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Applications for new creative writing minor to open in fall

Pictured is Kaplan Hall. The new creative writing minor will begin taking applications from students this fall. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Matthew Beymer

Sept. 12, 2023 1:01 p.m.

UCLA’s new creative writing minor will open applications this fall.

The minor will require students to take two courses in a core genre – either short story or poetry – after completing two lower-division English courses, according to the 2023-2024 course catalog. Creative writing students will also have the opportunity to explore classes in Asian American, African American, Chicana/Chicano and queer literature for two upper-division elective courses.

Students must also take an intermediate or advanced course and select one of four capstone courses to complete the program. The course catalog said the minor will prepare students for both academic and professional careers in writing.

The new program builds on the creative writing concentration offered through the English major, said Reed Wilson, the coordinator for the minor and a continuing lecturer in the English department. Wilson said the concentration only required students to take three classes and did not show up on student transcripts.

The minor will replace the concentration, and Wilson said current juniors and seniors already enrolled will be able to choose between finishing the old concentration or applying to the new minor. The program has already attracted significant interest from students, Wilson said, especially since it is one of the few minors on campus focused on artistic practice.

Wilson will teach English 136A: “Intermediate Poetry,” a core poetry course, this fall. Xuan Juliana Wang, an assistant English professor, said she will teach English 137A: “Intermediate Short Story,” a core short story course.

Students must complete an application for one of twelve spots in each of the core creative writing classes, which the English department said will be due Sept. 15. Completion of the core classes will not guarantee acceptance into the minor, Wilson said.

“It will be selective, but if students are really serious about it, if they listen carefully to what their peers and what their faculty have told them about their writing, and if they continue to grow as writers, I don’t think it will be any more difficult to do the minor than it has been to do the concentration,” he said.

Wang said students must be extremely attentive to understand the work of their peers. She said as part of English 137A, she will not only facilitate these conversations but also direct students to fictional pieces that may be difficult to access and teach them how to read like writers.

Wang said students in her short fiction writing class must provide a letter with brief feedback for each workshopped piece. She said she reads the letters and also writes one for each of her students.

“I find that sometimes when you’re maybe in a group of people, it’s hard to say what you truly want to say,” Wang said. “But there’s also written feedback, and that’s something that you can take with you.”

Beyond its core workshops, the creative writing minor will also offer opportunities for students to engage in seminars. Wang said she plans to offer seminars on memoir writing, writing about family and Asian American literature, but she added that she is also open to ideas for new classes.

“Personally, I really want to teach classes on television adaptation,” Wang said. “I think that would be really fun – writing for TV.”

Ava Alexander, a rising third-year English student who is interested in applying for the creative writing minor, said she took a lower-division course – English 20W: “Introduction to Creative Writing” – to create short stories, which will transfer to the minor.

“I would share it with my mom or some close friends,” Alexander said. “But then other people who write are finally reading my writing and telling me all their thoughts. It was really, really awesome.”

Alexander said she admires the creative writers Carmen Maria Machado and Mona Awad for their short story work. She added that she appreciates author Ali Hazelwood for how she combines creative writing with her scientific background, which Alexander said could inspire STEM students to pursue the creative writing minor.

Wilson said the creative writing minor has been in development for more than three years after being stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic and a flood in Kaplan Hall. However, Wilson said he hopes students enjoy the creative writing minor once it becomes available this fall.

Wilson also said even though application to the minor is competitive, students should not be afraid of applying.

“One of the first things you have to do, no matter what your art is, is learn to deal with the fact that you might not get what you apply for,” Wilson added. “The other piece of advice I would give students is that if they really want to write, they should be readers.”

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Matthew Beymer
Beymer is a 2023-2024 assistant Video producer and a PRIME and News contributor. He was previously a Video staff member. He is a third-year theater student minoring in digital humanities and professional writing from San Jose, California.
Beymer is a 2023-2024 assistant Video producer and a PRIME and News contributor. He was previously a Video staff member. He is a third-year theater student minoring in digital humanities and professional writing from San Jose, California.
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