St. Olaf offers new creative writing major
Many St. Olaf College graduates have gone on to pursue successful careers as authors and writers, from bestselling novelist and essayist Siri Hustvedt ’77 to hit mystery-thriller series writers P.J. and Traci Lambrecht ’89. And Oles continue to make their mark: Kaia Solveig Preus ’13 was a Minnesota Book Award finalist for her work The War Requiem and Taylor Broby ‘10 recently earned national attention for his memoir Boys and Oil, including a New York Times review calling it a “truly great” and “frighteningly relevant” memoir.
Starting this year, St. Olaf students have the opportunity to pursue a major in creative writing.
The new major, offered by the English Department, will prepare students to become skilled writers in a wide variety of literary genres and disciplines. It’s a great option for students who want to write, whether that means poetry, fiction, screenwriting, or a field like journalism, says Associate Professor of English and Department Chair Jon Naito.
“Talented writers are also in high demand in business, the nonprofit sector, and many other fields,” he says. “I would also add that creative writing, like English, is a strong liberal arts major, and, as such, it provides students with a flexible, well-rounded education that is applicable to a variety of futures in business, education, the law, politics, medicine — just about whatever one might imagine.”
Talented writers are also in high demand in business, the nonprofit sector, and many other fields. I would also add that creative writing, like English, is a strong liberal arts major, and, as such, it provides students with a flexible, well-rounded education that is applicable to a variety of futures in business, education, the law, politics, medicine — just about whatever one might imagine.Associate Professor of English Jon Naito
The English Department has previously offered a standard English major and a modified English major for students who want to pursue a teaching license, but the idea of establishing a more robust path for students who want to explore creative writing has been part of faculty discussions for at least a decade. When the English Department had its most recent program review in 2018, one of the primary recommendations that the external reviewers made was to establish a creative writing major — and faculty members began planning to make it happen.
The new major offers courses in fiction writing, poetry writing, creative nonfiction writing, fantasy and science fiction writing, and screenwriting. Students have the opportunity to work with talented faculty members like Associate Professor of English Sequoia Nagamatsu, whose most recent novel is a national bestseller that has been named a New York Times Editor’s Choice, and Professor of English Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, an award-winning poet.
Naito says it’s important to note that creative writing courses are open to all students, not just creative writing or English majors.
“We’ve always had aspiring creative writers who have opted for a major in another department while also taking multiple creative writing courses,” Naito says.