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UCLA offers creative writing summer institute

The UCLA English department will offer a new creative writing institute this summer in response to high demand for creative writing courses during the year.

The Creative Writing Summer Institute, which will run from June 24 to August 2, is designed to foster students’ interests in creative writing and will also satisfy the Writing II requirement, said Reed Wilson, director of the Undergraduate Research Center, who will be teaching one of the courses in the institute.

The purpose of the program is to provide students with an atmosphere that cultivates their creative mind, while also teaching students to think critically about their writing, said William Clark, a graduate student in the English department who will teach the summer institute’s other course.

The institute will consist of lectures twice a week and writing workshops three times a week, Wilson said.

Students enrolled in the institute will take two courses: English 119, Literary Cities: Imagining Los Angeles, and English 20W, Introduction to Creative Writing.

“The (institute’s) Los Angeles angle is very cool because we don’t usually think of L.A. as a literary city,” Julia Glassman, a writing librarian at Powell Library. “There is a really cool undercurrent, I think, of writers working in tandem to create an identifiable literary tradition.”

She said she is working with the instructors to come up with teaching materials for the institute.

The English department currently offers two creative writing workshops focusing on fiction and two focusing on poetry, all of which UCLA offers during the regular academic year, Wilson said.

English 119 is usually offered during the regular school year, but changes based on the instructor, said Janel Munguia, undergraduate adviser for the English department. She said English 20W, however, has not been offered during the school year for about five years.

“The classes during the year are always full,” Wilson said. “We take between 12-15 students per workshop and have more applicants than we do spaces.”

Sarah Kawaguchi, a fourth-year English and Japanese student, said she thinks the summer session is a good way to take classes that students cannot usually take during the year because of full enrollment.

“It is always a battle to find something that fulfills what you need and that you are interested in during the academic year,” Kawaguchi said.

The institute is open to University of California and non-UC students, including college and high school students.

The total cost of the program is $2,855 for UC students and $3,820 for non-UC domestic students, according to the UCLA Summer Institute website.

Wilson said he cannot definitively say if the success of the institute would influence the eventual creation of a creative writing major at UCLA.  However, he said that he thinks anything that shows student interest in the curriculum could support an eventual program.

“If you have never tried creative writing before and are serious and want to refine your craft, the summer is the best time to do this,” Glassman said. “So much of the writing process is just carving out time; there is nothing more valuable than the time to sit down and focus.”

Students can apply for the institute now up until the program begins in June, Munguia said.

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