Creative Writing

  • Department English
  • Academic Division The College
  • Offerings Minor

A class meets outside Tucker Hall. A class meets outside Tucker Hall.

At W&L, creative writing is embedded in the study of literature. Students 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.

Creative Writing 

W&L has cultivated great student and faculty writing for decades through the English Department and the literary magazine. Distinguished alumni include Tom Wolfe, Marshall Boswell, Mark Richard, Christian Wiman, Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Rebecca Makkai, Matthew Neill Null and Suzanne LaFleur. 

The English Department offers a popular creative writing minor. Students do not need to be English majors to minor in creative writing; most major in other subjects.

Scholarships, Internships and Awards

The English Department offers a variety of scholarships as well as awards for both creative and critical writing. Shenandoah has published fiction, poetry and nonfiction from an astounding list of writers including Wallace Stevens, Flannery O’Connor, e. e. cummings, Rita Dove, Ha Jin and many others over its nearly 70-year history.

Students in the Shenandoah Magazine Internship learn the art, craft and business of publishing. A look behind the scenes at a working magazine is a valuable experience for writers and non-writers alike, and promises the hands-on development of skills relevant to a variety of fields after graduation. Students practice and learn literary editing, copyediting, professional communication, budgeting, how to design publicity material, and digital strategies, under the mentorship of a professional editor.

Holly Pickett

Department Head

Charity Corman

Administrative Assistant

News


W&L Outcomes: Lillie Taylor ’24

Taylor is moving to Niigata Prefecture, Japan, to work as an assistant language teacher for the JET Program.

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Ryan Doty '26 standing on an overlook just outside of Widemouth Bay, in Cornwall, England

Roots Pilgrimage

Ryan Doty’s summer passion project explored his family lineage through poetry and photography.

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Author Shruti Swamy and Poet Kelly Hoffer to Give Glasgow Endowment Reading at W&L

The public reading will take place May 1 at 7 p.m. in Northen Auditorium inside Leyburn Library.

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Writer and Poet Camille Dungy to Give Glasgow Endowment Reading at W&L

Dungy’s public reading will take place Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. in Northen Auditorium inside Leyburn Library.

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Malika Booker

Author Malika Booker to Give Glasgow Endowment Reading at W&L

Booker will give a lecture on Sept. 27 at 5 p.m. in in Leyburn Library’s Northen Auditorium.

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Author GennaRose Nethercott to Give Glasgow Endowment Reading

She will read from her widely anticipated new novel, “Thistlefoot.”

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Journalist Brittany Hailer to Give Glasgow Endowment Reading at W&L

Hailer will give a public lecture on March 31 at 6 p.m. in Northen Auditorium inside Leyburn Library.

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January Gill O'Neil

Poet January Gill O’Neil to Give Glasgow Endowment Reading at W&L

O'Neil will give a public lecture on March 14 at 6 p.m. in the Hillel House sanctuary.

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Valencia Robin

Author Valencia Robin to Give Glasgow Endowment Reading

Valencia Robin, an artist and author, will give a public lecture on March 7 at 5 p.m. in the Hillel House Sanctuary.

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Poet Sarah Matthes Presents Glasgow Endowment Reading

Poet Sarah Matthes will give a public poetry reading on March 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hillel House Sanctuary.

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W&L Presents Public Poetry Reading on Feb. 2

Poets Julie Phillips Brown and Brenna Womer will present a public poetry reading on Feb. 2 at 12:15 p.m. in the Science Center Atrium.

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W&L’s Radulescu Publishes Memoir

Lexington's Downtown Books will host W&L Professor Domnica Radulescu for a book launch on Jan. 27 at 4:30 p.m.

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Sample Courses

At W&L, we believe education and experience go hand-in-hand. You’ll be encouraged to dive in, explore and discover connections that will broaden your perspective.

ARTS 215

Creating Comics

A course which is both a creative-writing and a studio-art course. Students study graphic narratives as an art form that combines image-making and storytelling, producing their own multi-page narratives through the “writing” of images. The course includes a theoretical overview of the comics form, using a range of works as practical models.

ENGL 207

Eco-Writing

An expeditionary course in environmental creative writing. We take weekly “expeditions” including creative writing hikes, a landscape painting exhibit, and a Buddhist monastery. We also research the science and social science of the ecosystems explored, as well as the language of those ecosystems.

ENGL 307

The Poetics of Food

This class visits fresh/local/wild food venues each week, where sensory explorations focus on all aspects of foraging, creating, adapting and eating food. Coursework includes guided writing exercises based on the landscape/geography of food both in the field and classroom, with in-depth readings that help us turn topics like food politics, food insecurity, sustainable agriculture and genetically modified foods into poetry.

ENGL 203-209

Topics in Creative Writing

Workshops, literary study and critical writing focused on a variety of creative writing topics across multiple courses. Topics include the practice of writing short fiction, the practice of writing poetry, playwriting and nonfiction.

Meet the Faculty

At W&L, students enjoy small classes and close relationships with professors who educate and nurture.

Chris Gavaler
Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler

Associate Professor of English

Gavaler teaches courses on creative writing, contemporary fiction and comics, which are also his main areas of research.

Genelle Gertz
Genelle Gertz

Genelle Gertz

Associate Dean of Strategic Initiatives and Thomas H. Broadus Professor of English

Gertz teaches courses on Milton, the Tudors and the Bible. She is currently working on methods of social network analysis as they apply to our understanding of the rise and fall of women mystics in English literary history.

Deborah A. Miranda
Deborah A. Miranda

Deborah A. Miranda

Thomas H. Broadus Professor of English

Miranda primarily teaches courses on creative writing (poetry and memoir) and contemporary American literature by authors from the margins of U.S. culture. Her research pertains to Native American and Chicana/o poetry and fiction, women’s literature and LGBTQ literature.

Curriculum Vitae

Beth A. Staples
Beth A. Staples

Beth A. Staples

Assistant Professor of English and Editor, Shenandoah

Staples teaches courses in creative writing, editing and publishing. She is also the editor of W&L’s literary magazine, Shenandoah.

Lesley Wheeler
Lesley Wheeler

Lesley Wheeler

Henry S. Fox Professor of English

Wheeler teaches courses in poetry, creative writing and speculative fiction. Her research interests include 20th- and 21st-century poetry in English, especially as it involves sound, gender, politics and world-building.

Genelle Gertz
Deborah A. Miranda
Beth A. Staples
Lesley Wheeler
Chris Gavaler