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BA in Creative Writingon-campus

Write more with less stress

Our program is founded on the idea that creativity is not meant to be a struggle, but instead a fun and rewarding process.

At MIU, you’ll take only one full-time class a month, giving you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the knowledge without the stress of balancing multiple courses and exams.

In every class, we offer our students tools and techniques to awaken creativity in authentic ways that deeply engage mind, heart, and soul.

Let elevated consciousness fuel your creativity

As an MIU student, you’ll practice the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique daily. TM practice has been scientifically proven to enhance brain functioning, increase creativity, and lower stress.

Connecting to your innermost self through the TM technique puts you in touch with your authentic voice and allows for a deeper and richer writing experience.

Watch video introducing the BA and BFA in Creative Writing, 10 minutes

Get started by contacting Adriene

Adriene Crimson, admissions counselorAdriene Crimson is this program’s admissions counselor for US students. Adriene will provide you with all the details of becoming a student, including connecting you with the program director or faculty.

Contact Adriene >

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International applicants may connect with us through our international inquiry form.

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Receive individual attention

Our faculty will help you to build upon your natural writing strengths and create a sustainable writing routine.

Our low student-to-faculty ratio means that your teachers have the time to fully support your creative endeavors and help you to become the best writer that you can be.

Prepare for a career in writing

Working with MIU Career Services, we’ll connect you with professional networks and life experiences to support your writing goals and dreams. By pursuing opportunities such as teaching assistantships, internships, and work-based learning, you can explore the range of options available post-graduation and begin to discover your place in the writing life.

Become a part of a writing community

Every MIU student has the opportunity to connect with the thriving writing community of Fairfield, Iowa—home to slam poetry shows, literary journals, and local writing collectives and classes, as well as individuals from all over the world who will support you on your creative journey.

Featured courses

Little Writing, BIG PLAY: Haiku & Creative Intelligence

Haiku are small but mighty poems. They can encapsulate the extraordinary and the mundane in three simple lines–the black bead of a bluejay’s eye peering through snow or the cacophony of car horns and jackhammers on a city street. Haiku offer inexperienced and experienced writers alike an opportunity to play with language and expand the way they view the world. In this course, students will study the 16 principles of the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) through the practice of haiku and by reading the work of Basho, Issa, Buson, and Shiki, as well as excerpts from Natalie Goldberg’s Three Simple Lines: a Writer’s Pilgrimage into the Heart. The course will culminate in the creation of individual chapbooks featuring students’ haiku and original artwork.

Discovering Your Creative Process

The purpose of this class is to break boundaries and rediscover an easy relationship with the inner Muse. You’ll study your own creative process as well as what other artists, writers, and filmmakers have shared about creative inspiration. You’ll also hear from a variety of guest lecturers working in different media and discuss their work, career paths, and creative process.

The Hero in Literature

This course will explore the idea of the hero from antiquity to the present. The hero is a larger than life character whose actions affect the fate of a large community for good, or if a tragic hero, for ill. The hero’s behavior is a model for the ordinary individual. One of the great debates is whether the hero can even exist in the modern world. Among the texts and themes we will follow are: The Odyssey (the Classical Hero), Beowulf (the Germanic Hero), Gawain and the Green Knight (the Medieval Hero), Siddhartha (the Spiritual Hero), and The Bean Trees (the Feminine Hero).

