Creative Writing

The Creative Writing Concentration builds on Departmental strengths in the writing of prose and poetry, as well as the writing of literary nonfiction. It is designed for students who wish to combine the study of creative writing with the study of literature. Detailed information about requirements and courses for the Creative Writing Concentration is found below.

Required Courses

In addition to the common requirements for the English major, students pursuing the Creative Writing Concentration take the following courses:

  • Lower or Upper Division Elective Course
  • E210 Beginning Creative Writing (must obtain a B to move forward in sequence)
  • E311A,B,C Intermediate Creative Writing (must obtain a B to move forward in sequence)
  • E412 A,B,C Writing Workshop (this course may be taken twice for credit)
  • Major Author (E460 Chaucer, E463 Milton, E465 Special Topics, or E470 Individual Author)
  • Category I Literature Electives: British Literature before 1800 or American Lit before 1870
  • Category II Literature Electives: British Lit after 1800 or Am. Lit after 1870
  • Category III Literature Electives: Breakthroughs: Ideological, Radical, Cultural, Gendered
  • Category IV: Genre Approaches
  • Open Electives: Two courses in Writing, Literature, or Language


Creative Writing Advising Check Sheet [pdf]
AUCC Core Requirements Sheet [pdf]

Recent Topics Courses in Creative Writing

The following course descriptions are taken from recent issues of the Rambler, the Department’s student newsletter. They describe some of the topics courses (courses not regularly offered) taken by students in the Creative Writing concentration.

E403 Nature Writing
This class has a double focus. Half is reading nature writing: we’ll read some of the more interesting and powerful contemporary nonfiction writers about nature and the environment, and we’ll talk about what they’re doing with their texts, how they do it, and what issues their work deals with and raises. The other half is writing nature writing: we’ll experiment with kinds of nature and environmental writing ourselves, work on style, organization, effectiveness, complexity, and so on, and share our work as a class. Much, but not all, of your writing will be in the form of a journal about a local “natural” place; we’ll probably read the equivalent of one book every two weeks. The work-load will be spread over the term in roughly equal weekly amounts.

E420 Beat Generation Writing
What shared experiences, poetics, cultural milieu, and historical pressures made Beat Generation Writing a movement? Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs, et al. This course will trace Beat Generation writing in its inception, development, and continuing impact. Starting with The Portable Beat Reader, which includes East coast beats, West coast beats, fellow travelers like Bob Dylan and Ken Kesey, and “Tales of Beatnik Glory” by Diane DiPrima, Anne Waldman, Joyce Johnson, and Jan Kerouac, students will focus on works such as Allen Ginsberg’s Howl & Other Poems, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Dharma Bums, and Dr. Sax, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Endless Life: The Selected Poems, William Burrough’s Junky and Naked Lunch, Amiri A. Baraka’s Dutchman/The Slave, Carolyn Cassady’s Heart Beat: My Life with Jack & Neal, and Gary Snyder’s Riprap, Cold Mountain Poems.

E441 American Prose Since 1900: Wars We Have Seen
This course studies American prose since 1900 as a series of responses to, representations of, and fantasies about war. The time period covered in our course opens soon after the Spanish American War, which ended in late 1898 with the U.S. taking control of former Spanish colonies from the Philippines to Cuba and concludes in the present era of the Global War on Terror. In the course of our study we will read responses to officially declared global conflicts, clandestine operations, and every variety of warfare in between. In thinking about literature as a part of a larger war culture, we will be making interdisciplinary connections between literary texts, political policies, and technological innovations. We will be reading a broad range of literary fiction and memoir, popular cultural texts, and reportage. We will examine texts that seek to capture the true experience of war, those that focus on returning veterans and the home front, works that imagine fantastic future wars and potential contemporary revolutions, and pieces that present contemporary total war as something that cannot be represented. Authors studied may include major figures such as Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Leslie Marmon Silko, Tim O’Brien, Don DeLillo, and Donald Barthelme; popular writers like Sam Greenlee, Robert Heinlein and Kurt Vonnegut, and memoirs by soldiers like Anthony Swofford. We will also spend some significant time working with the materials from the Vietnam War literature Collection held in the Morgan Library here at CSU.

E465 Topics in Literature and Language: Women’s Prison Writing
This course will offer students opportunities to consider alternative sites for literacy and language development through a focus on women’s writings composed in prison and other sites of confinement. We will engage the following kinds of questions: What is women’s prison writing, and when does such writing become literature? Is prison writing spectacle, art, therapy, or rehabilitation? How might incarceration influence composing processes? How does gender identity affect prison writing? How are prison writings received by ‘free’ audiences? Whose writings get published and why? Through cultural/historical lens, we will study works deemed “literature” by the academy (and other cultural arts bodies) as well as writings that depend upon less conventional means of circulation. The course will be reading-intensive, and written work will include weekly forum discussions, two response projects, a collaborative action project and reflection, and a final exam.

E470 Flannery O’Connor
This course will provide a close examination of one of the most distinctive American writers of the twentieth century, a writer who seems to belong to another age in her emphasis on spiritual salvation and redemption. Students will study the vision and technique that mark and animate O’Connor’s fiction and will examine her growth as an artist by reading her novels, short stories, essays, and letters. This course may fulfill the category II distribution requirement for Teaching Certification majors only.