Augustana College printing logo

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.

Rukmini Girish '15, creative writing and sociology, with a minor in French Pursuing; M.F.A. in non-fiction writing at Columbia College, Chicago

"Augie's one of the few small schools in Illinois with a creative writing major, and I loved the campus when I visited. I knew I wanted to study creative writing, sociology and French, though I wasn't sure how the major/minor combination would work out. But I thought ‘You grow into who you are in college' was just a cliché. Turns out it isn't. [A peak experience] for me was directing "The Vagina Monologues" my junior year and participating in the
student-led protest. It was a privilege to learn and educate others about social justice."

Alexandria Petrassi '14, creative writing and English-writing emphasis, with a minor in Spanish; Pursuing Professional Editing Certificate at the University of Chicago

"If you had asked me as a first-year if I'd be an editor-in-chief for SAGA and a leader in my sorority, I'd have told you you were crazy. Add the fact that I'm pursuing a career in English and creative writing, and that it's starting to materialize into reality, and you've got the brightest dream I could have ever dreamed up for myself....

The entire time I have been co-editor-in-chief of SAGA has been a peak experience. I learned things about myself I never knew, and ealized that I have what it takes to be a leader and blend tradition with new ideas. SAGA was a passion of mine, and to have the chance to make a difference... well, it's been a wild ride, and I can honestly say it brought out more good in me than I have space to write about."

Emily Timmons '13 Glimco, creative writing and English, with a minor in art history; Marketing and communications associate at Northbrook Public Library, Northbrook, Illinois

"I picked Augustana because it felt like home on my first visit, even though it was horrifically cold outside. I can't pinpoint exactly why I fell in love with Augie that day - it might've been the fact that everyone was so kind, or that the campus was beautiful. But by the time my visit was over, I didn't want to leave."

Nicola Trumbull '12, creative writing and English; Editor at Prime Publishing LLC, Northbrook, Illinois

"Creative writing at Augustana is not just about turning in papers. It's about becoming the writer you were meant to be. Writing is just part of the creative writing program. It's more about observing everything around you and learning how to convey what you see and feel into meaningful words. Then, it's not just writing anymore; it's the experience of a creative writer.

The creative writing program opened doors for me-doors to classrooms filled with budding creative writers and doors to creative career opportunities."