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Courses / Degree Requirements for the BA in Creative Writing

The following is projected for students entering the university in 2021-22 and is subject to change.

To graduate with a BA in Creative Writing, students must successfully complete:

  • All general requirements for a bachelor’s degree
  • 48 credits of coursework from the list of courses shown below:

4 credits from Core Writing courses (pick one):

This course examines the essential role of narrative in the creation of all forms of media. From the very beginnings of human records, whether it is mythology, scripture, literature, or the earliest cave paintings, the creators of these works have always told their audience a story or imparted a message by the use of narrative. In order to work in any creative medium, understanding the various ways in which narrative is used is a great advantage. This course will examine the range of narrative forms and narrative devices that have been used since the dawn of time right up until the modern day. We will discover that although the forms and types of media used might have changed as technology has advanced, in fact, most of the essential forms of narrative used in creative works have been with us for ages. Understanding why will reveal how narrative reflects both the universal and unique aspects of the experience of human life. As part of the course students will be required to undertake projects that aid the development of their own narrative skills. (4 credits)
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 will 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. Prerequisite: ART, LIT, or MC major, or permission of instructor (4 credits)

12 credits from Literature courses:


This introductory course is offered early in each academic year and covers three basic areas: a) how to read and analyze literature; b) how to write about literature; c) and how to write creative and effective essays. It will also contain a creative writing element. This course is a required course for all English majors (Literature and/or Creative Writing), and it is recommended that it be taken early in the major. Texts include short stories, essays, and a literary handbook especially designed for the course. (4 credits)
This Creativity and Critical Thinking seminar covers three basic areas: a) how to read and analyze literature; b) how to write about literature and incorporate Vedic Science; and c) how to write creative and effective essays. It will also include the basics of critical thinking and active learning. Texts include poetry, short stories, a play, and a literary handbook designed especially for this course. (4 credits)
This course will look at the Bhagavad-Gita not only for its insight and inspiration but also for the beauty of its form and language. The primary text of this course will be Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-Gita: A New Translation and Commentary Chapters 1-6. We will also read the Gita’s last 12 chapters in another translation, a condensed Mahabharata, and The Legend of Bagger Vance, a novel based on the Bhagavad-Gita. We will also look briefly at works by other writers such as Emerson, Thoreau, and T.S. Eliot who have been inspired by the Gita. (4 credits)
A commonly held belief in Western culture over the last two millennia, from the birth of Jesus of Nazareth forward, is that the literature of Europe and the Americas is either founded on a Judeo-Christian theology or on secular humanism. The influence of paganism, pantheism, and the Vedic-Buddhist tradition of the Far East is regarded as minimal. Not only is this a distortion of history, the evidence of the literary canon to the contrary is significant. Hence, in this course we will explore a literature that is concerned with transcendence and liberation. Surprisingly, we will begin at the beginning with Genesis and with that hallmark of Christianity The Sermon on the Mount. We will peruse some works from the Medieval and Renaissance, but our focus will be on the writers of the British and American Romantic and Modernist periods, such as Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson, Whitman, Yeats, Eliot, Thomas, and Stevens. We will read a couple of novels by writers like Virginia Woolf and Herman Hesse, and there 2016/17 235 will be other surprises as well. Prerequisites: STC 108, taken during students’ first semester or consent of the Department faculty (4 credits)
An epic is a long narrative in elevated style about characters of high position who perform extraordinary actions. From the great world epics, students study principles of Maharishi Vedic Science to illuminate the subtleties of language and thought. The primary text of this course is the Ramayana. Other selections may include parts of the Bible and other scriptures, Homer’s Odyssey, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and Goethe’s Faust. (4 credits)
Modern Native Americans have rediscovered their spiritual heritage through a reclaiming of ancient tribal customs. In this course, we will track their spiritual transformation in such works as Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, about the healing and new meaning that comes to the hero’s life. In Frank Waters’ The Man Who Killed the Deer, the hero had at a young age lost his spiritual bearings but regains them through a series of profound insights. Black Elk Speaks is a Native American spiritual autobiography; at its center is Black Elk’s cosmic vision of America’s destiny. These and other works chronicle what is both profound and tragic in the life of America’s indigenous peoples. (4 credits)
The literature of ancient Greece and Rome is the source of the Western literary tradition. The Greeks in particular recognized the value of literature as an expression of society’s shared ideals and as a means of developing social unity and harmony. Works studied may include Homer’s Odyssey, Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Antigone, Euripides’ Hippolytus, Aristophanes’ Lisistrata, Aristotle’s The Poetics, and from Plato’s Republic. (4 credits)
