The Creative Writing Major
THE CREATIVE WRITING MAJOR is an undergraduate concentration within the English Department at Northwestern University and one of the first and finest undergraduate Creative Writing programs in the country. Its reputation based on the accomplishments of its graduates, the generosity of its professors, and a pedagogy that creates a fruitful symbiosis between close reading and inventive writing. Award-winning authors teach poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction, as well as courses that cross genres, guiding students to examine literary works as writers and encouraging them to study the best literary models. Professors and students work in a close-knit community as they write their own stories, novellas, poems and essays within the living tradition of literature.
Most Creative Writing Majors begin taking creative writing courses in their sophomore year and complete the yearlong “sequence” of study during their junior year, and some have the opportunity to complete an additional honors project before graduation. Students also learn from prominent visiting writers at our annual Festival of Writing in the Spring. Recent graduates of the program include MacArthur “Genius” Award Winner Karen Russell; Veronica Roth, whose bestselling novel “Divergent” was first drafted while she was a student; poet Peter Kline; and award-winning essayist Angela Mears.
Current Creative Writing faculty include Chris Abani, Eula Biss, Brian Bouldrey, John Bresland, Averill Curdy, Sheila Donohue, Reginald Gibbons, Mary Kinzie, Juan Martinez, Ed Roberson, Shauna Seliy, Sarah Valentine, and Rachel Jamison Webster.
"The first story I wrote at Northwestern had all these crazy car accidents and things,” said Veronica Roth, author of the bestselling Divergent series. "I learned how to quiet down, how to write clearly and how to construct stories that were subtle and not so heavy-handed. And I loved hanging with the other writers in the program. You can't write a book without getting feedback, because you're too close to the work."
“I still believe our program at Northwestern is as good as any graduate program in the country. It was nice to have the opportunity when I was 19 to spend so much time reading and writing with these other writers. There was such a serious sense of purpose. That’s a testament to Brian and Sheila and the rest of the faculty. They really could create a community.” --Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and winner of a MacArthur Genius Award.
“As a Creative Nonfiction student in the Creative Writing program, I was pushed hard -- by my professors and fellow writers -- to find my voice. Not just my voice as a writer, but as a person and advocate of my life and experiences. More than anything else, I learned that I am still learning. I am still finding that voice, and always will be. I learned that this fact is okay, it is right, it is what makes me write.” Danielle Littman, 2013 graduate.
"We're not just educating people for professional tracks; we're educating them for their lives." -Professor Mary Kinzie, Founder of the Creative Writing Program and award-winning poet.