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Creative Writing

"If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." --Toni Morrison

At Middlebury College, in view of the Green Mountains memorialized in Robert Frost's poetry, a staff of professional writers collaborate to provide a sense of community and shared purpose among the undergraduates in our Creative Writing Program. The Creative Writing Program at Middlebury functions within the English and American Literatures (ENAM) major, although students may elect to major or minor in ENAM with a Creative Writing Track. We teach or sponsor more than twenty courses a year on various aspects of creative writing: fiction, poetry, playwrighting, screenwriting, and creative nonfiction. Our faculty are published authors, prominent in their fields. They include Julia Alvarez (poet, novelist, writer of short stories), Jay Parini (poet, novelist, biographer, critic), Robert Cohen (novelist), Spring Ulmer (non-fiction writer, essayist, scholar, poet), Megan Mayhew-Bergman (novelist, short story writer, journalist, essayist) and Karin Gottshall, (poet). In addition, playwrights and screenwriters offer courses sponsored by the Departments of Theater and Dance, and Film and Media Cultures, respectively. Other faculty in the ENAM department also teach and advise Creative Writing courses and projects.

Our teaching writers adhere to high standards within their own artistic productions and expect ambitious efforts from their students. Advanced workshops and independent work are encouraged and integral to the Creative Writing Track. The writing workshops classes are limited to a maximum of fifteen students, and student interaction is highly animated. Our philosophy of instruction is to provide a balance between offering constructive criticism and providing support for student effort. In addition to students critiquing each other's writing, exemplary works of literature are closely examined, such models being crucial to any writer's development. The close connection between the Creative Writing Program and the English and American Literatures Department encourages students to be good analytic readers as part of their training to become complex and substantive writers.

Students normally enter the program through CRWR 170, the Introductory Workshop, which allows them to explore poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in one semester. In subsequent courses qualified students will be given the opportunity to specialize in one genre. After completing two Advanced-Level workshops, seniors are eligible to undertake an independent writing project (a cycle of poems, a series of short stories or a novella, a play or screenplay, or a collection of personal essays or other literary nonfiction) for one semester under the supervision of a writing instructor to fulfill the senior work requirement of the ENAM major-Creative Writing Track.

In addition to its undergraduate program, Middlebury College also sponsors two summer programs—the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers' Conference, and the Bread Loaf School of English —in which a number of English and American literature majors and creative writers take part. The college awards scholarships to these programs. Finally, at Middlebury College student writers have the opportunity to contribute to and publish a number of student (but of professional-quality) publications, including The Campus (a weekly newspaper), Frontiers and Section 8 (literary biannuals), Artemis (a women's journal), Otter Creek Journal (environmental writing), Mondegreen (a contemporary music journal), and Sweatervest (an arts journal). Links to some of these publications may be found here.  Some students intern at the New England Review, a national arts and humanities quarterly published at Middlebury College, or for the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Many of our students go on to pursue professional careers in journalism or publishing or continue to develop their talents in graduate school in the fields of writing and literature. Our growing list of alumni publications, awards, and accolades is one in which we take great pride. Recent alums of the Middlebury creative writing program include Emma Cline (The Girls), Eleanor Henderson (Ten Thousand Saints), Will Hunt (Underground), Sierra Crane Murdoch (Yellow Bird), Lauren Markham (The Far Away Brothers), Emily Temple (The Lightness), Jesse Stevens (The Exhibition of Persephone Q), Lewis Robinson (Office Friendly and Other Stories and Water Dogs) and Vendela Vida (Girls on the Verge, And Now You Can Go, and Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name).


Department of English & American Literatures