they have created; it's an opportunity to see the role they played both within the context of their own time and within the larger span of literary history. These great authors confront key questions of modernity that continue to occupy us to this day; they ask the question of what it means to be human and explore fundamental human themes. They give us a fresh perspective on the past and on ourselves.
Literature and Technology
Surveying the rise of computing technologies, information theories, and information economies in the last century, this course considers their impact on literature, culture and knowledge-formation. In particular, we will reflect on topics such as the relations between social and technological transformation, literary print and digital cultures and electronic literature.
Maps, Spaces, and Places
This course takes as its premise that spatial thinking is critically important. Spatial thinking informs our ability to understand many areas of 21st century culture, as mobile interfaces and geospatial technologies enable us to engage with our surroundings in new ways. The study begins with the history maps and mapmaking, and explores how maps work. As students create representational, iconographic, satirical, image-based, informational, and other map forms, the course emphasizes the map as narrative. The course develops into an exploration of the ways, particularly in texts, that mapmaking creates cultural routes, mobile forms of ethnography, and ways of imagining travel and tourism in the era of globalization. The diverse writers represented in this course are rethinking space as a dynamic context for the making of history and for different organizations of social and communal life.
Free & Open Source Culture
This course charts the development of the free culture movement by examining the changing relationship between authorship and cultural production based on a variety of factors: law, culture, commerce and technology. In particular, we will examine the rise of the concept of the individual author during the last three centuries. Using a variety of historical and theoretical readings, we will note how law and commerce have come to shape the prevailing cultural norms surrounding authorship, while also examining lesser known models of collaborative and distributed authoring practices. This background will inform our study of the rapid social transformations wrought by media technologies in last two centuries, culminating with the challenges and opportunities brought forth by digital media, mobile communications and networked computing. Students will learn about the role of software in highlighting changing authorship practices, facilitating new business and economic models and providing a foundation for conceiving of open source, open access, participatory, peer-to-peer and Free (as in speech, not beer) cultures.
* Students choose either five creative writing electives or four creative writing electives and one literature elective.