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Creative writing

Creative writing, a popular and growing field, has been offered as a major and minor at Augustana College since the fall of 2010.

Dr. Kelly Daniels poses with his beloved bike, left, and Rebecca Wee takes the microphone at a faculty poetry reading night. (Photo of Rebecca Wee/Augustana Photo Bureau/Veronica Smith)

The major is particularly well-suited to a liberal arts college, say professors Rebecca Wee and Kelly Daniels, because imaginative writers must know more than simply how to write. They must follow their interests, be they academic — science, psychology, music, painting, philosophy — or more personal.

For this reason, creative writing is especially attractive to students who wish to double-major. In general, creative writing encourages the habits of close observation, reflection, critical and creative thinking.

The major naturally follows the development of many related opportunities for writers at Augustana in recent years.

Much more than simply a series of courses, the writing program includes:

  • Tenured faculty in both poetry and fiction
  • A literary series, The River Readings. Our annual series brings nationally prominent literary artists to campus. Though visits culminate in a public reading, we stress small-group interaction between students and visiting writers, "fireside chats" about art, career, and life in general.
  • Saga, Augustana's student-run art and literary magazine, publishing student fiction, non-fiction, poetry and visual art work twice a year. The journal's board of editors regularly stages public readings in support of Saga.
  • An extracurricular writing group, After Hours: Poetry and Prose. Student writers and faculty mentors meet once a week to write, share and discuss one another’s work.
  • A book press, East Hall Press, which offers multiple opportunities for student assistants.
  • Writing fellows. Our fellowship program generally invites a poet and a fiction writer to join the faculty for two-year stints.

The major requires 10 courses, plus a Senior Inquiry project and an internship. Coursework is split between creative writing workshops and the study of literature. Additionally, creative writing students are encouraged to work on Saga, to engage in internships with local arts management groups, to study abroad and to generally take advantage of all opportunities to grow as people and writers. Creative writing is well-suited for double majors.Aft

After Augustana

Creative writers should graduate as excellent rhetoricians, trained in both critical and creative writing. During their time at Augustana, students will be strongly encouraged and guided to submit work for publication, thereby learning the business of creative writing. Students will gain the habit of keen observation and honest reflection.

Many students have gained admission to highly-competitive Master of Fine Arts programs upon graduation. Faculty work one-on-one with students interested in following this career path, to help them prepare their application materials. Many others with creative writing backgrounds find fulfilling work in editing and publishing, journalism, marketing or business in general. One recent graduate works as a improv comedian.

In the new "creative economy," which values ideas above mechanical skills, a creative writing education is more valuable, and practical, than once thought.