The Creative Writing Major (New in Fall 2021)

In the 2021-2022 academic year, the English Department will enter a transition period, as we begin to phase in a new set of requirements for the English major and the modified English major for students who want to pursue a teaching license. We will also begin offering a new major in creative writing.

This page summarizes the requirements for the creative writing major. These requirements will apply to all students who enter St. Olaf in the fall of 2021, as well as continuing students (students who entered St. Olaf prior to the fall of 2021) who would like to declare a major in creative writing. If you are a student who entered St. Olaf prior to the fall of 2021, note that declaring a major in creative writing also requires changing to the new OLE Core general education curriculum for your general education requirements. Please contact the Registrar’s Office for further information.

Description of Requirements for the Creative Writing Major

The creative writing major requires ten courses. This major requires a minimum of five courses in creative writing: two level II creative writing workshops, English 150 or one additional level II  creative writing workshop, and two level III advanced creative writing workshops. It also requires a minimum of three courses in literary studies: English 185 and a minimum of one course in two of three categories (American, Anglophone, and British). In addition to these eight courses, students must complete a minimum of two electives in creative writing and/or literary studies. Among the courses taken in literary studies, at least one must be in literature before 1800. Among the ten courses required for the major, one course must fulfill the English Department’s antiracism requirement.

One Core Course in Literary Studies
ENGL 185: Literary Studies
Note: ENGL 185 is meant to help you build a foundation in literary studies. It does not necessary need to be your first English course, but we recommend taking it during your first or second year. Class year limits are used to restrict seats in the course to first-year and sophomore students. If you need to take the course as a junior or senior, please contact the English Department chair and/or the instructor prior to registration.
Three 200-Level Creative Writing Workshops OR Two of the 200-Level Creative Writing Workshops Listed Below AND ENGL 150: Craft of Creative Writing
ENGL 291: Creative Nonfiction Writing
ENGL 292: Poetry Writing
ENGL 293: Fiction Writing
Note: If you plan to take ENGL 150, we recommend doing so during your first or second year. Class year limits are used to restrict most seats in ENGL 150 to first-year and sophomore students. If you would like to take the course as a junior or a senior, please contact the English Department chair and/or the instructor prior to registration.
Two 300-Level Creative Writing Workshops
ENGL 371: Advanced Poetry Writing Workshop
ENGL 372: Advanced Fiction Writing Workshop
ENGL 373: Advanced Creative Nonfiction Workshop
One Course in Two of Three Categories: American Literature, Anglophone Literature, or British Literature
American Literature
ENGL 203: Asian American Literature
ENGL 205: American Racial and Multicultural Literatures
ENGL 207: Women of the African Diaspora
ENGL 209: Arab American Literature and Film
ENGL 232: Writing America 1588-1800 (Pre 1800)
ENGL 251: Major Chicano/a Authors
ENGL 261: Counterculture and American Literature
ENGL 263: Narratives of Social Protest
ENGL 279: Psychopathy in American Culture
ENGL 340: Advanced Studies in Literary Eras: American
ENGL 345: Topics in American Racial and Multicultural Literatures
ENGL 392: Major American Authors
Anglophone Literature
ENGL 201: Transatlantic Anglophone Literature
ENGL 204: South Asian Literature
ENGL 206: African Literature
ENGL 212: Literature of the Eastern Caribbean (abroad)
ENGL 347: Topics in Post-Colonial Literatures
British Literature
ENGL 208: Black and Asian British Literatures
ENGL 222: Ecocriticism and Renaissance Literature (Pre 1800)
ENGL 223: Old and Middle English Literature (Pre 1800)
ENGL 225: Neoclassical and Romantic Literatures (Pre 1800)
ENGL 228: Romantic/Victorian/Modern British Literature
ENGL 229: Twentieth-Century British and Irish Literature
ENGL 243: Arthurian Legend and Literature (Pre 1800)
ENGL 256: Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (Pre 1800)
ENGL 269: Art, Design, and Literature in Britain Since 1950
ENGL 271: Literature and the Scientific Revolution (Pre 1800)
ENGL 330: Advanced Studies in Literary Eras: British
ENGL 380: Shakespeare
ENGL 391: Major British Authors
ENGL 395: Chaucer from an Ethical Perspective
NOTE: On occasion, the English Department may offer additional courses in the three categories above (American, Anglophone, and British), such as topics courses at the 200- or 300-level with a focus on literature from the relevant region of the world. Please consult the English Department chair with questions about other courses that may qualify, as well as questions about fulfilling this requirement with transfer credit or during study abroad.
Two Elective Courses
Any course taught in the St. Olaf English Department (with the prefix ENGL) can count as an elective for the creative writing major. Students who finish the entire Great Conversation sequence receive one elective credit toward the creative writing major. ID 258: Theater in London also functions as an elective for the creative writing major. Please consult the English Department chair with questions about courses that may qualify as electives, as well as questions about fulfilling this requirement with transfer credit or during study abroad. Note that in the English Department, elective credit is only given for courses that focus on literature originally written in English. This means that students will not earn elective credit for courses that focus on literature in translation or literature in another language.
Among the ten courses taken to satisfy major requirements in creative writing, one must satisfy the English Department Antiracism requirement.
NOTE: Creative writing majors can “double dip” by using a single course to fulfill both the antiracism requirement and the American, Anglophone, or British requirement. This is not the case for students who pursue the standard English major.
ENGL 203: Asian American Literature
ENGL 205: American Racial and Multicultural Literatures
ENGL 208: Black and Asian British Literatures
ENGL 232: Writing America 1588-1800
ENGL 360: Literary Criticism and Theory
Among the courses taken to satisfy major requirements in creative writing, one must be a course in literary studies in pre-1800 literature.
See the courses marked “Pre 1800” in the American, Anglophone, and British categories.

The creative writing major requires coursework in both creative writing and literary studies. Each student will take a minimum of five courses in creative writing: two creative writing workshops at the 300-level, two creative writing workshops at the 200-level, and either English 150 or a third creative writing workshop at the 200-level. The option that students take either English 150 or a third 200-level creative writing workshop recognizes the benefits of each of these approaches, while also avoiding the potential problem of requiring a student who first decides to commit to creative writing after doing coursework at the 200-level from having to circle back to a course at the 100-level.

Each student will also complete at least three courses in literary studies from among the English Department’s offerings. The requirements of the creative writing major in the area of literary studies mirror the requirements of the revised standard English major in several respects. Like the English major, all students will be required to complete English 185 and to take a minimum of one literature course in two of three categories (the standard major requires that all students take a minimum of one course in each of these three categories), and to meet the requirement that one of their literary studies courses must be in pre-1800 literature.

The remaining two courses required for the major function as electives. Students are encouraged to take additional courses in creative writing, in literary studies, or in areas such as journalism, rhetoric and composition, professional writing, and publishing.