The University of Rhode Island’s Department of English will begin to offer a creative writing option this semester.
“The new creative writing option isn’t a creative writing minor, but an option within the English major.” Derek Nikitas said, assistant professor of creative writing and English department advisor.
English majors are required to take three electives in the department to complete their major, but those who choose the creative writing option must complete a sequence of three creative writing courses. Students can choose to focus on poetry, fiction, literary nonfiction and screenwriting. The final course must be ENG 405: Creative Writing Capstone, in which students must integrate the skills they learned from the previous courses.
“That said, any student who wants to minor in creative writing can take their own sequence of English creative writing courses as part of the very flexible minor. As long as you take twenty credits of English, 12 of which at the 200 level or higher, you can declare an English minor,” Nikitas said.
All creative writing courses are limited to only 15 students. The small class size encourages students to read and analyze their peers’ writing in depth.
The English department has wanted to develop a creative writing option for a long time, but the University did not have enough permanent faculty members with a background in creative writing to establish a program. It wasn’t until Nikitas, an award-winning full-time fiction author, joined the English department in 2015 that the option could be fully developed. The English department now has three full-time faculty in creative writing: Nikitas, Associate Professor Dr. Peter Covino and Professor Dr. Mary Cappello.
The development of this option is also the first step of a long-term initiative to remake the English major’s curriculum, allowing for more options and diversity in the department for students to explore. According to English Department Chair Travis Williams, “the [creative writing] option is the first stage of a likely two-year process to remake the English major into something more dynamic and responsive to the 21st-century university and career world, and to what undergraduate students have been asking for some time.”
“Some changes that students and faculty are interested in considering include more opportunities for independent research with a mentor, better integration of internships, more attention to career preparation, course sequences and projects than span more than one semester, and a move away from dates and chronological periods as the dominant structure of the major,” Williams said.