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, Dungy, Glück, Hoover, Langton, Mirosevich, Orner

Faculty

Professors—Carter, Chernoff, Conboy, Glück, Hoover, Langton, Mirosevich

Associate Professors—Caspers, Doris, Dungy, 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

Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated. On-line course descriptions are available.

Program Units
A. Fundamentals of Creative Writing and Fundamentals of Creative Reading; both are prerequisites to all other Creative Writing courses; CW 302 is prerequisite to ENG 460, ENG 461, ENG 462, and all other upper division English literature courses. CW 302 must be taken at SFSU; upon completion of CW 302, courses from sections E. and F. may be taken at any time. CW 301 and CW 302 may be taken concurrently: 6
CW 301 Fundamentals of Creative Writing  
CW 302 Fundamentals of Creative Reading
B. Course in the Craft Area selected from the following (must be taken after CW 301 and CW 302 and BEFORE workshop course. An additional craft class may be taken to fulfill either a workshop or process course requirement in section C.): 3-6
CW 511 Craft of Poetry  
CW 512 Craft of Fiction
CW 513 Craft of Playwriting
C. Courses in the Creative Process Area and /or Workshop Areas selected from the following (One of these courses must be chosen from variable topic process courses CW 510 OR CW 600. Seek advising for substitution.): 12-15
CW 506 The Business of Creative Writing (creative process)  
CW 507 Writing on the Body (creative process)
CW 509 Jewish Writers in the American Poetry Archives (creative process)
CW 510 Creative Process - Variable Topic (creative process) 1
CW 514 World Poetry (creative process)
CW 520 Writers on Writing (creative process)
CW 550 Poetry Center Workshop (creative process)
CW 600 Special Topics in Writing - Variable Topic 1 (workshop)
CW 602 Playwriting 3 (workshop)
CW 603 Short Story Writing 3 (workshop)
CW 604 Poetry Writing3 (workshop)
CW 605 Writing and Performing Monologues3 (workshop)
CW 609 Directed Writing 2 (workshop)
CW 640 Transfer Literary Magazine (creative process)
CW 675 Community Projects in Literature (creative process)
CW 685 Projects in Teaching Creative Writing (creative process) (1-4)
CW 699 Independent Study (creative process or workshop) (1-3)
CWL 455 Translation Workshop (creative process)
D. CW 601 Work in Progress (to be taken in last year) 3
E. Courses in the Literature Area, one course to be selected from three of the following four groups.(Prerequisite for CW majors to take these courses is CW 302; once completed, courses from sections E. and F. maybe taken at any time.): 9
American Literature  
ENG 525 Studies in American Literature
ENG 526 Age of the American Renaissance, 1830-1860
ENG 527 American Literature, 1860-1914
ENG 528 American Literature, 1914-1960
ENG 529 American Literature, 1960-Present
Literature in English Surveys or Age (of)  
ENG 460 Literature in English I: Beginnings to 17th Century
ENG 461 Literature in English II: 18th and 19th Centuries
ENG 462 Literature in English III: The Twentieth Century
ENG 501 Age of Chaucer
ENG 504 The Elizabethan Age
ENG 509 The Age of Humanism
ENG 514 The Age of the Romantics
The Genre  
CW 465/
CWL 465/
MGS 465
Modern Greek Poetry
CWL 450 Greek and Roman Drama
CWL 495 Short Fiction
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 U.S. Poetry
ENG 559 Middle and Late 20th Century Poetry in the U.S.
ENG 570 Medieval and Renaissance Drama
ENG 571 The Tragedy of Blood, Comedy of Humors
ENG 573 American Drama
ENG 574 Modern British Drama
Individual Authors  
CW 426/
MGS 426
Kazantzakis
CWL 425 Individual Authors
ENG 580 Individual Authors
ENG 581 Chaucer
ENG 583 Shakespeare: Representative Plays
ENG 584 Shakespeare: Selected Plays
ENG 586 Milton
F. Three units selected from Writing from the American Experience or Global Literatures in English (substitution may be made with adviser's approval). (Prerequisite for CW majors to take these courses is CW 302; once completed, courses from sections E. and F. maybe taken at any time.): 3
Global Literatures in English (More course offerings in this category will become available over time.)  
CW 497/
MGS 497
Modern Greek Literature
ENG 451/
JS 451
Jewish Literature of the Americas
ENG 631 Words, Culture, & Change
ENG 632 Literature of Exile and Migration
Writing from the American Experience  
AA S 363 Survey of Philippine Literature
AA S 406 Asian American Workshop in Creative Writing
AFRS 400 Black Arts and Humanities
AFRS 411 African American Literature
AIS 360 Modern American Indian Authors
ENG 545 / WGS 545 American Radical Women Writers
ENG 546/
JS 546/
WGS 546
20th Century American Jewish Women Writers
ENG 618 Studies in Gay and Bisexual Literature
MGS 397 Greek American Literature
RAZA 305 Raza Creative Writing Workshop
RAZA 560 Contemporary Literature of Raza
WGS 541 Women Writers and Social Change
WGS 547 Contemporary Asian American Women Writers
WGS 551 Lesbian Literature
G. Three units selected from Theory and Language Studies: 3
Theory and Language Studies  
AFRS 440 Black Oratory
ENG 420 Introduction to the Study of Language
ENG 422 History of the English 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 615 Imagery, Metaphor, and Symbol
ENG 613/
WGS 544
Feminist Literary Criticism
HUM 410 The Modern Revolution
HUM 415 Contemporary Culture
HUM 432 Nietzsche and Postmodernism
Total for major 42

