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Degree Options and Requirements

The MFA in Creative Writing at Rosemont requires 36 credit hours of graduate study. These credits consist of writing workshops, literature courses, electives, and a thesis. We also facilitate a Double Degree in Creative Writing and Publishing - the best of both programs in a condensed amount of time.

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Courses are offered on the beautiful Rosemont campus, 11 miles West of Philadelphia and online.

Creative Writing Workshops

A strength of the program is the flexibility it offers the student in terms of writing concentration. Students may choose from workshops in Poetry, Flash Fiction, Short Fiction, the Novel, Creative Nonfiction, and Playwriting. Courses are also offered to support generative writing, such as Constructing the Novel, in which students complete a novel within a semester. 

Students may choose any of the following:

CRW 7120, CRW 7121, CRW 7122, CRW 7123

A workshop course concentrating on poetry. This course concentrates on the craft of writing the poem. Students will work on their poetry and then evaluate their own and others' work in a supportive atmosphere.

Each semester, the poetry workshop may concentrate on specific aspects of the poet's art, such as studying the techniques of a specific poetic genre or movement (e.g., the Romantics); focusing on specific methods or aspects of creating poetry, such as subverting sentimentality; or investigating larger issues of the poetic life, such as creating a chapbook or thematic collection of poetry.   

Flash fiction is a genre with a strict word-limit that rarely exceeds 1000 words, and can be as brief as a dozen. 

The flash fiction workshop focuses on the essentials of writing (very) short fiction, including generating ideas, narrative structures, voice, image patterns, endings, revision, and submission strategies to get the work published.

Students will use online, peer, and workshop methods of critique. Published works of flash fiction will be read and analyzed. The course culminates with the students' compilation of a chapbook of original work.

CRW 7126, CRW 7127, CRW 7128, CRW 7129 

A workshop course in which students write and workshop their own stage plays or screenplays.

A workshop course in which students write their own plays. Emphasis is placed upon dramatic rules and current theatrical practices.

This course will explore poetries of witness and resistance, studying the genre as a source and inspiration for poems the students will write. Using model poems from the 20th and 21st centuries, written or translated into English, we will examine theories and poetic practices of bearing witness and mounting resistance to cultural oppressions and social injustices, asking how the poem both contextualizes, resists, and repairs perceived injustice or imbalance.

Areas of study include the Harlem Renaissance, Black Arts Movement, and poems in response to various anti-war, and pro-social justice movements in the United States, Europe, and South America. Poets whose work we will study include Muriel Rukeyser, Adrienne Rich, Denise Levertov, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Etheridge Knight, Marilyn Nelson, Ai, Cornelius Eady, Charles Simic, Czeslaw Milosz, Wislawa Szymborska, Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral, and others.

Through a combination of analytical discourse and poetry critique workshops, our aim is to write poems of aesthetic and cultural value in dialogue with the poetic traditions of witness and resistance.

This course provides the opportunity to compile, design, and workshop different types of poetry and prose poetry sequences. Students will learn various strategies and theories about the ordering, arrangement, design, thematic patterning, and editing of the sequence, both traditional and contemporary.

Both the writing, reading and critical review of workshop participants' sequences are complemented by the reading of published sequences and scholarly/generalist articles about the poetry and prose poetry collections.

The course will also discuss the use of the sequence in the construction of chapbooks and full-length books, along with researching markets open to publishing entire sequences. Prerequisite: CRW 7100 Poetry Workshop or CRW 7124: Flash Fiction Workshop.

CRW 7145, CRW 7146, 7148, 7149

A workshop course concentrating on creative nonfiction. Students will study the published work of others in this genre, engage in writing exercises, and craft work of their own to be critiqued by their fellow students.

Ethical issues, especially as it pertains to memoirs, will be explored. Each semester, the creative nonfiction workshop may vary from a general workshop encompassing a variety of forms within the genre to specialized workshop that focuses on a specific aspect of the genre, including memoir, the personal and literary essay, opinion pieces and narrative nonfiction

This full semester course is designed to prepare MFA students for the task of teaching writing workshops in college and graduate settings, and will, as well, prepare students to run workshops for adults in non-credit community settings.

Adaptation (of both pedagogical theory and workshop leadership techniques covered) to the lower grades will be discussed and illuminated during the semester. Students will read and discuss academic writings on pedagogical theory, group process/dynamics theory, and will, concurrently, participate in and periodically lead their own writing workshop.

