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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

English Department

Letter of Specialization in Creative Writing

The Department's Creative Writing Specialization aims to provide inspiration and support for committed writers and to offer serious instruction in craft.  Classes usually include readings in one or more literary genres and workshop review of students' writing.

A letter of Specialization is conferred on students who successfully complete the following program of courses.

Students must complete a minimum of five courses with a minimum grade of "B" in English 354 and a minimum grade of "C" in all others.

If approved, students may substitute appropriate courses at UMass and the four colleges (Smith, Mount Holyoke, Amherst, and Hampshire) for the optional courses listed below. Pre-approval must be given by our faculty advisers, Randall Knoper, or Janis Greve,, 252 Bartlett Hall. We recommend that you make an appointment with one of them by calling (413) 545-0388.




1) English 354: Creative Writing: Introduction

Writing in the various modes of fiction, poetry, drama, and essay. Analysis of student writing in class and in tutorial; development of critical skills. (Need B or better in this course to receive credit toward the specialization.)



2) English 355: Creative Writing: Fiction or English 356: Creative Writing: Poetry

To add these courses, students must have completed English 354 or 354H with a grade of "B" or better and receive consent from instructors by submitting a portfolio of work. Please contact the English Department for more information.

Students may repeat these courses once with a new professor as a way of fulfilling their five courses.

English 355 Creative Writing: Fiction
A seminar in writing short stories and other fiction for students who demonstrate familiarity with the basis of scene and story. Students write regularly, read and critique one another's writing, and read contemporary fiction.

English 356 Creative Writing: Poetry
A seminar in writing poetry for students who demonstrate familiarity with the basics of imagery, rhythm, and form. Students write regularly, read and critique one another's writing, and read contemporary poetry.



3) Three Elective Courses in Creative Writing

English 254: Creative Writing and Imagination
English 297: Experimental Writing Workshop
English 355 or 356 (Students may repeat these courses once witha new professor as a way fo fulfilling their five courses.)

It is also possible to count one Nonfiction Writing course toward the specialization. Examples include:

English 350: Expository Wrting
English 352: Article Writing
English 391J Creative Nonfiction
English 450 Advanced Expository Writing



NOTE: Selected students of high promise will be invited to complete their Specialization through a two semester Thesis Project (English 496 Independent Study or the English 499Y-499P Honors Project). These students will work individually with one or two faculty members over the course of a year, intensifying their writing practice and producing a substantial senior thesis.