The Bible as Literature is a two-week course meant to introduce students to the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, as well as examine it as not only a religious text but also as a literary text. Moreover, we will consider the influence of the Bible on literature and culture. Cultural Literacy as it relates to the Bible is a primary aim of the course. We will look closely at Genesis, Exodus, Matthew, Luke, John, and Revelations among the Bible offerings. We will read an assortment of Biblical-influenced literary texts including: D.H. Lawrence’s The Horse Dealer’ Daughter, Eliot’s Journey of the Magi, Yeats’ Second Coming and The Magi, Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale, Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Dylan Thomas’ Fern Hill, and many others. We will also watch a couple of films inspired by the Bible such as Amadeus and The Seventh Seal. (4 credits)
This course opens with the heroic ideals of the Anglo-Saxons, runs through the birth and popularization of courtly love, and ends at the doorstep of the European Renaissance. Intrinsically involved with the quest motif, this course charts the pilgrimages in the adventures of Beowulf, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Sir Gawain search for the Green Knight, and the Arthurian knights (especially those concerned with the quest for the Holy Grail), and Dante’s emergence from the inferno into paradise in the Divine Comedy. (4 credits)
“Fantasy is where you meet yourself,” says Norman Talbot. Resting on this premise, this course will attempt to define the term “fantasy,” consider what makes a literary work fantastical, and determine how fantasy differs from realism. Because the “fantastic” is an idea accessible in various forms, we will investigate into the nature of fantasy by reading examples from a wide selection of writers including, Lewis Carroll, Italo Calvino, Ursula Le Guin, E.T.A Hoffman, Jorge Luis Borges, Isabelle Allende, C.S Lewis, and Walter Moers. Besides fiction, we will also view some fantastical films. (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 will examine the nature of comedy and many of Shakespeare’s favorite themes such as love, order, immortality, and right action. Among the plays we will 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)
The Renaissance was the re-emergence of dynamic social and intellectual activity in the Western world. It marked one of the most vibrant literary, dramatic, and poetic periods in history. Its writers searched for fundamental principles and orderly poetic structures in accord with natural law to assist in the full development of human life. Beginning with Petrarch, this course examines some of the greatest Renaissance writers of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries: Wyatt, Spenser, Sidney, Donne, Traherne, Herbert, Vaughn, Marvell, and Milton. Also included are readings from some of the major Renaissance philosophers, courtiers, and scientists. (4 credits)
This course covers the literature of the Augustan Age, the Restoration, and the Age of Johnson, and considers the period’s emphasis on feelings and rational thought seen in the novel and in the intellectual tenor of the time. Writers include Dryden, Pope, Swift, Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, Burney, Samuel Johnson, and Jane Austen. (4 credits)
Like the Renaissance writers before them, eighteenth-century sages saw the spiritual power of nature residing in an orderly universe. They sought to tap that power through their attempts to write about it. The novel, the ultimate fictional statement about universal order, emerged from the diverse social, economic, and political forces of the eighteenth century. This course examines the rise of the novel through three different activities: (1) reading novels from Defoe to Austen, (2) studying the cultural milieu of the eighteenth century, and (3) formulating a theory of the novel and its applications. (4 credits)
This course examines the nineteenth-century Romantic Movement and its escape from the limitations of eighteenth-century rationalism through an emphasis on the divine creative power of the imagination, an exalted perception of poetry and the poet, sympathy for social renewal, a distrust of industrialization and urbanization, and a rediscovery of the transcendent. Writers include Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Percy and Mary Shelley, and Keats. (4 credits)
Literature of Romance is the story of the relationships between men and women, sometimes idealized, sometimes tragic. Romantic love is such a dominant element in the modern world one would think that it has always existed. But as a philosophy and as an art form, romantic love–the elevated, all-consuming, life-altering affection for a single individual–is relatively new, established in western society in the early 12th century. The story of romantic love begins in the south of France with a single individual—Guillaume 2016/17 238 IX and spreads throughout Europe and the West without abatement. Among the works we may read are works from Medieval Chivalry, a couple of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View, and a collection of romantic love poetry. Note: This course is not to be confused with LIT 344 Literature of the Romantic Period— rebellious and transcendental literature of the early 19th century. (4 credits)
Victorian literary style reflects a period of transition from the Romantic to the Modern through a blending of profound subjective experience with an awakened consciousness of rapid social change. Writers may include Charlotte Bronte, Carlyle, Tennyson, Arnold, Dickens, George Eliot, the Brownings, Hopkins, and others. (4 credits)
