The University of Iowa

UI to Debut its New Creating-Writing Major

from The Daily Iowan

Starting this fall, students in the University of Iowa English Department will have a new major to choose from.

Early this month, the state Board of Regents approved a creative-writing major that will allow undergraduates the opportunity to major in creative writing as soon as they step onto campus.

“Many undergraduates come to Iowa expecting to be able to major in creative writing, given our reputation as the Writing University,” said English Professor Loren Glass, who noted that up until this change, this had not been a possibility.

He said he believes the addition of the new major will “bring some of the most promising young writers to Iowa, further enriching the literary community here.”

Nonfiction Writing Program Director John D’Agata, who is involved in the admissions process for students applying to the nonfiction graduate program, said he believes the new major will be incredibly valuable.

“Besides a stellar display of talent, of course, it takes an even mix of creative writing courses — in all three genres — plus a decent helping of literature classes in English. And that’s exactly what’s been designed into this new major,” he said. “I’m thrilled that we’ll finally be offering our students a genuine major in creative writing. It’s going to give Iowa students the best of both worlds.”

The development of new major has gone through a two-fold process. First, the university made a creative-writing track in the English Department, which Glass said has been successful and popular among students.

“Then we decided to build on that structure and make it into a full-blown major,” he said.

Glass said he cites student demand as the driving force behind finally getting students on the creative-writing track their own major.

Undergraduate students on the creative-writing track will be grandfathered in, giving them the option to enroll in the new major.

“We are making arrangements for seniors who have been anticipating the major to be able to declare the major and still graduate on time,” said Professor Claire Fox, the summer English Department head. “The English and creative-writing major is also flexible, permitting students to pursue their interests in particular genres or topics relating to English and creative writing.”

She said the plan is for students to progressively take introductory, intermediate, and advanced courses while developing a portfolio so that when they graduate, they will have credentials on their transcript to help them as they apply for internships and jobs.

Fox said she thinks the UI will be able to compete with other prestigious creative-writing programs across the country.

“I think few can claim the wealth of resources for creative writing that UI undergraduates enjoy, including the Writers’ Workshop, the Nonfiction Writing Program, the Playwrights Workshop, the International Writing Program, the program in Literary Translation Studies, and the Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing,” she said. “Not to mention the Iowa Digital Library, UNESCO City of Literature events, the Iowa Youth Writing Project, and Prairie Lights Books.”

It will be a 42 semester hour major with a number of elective courses. For the upcoming fall, officials said, they anticipate roughly 50 students will take advantage of the new major, projecting the number to grow to 200 students by the seventh year.

Glass said he is excited to be a part of closer cooperation among creative writers and English professors.

“The new creative-writing major will put the department at the forefront of curricular changes that are happening across the nation,” he said.