      In Creative Process, students study their own creative process as well as what artists, writers, and filmmakers have shared about creative inspiration. The purpose of this class is to break boundaries and rediscover an easy relationship with the inner Muse. The primary textbook is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The Syllabus Reader contains material by a wide range of authors such as Annie Dillard, Jorge Luis Borges, Eudora Welty, Ann Patchett, Patricia Hampl, William Saroyan, John Ciardi, Frank Conroy, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, William Stafford, Rainer Maria Rilke, Lu Chi, Mark Strand, Jane Hirshfield, Billy Collins, Elizabeth Gilbert, plus interviews with great authors by Bill Moyers and material from creativity experts Anne Lamott and Natalie Goldberg. A variety of guest lecturers working in different media will come to the class to discuss their work, career paths, and creative process. Students keep a daily journal and engage in various creative projects during the course. As a final project, students produce a portfolio and can choose to participate in a group installation/exhibit on creativity. Lab fee: $35 for materials. (4 credits)
      In this course, you’ll learn how to read and assess a poem and construct your own poetry. We explore the building blocks of craft and technique in poetry — imagery, figurative language, sound devices, rhyme, rhythm, repetition, meter, point of view, and form. Our textbook is Frances Mayes’ The Discovery of Poetry: A Field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems. This course heightens the senses to illuminate the beauty in the most mundane corners of life and uncover the lost poems hiding in the attic of the mind. By the end, you have a collection of poems that you cherish and take with you on your journey forward. (4 credits)
      The personal essay celebrates heart and mind, exploring age-old questions about the human experience. Students learn the history of the personal essay, reading examples of personal prose discussion in Oriental and classical Literature, then tracing the origins of the modern essay tradition to the European Renaissance with the work of Michel de Montaigne. Students learn about the range and freedom of this brief “formless form” by acquainting themselves with modern and contemporary masters: Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Zora Neale Hurston, Jorge Luis Borges, Flannery O’Connor, Annie Dillard, David Sedaris, Dave Eggers, Amy Tan, Mark Spragg, and more. The class also focuses on experimental, contemporary hybrids, tracing the relationship between the personal essay and flash nonfiction, the lyric essay, the “hermit crab” essay, and prose poetry. Students are encouraged to keep a daily journal in which they record memories, observations, insights, and reflections. Students also create a substantial portfolio of at least three personal essays, learning about prewriting, drafting, and revision in the process. Students are encouraged to find a natural, authentic personal voice, intimate yet not self-indulgent. In the specificity of personal reflection, it is possible to touch upon the universality of human experience. (4 credits)
      In this course, students practice incorporating writing, creative expression, and rest into their everyday life. If find writing daunting, this will make it more approachable for those. And if you already enjoy writing, this will reinforce that experience. The main projects are a daily journal and a personal essay. Optional three-day retreat. (2 credits)
      When taken literally, mythology appears to be little more than a collection of entertaining stories. However, when approached symbolically, mythology reveals how different cultures relate to the cosmos and to themselves. Gods and goddesses, heroes and heroines, demons, and monsters come to represent human emotions, psychological structures, seasonal patterns, laws of nature, and so on. In this course we take small sampling from world mythologies with a focus on their thematic relevance to contemporary life and to consciousness. In addition to applying an archetypal approach to mythology, we also apply principles from the Science and Technology of Consciousness to the narratives. We hold an on-campus star-watching session where we identify constellations from the Egyptian, Greek, and Vedic traditions, accompanied by their corresponding cosmological mythologies. At the end of the course, students select a myth they resonate with and describe how it relates to their own life. (2 credits)
      Haiku are small but mighty poems. They can encapsulate the extraordinary and the mundane in three simple lines–the black bead of a bluejay’s eye peering through snow or the cacophony of car horns and jackhammers on a city street. Haiku offer inexperienced and experienced writers alike an opportunity to play with language and expand the way they view the world. In this course, students will study the 16 principles of the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) through the practice of haiku and by reading the work of Basho, Issa, Buson, and Shiki, as well as excerpts from Natalie Goldberg’s Three Simple Lines: a Writer’s Pilgrimage into the Heart. The course will culminate in the creation of individual chapbooks featuring students’ haiku and original artwork. (2 credits)
      Rhetoric concerns itself with both creating and interpreting messages and cultural artifacts, emphasizing the value of understanding both one’s own and others’ perspectives when communicating with others. This survey course will help you improve your communication skills by examining the dynamic relationships between author and audience within their social contexts. We read and discuss articles by prominent thinkers in fields of rhetoric and communications studies, including genre theory, metaphor theory, feminist theory, cultural rhetoric, queer theory, rhetoric of the body, visual rhetoric, ecocriticism, and critical theory. Your final project calls on knowledge in the readings to dig deeper into the challenges and possibilities of human communication. (4 credits)
      In this course we listen to and celebrate voices and narratives that too often have been marginalized, over-simplified, or silenced in the literary world — whether on the grounds of race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, lifestyle choices, immigration status, economic or political status, mental illness, trauma, and/or disability. We read poets and writers such as Maya Angelou, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Henry L. Gates, Alison Bechdel, David Sedaris, Sandra Cisneros, Li-Young Lee, Joy Harjo, and many more, to explore the importance of not viewing life according to “a single story” (Adichie) or limited point of view. In our own writing, we explore themes such as loss of speech, erasure of memory, exile from community, loss of identity, stereotyping, and silencing of any kind. Even more, we focus on the exhilaration and empowerment of finding community and voice, emphasizing inclusivity, diversity, acceptance, empathy, and interconnection. Instead of “reducing complex human beings and situations to single narrative, taking away people’s humanity,” as Adichie says, we celebrate how “each individual life contains a heterogeneous compilation of stories.” You’ll use poems, essays, and stories by established poets and writers as springboards to tell your own silenced narratives, bringing to life the hidden figures of your personal memories and ancestral histories. The course culminates in a written portfolio and a public reading. (4 credits)
