Students

RC Creative Writing and Literature

Creative Writing and Literature Majors write fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction under the close guidance of faculty mentors, and may workshop their writing with other student writers in small writing seminars. Majors also study the art of writing through the study of literature. Majors specialize in fiction, poetry, or nonfiction early in their studies.

Advising

    • Students meet with the creative writing major advisor when declaring, making course substitutions, discussing transfer/study abroad credit evaluations, internships, preparing major release forms, and information on graduate school study and career paths.

Although students may pursue study in multiple genres, most specialize in a single genre:

  • Fiction/ Creative Nonfiction
  • Poetry
  • Digital Storytelling

Advising appointments can be made here or by calling RC Academic Services at 763-0032.

Grade Policies

Creative writing majors must earn a grade of at least C- in all courses taken to satisfy the requirements of the major.

Requirements

Minimum Credits: 28

The major is structured into four genre tracks. In addition to the Fiction / Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, and Digital Storytelling tracks, students may elect a multi-genre track in consultation with their principal writing instructors and the major advisor.

Each track consists of:

  1. Four elective creative writing courses
  2. Five elective upper level literature courses

Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Track

Creative Writing and Literature Majors write fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction under the close guidance of faculty mentors, and may workshop their writing with other student writers in small writing seminars. Majors also study the art of writing through the study of literature. Majors specialize in fiction, poetry, or nonfiction early in their studies.

Students complete a minimum of four creative writing courses, at least three of which must be at the 300 level or above and at least three of which must be taken in the RC. A usual track is an introductory course (Narration) and three upper-level courses. Students may count one non-RC creative writing course towards the writing requirement.

Creative Writing Courses: Students may elect any combination of seminars and tutorials from the following:

  1. RCHUMS 220 Narration: Intro to Fiction Writing
  2. RCHUMS 325, 326, 425, 426 Tutorials: Permission of instructor required
  3. RCHUMS 320 Narration: Advanced Fiction Writing
  4. RCHUMS 334 (Section 005) Memoir: Writing from Within
  5. Other departmental offerings listed under RCHUMS 334 or RCCORE 334. Details Here: RCcrwr.

Literature Electives: Students complete five literature courses, at the 300-level or above. One literature course must focus on either ancient literature or medieval literature (pre-1600). The ancient / medieval requirement may focus on non-Western or Western literature, but must pre-date Shakespeare if a Western literature course is elected. English 367 – Shakespeare’s Plays does not fulfill this requirement, although the course can count towards the literature requirement.

Students are encouraged to take literature courses in the RC Arts and Ideas Major, the Department of English or the Comparative Literature Program. Students majoring in a second language may count one upper-level literature course in that language, or one upper-level literature course completed during a full semester studying abroad in a non-English speaking country. Upper-level literature courses taken abroad also may be counted. All literature courses counted toward the Creative Writing and Literature Major must be at least three (3) credits.

Courses that have been used to meet the requirement in the past include:

  • RCHUMS 354: Race and Identity in Music
  • RCHUMS 344: Reason and Passion in the 18thCentury
  • RCHUMS 342: Representing the Holocaust in Literature, Film and the Visual Arts
  • Other RCHUMS courses listed in the Arts and Ideas in the Humanities major
  • English 350: Literature in English to 1660 (for ancient/medieval requirement)
  • English 328: Writing and the Environment
  • English 379: Literature in Afro-American Culture
  • Other English Department courses with a literature focus
  • CLCIV 385: Greek Mythology (for ancient/medieval requirement)
  • Asian 314: Strange Ways: Literature of the Supernatural in Pre-modern Japan and China
  • MEMS 386: Medieval Literature, History and Culture

Poetry Track

Students complete a minimum of four creative writing courses, at least three of which must be at the 300 level or above and at least three of which must be taken in the RC. A usual track is an introductory course (Writing Poetry) and three upper-level courses. Students may count one non-RC creative writing course towards the writing requirement.

Creative Writing Courses: Students may elect any combination of seminars and tutorials from the following:

  1. RCHUMS 221 Writing Poetry
  2. RCHUMS 325, 326, 425, 426 Tutorials: Permission of instructor required
  3. RCHUMS 321 Advanced Poetry Writing
  4. RCHUMS 334 Workshop with Incarcerated Poets and Artists
  5. Other departmental offerings listed under RCHUMS 334 or RCCORE 334. More info: RCcrwr.