“Make it New!” was the clarion cry at the turn of the twentieth century of a whole generation of writers. Poets, novelists, and dramatists all wanted to break with a past they saw as corrupt and outdated. Therefore, everything for them 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)
We will read selections of short studies from around the world in this course, focusing on seven geographical units: Africa, Middle East, Asia, Australia and Oceania, Europe, Latin America, and North America. Some of the authors we will read are Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor, Kafka, Naguib Mahfouz, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Chinua Achebe, Isabelle Allende, and David Malouf. The rich diversity of their stories, representing a variety of world cultures, will give us an entry into the human experience in our own and other cultural domains and provide us with new insights. We will study the stories founded on the underlying motifs of “the condition of the individual,” “families and communities,” and “gender.” While we analyze how each story handles one or more of these motifs, we will also think thematically about the quest for “Sat-chitananda: Absolute Bliss Consciousness,” and we will study the ways in which this quest for unbounded Bliss takes different forms from story to story. (4 credits)
Heeding the call of Ralph Waldo Emerson to create a truly American literature, American writers explored literary and cultural themes that have originated since Columbus first set foot on this continent: the American Eden, the ideal society, the perfectibility of humanity, Self-reliance, and the individual search for Self. Writers we will consider include Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, and Dickinson. (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)
Perhaps no other event in the 20th Century shaped the arts as much as World War I. It ushered in a period of intense scrutiny of all the old assumptions and attempted to redefine life in the wake of global devastation. In this course, “modern” refers to novels written during or related to the Modern Period, which existed from the turn of the century up to the Second World War. The chief American novelists of this period are Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Willa Cather, and perhaps, Henry James who appeared a little earlier, but whose realism helped pave the way for the modern novel. We will read several novels and a couple of shorter works, or novellas, from one of America’s greatest literary periods. (4 credits)
Students will study literature from Eastern and/or Middle Eastern countries, including China, Japan, and Persia (Iran). Emphasis will be on those writers and texts that possess a good understanding of spirituality or deep human values. Works may include Lao Tsu’s Tao de Ching, the writings of Chuang Tze, the Confucian Odes, T’ang poetry, the poetry of Kabir, Tagore, Rumi, and Hafiz. Novelists may include Murakami, Kawabata, Mishima, and Narayan. (4 credits)
Contemporary fiction writers are the classics of tomorrow. In these days of multimedia, “fiction” could include films, videos, graphic novels, collages, and other visual media containing a fictional story line. In this course, we will read two contemporary novels by authors such as Barbara Kingsolver, Leslie Marmon Silko, R.K. Narayan, Nick Hornby, 2016/17 240 and Kate Atkinson. We will also read a number of short stories by writers like T.C. Boyle, Alice Munro, and George Saunders and watch recent films of literary quality. Students will write one essay on any author or filmmaker studied in this class, prepare an oral report, including a visual such as a poster or PowerPoint presentation, and submit a creative work. This could be a short story or something visual with a fictional narrative such as a video, a short animation, graphic short story, etc. Students may include a Maharishi Vedic Science component in their analytical essay or create a Main Points Chart to accompany their oral presentation or final project. (4 credits)
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 (see Arjuna for example) is a model for the ordinary individual. One of the great debates is whether the hero can even exit 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. (4 credits)
A short story contains all the elements of the novel in micro form and because it is so compact is an ideal arena for studying literature. In this course, we will study some of the world’s greatest short story writers beginning with Romantics Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, then moving to later, more realistic writers such Guy de Maupassant, Anton Chekhov, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Henry James. Afterward, we will read works by such modernist writers as James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and Flannery O’Connor, finishing up with contemporary writers including Alice Munro, John Updike, and Leslie Marmon Silko. Students will write a short analytical essay on one of the writers studied in the course and will write a short story as the final project. Students may include a Maharishi Vedic Science component in their analytical essay or create a Main Points Chart to accompany their final project. (4 credits)
This course focuses on contemporary poetry with the aim of awakening students’ awareness to the stylistic techniques that express different visions of wholeness. Poets to be read may include Theodore Roethke, Denise Levertov, James Wright, Gary Snyder, Robert Bly, Richard Wilbur, Elizabeth Bishop, A.R. Ammons, Galway Kinnell, W.S. Merwin, and Jory Graham. (4 credits)
The novel in the last two centuries has become the literary form of choice. It reigns supreme in conveying the depth, experience, and great complexity of character. Born in the eighteenth century when long narratives — including epics, fables, romances, and picaresque tales — were losing their vitality, the novel became literature’s torch bearer: the primary literary mode for depicting life. This course examines the history, techniques, and forms of the novel, from social realism to meta-fiction, and may include novels from any given period from the eighteenth century onward. (4 credits)