      In this course, we examine the contemporary short story and celebrate its talented female authors in the last fifty years. Looking back over the history of fiction, it is far too easy to default to a collection of work, though brilliant, authored primarily by the male spectrum. Alongside these talented gentlemen has been a parallel historical narrative from the minds of brilliant women. We follow in the footsteps of these women and learn from their creative genius while writing our own collection of short stories. By looking critically at the meaning of voice, short-form plot, character, setting, and other devices, we gain a deeper understanding of this amazing art form and the role we play as writers in its making. (4 credits)
      Poetry can express the unsayable and touch upon the intangible. Throughout the ages, mystics have used the language of poetry to give voice to longing, devotion, and the exaltation of consciousness. This course focuses on great mystical poets of all time: Lao Tzu, Rumi, Hafez, Mirabai, Lalla, Hadewijch, St. John of the Cross, Romantics Blake and Keats, American visionaries Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, and more. The course also explores modern and contemporary poets whose work explores transcendence in subject and/or form — among others Rainer Maria Rilke, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, Thomas Tranströmer, A. R. Ammons, Charles Wright, Tony Hoagland, Pattiann Rogers, and Mary Oliver. Students create a portfolio of their own transcendental poetry, practicing open and traditional forms, including the ghazal, pantoum, villanelle, and chant. Focus is on techniques that evoke transcendental experience — sound devices, repetition, figures of speech — as well as the relationship between words and white space, sound and silence. In this course, students learn to “see into the life of things,” as Wordsworth put it, “with an eye made quiet by the power / of harmony.” (4 credits)
      In this course, we explore the range of short stories in popular fiction. This means stories that are science fiction, fantasy, romance, crime, and other popular genres. The short story offers the writer the possibility to explore story themes in the short form. This provides the freedom to convey a message, a vision or experiment with ideas without committing to a lengthy manuscript. The short story is a powerful and highly regarded literary form. Short stories like Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” or Phillip K. Dick’s short story collections, are outstanding works of art. In this course, we examine the short story form and write short stories in a range of popular genres. (4 credits)
      Writing about nature celebrates our primal sources and explores ancient questions about the human experience. There is something deeply inspiring about being out in nature and this class offers the opportunity to dive into that inspiration. Taking in the fresh air, feeling the sun or rain on your face, listening to the wind rustle the leaves, or dipping your toes in a runaway stream can be transformational, and nature writing can provide you with the tools to capture it on paper. You will learn the history of nature writing through modern and classical examples, and then use those examples to help form your own nature writing. The class will also include several outings and experiences in nature to help spark the creative process, so you will keep a daily journal to record memories, observations, insights, and reflections and how they connect and are inspired by your experiences. By the end of the course, you will have created a substantial portfolio of your best work, through prewriting, drafting, and revision. (4 credits)
      In this course, students explore the range of their creativity through reflection and expression. They examine the creative process through the eyes of artists and filmmakers as well as other writers. The class is designed to help students eliminate creative boundaries and develop a closer relationship with themselves and their inspirational process. (2 credits)
      Intro to Genre Writing builds a toolkit. By studying different genres, you will experience the world of options. Writing is a combination of choice—whether you choose to write in first or third person, past or present tense, or decide to write flash fiction or the beginning of a novel. You can choose to use real historical backdrops or create new worlds of your own. Understanding genres gives you a chance to explore and understand deeper truths about the human condition, from a variety of perspectives and through new lenses. We will explore sci-fi, historical, and action/adventure fiction, both by reading and writing each form. (4 credits)
      The personal essay celebrates heart and mind, exploring age-old questions about the human experience. Students learn the history of the personal essay, reading examples of personal prose discussion in Oriental and classical Literature, then tracing the origins of the modern essay tradition to the European Renaissance with the work of Michel de Montaigne. Students learn about the range and freedom of this brief “formless form” by acquainting themselves with modern and contemporary masters: Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Zora Neale Hurston, Jorge Luis Borges, Flannery O’Connor, Annie Dillard, David Sedaris, Dave Eggers, Amy Tan, Mark Spragg, and more. The class also focuses on experimental, contemporary hybrids, tracing the relationship between the personal essay and flash nonfiction, the lyric essay, the “hermit crab” essay, and prose poetry. Students are encouraged to keep a daily journal in which they record memories, observations, insights, and reflections. Students also create a substantial portfolio of at least three personal essays, learning about prewriting, drafting, and revision in the process. Students are encouraged to find a natural, authentic personal voice, intimate yet not self-indulgent. In the specificity of personal reflection, it is possible to touch upon the universality of human experience. (4 credits)
      In this course, students be introduced to persuasive communication. Methods of evaluating and responding to arguments will be covered. Students learn the fundamentals of effective speech, writing and presentation, and examine those fundamentals in the contexts of storytelling, activism, advertising, and business. (4 credits)
      Edgar Allen Poe once stated that everything in a short story works toward a “single effect.” Economy and precision of language make the short story the perfect narrative form. In this course, we read and study intriguing stories such as Hemingway’s “Hill’s Like White Elephants,” Grace Paley’s “A Conversations with My Father,” Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” and Eudora Welty’s “Why I Live at the P.O.” as models for short fiction we write. We also look closely at elements of fiction: character, structure, point of view, imagery, and figurative language as building blocks for our own stories. Students write and workshop three short stories during the class. (4 credits)
      This course celebrates untraditional forms of creative writing and blurs classic genre lines. In the hybrid universe, no structure is off limits and no idea is too farfetched. Students learn how to change their definition of writing to be as unbounded as their imaginations. Why can’t a series of text messages turn into a short story, what is stopping us from pulling a poem out of Ikea furniture instructions, or a memoir from a food recipe? The answer is…nothing! The world has drastically changed and how we express our experience in that world can change too. Content from this class will explore authors who bent and broke the genre rules hundreds of years ago leading up to the last decade. By the end of the course, students have developed a unique portfolio and learned ways to discuss their creative choices. This is a class to break free, spread wings, and go wild with freedom of expression. (4 credits)