Literature Electives: Students complete five literature courses, at the 300-level or above. One literature course must focus on either ancient literature or medieval literature (pre-1600). The ancient / medieval requirement may focus on non-Western or Western literature, but must pre-date Shakespeare if a Western literature course is elected. English 367 – Shakespeare’s Plays does not fulfill this requirement, although the course can count towards the literature requirement.

Students are encouraged to take literature courses in the RC Arts and Ideas Major, the Department of English or the Comparative Literature Program. Students majoring in a second language may count one upper-level literature course in that language, or one upper-level literature course completed during a full semester studying abroad in a non-English speaking country. Upper-level literature courses taken abroad also may be counted. All literature courses counted toward the Creative Writing and Literature Major must be at least three (3) credits.

Courses that have been used to meet the requirement in the past include:

  • Literature courses listed above under Fiction / Creative Nonfiction
  • English 340: Studies in Poetry
  • English 440: Modern Poetry
  • English 442: Studies in Poetry

Digital Storytelling Track

The digital storytelling track studies the ways story interacts with technology and the effect of digital media on writing and the creative process. Students electing this track pair writing practice with the study of the theory, ethics, and history of digital media.

Creative Writing Courses: At least 4 courses required over two categories

  • Creative Writing Courses: choose a minimum of two Residential College creative writing courses that focus on writing fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry. Only one course in a student’s major plan should be at the 200-level:

Introductory Courses (may elect 1 to count towards major):

  1. RCHUMS 220 Narration: Intro to Fiction Writing
  2. RCHUMS 221 Writing Poetry

Upper-level Courses:

  1. RCHUMS 320 Advanced Narration
  2. RCHUMS 321 Advanced Poetry Writing
  3. RCHUMS 325, 326, 425, 426 Creative Writing Tutorials
  4. RCHUMS 334 (Section 005) Memoir: Writing from Within
  • Digital Writing / Skills Courses: choose a minimum of two digital storytelling / writing courses at the 300-level or above that focus on digital media and/or electronic literature writing and practice. Courses that have been used to meet the requirement in the past include:
  1. RCCORE 334 (Section 004): Digital Storytelling
  2. English 420: Tech and the Humanities / Electronic Literature
  3. RCSCI 360 (Section 001): Documentary Photography
  4. RCHUMS 325, 326, 425, 426 Creative Writing Tutorials with a focus on writing for, and/or creating, electronic literature or digital media content (permission of instructor required)

Digital Studies Requirement: At least 2 courses required

Choose a minimum of two digital studies theory courses at the 300-level or above that focus on the theory of digital culture and/or the digital humanities. Courses that have been used to meet the requirement in the past include:

  1. AmCult 358: Topics in Digital Studies
  2. AmCult 360: Radical Digital Media
  3. FTVM 368: Topics in Digital Media Studies
  4. English 405: Theories of Writing

Literature Requirement: At least 3 courses required

Literature courses must be taken at the 300-level or above. Literature courses should not focus on digital studies but should offer complementary skills and additional context in the art and craft of literature. One course must focus on ancient/medieval literature. For more information on specific literature requirements, please see the Literature section listed under Fiction / Creative Nonfiction.

Other Department Policies

Independent Study. Students may take internships in a publishing or writing related field for credit. These credits do not count towards the major.

Double Majoring. Creative writing majors may and are encouraged to double major or minor in other disciplines. However, to ensure that these students have devoted significant, independent effort to each major, only three courses can be counted towards a literature major (Arts and Ideas in the Humanities, English, Comparative Literature, or other majors in which literature is a significant portion of study i.e. foreign language and literature majors). Only one course can be counted towards a non-literature based major or minor. This overlapping course need not be a literature course, in order to encourage students to develop expertise in a discipline or subject they may be foundational to a future writing career in that subject (i.e. Social Theory and Practice, Psychology, Math, Environmental Studies, and other areas).

Distribution Policy

No course used to fulfill a major requirement may be used toward the LSA Distribution Requirement. In addition, courses in the RC Creative Writing subject area may not be used toward the Distribution Requirement.

Honors

A student whose overall academic record meets the eligibility criteria for honors and whose creative work models originality and the promise of mastery in their chosen genre may apply for an honors thesis. Honors theses are typically 75-100 pages of polished fiction or creative nonfiction, or a collection of 25 or more poems. The student and their faculty advisor will determine the exact length and content of the final thesis.

