Programme Description and Compulsory Modules (Creative Writing)
Lancaster University’s undergraduate Creative Writing programme was amongst the first to be developed in this country. Since then, the teaching of Creative Writing at undergraduate level has become firmly established as an academic discipline. In 2003, English and Creative Writing were combined in one department. The QAA Benchmark Statement in English makes explicit reference to the ways in which English Studies increasingly involves creative, imaginative and transformative writing: that is, practice-specific skills. English Literature combined with the practice of Creative Writing makes an ideal scheme of study with multiple possibilities for cross-fertilisation and for knowledge and insights which come with both subjects. Students grow as both literary critics and practicing writers.
All Creative Writing students will develop their own imaginative and original writing (particularly in poetry, short fiction, long fiction and creative non-fiction) across the three years of their degree. This is done primarily through sustained practice and regular, challenging workshop discussion.
The capacity to analyse and appraise literary texts, which is central to the study of established works in the English Literature part of the degree, is also a vital aspect of Creative Writing workshops, were a practical, writerly reading of ongoing work is fostered, in relation to both students’ own work and the work of their fellow students. The study of texts throughout English Literature can be characterised as retrospective, whereas the study of Creative Writing is anticipatory, promoting new writing which maintains its ductile quality for the duration of the course.
This programme is of particular interest to those intending to continue writing creatively, and those wishing to teach in schools or work in areas where a wide range of writing skills is required. It provides a foundation for the many careers available to arts and humanities graduates.
The importance of the student-centred text remains central to our educational aims. The course aims to stimulate new writing through a number of strategies: creative workshops, lectures, seminars, online conferencing, mentoring, workshops given by visiting writers, and the pressure of regular submission deadlines to seminars.
Literary production is matched by close critical reading and discussion through workshop seminars: in the trajectory which marks the initiation and completion of any literary work, its author begins as a writer and ends as a critical reader and editor engaged in revision and re-drafting. The student is thus engaged in a critical feedback loop of writing, receiving and giving criticism, and then rewriting. Each new piece of writing invents unique problems and we believe that they should be solved within the context of the author’s intention and vision for the work. Rather than teaching orthodoxies of technique we promote heterogeneous practice in a range of literary forms in the belief that cross-fertilisation through discussion of form and language deployment leads to greater autonomy and learning on the part of the student.
The course is exacting in its standards and demanding of both time and effort. In learning to support other writers, our students gain insight into their own creative process and that is a key focus in the assessment of the course. Study on the undergraduate programme pursues knowledge and understanding through intensive creative practice. Our essential methodology is to create reflexivity around the creative process by providing a critical readership and by requiring peer response which is both critical and creative in its proposition of solutions to technical issues.
The Part II Creative Writing programme is primarily conducted via a series of weekly workshops and students are required to submit work regularly. This work is disseminated to all group members for discussion at workshop seminars. Students are required to annotate their work and that of their peers as a result of close reading and workshop discussions. These annotated drafts are exchanged so that responses can be considered after workshops.
The tutor leads workshop discussion, allocating reasonable discussion time to each piece and making reference to other issues, wider literature, critical texts and developmental strategies from particular instances. A list of recommended reading is provided which encourages students to explore writing about the creative process. Tutors regularly review and discuss what students are reading as well as what they are writing.
In the Lent term of Year 3, workshops cease, and students work on their own to complete their final portfolio, supported by peer group criticism and one-to-one meetings with their tutor.
N.B. University rules on plagiarism apply to Creative Writing no less than to any other area of study within the institution. Please see the sections in this Handbook on Malpractice and Referencing Your Work
Creative Writing can be studied:
As a Minor (CREW 103, 203, 303) with most other subjects. Students will attend a weekly 2-hour workshop during which they will give and receive criticism as well as discuss issues and ideas arising from work generated by those in the group. There are no restrictions as to style, genre or subject matter. In the Lent term of Year 3, workshops cease, and students work on their own to complete their final portfolio, supported by peer group criticism and one-to-one meetings with their tutor.
As a Combined Major with English Literature. In addition to the workshops attended by those studying Creative Writing as a Minor, students will attend 4 half unit courses (CREW 204, 205, 204, 306) which will allow them to study three key genres (Short Fiction, Longer Fiction and Poetry). This will introduce them to a greater breadth of writing as well as a more detailed knowledge of the technical and formal aspects of writing within those genres. In the Lent term of Year 3, workshops cease, and students work on their own to complete their final portfolio, supported by peer group criticism and one-to-one meetings with their tutor.
Skills you will acquire include the following:
Schemes of Study:
English Literature, Creative Writing and Practice (Combined Major)
English Literature with Creative Writing (Minor)
It is also possible to take English Language with Creative Writing along similar lines. In addition, CREW 103 may be taken as a Part I subject with any other compatible subject, and CREW 203 and 303 may be taken as a Part II minor with any other subject.
The only constraint on the above is the University timetable, since Creative Writing can give benefits across a wide variety of subjects, primarily – but not exclusively – within Arts and Humanities.
Students wishing to study Creative Writing at Part II will be expected to have studied it at Part I. The programme is designed to move students through a learning trajectory; from introduction (Part I); through development, deeper learning and increased expectations of professionalism and reader awareness (Part II), with the option of deepening that knowledge further through the Combined Major; to writing as a professional with a view to publication (MA course). The second and third year half units are designed to ensure that students have an increased knowledge of genre and experience of writing in that area. By the end of the degree course, a student doing the Combined English and Creative Writing major will have spent at least a term writing in three key writing genres.
Expectations increase throughout the three undergraduate years. Students are expected to attempt to write in unfamiliar genres, and in styles and forms that they have not worked with before. Subject matter will move from purely self-centred to a more outward focus. Students will be expected to show an increasing awareness of the context in which they write, including canonical works; genre expectations, limitations and possibilities; reader awareness and the demands of writing as a professional.
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