About the Minor in Creative Writing

While there is no creative writing major at Washington and Lee, The English Department offers a popular Creative Writing Minor. Students do not need to be English majors to minor in creative writing and most major in other subjects in the College and Commerce School. Creative writing minors should consider the department's Shenandoah Internship, ENGL 453, which also counts towards the English major. It is taught by the Editor and Writer in Residence R. T. Smith. Although the Minor in Creative Writing is relatively new, Washington and Lee University has cultivated great student and faculty writing for decades through the English Department and Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review. Distinguished alumni include Tom Wolfe, Marshall Boswell, Mark Richard, Christian Wiman, Lyrae Van Clief, Rebecca Makkai, and Suzanne LaFluer. Previous faculty members include Claudia Emerson, Dabney Stuart, Heather Ross Miller, Asali Solomon, and Jasmin Darznik. English faculty who are creative writers include Professors Brodie, Gavaler, Green, Keen, Miranda, Oliver, Smith, and Wheeler. The Glasgow Endowment for Visiting Writers brings an exceptional roster of artists to campus for readings and workshops, from Eavan Boland and Rita Dove to Linda Hogan and Lev Grossman.

Students interested in creative writing should start, after completing the FDR requirement in Writing, with 200-level courses in literature and 200-level workshop courses (202, 203, 204, 205). 203 and 204 are usually offered in Fall; 205 is offered every other Spring.

Next, find an adviser in the English Department; if you would like assistance finding an adviser, visit the Department Chair during his or her office hours for help.

Students may major in English (11 courses) and also minor in Creative Writing (6 courses), but if they do so, only 3 courses may overlap (minimum 14 courses total). Any of the creative writing workshops may count as electives towards the English major. A few senior English majors write creative Senior Honors Theses, with the permission of the department and the requisite GPA. Supervisors of Creative Senior Honors Theses include the regular creative writing faculty and Rod T. Smith, Editor of Shenadoah and Writer-in-Residence.

Minor Requirements

A minor in Creative Writing requires six three- or four-credit courses, exclusive of English 101, 105, and 201. The courses must include:

  1. Creative writing workshops: three courses chosen from English 203, 204, 205, 307, 308, and 309 and Theater 220, with at least one at the 300-level.
  2. Literature: two literature courses in English, including one from the 200-level (numbered between 230 and 294) and one from either English 299 or the 300-level (numbered between 311 and 387).
  3. One additional course may be from either of these categories or from English 403 or 453. (The Shenandoah Internship may be repeated for elective credit.) We strongly recommend that non-literature majors choose an elective course from the Literature category (number 2 above). English majors wishing to complete a Creative Writing minor should elect a fourth workshop, a 403 in creative writing, or a creative honors thesis in English.

Creative writing minors are also required to participate in a capstone public reading in winter or spring of the senior year.

Students may major in English (11 courses) and also minor in Creative Writing (6 courses), but if they do so, only 3 courses may overlap (minimum 14 courses total).

Mission and Objectives

Mission

At Washington and Lee, the discipline of creative writing is firmly embedded in the study of literature. Students earning a minor in creative writing read widely; practice critical analysis; study the forms, modes, and histories of literature in English; and develop their own writing through creative exercises and workshop critique. Small classes, dedicated faculty, and a lively program of extracurricular offerings foster a supportive and challenging writing community.

Objectives

Students minoring in Creative Writing will learn how to

  • read closely, recognizing subtle and complex differences in language use;
  • create literary works of their own;
  • revise those literary works to convey greater power and control;
  • derive pleasure and edification from a broad range of texts.