As part of workshop participation, students will read and discuss assigned examples of published writings. In addition, they will produce and workshop their own writings. All genres of creative writing—poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction--will be discussed and workshopped.

Designed for students who wish to explore genres outside their normal boundaries, this workshop will specifically focus on prose writers who want to explore poetry techniques and poets who want to try prose.

This course will be the ideal place for the poetry phobic and the fiction fearful to experiment. We will also examine how all genres overlap, and how good writing technique is universal.

This course provides craft exercises and research strategies specific to the writers of contemporary creative nonfiction article-length works, including travel and food writing, feature articles and profiles, interviews, and news writing. Students will write, workshop, revise, read, and critically respond to student-generated and published contemporary articles, with a focus on establishing a primary or secondary career in freelance writing.

A workshop that concentrates on the craft of writing a novel. Students will evaluate their own and others' work in an intense, but supportive, atmosphere that is focused on addressing the particular issues inherent in creating longer works.

This course offers students the opportunity to workshop entire novels. Prerequisite: CRW 7134: "Constructing the Novel" or program director's approval. In order to enroll in this course, students must have a completed novel draft and have permission from the program director.

Hybrid Literature/Workshop Courses

Students may choose any of the following:

This course is a seminar designed to help writers explore the relationship between content and form in poetry. The goal of this approach is to both further our literary background and to explore the repertoire of strategies and techniques employed by a variety of the authors we study.

In addition to participating in the seminar discussion, members of this seminar should expect to respond to the works we read by writing response papers and/or discussion questions and engaging in creative nonfiction work of your own. The emphasis for this course will be the study of poetry forms, and how the content of the poem affects or directs the choice of form. 

Ekphrasis, a literary response to visual art, combines the study of model ekphrastic poetry, drama, and fiction with the study of critical work on ekphrasis, and excerpts from the journals and letters of artists.

The course focuses on the work of critics such as John Hollander, Jane Hedley, and James Heffernan and a diverse group of writers including Homer, Virgil, Keats, Rilke, Auden, Bishop, Ashbery, and Black. In addition to close readings of the literary texts and a visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, students will write both ekphrastic pieces and critical responses and papers. 

In a post-modern literary world, the standards for good writing are under debate.  This course reviews the debate and makes claims for what constitutes good writing.

This knowledge is then tested in a variety of contexts: Academic, artistic, commercial, digital, biographical etc. Students will practice their facility in distinguishing between critical thinking and creative expression, honing when and how to combine these skills.

They will learn how differing sets of skills enhance one another and when which emphasis is needed and why.

This workshop will strengthen both the writing and editing skills of students. Features instructor-based lectures, student story contributions and round-robin critiques. In the spirit of community growth, we will become a team of writers who illuminate the errors and successes of our peers.

Objectives will be instructor guided in terms of the literary elements (plot, character, setting, theme, style) and left wide open for content. Anything goes as long as it creeps, slithers, makes noise in the basement, mystifies, horrifies, shocks or sparks wonder. Truth or fiction accepted. Short stories preferred.

This workshop combines lectures exploring the craft of writing; opportunities for students to assess the strengths and weaknesses in their own work; free-writing exercises; and oral presentations on children's books or on the craft of writing for children. The goal of the course is to help each student gain an overview of children's literature and to acquire the basic tools to write for children.

This course will instruct students in research methods for writing historical fiction or creative nonfiction, and will give them the opportunity to workshop short fiction, memoir, and novel or full-length creative nonfiction excerpts. The emphasis here is on creating believable and accurate historical details whether the work is fiction or nonfiction. 

As young adult fiction tackles more and more edgy and difficult topics and readers become more and more sophisticated, there is a greater need to ensure that appropriate topics are available to the middle grade reader (ages 8-12).

In this class, students will explore the range of middle grade fiction, compare it to lower young adult, and discuss the decisions that are necessary to determine in which category titles belong. Students will also look at writing styles, authors, themes, topics, content, etc. to better understand this segment of the children’s industry.

The art of putting together a film is one that is different from any other. This course will offer an intensive study into the world of film, from the independent, small budget market, to the major markets of Hollywood. In order to build a successful future in screenwriting, a writer must understand the full depths of the market.

This course will provide an overview of television and film screenwriting strategies, including how to write and develop half-hour pilot formats for television comedies, how to write and develop one-hour pilot formats for television dramas, and how to write and develop feature length films.