      Flash fiction/prose poetry is one of the world’s most tantalizing and intriguing literary hybrids. A piece of flash, in the spirit of its name, can illuminate the awareness like a cognition, sparking transformation. A prose poem is a poem written in prose rather than verse. But what does this all really mean? In this course we explore this mysterious sub-genre in all of its dazzling variety, examining the way in which it encompasses the history of modern poetry (romanticism, symbolism, modernism, postmodernism) through the inclusion of writers such as Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Kafka, Cortazar, Poe, Emerson, Bishop, Simic, and Edson. We learn how to slow down our attention and sculpt a piece of flash fiction (a piece of 150 words or more) so that it becomes a happening, striking the heart of the reader and encouraging a feeling of expansion. We excavate stylistic devices and techniques used by contemporary and bygone masters of this craft for use in our own creations. Students be guided to produce a small, chiseled body of flash pieces. Evaluation will be based on participation, completion of weekly writing assignments and prompts. (4 credits)
      We look many forms of memoir — childhood memoir, graphic memoir (memoir in cartoon form or illustrated memoir), travel or journey memoir, eyewitness account, lyric and mosaic memoir, and more. We examine the history of the memoir and experimental techniques and contemporary hybrid forms. We read selections from memoirs by authors such as Sei Shonagon, Frank McCourt, Janet Frame, Bill Bryson, David Sedaris, Annie Dillard, Shoba Narayan, Anne Patchett, Mark Spragg, and Yang Erche Namu. The main textbook is Tell It Slant by Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola, which explores the craft and technique of memoir writing in-depth. Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg provides students with useful writing prompts for their journals. Students create their own portfolio — a series of linked or unlinked memoir essays or the opening chapter(s) of a book-length manuscript. Ultimately, students learn to stand back and — in the words of Anaïs Nin — consciously experience their life twice, “in the moment and in retrospection.” (4 credits)
      Imagination is often dismissed as being unrealistic — a subject of whim and wishful thinking reserved for children, dreamers, and the like. In truth, imagination is foundational to the arts, the sciences, and everyday life. Its existence is easily confirmed through subjective experience. For example, anyone can say, “Imagine a bright red barn with big white doors,” and suddenly it appears, wholly visible to the imaginer. That the image exists is irrefutable. However, the question of where and how it exists is open to speculation. Nonetheless, many artists, philosophers, mystics, and researchers have made significant progress in the field. Based on several of their findings, this creative writing course approaches imagination as an environment where the subtle matter of an inner image or idea is consciously encountered or fashioned. Through the study of applicable selections from literature and art, accompanied by the implementation of traditional and contemporary creative exercises, students cultivate a deeper relationship with imagination and naturally improve their ability to generate original, creative content. Throughout the course, students gradually build a collection of relatively shorter written works, each of which may be in any literary genre of their choosing. The content of each work will be determined by nothing less than the images, ideas and inspirations that naturally emerge from each student’s unique interaction with their own imagination. (4 credits)
      The author Billy Collins encourages his students to “…take a poem/and hold it up to the light/like a color slide…” rather than confine the poem to a specific meaning and form. In this course, we will take Collin’s advice and walk inside the rooms of our poems to “feel the walls for a light switch.” With new eyes, we will explore foundational aspects of poetry, including lineation, white space, alliteration, assonance, form, and figurative language. Through this exploration, we will expand, twist, and pull the meaning of poetry to its limits. This course will include sensory approaches to poetry, such as painting, collage, and the use of video and audio. In addition, students will create a final project designed to demonstrate their newfound vision of poetry and poetics.
      On one level, imagery is among the most basic aspects of poetry. Composed, for the most part, in highly specific and concrete language, images provide tangible content that appeals directly to the sensory faculties of the reader. Well-crafted images allow us to “see” a garden, to “smell” a flower, or “feel” a breeze. They give the reader a distinct, literally sensual experience. On another level, however, images function as gateways to the abstract. For example, symbols and metaphors employ images that “steer” readers into the abstract regions of concept, emotion, intuition, and meaning — all of which render experiences every bit as profound as those that appeal to the senses. In this creative writing course, the image serves as a familiar and tangible center from which we may venture into subtler poetic content and devices, and to which we may return to ground our findings. Our readings will focus mostly on modern and contemporary poetry, interspersed with selections from other periods of history. Most importantly, we write our own poetry, inspired (or not) by our studies. This will involve daily in-class writing and occasional workshops. By the end of the course, students have completed a portfolio of what they consider to be their best work. (4 credits)
      When we read novels, we get lost in unfamiliar or familiar worlds, find new best friends, spend hours with characters we root for, learn from, or who open our eyes to our common humanity, changing our sense of self. But transformation in fiction is not just about story; it’s also about language, imagery, dialogue, innovations in form, and moments of epiphany. Second in a two-block novel writing workshop, this course makes the daunting task of writing a novel approachable. This workshop takes a practical approach, systematically working through specialized techniques of novel writing: How to come up with a book idea that will carry you through for the long haul. How to create memorable, multidimensional, and believable characters that a reader will identify with and root for. How to map out plot and create suspense or profluence, keeping the reader riveted. How to choose point of view and handle complicated POV choices. How to take stories beyond autobiographical writing. How to find motivation to keep going. Students create storyboards, outline their books, and learn how to pitch and market fiction so it can find its niche audience. All through the block, students be exposed to the works of a wide variety of prize-winning novelists, whose methods of handling craft and technique will serve as inspiration. Please note that this course’s main focus is adult literary fiction, though the class is also relevant for those interested in genre fiction, sci-fi, teen fiction, and/or book-length memoir. (4 credits)
      The poet Victor Hernandez Cruz says, “Poetry gives us revelations, flashes, which illuminate those things which were mysterious to us.” Becoming a great poet has to do with tuning in to your own voice — the rhythm, sound, images, and form of your poems — in a deeply self-referential way. The Advanced Poetry Workshop offers students the opportunity to profoundly hone craft and technique while focusing on a serious body of work. Students familiarize themselves in-depth with the contemporary canon, using the work of great poets to analyze the precise mechanics of form, line break, punctuation, sound devices, imagery, figurative language, point of view, and more. Textbooks are The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux and The Discovery of Poetry by Frances Mayes. Part of this course is a workshop; students receive rigorous feedback on their work from peers as well as faculty, since revision and experimentation are a vital component of the mature poet’s process. The final portfolio in this class should be of publishable quality. The procedures for submitting work for publication will be discussed, and at the end of this course, students are required to submit several poems to a literary magazine or contest of choice. The culminating event of the course will be a public reading. (4 credits)
