The English Department’s New Creative Writing Track (by Cynthia De Luna)

NYU’s English Department has churned out numerous talented writers over the years. This year, however, the program has taken up a new commitment to integrating students’ specifically creative interests into the current English major through its new Creative Writing Track. While students have often turned to the Creative Writing minor outside the English Department to develop their creative talents, current English students can now also foster those talents through the English Department’s offerings.

Professor Mclane's section of Reading As A Writer on a visit to the La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela Dream House
Professor McLane’s section of Reading As A Writer on a visit to the La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela Dream House

The Creative Writing Track within the English Department extends the now-named Literary Studies Track in a way that allows students to approach literature and writing from a new perspective, one that asks them to consider the relationship between critical and analytical thinking and creative practices. Like the Literary Studies Track, the Creative Writing Track requires the four core courses (Introduction to the Study of Literature, formerly called Literary Interpretation, British Literature I, British Literature II, and American Literature I). The Creative Writing Track also requires a fifth course alongside these four, the Reading as a Writer course, which debuted this semester in two sections: Faculty Coordinator Professor Nicholas Boggs’ “Queer Literature” and Professor Maureen McLane’s “Poetry, Hybrid Genre, Creative Encounter.” Reading as a Writer acts as a gateway course in which students approach reading with an emphasis on questions of craft, and it will be offered once again next year.

Marcel Broodthaers, “Parle Ecrit Copie” (1972–73)
Marcel Broodthaers, “Parle Ecrit Copie” (1972–73)

The Creative Writing Track gives students the choice to take either a pre-1800s course or a critical theories course rather than both, and the track requires students to take two creative writing workshops through the Creative Writing Department, an introductory workshop and a second workshop. (Courses taken towards the Creative Writing minor can count for the Track as well.) While the Literary Studies Track allows students three English electives, the Creative Writing Track requires two; the third elective is replaced by a workshop-based colloquium that students take while they work on an independent capstone writing project. “[The] Creative Writing Track colloquium, much like the honors colloquium, provides students with a rigorous and community-building context in which to develop their capstone projects,” Professor Boggs explains. The capstone project is ultimately a culmination of students’ work in the track, and can take various forms—a collection of poems, a novella, or a play, for example—depending on what students decide on with the help of a faculty adviser. Each student will work with a faculty adviser over the course of the semester, and interested students are encouraged to approach possible advisers as soon as their ideas have begun to develop; members of the faculty who are active creative writers include Professors Boggs and McLane as well as Professors Julia Jarcho, Tomas Urayoán Noel, and Lytle Shaw. “We are especially pleased,” adds Professor Boggs, “that Jess Row, a notable fiction writer who was just awarded a Guggenheim, will be joining us for the 2016-2017 academic year, during which he will teach a section of Reading as a Writer and serve as adviser for a number of capstone projects.”

The return of a creative writing track within NYU’s English Department offers current and prospective English students a chance to take on literary studies in a way that allows them to use and hone their critical, analytical, and creative skills concurrently. It will provide students with a new way of looking at texts, one that pushes the English program further and challenges students to take on literature with a different set of skills.