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About the Creative Writing Minor

semester at sea

A minor in creative writing offers a way for students to engage with the world from a writer's perspective. "We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are," Anne Lamott wrote in Bird by Bird. "Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out."

Literary expression has rigors distinct from those of the physicist, mathematician, conservationist, activist, critic, curator or sheep louse. You might think a veritable chasm existed between the arts and the sciences, and yet the literary tradition is rife with people who do both. Poets John Keats and William Carlos Williams were trained as doctors. In the field of medicine, distinguished doctors like Atul Gawande and Oliver Sacks have distinguished themselves as writers. Stony Brook's own Carl Safina, a noted marine biologist, writes gorgeous creative nonfiction and is on the faculty at the Journalism School.

At Stony Brook, the creative writing minor is not housed in the English Department, as is traditional, but rather finds its home in the student’s own interests and burgeoning competences. Students learn to write compellingly about the issues at the “deep heart’s core” of their – and our – time and place. Through workshops in the practice of craft, minors develop their capacity for creative thinking, a capacity they can apply to their other endeavors. Through required literature courses, students learn to read rigorously and creatively, with the insight of a fellow writer. Small class sizes allow for students to develop a community based on shared passion for the written word, across a diversity of majors, from business to biology, from computer science to comparative lit.

For example, check out the oral history project that Alison Fairbrother's CWL 340 class did in Spring 2016.

Undergraduates may not yet know where their talents best lie, as, for example, a science writer or a scientist who writes, but they are ready to explore the connections between these disciplines. The creative writing minor is one way to do that. But more importantly, it is a way to fulfill the assignment we were given at birth, "to understand who we are."

Learn more about the minor in the Undergraduate Bulletin

To declare the minor, contact the director. 

Megan McAndrew, Director
Minor in Creative Writing & Literature
Melville Library N3017