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Undergraduate Creative Writing Program at Columbia University

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The creative writing program in The School of the Arts combines intensive writing workshops with seminars that study literature from a writer’s perspective.  While students develop and hone their literary technique in workshops, the creative writing seminars (which explore literary technique as well as history) broaden their sense of possibility by exposing them to the various ways, historically, that language has been used to make art.  As a supplement to the workshops and seminars, related courses for the major can be drawn from departments such as English, Comp. Lit, Philosophy, History, and Anthropology, among others.  Students will determine, in consultation with their faculty advisors, the related courses that will best inform their creative work.

The writing workshop is the core element in the practice of creative writing, and it should be a selective and highly rigorous course.  Students in the workshop produce original works of fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, and submit them to their classmates and professor for a close critical analysis.  Workshop critiques (which include a detailed written report, as well as thorough line-edits) assess the mechanics and merits of the piece of writing, while individual conferences with the professor distill the various critiques into a direct plan of action to improve the work.  A student writer develops by practicing the craft under the diligent critical attention of his or her peers and professor.  This dynamic is meant to continually assist the student writer toward new levels of creative endeavor.

The creative writing seminars are modeled on the courses offered by the graduate Writing Division of The School of the Arts, and provide the intellectual ballast that informs and deepens the work of the creative writing student.  Students in the creative writing seminars read a book each week and engage in round-table discussions about the artistic attributes of the texts, in order to better understand how literature might be made.  By engaging in a deep analysis of outstanding and diverse works of literature, the creative writer can build the resources necessary to produce his or her own accomplished creative work.

In addition to this core curriculum, we offer workshops in dramatic writing and screenwriting, as well as a seminar in the art of translation.