Creative Writing and Literature Major

Do you want to write fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction in private tutorial classes with faculty mentors? Do you want to study writing and literature in small seminars?

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, Writing Poetry, Creative Adaptation) and three upper-level courses. Students may count one non-RC creative writing course towards the writing requirement.


RCHUMS 220: Narration: Intro to Fiction Writing
Narration is an introductory short fiction writing workshop. Two 8 to 20 page short stories are due at regular intervals during the term. Students read and critique one another’s work in a class workshop.

RCHUMS 221: Writing Poetry
Students write and submit poetry each week. These works are appraised and critiqued by class members and in private sessions with the instructor. Contemporary poetry is read and discussed.


RCHUMS 320: Advanced Narration
This course is designed for writers of longer fiction who can benefit from instruction and peer feedback. Two 15 to 20 page short stories are due at regular intervals during the term.

RCHUMS 321: Advanced Poetry Writing
This is an advanced poetry writing workshop. Students read their poems in class and actively participate in the critical evaluation of other students’ work. A finished manuscript of 25-30 pages is a course requirement.

RCHUMS 325, 326, 425, 426: Creative Writing Tutorials
Creative writing tutorials provide an opportunity for students to receive constructive criticism on their creative writing efforts. Tutorial students meet privately every week with an instructor who specializes in their chosen genre. Reading will be assigned on an individual basis.

RCCORES 334: Digital Storytelling
We use digital communication and storytelling every day (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, texts, email) but may not think these technologies can be used to create fictional stories, poems, creative non-fiction, and multi-media art. Learn to utilize these and other digital technologies to produce works of electronic fiction.

RCHUMS 334: Memoir: Writing from Within
Positive or negative, memoir can take readers beyond the purely personal to a greater understanding of place, time, events, and themselves. For the writer, a memoir not only relates and confronts personal stories, but is a way to illuminate a part of the world. In this class we’ll practice how to communicate “truth” in capturing a life, and study how some of the best writers tackle hard topics.

RCCORE 334: Detroit Artist as Activist
This course will explore the role the arts have played in resisting systemic inequalities, fighting injustice, and giving voice to those on the margins. We will consider both the strengths and limitations of art, particularly creative writing, as a force for social change as well as art’s effectiveness in engaging communities. Further, we will use the study and practice of creative writing to deepen our understandings of and relationships to the city of Detroit.

RCCORE 334: Workshop with Incarcerated Poets and Artists: The Art of Place
If you have an interest in teaching creative writing, working with arts non-profits, working with kids, or engaging in social justice work, this class is for you. This course will explore Creative Writing Pedagogy in a practical and hands-on way; we’ll develop writing prompts, experiments and procedures to help incarcerated writers, age 13-16, to create and revise new poems, culminating in a final poetry chapbook. We’ll also meet once a week to discuss creative writing pedagogy and how to create exercises and syllabi.


Students complete five literature courses, at the 300-level or above, that model their chosen genre (fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction). One literature course must focus on either ancient literature or medieval literature (pre-1600).

Students are encouraged to take literature and theory courses in the RC Arts and Ideas Major. Literature courses may be taken in 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, in English-speaking countries also may be counted. All literature courses counted toward the Creative Writing and Literature Major must be at least three (3) credits.

Digital Storytelling Track

Do you want to study the ways story interacts with technology? Do you want to explore how digital media influences your writing and creative process? The RC creative writing major’s digital storytelling track pairs writing practice with the study of the theory, ethics, and history of digital media.

 Credit Hours:
A minimum of 30 credit hours



At least 4 courses required over two categories

A. Creative Writing Practice 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):

RCHUMS 220: Narration
RCHUMS 221: Writing Poetry

Upper-level Courses:

RCHUMS 320: Advanced Narration
RCHUMS 321: Advanced Poetry Writing
RCHUMS 325, 326, 425, 426: Creative Writing Tutorials
RCHUMS 334 (Section 005): Memoir: Writing from Within

B. 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:

RCCORE 334 (Section 004): Digital Storytelling
English 420: Tech and the Humanities / Electronic Literature
SAC 306: New Media Practices
SAC 406: New Media Practices II
Comm 362: Digital Media Foundations (must be a comm. major to elect)
RCSCI 360, Section 001: Documentary Photography
Com 313: Behind the Digital Screen
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; must choose instructor with expertise in DS content)


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:

AmCult 301: Topics Courses in Digital Humanities / Media Ex. Section 002: Histories of
Race and the Media (other AmCult 301 topics courses may be allowed with permission
of advisor)
AmCult 334 / Comm 334: Race, US Culture, and Digital Games
AmCult 358: Topics in Digital Studies
AmCult 410: Ethics and Information Technology
RCHUMS 334 Section 11 / AmCult 311, Section 001: Visualizing Digital Culture

Comm 404: Special Topics in Mass Media and Mass Communication Section 002:
Fandom and Digital Culture
Comm 461: Visuality and the New Media

English 340: Studies in Poetry: Section 001, Poetry Moves Off the Page
English 398: Junior Seminar in English Studies: Section 001, The Literature of Now: 21st
Century American Fiction
English 405: Theories of Writing
English 420: Electronic Literature

SAC 376: New Media Theory
SAC 368: Topics in Digital Media Studies
SAC 346 / AmCult 346: Media Matter: From Print to Screen Culture (history)


At least 3 courses required

Choose a minimum of three literary studies courses 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. Literature courses may be in a second major, such as RC Arts and Ideas in the Humanities, English, and / or Comparative Literature. One literature course must focus on either ancient literature or medieval literature (pre-1600).


A student whose overall academic record meets the eligibility criteria for honors and whose creative work models originality and the promise of mastery in his/her 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.

To be eligible to apply for honors, a student must demonstrate exceptional skill in the art and craft of prose or poetry. 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. The deadline is March 18th. 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.

Email submissions or questions about the submittal process to Christopher Matthews:

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 his/her chosen genre. If the planned project is accepted for honors, the Committee will select a faculty advisor, and the student will enroll in RC Core 490.

If, at the end of the first term of the student’s senior year, the student’s honors thesis advisor and the student decide that the project needs to be extended another semester, the student will receive a Y grade in RC Core 490 and enroll in a Creative Writing Tutorial (RCHUMS 426). At the end of the second term, the Y grade will convert to the grade earned in RCHUMS 426.

When the honors thesis project is complete (typically the last week of March 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 are also expected to make every effort to participate in a public reading with fellow thesis students at the end of Winter Term (typically the second week of April).

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 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 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

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 ( 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

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

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.