      Writing to Publish is an advanced writing course designed to guide experienced writers through the publication process. This class teaches writers how to acutely edit their work, select a market for their work, and the intricate details about what publishers and editors and looking for. Upon completion, students have submitted several pieces for publication. (4 credits)
      Graphic narrative — a genre of literature combining writing and art — has become increasingly popular in the past decades. The term “graphic novel” broadly refers to any fictional or nonfiction story told by means of both writing and illustration — often, though not necessarily, in cartoon form. Students read selections from various award-winning graphic novels and memoirs, among them Logicomix by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou, Persepolis by Marjane Sarpati, and Fun Home and Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel, and Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman. Students are expected to write and illustrate their own graphic narratives during the class, studying craft and technique relevant to the genre with help of the textbook Making Comics by Scott McCloud. Lab fee: $35 for materials. (4 credits)
      As Margaret Atwood once said, “A word after a word after a word is power.” The act of writing about oppressions we have personally experienced or witnessed can be liberating. Many authors have empowered themselves and their communities by writing about social justice issues, such as racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, classism, ableism, and the growing climate crisis. In this course, students will read and discuss the memoirs of Audre Lorde, Janet Mock, Kate Bornstein, James Baldwin, Julia Butterfly Hill, Winona LeDuke, and other activists. In addition, students will create a portfolio–a series of linked or unlinked essays or the opening chapter(s) of a book-length manuscript–that explores their connection to issues of Social Justice.
      We all carry stories inside of us. Memories of significant moments, wild summers, treks through foreign countries, and childhood adventures echo through our everyday. We carry these little fires with us but sometimes lack the tools to truly transform them into the literary works of art they were meant to be. This course offers an advanced study in the art of creative nonfiction — innovative techniques in the art of personal essay, flash nonfiction, memoir, and other hybrid forms in the genre that build on the instruction from previous nonfiction courses. Through advanced workshops and reworking a piece through multiple drafts, students learn the power of true revision and submit one piece for publication by the end of the block. The result: a master portfolio of a few select pieces of nonfiction that represent each person’s true heart and mind. The goal is to learn to translate from experience to the page. (4 credits)
      The Creative Studio is for advanced students seeking concentrated, high-level immersion in craft. Students receive in-depth, challenging feedback on their Senior Project or another advanced project of their choice during this course. Students are encouraged to reach beyond their boundaries, experiment, and keep an open mind. The studio offers a master class diving into the subtle mechanics of technique. The aim is to create a body of work that can be submitted as a portfolio for publication. The Creative Writing Studio provides the perfect preparation for publication and/or graduate work in creative writing, allowing students to try out the professional writing life. (4 credits)
      “What is literature?” Generally, literature means anything written. Specifically, literature is an art form made up of several genres: the novel, the short story, lyric and narrative poetry, drama, and literary non-fiction. The word literature refers to writing we consider art. Our literary touchstones are the plays of Shakespeare, the epics of Homer, the poetry of Emily Dickinson and John Keats, and the novels of Jane Austen, William Faulkner, and Toni Morrison. “What is the value of literature?” Life is in balance when the objective and subjective are equally appreciated. In recent decades, the objective world of science and technology has held sway. But for those of us who lean strongly towards the subjective, the inner and outer world of the artist, we are continuously drawn to the beauty, the majesty, and joy of the arts, whether it be the fine arts, architecture, music, or literature. In this course, we will read among the best examples from various literary genres, and we will study the characteristics that make up those genres. (4 credits)
      The poetry of the Modern Period marked a significant break from the reigning poetic structures and sensibilities that preceded it. The likes of end rhyme and precise metrical patterns were relaxed (if not wholly removed) to make way for subtler structures, spacious enough to accommodate a poetics more in keeping with “ordinary” language and experience—a poetics more attentive to the “as is” aspects of life, human nature, and so forth. By so doing, poetry invited the commonplace or “less-spectacular,” or even, the “less-profound” more readily into its fold. Or to put it another way, the potential for poetry became, in certain ways, more prevalent. In terms of structure, the Moderns’ emphasis on free verse may be said to have contributed most to this shift—along with a more welcoming attitude toward ambiguity, fragmentation, and a renewed commitment to imagery as expressed in one famous axiom of the time: “No ideas but in things.” This course focuses on the beauty and depth of the poetry of the Moderns, like Marianne Moore, T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, Ezra Pound, Langston Hughes, Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), Wallace Stevens, and others. We will address not only what is deep or beautiful or meaningful, but also those aspects of the poetic craft itself that make it so. (4 credits)
      In this course, students will examine the oral and written traditions of the African Diaspora. The African Diaspora is a term that refers to communities of people descended from West and Central Africans who were enslaved and shipped to the Americas and Europe between the 16th and 19th centuries. Although dispersed through the world, these communities retained a consciousness of shared origins and struggles, as well as shared visions of collective liberation. Students will read and discuss folk tales and spirituals, as well as the work of Paul Laurence Dunbar, Frantz Fanon, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Edwidge Danticat, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Janet Mock, and N.K. Jemisin. In addition, they will write weekly reflections on the themes of Freedom, Identity, Liberation, and Futurity, culminating in the completion of a 6-8 page essay that explores the connection between course themes and course literature. (4 credits)
