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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

B.A. in Creative Writing

Syracuse University has a long and storied history of nurturing great writers. From Stephen Crane and Shirley Jackson to Joyce Carol Oates and Nana Adjei-Brenyah, students have made good use of the Syracuse winters to hone their craft and explore their imaginations. The result has been books as varied in styles as they are in subjects----SU authors have critiqued the ills of society, explored human frailties and strengths, and probed the psychological depths of horror and mystery.

The Creative Writing Major in the English and Textual Studies Department is designed for students who want to be part of this tradition and have an intense interest in cultivating the skills, knowledge and inventiveness needed to write creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. This 30-credit major combines a grounding in literary study with a workshop-style focus on writing. Students will learn to use language to create complex and emotionally powerful work. Required classes include literature classes, and creative writing workshops and craft classes in at least two genres. It is our belief that all writers need to be readers. To that end, the classes, even the workshops, balance reading historical and contemporary literature with the practice of writing.

For those students already committed to a demanding major, but still interested in creative writing, the 18-credit minor is an excellent alternative to the major. Comprised of three workshops and three craft classes, the minor will provide students with a focused creative writing experience.

The renowned MFA in Creative Writing program provides a myriad of resources for undergraduate students to draw from, including a well-established reading series (The Raymond Carver Reading Series https://thecollege.syr.edu/english-department/creative-writing-mf-program/raymond-carver-reading-series/), opportunities for students to meet with visiting writers, highly talented graduate students who will help guide undergraduates, an undergraduate creative writing club “Write Out,” and, most importantly, the opportunity to work closely with highly accomplished writers, including Mona Awad, Dana Spiotta, Jonathan Dee, Brooks Haxton, Bruce Smith, Matt Grzecki, Sarah Harwell and Christopher Kennedy.

First-year students can choose to live in the Creative Writing Learning Living Community (LLC), where they can meet fellow students and create friendships, network with faculty and established authors through public readings and LLC dinners, and explore their passion for reading and writing poetry, fiction, graphic novels, creative nonfiction or any other types of writing.

The major has been designed to pair with a number of other majors—yes, majors you would expect, like journalism and history—but also Pre-med, information science, biology, physics, philosophy, political science, art history, African-American Studies, illustration, religion, photography, drama and even Applied Mathematics! Creative writers publish their creative work, but they are also in demand in the fields of publishing, public relations, marketing, advertising, web design, media design, branding, social media communications, teaching, publishing, editing, grant writing, journalism, technical writing, health care professions, and computer science. Nearly every profession is in need of highly skilled writers to interpret technical fields to the general public, to create compelling stories, and to compress and synthesize information so that it is gripping and persuasive. And all writers need subjects and a breadth of knowledge in order to write about issues that matter to an audience.

Finally, Creative Writing is committed to fostering an inclusive, diverse community of readers and writers. Required readings are deliberately chosen to represent various cultures, classes, modes of experience, and cultures. As a student you will be encouraged to partake in one of literature’s highest goals—to give voice to a plurality of experiences and world views.

If you’re interested in learning more, please contact Sarah Harwell at scharwel@syr.edu.

If you would like to declare the major or minor, please contact Katherine Kidd at kakidd@syr.edu.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will show the ability to read closely and analyze texts across historical periods and in various genres.
  • Student will be able to recognize and express the aesthetic qualities of literature and a knowledge of literary forms.
  • Students will be able to recognize and produce good writing and explain what literary aspects make it good.
  • Students will demonstrate a knowledge of critical approaches and methods of interpretation.
  • Students will improve their own work through self-conscious and analytical processes.
  • They will be able to discuss peer work and other written texts in a thoughtful and constructive manner.
  • Students will exhibit an awareness of how these skills are necessary for employment and graduate study in a wide range of fields.