Dec 02, 2023  
Course Catalog 2018-2019 
Course Catalog 2018-2019 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Creative Writing

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DeSales Harrison, Associate Professor of English, Interim Program Director
Kamin Ali, Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Comparative Literature
Sylvia Watanabe, Professor
Jessica Grim, Lecturer
Lynn Powell, Lecturer and Director, Oberlin WITS (Writers-in-the-Schools)
David Walker, Professor of English
Chanda Feldman, Visiting Assistant Professor
Abbey Chung, Visiting Assistant Professor
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 a senior capstone resulting in a completed draft of original work in prose, screenwriting, graphic narrative, or poetry.  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 490 capstone seminar (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.  Students must earn minimum grades of C- or P for all courses that apply toward 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 CRWR program Blackboard page 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, Comparative Literature, the language departments, Cinema Studies, and other disciplines. Majors also have the option of applying a single 200-level literature-based course in Creative Writing (such as Graphic Narrative, Beyond Genre: Mystery and Detective Fiction, Asian American literature, African Narrative, the Writer in the World, and Fabulist Fiction) toward filling this requirement. Students should consult with their advisors when selecting courses.

Elective Credit

There are a variety of options for filling this requirement:

  • CRWR 110 or 120
  • Elective courses at the 200-level in Creative Writing
  • Cross-referenced or cross-listed 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 485)


Majors will normally take one semester of the Senior Projects Seminar (CrWr 490), during which they will work on individually designed projects under the supervision of a faculty mentor.  Seminars will consist of regular peer group meetings and one-on-one conferences with the instructor.  At the end of the term, students will be expected to have completed a substantial body of work. With faculty approval, this course may be repeated for credit.  Pre-requisites: It is strongly recommended that majors will have completed two 300-level workshops before applying for this course. 


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 the Emma Howell Memorial Poetry Prize.  All currently enrolled Oberlin students are encouraged to submit their work.  Please check the program website to obtain information on contest rules and deadlines. 

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