Apr 26, 2018  
Course Catalog 2013-2014 
Course Catalog 2013-2014 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Creative Writing


Sylvia Watanabe, Associate Professor, Program Co-Director, First Semester
Dan Chaon, Pauline Delaney Associate Professor, Program Co-Director, Second Semester
Kazim Ali, Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Comparative Literature
Jessica Grim, Lecturer
Bernard Matambo, Visiting Assistant Professor
Azita Osanloo, Visiting Assistant Professor
Lynn Powell, Visiting Assistant Professor
David Walker, Professor of English
Program Coordinator:  Suzanne Overstreet, x56567                                                              


Combining the breadth of a liberal arts education with rigorous studio training, the creative writing major emphasizes individual mentoring at the advanced level through small, juried workshops (with a maximum enrollment of 12) and independent projects directed by program faculty.  While primarily focused on five genres:  fiction, poetry, nonfiction, playwriting, and screenwriting, the major also provides opportunities for cross-disciplinary work with the other arts.  Through a variety of practica, both on campus and off, students can acquire practical, hands-on experience in writing-related internships.


The Creative Writing major requires the equivalent of nine full courses, distributed as follows:  the 201 gateway (a full course), three 300-level workshops (3 full courses), a full course or two half courses in electives, the 470 capstone (a full course), and three additional full courses in textual studies.  Students who declare the major will have completed 201 and been admitted to their first 300-level workshop.  No more than one 100-level course will count as a major elective.  Courses in which a student has earned a letter grade lower than a C- or P cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of the major.

Courses Requiring Applications

Admittance to all workshops and projects, required by the major, is by application only.  At the end of each term, applications are due on the final day of classes.  Please see the program website for information on submission deadlines and to download application forms.

The 201 Gateway:

In CRWR 201, students are given the opportunity to explore a variety of poetry and prose genres and the intersections among them.  Successful completion of 201 is a pre-requisite for 310 (poetry) and 320 (fiction), as well as a number of other 300-level workshops.

Upper Division:

As with 201, admittance to the 300-level workshops is based on a juried selection process requiring the submission of a completed application and recent work sample.  The quality of the work sample is the primary criterion for selection, and students who hope to major in Creative Writing should focus on producing a strong body of work in 201 and other lower division Creative Writing courses.

Independent Projects and Other Variable Credit Courses:

An application and work sample are required for most 400-level courses.  Please check the course catalog for pre-requisites.

Textual Studies

This three-course requirement gives majors the opportunity to explore, through various disciplinary perspectives, the genres in which they are writing.  The requirement may be met by literature, theory, and film courses (generally at the 200-level and above) offered by English, the language departments, Comparative Literature, Cinema Studies, and other disciplines.  While there are many ways of filling this requirement, it is strongly recommended that majors consult with their advisors in selecting courses related to the genres in which they are most interested.

Elective Credit

There are a variety of options for filling this requirement:

  • CRWR 110 or 120
  • Elective courses at the 200-level
  • Cross-referenced courses offered by other programs and departments
  • Transfer of course work completed outside of Oberlin
  • Elective workshops at the 400-level
  • Half courses at the 400-level (e.g., CRWR 475, 485)


A minimum of 1 full course committed to a creative project, incorporating a substantial amount of independent work and designed in consultation with a faculty advisor, is required for completion of this requirement.  Most majors will fill this requirement by completing a semester-long independent project (CRWR 470), though in special circumstances two semester-long half courses may be allowed.  It is strongly recommended that majors complete two 300-level workshops, including at least one in a related genre, before signing up for 470.


The minor consists of a minimum of four full courses offered by Creative Writing.  One of these courses must be at the 300-level (or above).  Courses in which a student has earned a letter grade lower than a C- or P cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of the minor.

Transfer of Credit

Upon acceptance to the College, transfer students with an interest in Creative Writing should consult one of the co-directors for approval of previous coursework.  Third-year transfer students will find it almost impossible to complete the major in four semesters and might consider the minor.  While credit is normally given for Creative Writing courses taken elsewhere, equivalent credit is almost never given for any of the four required workshops.

No more than two full courses of transfer credit may be applied toward the Creative Writing Major.  Transfer courses may be applied toward the textual studies requirement, the in-program course requirement, or a combination of these.

Winter Term

Please check with Suzanne Overstreet, the Creative Writing Program Coordinator, for a list of faculty available to sponsor winter term projects.

Contests and Awards

Each spring the Creative Writing Program sponsors several college-wide contests in poetry and prose.  All currently enrolled Oberlin students are encouraged to submit their work.  The winning entries and their authors will be celebrated at an awards reading.  Please check the program website to obtain information on contest rules and deadlines.