Creative Writing

College of Humanities
Dean: Paul Sherwin

Department of Creative Writing
HUM 380
415-338-1891
E-mail: cwriting@sfsu.edu
Web Site: www.sfsu.edu/~cwriting
Chair: Maxine Chernoff

Undergraduate and Graduate Advisers: Carter, Caspers, Chernoff, Conboy, Doris, Gluck, Hoover, Langton, Mirosevich, Orner

Faculty

Professors—Carter, Chernoff, Gluck, Langton

Visiting Professor (2003-2005)—Hoover

Associate Professors—Conboy, Mirosevich

Assistant Professors—Caspers, Doris, Orner

Programs

B.A. in English: Concentration in Creative Writing
M.A. in English: Concentration in Creative Writing
M.F.A. in Creative Writing


Program Scope

The Department of Creative Writing offers undergraduate and graduate programs. The three degree programs emphasize the primary importance of the study and practice of imaginative writing in the genres of poetry, fiction, playwriting, and nonfiction. All three degree programs combine an intense workshop requirement and a variety of special topic creative process classes with requirements in the English Department. The core literature classes assure that students will continue to absorb and be trained in a study of the best literature of the past. In Creative Writing classes, students work with an active, publishing faculty. They learn by vigorous practice; by focused studies of craft; and by extensive reading, analysis, and discussion of their own work, as well as that of published authors.

The undergraduate major combines the academic specifications of the traditional English major with the experiential needs of the writing student. Students who enter this program should do so only under the strongly held assumption that they have abilities as writers that may be fostered and trained by such a discipline as is described here. It is hoped that this combined program of writing and literature will lead students to a cohesive study and discipline that combines breadth with intensity.

Accordingly, some greater latitude of choice in literature courses is allowed in the creative writing major. Students' studies will lead them to a degree in English with a creative writing emphasis. Ample guidance of the creative writing advisers helps insure that students will not be deprived of a sense of the history of literature. In this regard they will continue to be fully qualified as potential graduate students in English as well as prepared should they wish to continue as M.A. or M.F.A. candidates in a creative writing program.

The two graduate programs differ in scope. Both programs are distinguished by innovative classes. Both include seminars, opportunities for community projects, and a thesis. Students may apply for admission to either the Master of Arts in English with Concentration in Creative Writing (30 units) or the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (54 units).  In no case will a student be admitted to both programs.

The Master of Arts in English with Concentration in Creative Writing serves a double purpose: to extend and broaden the student's familiarity with literature, and to provide the help of a faculty of professional writers and critics in developing the student's own potential as a professional writer. The Creative Writing Department has a strong core faculty and invites several visiting faculty each semester.

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is regarded as the terminal degree in the field. The M.F.A. in Creative Writing offers extended experience in small seminars and in individual instruction with faculty. It also develops the student's understanding of the history and theory of literature, and incorporates correlative patterns of study in elective areas such as other cultures, other arts, technical studies, and/or the teaching of writing.

Career Outlook

The career goal is to train and encourage writers of poetry, fiction, plays, and nonfiction. Many celebrated and distinguished writers are graduates of the department. In the job market, good writers are hard to find. The skills developed in creative writing translate well into corporate editing, publishing, and arts organization positions.

BACHELOR OF ARTS IN ENGLISH: CONCENTRATION IN CREATIVE WRITING

On-line course descriptions are available.