      Romanticism was born in Germany in the early 18th century with the import and translation of Vedic Scriptures such as the Bhagavad-Gita and The Upanishads. By the 19th century it immigrated to Great Britain and The United States. Romanticism was largely a reaction to Realism, which portrayed the way one sees the world through the outer senses. Romanticism, in contrast, focuses on the inner world of human life. Much of Romanticism emphasizes the psychological, but the most elevated forms plumb the depths of the spiritual. This area of Romanticism we call Transcendental. Conventionally, many use the term to apply specifically to the 19th century American movement that spawned Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. More generally, Transcendentalism in the West begins with the Germans of the 18th century and includes poets and writers writing today. In this course, we primarily focus on the poetry of such writers as Wordsworth and Coleridge, Shelley and Keats, Emily Dickinson, W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, and Wallace Stevens. We also read from Emerson’s essays, Thoreau’s Walden, and the novels Sidhartha by Herman Hesse and Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.
      This film survey traces the evolution of primarily American and European cinema from the early days of Griffith and Eisenstein through the twentieth and into the twenty-first century. It includes examples of history-shaping movements such as Soviet formalism, German expressionism, French realism, Italian neo-realism, film noir, surrealism, and nouvelle vague. We watch a selection of some of the finest “world masterpieces on film,” including the films of Ford, Bergman, Fellini, and Kurosawa. (4 credits)
      Originating in Africa, Egyptian mythology provides content and themes distinct from western perspectives while, paradoxically, being foundational to them. When westerners hear the word “mythology,” they usually think to the Greeks. Which makes sense since Greek mythology was assimilated by the Romans, whose influence then spread through Europe and eventually to the Americas via those European nations. However, few are aware that the Greeks absorbed a significant portion of their mythology (and knowledge of other things) from the Egyptians. Egyptian mythology is complex, with no one identifiable source. Rather, their myths have been compiled piecemeal from wherever they are found: carved into the ceilings and walls of pyramids, or on the coffin-lids of pharaohs, or etched into obelisks, stelae and other works. Furthermore, the stories and gods of Ancient Egypt vary significantly from region to region. In the Delta marshes of Saïs, for instance, the chief deity and source of life is Neith (a syncretization of the great goddess Isis). But travel farther south to Heliopolis and the sun-god Atum-Re holds sway, and with a different set of myths. And from there, cross the Nile into Memphis, and now Ptah heads the pantheon. Other myths, however, saturated all of Ancient Egypt, like the myth of Isis and Osiris, with its focus on death and rebirth. And on Horus as the archetype of renewal, as seen in the Amduat (which provides a comprehensive account of the “sun’s” underworld/night-sea journey). This course examines these myths, attending to their thematic, archeological, and archetypal aspects, while considering also what potential values or use such knowledge might have for us in the 21st century. (4 credits)
      The period between the fall of Rome and the rise of the European Renaissance is often referred to as the “Dark Ages.” However, it produced some of the greatest literature of all time. In this course we’ll study various great works written between the early Middle Ages and the beginning of the European Renaissance: Beowulf, the greatest warrior epic in the English language and the starting point for written English culture; The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri; The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. We’ll also explore the quest for the Holy Grail, Arthurian Romances of Camelot and the Round Table, the chivalric romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and courtly love poetry, which was at the heart of a spiritual and social renaissance. (4 credits)
      We live in a time in which the world of fantasy has never been more popular. Everyone is aware of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Rowling’s Harry Potter series, but fantasy literature goes back as far as recorded history. Homer’s The Odyssey is the stuff of pure fantasy, from one fantastic adventure to the next. The same can be said about Norse mythology, Beowulf, and the Arthurian tales of the Middle Ages. One starting point for fantasy is the Gothic stories of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In this course we attempt to define fantasy, possibly breaking it into sub-genres, examine its core characteristics, and look at the genre historically while leaving time for reading some of the best contemporary fantasy. We may supplement our course with some excellent examples of fantasy from the world of film, time permitting. (4 credits)
      The Silmarillion provides the history and mythology of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in rich and sweeping narratives that are, literally, of epic proportion. In these pages, we learn in detail how the Elves, Dwarves, Humans, Wizards, Hobbits—and even, deities—came to be. We track the long story of the original dark lord to whom Sauron was but a servant; or we meet briefly the Maiar goddess instrumental in Gandalf’s training, or of how (and in a sense, why) Middle Earth was made, and much more. Being a world-class scholar of mythology, languages and literature, Tolkien infuses these tales with a style that at times reads like fantasy fiction, and at others, carries the full weight of any world-mythology, replete with tradition and archetypal nuance. Perhaps of most value, however, are the themes of this work which emphasize the presence of light in the midst of darkness, and the beauty that emerges from the soul’s perseverance in the face of dire challenge and loss. This course focuses primarily on The Silmarillion proper, while including some abridged auxiliary content from such sources as Beowulf, the Finnish Kalevala, the Norse Edda, and a few other traditions of relevance. (4 credits)
      Comedy is a discovery of perfection, of harmony, of one’s Self, of an underlying spiritual existence. It is the triumph over adversity, fear, and suffering. It is the celebration of life eternal. In this course, we examine the nature of comedy and many of Shakespeare’s favorite themes such as love, order, immortality, and right action. Tragedy is the desire to aspire for perfection. Among the plays we read are Taming of the Shrew, Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, and The Tempest. (4 credits)
      During the 1920’s of the previous century, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway were literary giants, rivals, and sometimes friends. They both helped to shape the expatriate movement in Paris and the Modernism movement in America. We examine their relationship both biographically and in terms of the literature they created. We read The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald, The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway, and a selection of short stories by each. (4 credits)
      This course examines the forces that brought the most popular literary genre of modern times — the novel — into being. Jane Austen is hailed by her legions of admirers the greatest novelist in the English language. Austen wrote at the time when long literary works were taking on a definite shape that came to be known as the novel, a name that suggests the newness of the form. In this course, we read Austen’s three best novels, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion, and we look closely at those characteristics that shaped the most popular form of literature for going on three centuries. (4 credits)