Led by such dramatic innovators as Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, Shaw, Pirandello, and Brecht, drama began to emerge from a century of mediocrity. In the late nineteenth century these dramatists pioneered a dramatic revolution that expressed itself in such forms as realism, naturalism, impressionism, expressionism, surrealism, and the theater of the absurd. All of these figures and the movements they spawned will be examined in this course along with the work of other influential dramatists such as Eliot, Yeats, and Shaffer. (4 credits)
All Western drama begins with the Greeks, specifically the four titans of Athens’ Golden Age: Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. In the festivals to Dionysus these four dramatists developed the theatrical concepts of Tragedy and Comedy and helped shape our present view of humanity. In America, some 24 centuries later, Eugene O’Neill gave shape to the modern theater. Much of what O’Neill created was strongly influenced by the Greeks. The American drama that followed O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Beth Henley and others, labored directly under O’Neill’s influence and indirectly under that of the Greek masters. (4 credits)
Nature and the environment has become the most celebrated cause of the last few decades, giving rise to a literature of its own. In this course, we will begin first with Maharishi’s vision of nature and natural law, then read some traditional naturalists such as Emerson and Thoreau, and finally move to a variety of modern environmentalists. Our primary text will be the Norton Book of Nature Writing. In our reading we will study the philosophical, historical, and cultural approaches to the environment that America has inherited. Students will also read an extra text on nature to present to the class and keep a nature journal to discover what Mitchell Thomas how calls our “ecological identity.” (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 will read the trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. We will also consult the prequels to the trilogy—The Silmarillion and The Hobbit. When appropriate, we will look at scenes from Peter Jackson’s famous film sequence. (4 credits)
In the age we live in, the media constructs and reconstructs the world we know. It is so pervasive that virtually no one on this planet is free from its influence, be it good or bad. At the basis of media is language, the first level of communication. Language forms itself into texts — written, visual, and audio texts — and texts are the interest of literature. In this course, we will read a variety of texts that deal directly and indirectly with media as we explore its severe limitations as well as its possibilities to help bring about a worldwide transformation. One literary figure commenting on the relationship between literature and the media said, “Literature is news that stays news.” — Ezra Pound. (4 credits)
Literature, as the “flow of letters” (Maharishi), and music as the flow of sound and silence, expresses the flow of life and its fullness. In this course, we will study from various angles the connections between musical and literary forms. We will read literary 2016/17 244 works that have inspired musical compositions which, in turn, have inspired other art forms like Richard Strauss’ tone poem based on Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra and adapted by Stanley Kubrick in 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Peter Shaffer’s play about Mozart rendered in the film Amadeus, or George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion transformed into the musical My Fair Lady. While we read and think about connections among literature, poetry, music, and consciousness, we will listen to a wide range of musical pieces, from classical, to modern, to contemporary. We will also listen to the hymns of Sama and Rk Veda that convey the depth of silence from which poetry and music emerge and flow into life. (4 credits)
Does the open road beckon you? People have been traveling American highways for more than a century. This course follows their trips. We’ll read road literature, ranging from the snarky comments of Iowa traveler Bill Bryson to the more lyrical passages of William Least heat Moon. The course includes travel essays, road trip novels and films. We’ll also explore some interesting travel blogs and sites, and take our own road trip to record in travel blogs. (4 credits)
By mid 19th century, Japan had shed its most treasured tradition, the way of the Samurai, and wholeheartedly embraced all things Western. The result of such rapid transformation has had profound effects on the Japanese culture. In this course, students will read postwar novelists Yukio Mishima and Yasunari Kawabata, both Nobel laureates, and modern Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, not only considered Japan’s finest novelist, but possibly the “greatest novelist in the world” according to some. In addition to reading the Japanese novels (in translation), students will watch several Japanese films, make an oral presentation, take an exam, and write a critical analysis of a Japanese novel. (4 credits)
This course is a companion to LIT 371 The Lord of the Rings. In this course, we will focus on two primary works—The Hobbit and The Silmarillion. Although The Silmarillion was published posthumously, most of it was written before The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. We will also read some of Tolkien’s shorter fairytales, such as Farmer Giles of Ham and Smith of Wootton Major. We will also examine Tolkien’s famous essay on what makes a Fairy Story. Other possibilities are Tolkien’s translation of the marvelous Medieval fantasy Gawain and the Green Knight and his essay on Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics that transformed Beowulf criticism. (4 credits)