Program Units
Courses in the Writing Courses Area selected from the following (must include CW 302 and CW 301 or CW 101 as a prerequisite to all writing courses): 12
  CW 301 Fundamentals of Creative Writing (prerequisite to all writing courses)  
  CW 302 Fundamentals of Creative Reading (prerequisite to all writing courses)
  CW 403 Short Story Writing One 1
  CW 404 Poetry Writing One 1
  CW 405 Playwriting 2
  CW 600 Special Topics in Writing 3
  CW 603 Short Story Writing Two 2
  CW 604 Poetry Writing Two 2
  CW 605 Writing and Performing Monologues
  CW 609 Directed Writing 2
  CW 699 Independent Study
Courses in the Creative Process Area selected from the following: 9
  CW 506 The Business of Creative Writing  
  CW 509 Jewish Writers in the American Poetry Archives
  CW 510 Creative Process 3
  CW 520 Writers on Writing
  CW 550 Poetry Center Workshop
  CW 640 Transfer Literary Magazine
  CW 675 Community Projects in Literature
  CW 685 Projects in Teaching Creative Writing (1-4)
  CW 699 Independent Study
Course in the Craft Area selected from the following: 3
  CW 511 Craft of Poetry  
  CW 512 Craft of Fiction
  CW 513 Craft of Playwriting
CW 601 Work in Progress (to be taken in last semester) 3
Courses in the Literature Area, one course to be selected from three of the following four groups: 9
American Literature Sequence
  ENG 525 Studies in American Literature  
  ENG 527 American Literature, 1860-1914
  ENG 528 American Literature, 1914-1960
  ENG 529 American Literature, 1960-Present
The "Age of" Sequence
  ENG 501 Age of Chaucer  
  ENG 509 Age of Humanism
  ENG 510 Age of Wit
  ENG 514 Age of the Romantics
  ENG 516 Age of the Victorians
  ENG 526 Age of American Renaissance: 1830-1860
The Genre Sequence
  ENG 550 The Rise of the Novel  
  ENG 551 Nineteenth Century English Novel
  ENG 552 Modern British Novel
  ENG 553 Classic American Novel
  ENG 554 Modern American Novel
  ENG 555 The Short Story
  ENG 556 Modern American Poetry
  ENG 557 Modern British Poetry
  ENG 558 Early 20th Century Poetry in the U.S.
  ENG 559 Middle and Late 20th Century Poetry in the U.S.
  ENG 570 Medieval and Renaissance Drama
  ENG 571 The Tragedy of Blood, The Comedy of Humors
  ENG 572 English Drama: Restoration and Eighteenth Century
  ENG 573 American Drama
  ENG 574 Modern British Drama
  CWL 450 Greek and Roman Drama
  CWL 465 Modern Greek Poetry
  CWL 495 Short Fiction
The Individual Authors Sequence
  ENG 580 Individual Authors  
  ENG 581 Chaucer
  ENG 583 Shakespeare: Representative Plays
  ENG 584 Shakespeare: Selected Plays
  ENG 586 Milton
  CWL 425 Individual Authors
Units selected from Theory and Language or Writing from the American Experience (substitution may be made with adviser's approval) 3
Theory and Language
  BLS 444 Black Oratory  
  ENG 420 Introduction to the Study of Language
  ENG 600 Theory of Literature
  ENG 610 History of Criticism
  ENG 611 Modern Criticism
  ENG 612 Studies in Theory and Criticism of Literature
  ENG 613/
WOMS 544
Feminist Literary Criticism
  ENG 615 Imagery, Metaphor, and Symbol
Writing from the American Experience
  AAS 363 Survey of Pilipino Literature  
  AAS 406 Asian American Workshop in Creative Writing
  AIS 360 Modern American Indian Authors
  BLS 411 African American Literature
  BLS 420 Black Fiction
  BLS 430 Black Poetry
  ENG 545/
WOMS 545
American Radical Women Writers
  ENG/JS/WOMS 546 20th Century American Jewish Women Writers
  ENG 614/
WOMS 541
Women Writers and Social Change
  ENG 618 Studies in Gay and Bisexual Literature
  RAZA 505 Creative Writing Workshop
  RAZA 560 Contemporary Literature of La Raza
  WOMS 547 Contemporary Asian American Women Writers
  WOMS 551 Lesbian Literature
Total for major 39

A portfolio of samples of work from creative writing workshop classes also is required for graduation. This portfolio is started in CW 301 and completed in CW 601.

MASTER OF ARTS IN ENGLISH: CONCENTRATION IN CREATIVE WRITING

Admission to the Program

Students interested in this program must submit a meaningful sample of their writing (fifteen to twenty pages of fiction, fifteen to twenty poems, or a full-length stage play or two short plays), two letters of recommendation, and transcripts, along with the Creative Writing Department application form. Submissions should be sent to the Creative Writing Office by January 15 for the fall semester. Applicants from graduate creative writing programs at other colleges or universities may transfer six units to the M.A. program, on review and recommendation of the Creative Writing Admissions Committee and approval of the Division of Graduate Studies. For further clarification, contact the Creative Writing Department. Students accepted into the program with an undergraduate major that is not English are accepted conditionally. Such students, in consultation with the graduate coordinator, must make up undergraduate course deficiencies (up to twelve units) in addition to the requirements. Admission to the M.A. does not imply admission to the M.F.A. Students who wish to earn both degrees must finish the M.A. before beginning the M.F.A. degree.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One: the writing proficiency of the student is monitored on a continuing basis as each course in the program is completed. Level Two: satisfactory completion of CW 893.

On-line course descriptions are available. Selected upper division courses offered by the department may be used for the master's degree upon approval of a departmental adviser. Enrollment is not required in the semester of graduation.