      What is gender? How do its biological, physiological, psychological, and sociological dimensions interact? What is performative gender, and in what ways do we all engage in it? How does gender influence culture, and how does culture influence gender? What role does gender play in history? How do the performative aspects of gender interact with identity, sexuality, economics, culture, and politics? What is the role of gender in literature? What can literature teach about expressions of LGBTQ+ lives and identities through time? How do people talk about gender, both historically and contemporarily? What is feminism, and how is it also good for men? Why does the issue of representation matter so much in shaping public rhetoric around gender and sexuality? How can literature build empathy for the lived experience of transgender individuals? How do feminist and LGBTQ+ literary theories influence the interpretation of historic and contemporary texts? Why is gender such a big deal, anyway? Come find out what great artists and thinkers have to say about these questions and more as we explore literature and literary theories involving gender. (4 credits)
      “Make it New!” was the clarion cry of a whole generation of writers at the turn of the twentieth century. Poets, novelists, and dramatists all wanted to break with a past they saw as corrupt and outdated. Everything concerning content and form was up for grabs. These explorers of the imagination began to investigate the previously uncharted dimensions of linguistic possibilities. One of their first choices was to take the attention of their audiences within. Modern European writers in all genres developed new literary techniques to express the deeper realities of consciousness at the basis of thought and human behavior. Combating the forces of urbanization, isolation, industrialization, and the decline of religion, such modern novelists as Forster, Woolf, Lawrence, and Joyce, and such poets as the French Symbolists, Yeats, Eliot, Thomas, and Auden took refuge in a transcendental vision of life. (4 credits)
      Reacting to the prosaic objectivism of the realist movement, the decline of Western spirituality, and the moral excess of the industrial revolution and European imperialism, a new movement in the arts called Modernism attempted to take the individual back to the spiritual source of the Transcendentalists and its Oriental transcendental roots. Leaders in this movement included Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, and Cather in fiction, and Frost, Eliot, Williams, Stevens, Moore, and Hughes in poetry. (4 credits)
      Students study literature from Eastern and/or Middle Eastern countries, including China, Japan, and Persia (Iran). We emphasize writers and texts with a profound understanding of spirituality and deep human values. Works may include Lao Tsu’s Tao de Ching, the writings of Zhuangzi, the Confucian Odes, T’ang poetry, the poetry of Kabir, Tagore, Rumi, and Hafiz. Novelists may include Murakami, Kawabata, Mishima, and Narayan. (4 credits)
      Over time, the artistic output of a specific generation gets codified and becomes representative of a generation. For example, Emerson, Thoreau, Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville became known as the foremost writers of American Romanticism in the mid19th Century. In the contemporary world, who will come to represent the first decades of the 21t century has yet to be determined. However, in this course, we explore writers who we may call the voices of the New Millennium, writers who speak in a language closest to our own. (4 credits)
      Virtually all world-mythologies contain or center around a Quest where gods and mortals alike set out to accomplish tasks of great significance. In most cases, the quest revolves around the figures of the hero and the heroine, both of whom sacrifice personal ambitions on behalf of family, a loved one, or an entire culture. Mythology is archetypal in that it reveals, through theme and symbol, the natural patterns of human experience and our relationship to the cosmos. In this sense, every character of every story corresponds in some way with structures and energies within us, the collective, and the physical world we inhabit. For example, a dragon perched on its hoard illustrates the conditions and consequences of greed, resentment, apathy, isolation, and the like. And so, these conditions are given a tangible form (a dragon) that is set into a narrative as a threshold guardian that must be passed to reap the treasures of appreciation, compassion, and community. This course examines the quest-motif in myth and literature along with its transformative influence upon the characters we read about and upon ourselves. The course draws from a broad selection of world-mythologies and literature, including Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Indian, Greek, Roman, Celtic, Norse, Native American, and Shamanic traditions. (4 credits)
      Stories are as old as time, and they are told in every language from every culture. They are also found in different genres: the novel, the short story, drama, and narrative poetry, each with its own variety of techniques. Film is another narrative form also with its distinct language and its own technical forms. And just as we study plot, character, setting and point-of-view to better understand the craft and meaning of fiction, we study the use of light, the variety of shots, camera angles, and the mise-en-scene to understand the visual language of film. We also examine the contributions of the co-creators of a film: the screenwriter, the director, the cinematographer, the producer, the set designer, and the actors, to name a few. In this course, we focus on films from the last decades of the 20th century and those from the present century, including Run Lola Run, Road to Perdition, Volver, The Descendants, White, Moonrise Kingdom, Stranger than Fiction, Three Billboards, The Shape of Water. We also sample a few films by some of the world’s great directors from the golden age of cinema. (4 credits)
      In this course, we watch a set of excellent films from the past three decades. Our focus will be on what makes a film art and not simply entertainment. We regularly use standard film techniques and their variations, such as lighting, camera angles, mise-en-scène, and movement in discussing films, but we also closely examine specific scenes to more deeply understand how films tell stories visually. We consider such narrative elements as beginnings and endings, foreshadowing, character development, point-of-view, symbolic patterning. Some of the films we watch may include Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, Yimou Zhang’s House of Flying Daggers, Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Red, Pedro Almodovar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Micmacs, Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, The Cohen Brothers’ O’ Brother, Where Art Thou?, Tom Twyker’s The Princess and the Warrior, Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog, and Luc Besson’s Lucy. (4 credits)
      In the first half of the twentieth century, J.R.R. Tolkien, an Oxford Medieval and Linguistics Professor, wrote one of the great epics of modern times. The Lord of the Rings has become a literary phenomenon, a critical success, a cult classic, and an enormously popular novel sequence that has never fallen out of favor. Moreover, it has spawned a subsidiary industry that includes films, TV productions, games, toys, and LOR art. The Lord of the Rings has emerged as the quintessential fantasy/myth to which all modern myths pay homage, an archetypal tale that speaks to the heart of human beings on the very meaning and purpose of life. In this course, we read the trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. We also consult the prequels to the trilogy, The Silmarillion and The Hobbit. When appropriate, we look at scenes from Peter Jackson’s famous film sequence. (4 credits)
      Periodically, seminars on special topics are offered by visiting professors or resident faculty. This course may be repeated subject to satisfactory progress in the previous course and a clear plan for the progression of learning in the subsequent course. (4 credits)
      In a directed study in literature, students can explore a research topic in-depth under faculty guidance. The faculty mentor designs and agrees to the assignments, readings, and course content. (Variable credits)