 

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 December 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: writing proficiency is met by the students’ statement of purpose, an expository essay which is included in the CSU application. That, along with fifteen pages of creative work in poetry or fiction or a finished play in playwriting is read by two faculty who assess and rank the writing of applicants to the program along with their college transcripts and letters of recommendation. Level Two: writing proficiency is accomplished by successful completion of a written creative work, a collection of poetry or short stories, a novel, or a play.

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.

Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated. On-line course descriptions are available.

Program Units
Writing courses selected from the following: 9
CW 803 Advanced Short Story Writing2  
CW 804 Advanced Poetry Writing2
CW 807 Developing the Novel
CW 808 Novel Writing2
CW 809 Directed Writing for Graduate Students2
CW 899 Special Study
Creative Process courses selected from the following 9
CW 785 Graduate Projects in the Teaching of Creative Writing  
CW 806 The Business of Creative Writing
CW 810 Seminar in the Creative Process1
CW 814 Contemporary World Poetry
CW 820 Writers on Writing
CW 825 Playwright's Theatre Workshop
CW 840 Fourteen Hills Literary Magazine3
CW 850 Poetry Center Workshop
CW 860 Teaching Creative Writing
CW 866 Craft of Translation
CW 875 Community Projects in Literature3
CW 899 Special Study
Upper division/graduate literature courses in the English, Comparative and World Literature,
or Theatre Arts 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 December 15 for the fall semester.

Applicants from creative writing programs at other colleges or universities may transfer 9 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 from SFSU, the M.F.A. is a 30-unit degree as described below.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One: writing proficiency is met by the students’ statement of purpose, an expository essay which is included in the CSU application. That, along with fifteen pages of creative work in poetry or fiction or a finished play in playwriting is read by two faculty who assess and rank the writing of applicants to the program along with their college transcripts and letters of recommendation. Level Two: writing proficiency is accomplished by successful completion of a written creative work, a collection of poetry or short stories, a novel, or a play.

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.

Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated. On-line course descriptions are available.

Program Units
Writing Workshops at the M.F.A. Level
A minimum of 6 units selected from the following:
6
CW 853 M.F.A. Workshop in Fiction 4  
CW 854 M.F.A. Workshop in Poetry 4
CW 855 M.F.A. Workshop in Playwriting 4
CW 856 M.F.A. Workshop in Short Plays 2
M.A./M.F.A. level Creative Process Directed Writing/Special Study/Writing Workshops
Units selected from the following:
12
CW 785 Graduate Projects in the Teaching of Creative Writing  
CW 803 Advanced Short Story Writing 2
CW 804 Advanced Poetry Writing 2
CW 806 The Business of Creative Writing
CW 807 Developing the Novel
CW 808 Novel Writing 2
CW 809 Directed Writing for Graduate Students 2
CW 810 Seminar in the Creative Process1
CW 814 Contemporary World Poetry
CW 820 Writers on Writing
CW 825 Playwright's Theatre Workshop2
CW 840 Fourteen Hills Literary Magazine3
CW 850 Poetry Center Workshop
CW 853 M.F.A. Workshop in Fiction 4
CW 854 M.F.A. Workshop in Poetry 4
CW 855 M.F.A. Workshop in Playwriting 4
CW 856 M.F.A. Workshop in Short Plays 2
CW 860 Teaching Creative Writing
CW 866 Craft of Translation
CW 875 Community Projects in Literature
CW 899 Special Study
Creative Process courses at the M.F.A. level. Minimum of 6 units selected from the following: 6
CW 880 M.F.A. Craft and Process Tutorial in Fiction 2  
CW 881 M.F.A. Craft and Process Tutorial in Poetry 2
CW 882 M.F.A. Craft and Process Tutorial in Playwriting 2
Literature or Theatre Arts courses or Graduate Creative Process courses: 12
Upper division/graduate (300 level and above) literature courses in the English or Comparative and World Literature or Theater Arts Departments, to be taken on advisement, with the consent of an M.F.A. adviser. Theater Arts courses include TH A 401, 660, 705.  
Graduate Creative Writing process courses include CW 785, 806, 810, 814, 820, 825, 840, 850, 860, 866, 875, 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 401, 660, 705) 12
CW 893 Written M.F.A. Creative Work 6
Minimum total 54

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

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 from SFSU, 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 2 (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 repeated for credit when topics vary.
  2. May be taken for three semesters of credit.
  3. May be taken for two semesters of credit.
  4. May be taken for six semesters of credit.


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