12 credits from Writing Courses:

Any MC—W course or WTG course WTG 200 or above

12 credits of MC Elective Courses:

  • Any MC course
  • Any design, media, or photography course from the Art department
  • Any course on entrepreneurship, marketing, business law, or advertising form the Business department
  • FA 204: The Spiritual Quest
  • Any LIT course on film history or media



8 credits from Project Courses:

This is a senior project course in which individuals who have taken the courses in Media and Communications come together to envisage and then realize a set of core projects across a range of media. These projects are formulated among the student group with the aid of faculty members. The first stage of the course will be the generation of the project ideas, which can include ideas that utilize a range of media or ideas that are focused on a particular medium. The central goal of the course is for students to apply everything they have learned to these projects. You may be a director on a documentary, an actor in a drama feature, or a producer on a Web-based animation series. There is a wide range of possibilities. You imagine it, and we will make it happen as a team. The idea is to produce great projects that get noticed. Prerequisites: MGT 200 or MGT 201 or MGT 230 or MC 251; MC—W250; MC— W300; and 12 credits in one of the four concentrations; or consent of the instructor
A final portfolio of work is required for graduation. All students in each MC class are required to post and maintain a record of their work in a private section of the departmental website to facilitate assessment by the department.


Students are required to present their capstone project by the end of their senior year. Additional details of the capstone project may be found in the department office.