Program Units
Writing courses selected from the following: 9
  CW 803 Advanced Short Story Writing  
  CW 804 Advanced Poetry Writing
  CW 805 Advanced Playwriting
  CW 807 Developing the Novel
  CW 808 Novel Writing
  CW 809 Directed Writing for Graduate Students
  CW 824 Advanced Novel Workshop (6)
  CW 899 Special Study
Creative Process courses selected from the following 9
  CW 785 Projects in Teaching Creative Writing  
  CW 806 The Business of Creative Writing
  CW 810 Seminar in the Creative Process
  CW 820 Writers on Writing
  CW 825 Playwright's Theatre Workshop
  CW 840 Fourteen Hills Literary Magazine
  CW 850 Poetry Center Workshop
  CW 860 Teaching Creative Writing
  CW 866 Craft of Translation
  CW 875 Community Projects in Literature
  CW 876 Writers in Danger
  CW 899 Special Study
Upper division/graduate literature courses in the English or Comparative Literature Departments, to be taken on advisement 9
CW 893 Written M.A. Creative Project 3
Minimum total 30

MASTER OF FINE ARTS IN CREATIVE WRITING

Admission to the Program

Students interested in this program must submit a meaningful sample of their writing (15-20 pages of fiction, 15-20 poems, or a full-length stage play or 2 short plays), two letters of recommendation, and transcripts, along with the Creative Writing Department application form. Submissions should be sent to the Creative Writing Office by January 15 for the fall semester.

Applicants from creative writing programs at other colleges or universities may transfer nine units to the M.F.A. program, on review and recommendation of the Creative Writing Admissions Committee and approval of the Division of Graduate Studies. For further clarification, contact the Creative Writing Department.

Students in the Master of Arts in English with Concentration in Creative Writing at San Francisco State who wish to enter the M.F.A. program are required to apply for admission and are subject to the same admission standards as are all other applicants. For students entering with an earned M.A. in English: Creative Writing, the M.F.A. is a 30-unit degree as described below.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One: the writing proficiency of the student is monitored on a continuing basis as each course in the program is completed. Level Two: satisfactory completion of CW 893.

On-line course descriptions are available. Selected upper division courses offered by the department may be used for the degree upon approval of a department adviser. Enrollment is not required in the semester of graduation.

Priority in M.F.A. classes is given to classified M.F.A. students accepted in the genre of the course.

Program Units
Units selected from the following courses including at least 6 units at the M.F.A. level (CW 853, 854, 855, or 856) 18
  CW 803 Advanced Short Story Writing 1  
  CW 804 Advanced Poetry Writing 1
  CW 805 Advanced Playwriting 1
  CW 807 Developing the Novel 1
  CW 808 Novel Writing 1
  CW 809 Directed Writing for Graduate Students 1
  CW 824 Advanced Novel Workshop (6) 1
  CW 853 M.F.A. Workshop in Fiction 1
  CW 854 M.F.A. Workshop in Poetry 1
  CW 855 M.F.A. Workshop in Playwriting 1
  CW 856 M.F.A. Workshop in Short Plays 1
  CW 899 Special Study
Creative Process courses at the M.F.A. level. Units selected from the following: 6
  CW 880 Craft and Process Tutorial in Fiction 1  
  CW 881 Craft and Process Tutorial in Poetry 1
  CW 882 Craft and Process Tutorial in Playwriting 1
Literature courses or Graduate Creative Process courses 12
Courses numbered 400-level and above may be chosen as follows: literature courses in the English Department, Comparative and World Literature, or in other departments with the consent of the M.F.A. adviser. Graduate process courses include CW 785, 806, 810, 820, 825, 840, 850, 860, 866, 875, 876, 880, 881, 882, 899.  
Correlative courses related to the candidate's interests and planned with the approval of the M.F.A. adviser. Sequences and patterns are especially appropriate. (CW 860, along with the English Department's course in the teaching of composition, is an option in this sequence. For students planning a culminating project in playwriting, the following courses in Theatre Arts are acceptable: TH A 460, 711, 740) 12
CW 893 Written M.F.A. Creative Work 6
Minimum total 54

For students with a B.A. degree, the M.F.A. degree is 54 units as stated above.

For students with an earned M.A. in English: Concentration in Creative Writing, the M.F.A. degree requires an additional 30 units composed of the following elements:

Units chosen in M.F.A.-level workshops (CW 853, 854, 855, or 856) 6
Units chosen in M.F.A.-level Creative Processes classes (CW 880, 881, or 882) 6
Units selected in the Correlative area listed above 12
CW 893 Written M.F.A. Creative Work 6

Footnotes

  1. May be taken for two semesters of credit.
  2. May be taken for three semesters of credit.
  3. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.


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