To be eligible to apply for honors, a student must demonstrate exceptional skill in the art and craft of prose, poetry, or creative nonfiction. The student must have completed a minimum of two Residential College creative writing classes, although honors students typically complete three or more by the start of their thesis sequence. The student also must hold a GPA of at least 3.4 overall.

Students who meet the above criteria are eligible to apply for the honors thesis project in the winter term of their junior year, typically by late March. To apply, students shall submit:

  • A writing sample (10 pages of prose or 5 poems) that represents the student’s best, most polished work.
  • A brief statement (1-2 pages) describing the honors project. Applicants should also include the name of a faculty member they wish to request as their thesis advisor.

Questions about the submittal process can be directed to the creative writing major advisor here.

The Honors Committee, consisting of faculty in the Creative Writing program, will judge the student’s work on its quality, originality, and promise of mastery in their chosen genre. The Committee reviews all honors applications after the submission deadline. Students are notified of the Committee’s decision in late March or early April. If the planned project is accepted for honors, the Committee will assign a faculty thesis advisor to the student.

Honors Theses require a two-semester commitment. Students enroll in RCCORE 490 for the fall term and RCHUMS 426 for the winter term. A passing grade in RCCORE 490 earns a Y grade, indicating that the thesis work will continue into the next semester. At the end of the second term, the Y grade converts to the grade earned in RCHUMS 426. Exceptions to the two-semester requirement are rare but may be discussed with the thesis advisor.

When the honors thesis project is complete (typically the last week of March or the first week of April of the senior year), the student’s honors thesis advisor and one other member of the Residential College’s Creative Writing faculty will determine if the project qualifies for honors and (if so) what level of honors the student receives. Honors thesis students also participate in a public reading with fellow thesis students at the end of the winter term (typically the second week of April).

To download the honors information, click on RCcrwrH.

Creative Writing Internships

RC Creative Writing supports volunteers and interns helping out with kids’ literacy programs, publishing, and fundraising. Check out these opportunities, get some great experience, and make a difference!

826michigan

826michigan is a non-profit dedicated to helping students 6 to 18 with creative and expository writing skills, and helping teachers inspire their students to write. Started in  June 2005. 826michigan believes great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. To make that a reality, 826michigan provides drop-in tutoring, after-school workshops, in-schools tutoring, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications.
An internship can earn 1-2 independent course credits. 826 always needs energetic people tutor students; design, run, or assist with workshops, or work in the robot store! The tutoring lab and workshop space lives in the back of the 826 building; the storefront is occupied by Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair, which sells robot parts, toys, and games for kids. All profits go to 826michigan programs, helping to keep them free for students.
826michigan is located on Liberty Street between Main and Fourth, near Kilwin’s and Liberty Street Video. Check out 826’s website and contact Amanda at amanda@826michigan.org for more information.

Dzanc Books 

Dzanc Books is a non-profit publishing house created in 2006 to advance great writing and champion writers who don’t fit neatly into the marketing niches of for-profit presses. Dzanc not only publishes excellent books of literary fiction, but works in partnership with literary journals to advance their readership at every level. Dzanc is also fully committed to developing educational programs in the schools and has begun organizing many such workshops and Writers In Residency programs.
RC students can become involved by helping Dzanc wade through submissions, helping with mailings, and learning/assisting in the publishing side of Dzanc. Much of the work can be done online. More information about opportunities. To apply, contact intern@dzancbooks.org.

Midwestern Gothic: A Literary Journal

Midwestern Gothic is a quarterly print literary journal out of Ann Arbor, dedicated to featuring work about or inspired by the Midwest, by writers who live or have lived here. Midwestern Gothic aims to collect the very best in Midwestern fiction writing in a way that has never been done before, cataloging the oeuvre of an often-overlooked region of the United States ripe with its own mythologies and tall tales.
Don’t be fooled by the name: Gothic fiction is often defined as the inclusion of deeply flawed, often “grotesque” characters in realistic (and, oftentimes unpleasant) settings/situations. At Midwestern Gothic, realistic aspects of Gothic fiction are taken to heart. Not every piece needs to be dark or twisted or full of despair; Midwestern is looking for real life, inspired by the region, good, bad, or ugly. Ultimately, it strives to catalog the best of Midwestern writers.
Student interns can become involved in everything from reading submissions to mailings and learning/assisting in the publishing of a literary journal. To apply, send your resume to Midwestern Gothic (mwgothic@gmail.com) to the attention of editor Robert Russell.