This course provides craft exercises and research strategies specific to the writers of book length memoirs and nonfiction narratives. Narrative and prose theory along with hands-on exercises provide the basis for the instruction. Reading memoirs as a writer and reading critical writings about memoirs supplement the craft coursework.

This course provides craft exercises and research strategies specific to the writers of young adult fiction.  Narrative and prose theory along with hands-on exercises provide the basis for the instruction.

Reading young adult texts as a writer and reading critical writings about young adult fiction supplement the craft coursework. To develop a knowledge of and facility with the craft of young adult writing, the course relies more on exercises and excerpts rather than on the workshopping of completed, "whole" works.

As the YA (young adult) market grows, it continues to push at the historical boundaries by exploring controversial and edgy topics such as divorce, ethnicity, gender roles, suicide, and much more. It is also comprised of action-adventure, fantasy, historical, mystery, sci-fi, speculative fiction, as well as memoir.

As a result, this has made it difficult to define the YA genre. This class, through exploration of many YA titles, will seek to define the YA genre. Is it truly a genre or sub-genre? Are there different levels of YA fiction and non-fiction, or should there be?

And why do adults love some YA titles and not others? Students will lead this industry discussion by developing a set of standards and criteria to define the genre through class discussions and projects.

Literature Courses

Select from a wide range of literature courses, from classical readings to contemporary classics and bestsellers. Some courses, such as Critical Theory and Rhetoric & Composition, fit perfectly into a plan of study for writers whose goal is to teach.

We also offer a variety of Special Topics in Literature courses to meet the current interests of students. Literature courses allow you to read as a writer, to explore literary traditions, and to discover where you fit into traditions and movements.

Students may choose any of the following:

This course will examine the texts of plays, television scripts, and film scripts using in depth analysis, with an emphasis on the vision and intention of the authors, and how that vision can change during production and the occasionally conflicting vision of the director.

This course provides craft exercises and research strategies for the writer of book length fiction manuscripts. Narrative and prose theory along with hands-on exercises provide the basis for the instruction in developing a knowledge of and facility with the craft of writing prose, while instruction in book research focuses on going beyond Google to discover original transcripts, conduct interviews, scour through local libraries, take trips, find experts, and so on.

This course is a seminar designed to help writers explore the relationship between content and form in fiction. The goal of this approach is to both further our literary background and to explore the repertoire of strategies and techniques employed by a variety of the authors we study.

In addition to participating in the seminar discussion, members of this seminar should expect to respond to the works we read by writing response papers and/or discussion questions. Readings will include short fiction, novels and novellas that illustrate a range of styles and effects.

These two arguably very different forms of literature have long been linked together. This course will examine the seminal works of both genres in terms of form, content, and influence, both on other writers and on society.

This course uses contemporary literature as the “teachers” for the contemporary writer. Each student works with the instructor to create a reading list of four (4) books or collections that correspond with the students’ genre (poetry, creative nonfiction, and/or fiction), literary interests (steampunk, literary fiction, urban fantasy, young adult gothic, and so on), and project goals (memoir, poetry chapbook, flash fiction collection, novella, literary fiction novel, and so on).

Students produce critical writings and present their “findings” while publishing for the community of writers the craft lessons and insights they’ve gleaned from their readings.  All students begin by reading Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer.

Lindsey Moore says, "Magical realism is characterized by two conflicting perspectives, one based on a rational view of reality and the other on the acceptance of the supernatural as prosaic reality." This course will explore the work of authors most associated with this prose style such as Marquez, Allende, and Borges.

This course explores the literary tradition of contemporary women writers, reading a variety of texts and genres across a range of history and cultural backgrounds, considering issues such as the relationship between gender and culture and the impacts of race, class, and sexuality as they relate to the literary marketplace.

A study of women writers and how their ethnic identities affect their work. Students will read work by fiction writers such as: Jhumpa Lahiri, Danzy Senna, Maureen Howard, and Nancy Zafris, memoirists such as Kate Millett, Vivien Gornick, and Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, playwrights such as Wendy Wasserstein, and poets such as Adrienne Rich, Louise Gluck, Toi Derricotte, and Louise Erdrich.

This course will examine the literary short story, its permutations and development from its inception in the 19th century up through the work of contemporary masters of the form.

While the insights of some short story theoreticians will be given consideration, the stories and the vision, sensibilities and craft of the authors will be our chief objects of analysis.

