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New Creative Writing Major Added to Curriculum

The English department has added a new creative writing major to its list of offerings. Available starting the fall of 2024, the new major combines extensive workshop classes across a spectrum of writing styles and genres with rigorous reading and analysis of literature.

“There has always been a tremendous interest in creative writing,” said Professor of English Jon Volkmer. “With a large number of applications every year for the creative writing scholarship, we have the engine for the recruitment of creative writers built in. Plus with the department’s addition of two really strong professors, Katie Schmid Henson and Shane Kowalski ’11, we are well positioned to add this major. This is an exciting next step.”

As part of the new major, which will have a substantial literary requirement, a “Writing in the Real World” course will be added to the curriculum. Aimed at making young writers market savvy, the course will cover topics such as how to identify markets and how to submit work. “It will cover the business side of things that students really want to know, and it will help them navigate the very difficult world of publication and the process of trying to find your way as a writer,” said Volkmer.

It joins courses such as “Humor” taught by Talia Argondezzi, director of the writing and speaking program; “Poetry of Family and Childhood” taught by Henson; “Nothing Makes Sense” taught by Kowalski; and “Fable and Fantasy” taught by Volkmer, who noted that “one of the things we do well at Ursinus is offer a wide variety of creative writing classes.”

“We have a very strong English major here. With 70 students enrolled in the major, we are the largest humanities department at Ursinus,” said Volkmer, who cited a New Yorker article from February that put the number of undergraduate English majors at Harvard University at fewer than 60 in 2020. “They’re five times the size of Ursinus, so we are doing something right.”

Noting the impressive outcomes of the creative writing minor, which has been in existence for more than 35 years, Volkmer said that the major, much like a degree in English, prepares students for much more than creative writing alone. “It prepares students for jobs in social media, editing, publications, journalism, and communications, with skills that are convertible to business jobs. It gives them something that is unusual for their resume because there aren’t many schools that offer this as a major,” said Volkmer.

“There have been so many students over the years who have taken a lot of creative writing classes and taken more than a minors’ worth. This new major satisfies a yearning in our student population to do more and to see a higher credential for it.”

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