University of Michigan Press Marketing Intern

The marketing intern will learn about scholarly publishing in particular as well as the publishing industry more generally. Responsibilities include assisting the Marketing, Sales, and Outreach Department staff in all areas of book publishing, promotion, publicity, communication, and organization, with a particular focus on administrative support for conference planning and award nominations. Other duties include social media, website maintenance, entering metadata into databases, placing shipment orders, conducting short-term research projects, and providing general clerical support.
The University of Michigan Press is a vital component of UM Library’s Michigan Publishing, the primary academic publishing division of the University. In partnership with authors and series editors, the Press publishes in a wide range of humanities and social science disciplines. Through global digital and print publishing and distribution programs, the Press champions the Library’s research and scholarly communication missions.
The Press and its authors play a critical role in the teaching and learning mission of the University by applying new pedagogies to the development of instructional materials that promote college success for students. To address the educational and information needs of regional readers, the Press also produces publications on Michigan and the Great Lakes region.
The Press has a rich history of publishing expertise, and continues to lead the development of digital scholarship and the dissemination of knowledge as widely and freely as possible.
Academic Publishing is an important field in the midst of a period of exciting transformations. The Press is at the forefront of helping scholars produce and circulate their influential ideas throughout the academy and beyond. Contact Shaun Manning, Publications Sales Manager, at shaunman@umich.edu

One Pause Poetry

Located in west Ann Arbor, One Pause Poetry strives to make poetry accessible to all. It is non-academic and non–market-driven. It honors diversity and quality in its selection process and is dedicated to supporting Michigan poets. Established and emerging writers are selected for its reading series and website, with the goal of breaking down categories and camps and encouraging collaboration and innovation across poetic forms, the arts, and media.
One Pause Poetry is named after the 15th-century enlightened Zen master and poet Ikkyu Sojun, whose name means “Once Paused.” Ikkyu revolutionized the aesthetics of medieval Japan—much of what we consider when we think of Japanese culture. Rock gardens, Noh Theater, calligraphy, and poetry are because of Ikkyu and the group of artists he surrounded himself with. It’s something to aspire to here and now.
Poets (or writers interested in poetry) can work as interns at One Pause in areas of editing, special projects, event planning, fund-raising, social media, and website updating, using CMS (content-management) programs like Expression Engine (training provided). The website has an active mp3 project and a micro-essay section (interns work as summer editors and solicit poems), children’s poetry and more. One Pause also offers a bi-monthly poetry salon at Argus Farm Stop (Liberty at Second Street). Some former interns now work in publishing and editing, and  on other poetry non-profits like Poets House in NYC. For more information, contact Sarah Messer, One Pause Poetry director.

Summer Internship Funding for Creative Writing Students

The Residential College is pleased to offer a new source of funding for Creative Writing students in unpaid summer internships through the David and Sylvia Nelson Award. Two students will receive a minimum $2,500 stipend to help support a summer unpaid internship for an organization in a creative-writing related field, such as editing, publishing, social media writing, or teaching creative writing for a nonprofit (for example, a youth arts organization).
This award is open to all RC and LSA students majoring in RC creative writing.
Submit a 2-4 page proposal to Laura Thomas via email before 5 pm on March 30. Include: (1) A written description of your unpaid internship, including information about the organization’s mission, a description of your expected duties, and how your internship will support your writing and career goals. (2) A budget of expenses you expect to incur during this unpaid internship. For example, if you must relocate to perform this work, itemize your anticipated living expenses. (3) A letter from the organization offering the unpaid internship verifying that you have been hired for this work.
The funding committee’s decision will be based on financial need and academic promise in creative writing, poetry or non-fiction.
Only unpaid internships performed over the coming summer will be considered.
David and Sylvia Nelson are both U-M graduates. In 2005 they endowed the David Robert and Sylvia Jean Nelson Foundation for Arts and Letters primarily to provide talented students financial assistance so they may continue their studies at the university level in visual, performing and literary arts.  Nelson scholarships have been provided to students at the University of Michigan, the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, and the Detroit Public Schools’ Detroit School of Arts.

For information on independent study course credit for your RC internship, contact Laura Thomas at lcthomas@umich.edu

Other Stuff!

Information on RC Creative Writing faculty.

A list of journals seeking writing from undergraduates.

A list of U-M student organizations of possible interest to writers.