The course is designed both for those who want to teach the short story at the university level and for writers of short fiction who desire to learn from the masters of the genre.

This class is designed as a seminar using a constructivist learning approach, that is, students will engage in collaborative learning and will, in a participatory seminar setting, construct their understanding of the issue of voice in poetry, and, through study of many of America’s poets laureate, will examine the concept of an “American Voice.”

We will read and discuss the work of a variety of twentieth and twenty-first century American poets laureate in order to consider whether such a thing as an “American poetic voice” exists, and whether there is, has been, or should be, a “representative American voice.” We will also consider the impact individual poets have had on the contemporary American poetic cannon.

A course which focuses on combining the study of examples of biography, ancient and modern, from The Book of Ruth and Plutarch’s Lives through Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson, to such recent experimental works as Richard Holme’s Footsteps, with practice in biographical research and writing.

Requirements include several short papers and the development of an article-length biographical study that is to be submitted for possible publication to one or more journals.

An exploration in depth of the literary condition called Modernism through an investigation of the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Anita Loos, Gertrude Stein, Nella Larson, E.M. Forster, Rose Macaulay, Virginia Woolf, and D.H. Lawrence.

A study of ancient Greek and Latin writers in the genres of epic, lyric poetry, and prose. The selection includes Homer (Iliad), Pindar (the odes), Thucydides (History of the Peloponnesian War), Vergil (Aeneid), Horace (odes and epodes), and Cicero (political speeches), in translation. The purpose of this course is to ground the student in the material that was the common repertory for western authors.

Robert Lowell’s landmark volume, Life Studies (1959) forever changed the content of American poetry. What can be seen as “too much information” in the hands of lesser writers, becomes profoundly moving in masters such as Lowell, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and their literary offspring in the 21st century--writers such as Gregory Orr and Sandra Kohler. To round out our knowledge of their lives and the background for their art, we will also read biographies and autobiographical/memoir texts by the major authors in the course.

This course will introduce students to the discipline of critical thought and its use in the study of literature and art, particularly the concept of how meaning is shaped and interpreted by both the individual and society at large.

Composition pedagogies—process, expressive, rhetorical, collaborative, cultural studies, critical, feminist, community-service, writing across the curriculum, writing center, and basic writing—and the compositional and rhetorical practices associated with them make up the content of this course.

As writers, readers, teachers, and scholars, students develop the skills and experience to teach, develop, and assess critical reading, writing, and research skills in the composition classroom.

How do writers shape their experience and try to define themselves in their art? We will explore these questions by reading memoirs such as Virginia Woolf's Moments of Being, Marjorie Keenan Rawling's Cross Creek, Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Sons' First Year, Richard Wertime's Citadel on the Mountain, and Kate Millett's AD, as well as poets such as Yeats, Robert Lowell, and Adrienne Rich.

Artists and photographers such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Imogen Cunningham and Becky Young will supplement discussions of literature with some attention to self-portraits. Students will keep a journal for the initial weeks of class. They will draw from that journal to transform their experience into a short story, poem, or short memoir.

One of the reasons that Shakespeare has survived to become the literary and cultural force he is today is because of the endless possibilities embodied in his dramatic works. Shakespeare's plays have fostered a nearly endless trail of adaptations, continuations, reinterpretations, and revisions, reaching as far back as the seventeenth century. This course will focus both on Shakespeare's original texts and on a corresponding body of adapted works—written, drawn, filmed and staged.

This course will examine the work of some of the most influential and interesting playwrights of the 20th and 21st centuries, and specific themes/issues that connect them. Particular attention will be paid to how the playwright's success hinges not only on the actual written element of his or her work, but also upon production of the work. Playwrights may include Wendy Wasserstein, David Mamet, Paula Vogel, Tony Kushner, and Beth Henley.

An examination of Gothic literature, its prevailing tropes, and the far-reaching effects that this genre has had on subsequent literary movements and even modern fiction.

The conflict between the high-reaching artistic achievements of novels, such as Walpole's The Castle of Otranto and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and the popular, money-making works of the Gothic trade will be discussed, with a particular view as to what works should constitute the Gothic canon.

Reading selections may include The Castle of OtrantoFrankenstein, Radcliffe's The Italian, as well as several Gothic-influenced works and authors, such as Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Edgar Allan Poe, Joyce Carol Oates, and Ann Rice.

