Creative Writing Minor

About the Curriculum


The 21-credit minor is simple in its structure. There are but two required courses: CWL 190, Introduction to Contemporary Literature, and CWL 202, Introduction to Creative Writing. Minors also take one upper-level literature course: CWL 330, 335, or 340. These courses are organized around a topic--Naturalism, for example, or The Comic Voice. The other four courses are writing workshops. All courses contribute to Stony Brook's gen ed requirements, and all are offered on main campus.

Creative writing workshops generally involve discussion of students' original work. Students submit their poems, stories or plays ahead of time, so that readers can prepare, then together peers and professor critique the work. Don't worry! Critiques are constructive, structured discussions, not open season on tearing the work down. Some workshops might be generative, with lots of writing prompts. Others might focus more on revision, with take-home writing assignments. Students must take the prerequisite, CWL 202, prior to enrolling in other writing workshops. 

Literature courses are taught by working writers, so that students can approach reading from the inside out, as fellow practitioners. Often, these courses have substantial creative writing assignments alongside assigned readings and essays.

By providing courses that satisfy the general education requirements at Stony Brook, the minor provides a unique opportunity for undergraduates in any major to take a cohesive approach to fulfilling their distribution requirements in the humanities and fine arts. Creative writing presents a rich complex of learning opportunities, not only for those in the arts and humanities, but in the sciences — in any field where the right brain meets left. 

Students should declare the Creative Writing and Literature minor no later than the middle of their sophomore year, at which time they should consult with the directors of both their major and minor to plan their course of study. The objective is to fulfill both sets of requirements in a coherent and complementary way. The director of the creative writing minor is Megan McAndrew:

About Course Topics

To earn the creative writing minor, students may take any combination of workshops within the CWL 300-325 range, and each course is repeatable for credit. That means a student devoted to poetry, for example, can take CWL 310, Forms of Poetry, four times, and have all four classes count toward the minor. Other students may choose to sample a variety of genres. For more information about which courses are being offered and their topics, go to the CWL Course Schedule at Scroll down for undergraduate courses.

Stony Brook's graduate-level creative writing, the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literature, is located in Southampton. It boasts a world-class faculty drawn from the culturally rich environs of the Hamptons and Manhattan. With permission of the instructor, a talented undergraduate can take workshops at the MFA level for credit toward the minor. The best opportunity is the renowned Southampton Writers Conference, which offers a remarkable range of 3-credit workshops during July of summer term. Also open to advanced undergraduates during the winter term are workshops at such exotic locations as Italy and Kenya.

Students who come to Southampton are always welcome to attend the Writers Speak reading series on Wednesday evenings. This series brings top authors from around the country to campus. They give a reading in the intimate environs of Radio Lounge, then answer questions about the writing life and sign books. At the end of the semester, MFA students take their turn at the podium, giving a reading for the community of writers at Southampton.

Students interested in the minor should know that the optional capstone project course, CWL 450, is not being offered at this time.