Degree requirements

A minimum of 128 credits (semester hours) is required for students to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. This may include up to 90 transfer credits.

Undergraduate degree students can apply transfer credits to cover electives, some general education requirements, and up to half the course work in the major, for a maximum of 90 total credits. General transfer credits are accepted for courses completed with a grade of “C” or higher.

To graduate with a bachelor’s degree, students must satisfy the following general education requirements:

    This course introduces students to three fundamental sources of knowledge that can be used together to evaluate any idea: personal experience, scientific reasoning, and traditional wisdom. On the basis of evidence from all three sources, a new consciousness-based framework is introduced as a new way of viewing the world and addressing its challenges.
    The course will explore the new paradigm in science that the “Physiology is Consciousness.” Current concepts of mind and body will be understood in terms of this new paradigm. This course will present our facts of brain structure and function in light of Maharishi Vedic Science and the discovery of Veda and the Vedic Literature in human physiology done by Tony Nader, MD, PhD. We will examine how our brain constructs reality at every moment and how the experience of unboundedness – the Self of every individual – can transform our physiology and awaken the total creative potential of the brain in enlightenment, which is the birthright of every human being.
    This course gives a deep and non-mathematical understanding of the differences between classical and quantum physics. It explains the meaning and mechanics of unification and symmetry, and the main concepts of unified quantum field theories and superstring theory. It shows that at the basis of the universe lies a completely unified field, a self- interacting entity from which all particles and forces arise through the process of spontaneous symmetry breaking. The course gives students experience and understanding of the interconnectedness between the laws of physics, the universe, and themselves.

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Featured faculty

Leah Waller

Leah Waller

Leah Waller

Leah Waller is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and the director of the BA and BFA in Creative Writing.

Leah’s work has been published in literary journals, magazines, newspapers, and anthologies. Her book Under the Cedar Tree had a soaring debut in Amazon’s top ten bestseller list for poetry and continues to be a popular favorite among reading circles.

Leah received her bachelor’s degree in literature and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Northern Arizona University. At NAU, Leah worked as the Assistant Managing Editor for Thin Air Magazine and an instructor of composition writing.

All Department Faculty

Cost & Aid, 2024-25

    US On-Campus Undergraduate

    This estimate is based on one year for a typical on-campus Federal Pell Grant recipient (represents 80% of our onsite undergraduates). File your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and then contact our financial aid office for questions on variables.

    Annual Cost and Typical Financial Aid
    Tuition and fees$16,530
    Housing (single room) and meals$7,400
    Grants and Scholarship (typical)-$14,400
    Net cost per year$9,530
    Federal student loans-$9,530
    Your payment$0

    Additional Financial Aid Information

      $2,400 Federal Work Study is available toward your estimated $4,800 out of pocket costs.
      Scholarship from MIU described above consists of the Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Education Grant and is based on (1) full-time enrollment and (2) financial need based on expected FAFSA outcome.
      Repayment begins after your enrollment ends. Unique repayment plans are available such as income-based, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and deferments based on low income or unemployment.

      There are a variety of money-saving tax benefits to assist in reducing the cost of education expenses. More about education tax benefits.
      Veterans should contact the VA for information on Veterans Education Benefits. Veterans eligible for BAH monthly benefits: The VA utilizes a scale of credits per block of courses; therefore, the VA sometimes pays part-time benefits for an individual month while the university delivers full-time federal aid for an entire semester. Our Veterans Certifying Official is our Director of Financial Aid.

    Loan Repayment Options

      Payments are a fixed amount that ensures your loans are paid off within 10 years (within 10 to 30 years for Consolidation Loans).
      Payments may be fixed or graduated and will ensure that your loans are paid off within 25 years.
      Payments are lower at first and then increase, usually every two years, and are for an amount that will ensure your loans are paid off within 10 years (within 10 to 30 years for Consolidation Loans).
      Your monthly payments will be either 10 or 15 percent of discretionary income (depending on when you received your first loans), but never more than you would have paid under the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan.
      Payments are recalculated each year and are based on your updated income, family size, and the total amount of your Direct Loans. Any outstanding balance will be forgiven if you haven’t repaid your loan in full after 25 years.
      Your monthly payment is based on annual income, but your loan will be paid in full within 15 years.

    Tuition, other fees, scholarships, and financial policies are subject to change prior to the entry date. For more information, contact us at finaid@miu.edu for a quick reply — normally one business day — or see more about financial aid.

    International On-Campus Undergraduate

    Annual Cost and Typical Financial Aid
    Tuition and fees$16,530
    Housing (single room) and meals$7,400
    Health insurance (estimate)$1,992
    Personal expenses, books, unexpected needs (estimate)$3,500
    Cost Per Year$29,422

    Full-time students may apply for up to $6,000 scholarship based on qualifying level of documented family income. Our undergraduate scholarship application form will be available upon application to the university.

    Tuition, other fees, scholarships, and financial policies are subject to change prior to the entry date.

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