Using works by writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Arthur Miller, as well as fables and fairytales, this course will study the witch as a stock character of literature. It will focus on the perception of this character in fairy tales, novels, and plays and then compare these perceptions with the reality of witchcraft through the ages.

Like the translator, the adaptor who translates a classic work of literature for the screen is engaged in an act of transformation which requires him or her to balance the narrational, thematic, and stylistic elements of one moment in a text with those in another and to choose from this nexus of interaction and meaning a solution that is cinematically equivalent to the original situation.

The central aim of this course then is to examine the challenging process of translating literature to film and to determine either the richness or the impoverishment of adaptations based on the works of celebrated authors.

This course examines the relationship between pop cultural forms and literature of the 20th-century. We will investigate the ways that film, radio, television, music, comic books, pop art, and advertising have influenced literature since the Second World War, in terms of both form and content.

Situating each work within its historical, social, and political contexts, we will examine how specific writers engaged with the pop culture of their day and confronted such issues as civil rights, feminism, class conflict, racial antagonism, intimacy, sexual liberation, war, and terrorism. In addition to works of pop culture, our reading list will draw on novels, poems, plays, memoir, and creative nonfiction.

The course will examine the text of plays from contemporary dramatic writing with in-depth analysis, with emphasis on the vision and intention of the playwright.

This course takes a look at modern creative nonfiction memoirs and narrative, beginning with Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and ending with contemporary works. Creative nonfiction entails a variety of texts: personal essays, memoir, travel and food writing, biography, literary journalize, and other hybridized forms.

This course not only involves reading contemporary creative nonfiction texts but also scholarly and generalist writings about contemporary creative nonfiction, its characteristics and definitions, the ethics of writing “factual fiction.” and the seeming lack of published literary criticism of nonfiction texts.

There will be the option to respond to the published works with one’s own creative nonfiction.

Electives, 12 credits

Students may choose the following as electives:

Using an adaptation of author Chris Baty's No Plot? No Problem! we will, over the course of the semester, craft a complete 40,000 to 50,000 work of fiction. The emphasis will be on generating material and not revising or analyzing chapters as we go.

We will also read a variety of small novels and take a look at their construction and character development. In addition, we will also talk about pacing and story arc and look at several classic books on craft.

Students working on the Rosemont literary magazine, Rathalla Review, are eligible to register for three credits of independent study once during their course of study. Students will work together to create the editorial and managerial processes involved in publishing a literary journal both online and in print.

Students will work with the directors of the MFA and graduate publishing programs and will solicit, evaluate, and select submissions for publication, communicate with contributors about editorial decisions, determine the layout and design of the journal, and make decisions about distribution. Students will also be responsible for assisting in fundraising and will work within the constraints of a budget.

A weekend and week-long writing seminar during which students attend intensive daily workshops in the genre of their choice (such as poetry, fiction, novel writing or creative non-fiction) in addition to daily craft lectures on a variety of topics.

A nightly reading series will provide students with the opportunity to experience their instructors' work and to share their own. Students are required to submit a final project (either a substantive revision of a workshop submission or a new piece) that directly incorporates the work covered during the seminar.

This intensive 8-day course of study will concentrate on generative writing workshops in a variety of writing styles (such as poetry, fiction, novel writing, or creative non-fiction). Workshops will be balanced with cultural and academic enrichment activities that will form the foundation for the writing prompts.

Opportunities for feedback and critique will be part of the scheduled workshop time. Students will be required to submit a final writing project that directly incorporates the work covered during the seminar and a reflection paper.

So you understand how to publish your work, but you still can't make enough money? Then it's time to understand the process of applying for grants, entering contests, attending writers' conferences, and going to artists' colonies.

This course will teach students to broaden their understanding of the many opportunities available to an apprentice writer; and how, through careful exploration, networking, and tenacity, they can expand those opportunities all the more.

Students will become familiar with the major writers' organizations, as well as with who's who in the industry today. Special attention will be paid to the difference between navigating the literary side and genre sides of the publishing world.

Thesis - CRW 7500

The thesis is designed as a culminating experience that allows students to undertake original work to reflect and extend the breadth of their graduate program experience. Eligible students choose a topic and a faculty thesis advisor and submit, for review and approval by the program director, a written plan for the thesis project. Open only to matriculated students in good academic standing (GPA of 3.0 or higher) who are within 12 credit hours of graduation.