The curriculum is designed to immerse students in their own creativity, although students are free to take fewer than the full five courses. Each course 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.
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 seasons on tearing the work down.
For example, creative writers might be reading fiction for point of view; poems for concrete versus abstract language; or plays for elements of conflict, such as preceding circumstances. Some workshops might be generative, with lots of writing prompts. Others might focus more on revision, with take-home writing assignments.
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.
Students in all areas come together on Wednesday evenings for Writers Speak, a reading series that brings in top authors from around the country to share their work and answer questions about the writing life.
By providing courses that satisfy the general education requirements at many institutions, particularly other SUNY schools, Semester By The Sea 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.
For Stony Brook students, Semester by the Sea is not only a themed path through many of the D.E.C. requirements, but also the heart of the Creative Writing minor. Stony Brook students who enroll in it need only two other courses to complete this 21-credit minor. The remaining requirements are CWL 202-D, Introduction to Creative Writing, which is offered as a stand-alone course in the spring term, and one advanced writing workshop course. Stony Brook's graduate program in Creative Writing offers a remarkable range of 3-credit workshops open to advanced undergraduates during the winter term at such exotic locations as Italy and Kenya, or during its renowned summer term in Southampton.
Students interested in the minor should know that the optional capstone project course, CWL 450, is available only at Southampton campus at the moment. Also, students should take the prerequisite CWL 202-D "Introduction to Creative Writing" prior to enrolling in all five Semester by the Sea courses. CWL 202 is offered at both main and Southampton campuses. The remaining requirement, a writing workshop, may be taken either before or after completing Semester by the Sea.
Creative writers who already have an undergraduate degree can participate in Semester by the Sea as non-matriculated students. This is an appealing and cost-effective way to show a prospective employer in advertising, marketing or the arts some tangible evidence of communication skills and creativity. Other non-matrics may want to bolster their portfolio before applying to MFA programs. Still others may be seeking that calling card, in the form of a manuscript, to open doors in the theater or publishing world.
Post-baccalaureates should apply to the program as a visiting student. They will be awarded up to 15 credits to do with as they will. There is no non-credit option for this program. For an a la carte menu of graduate-level creative writing workshops, see the MFA in Creative Writing program, which also accepts non-matriculated students.
About Stony Brook Southampton
The Semester By The Sea program is a component of Southampton Arts, a graduate campus offering MFAs in Creative Writing & Literature, and in Theater & Film. It boasts a world-class faculty drawn from the culturally rich environs of the Hamptons and Manhattan.