Creative Writing at GW

The English Department at George Washington University includes one of the largest all-undergraduate creative writing programs in the U.S. Each semester between 400 and 500 students study the writing of plays, filmscripts, short fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction in small, 15-person classes. About half of these courses are at the introductory level, and appeal to students who face University requirements in the creative and performing arts or in writing in the disciplines, but the remainder are intermediate and advanced genre-specific workshops.

The instructors of these courses include half a dozen full-time, largely tenured or tenure-track, writers: Faye Moskowitz, Jane Shore, Maxine Clair, David McAleavey, Patricia B. Griffith, and (new in 2007-08) Herman Carrillo. A number of other writers teach in the program on a continuing part-time basis, including Thomas Mallon, Tammy Greenwood-Stewart, Bruce MacKinnon, Fred Pollack, Carly Sachs, Lisa Page, Sarah Blake, Paul Maliszewski, and (departing after this year) Dan Gutstein.

The program attracts about 80 students at any given time who are pursuing a minor field of study in Creative Writing, and there is a selective English and Creative Writing major for up to a dozen of the best students, who write a senior thesis in fiction, poetry, or drama under the close supervision of a full-time member of the faculty.

For more than 30 years, the GW English Department has hosted an annual visiting writer, the Jenny McKean Moore Writer in Washington. Some of the best-known names in American writing have taught with us for a year, including Amiri Baraka, Lucille Clifton, Carol Muske, Marilyn Hacker, Julia Alvarez, Tony Hoagland, Vikram Chandra, Gloria Naylor, Peter Meinke, and Cornelius Eady.

Starting four years ago, the GW English Department has hosted the World Literature Residency, funded by Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. These 2-4 week residencies have brought writers from around the world to GW to give lectures and readings, to meet with students in classes and informally, and to make presentations throughout the Washington area, at nearby schools and universities, at the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, and elsewhere. Working with local embassies, we have hosted Githa Hariharan (India), Witi Ihimaera (New Zealand), Diana Bellessi (Argentina), and Nokuthula Mazibuko (South Africa). We hope this program will continue indefinitely.

Our partnership with the British Council USA over the past three years has included hosting a reading to celebrate the publication of the anthology, New British Poetry, as well as readings and classroom visits by British Council USA Writers in Residence at Georgetown University, Bernardine Evaristo, Diran Adebayo, and Courttia Newland.

[composed by David McAleavey, Director of Creative Writing]

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