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Grand Valley State University    
  Mar 19, 2018
2011-2012 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Writing - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences  section in this catalog.

Chair: Royer. Professors: Clark, Frerichs, Gilles, Losey; Associate Professors: Dwelle, Haven, Royer, Schaub, Schendel; Assistant Professors: Bunn, Horrocks, José, Lowe, Prentiss, Rhodes, Toth. Affiliate Professors: Dickerson, Donovan, Gibbons, Hecksel, Hulst, Iadonisi, Kaitany, Kelly-Lafata, Kierzek, Laidlaw, Lotz, Lubic, Mulally, Ramey, Treanor, Van Sickle, White.

Web site:

The Department of Writing offers instruction in academic, creative, and professional writing. Academic writing courses, which are designed for all students in the university community. For students who choose to major in writing, the department offers emphasis areas in creative and professional writing. The department also offers a minor in writing for students wishing to enhance their writing abilities for personal or professional reasons.

Academic writing, creative writing, and professional writing all belong to the liberal arts. As disciplines, they seek to sensitize student writers to the values and practices of particular genres of writing. The overall goal is to develop in students the ability to write well in a variety of contexts. Students develop this ability by reading and analyzing models and by drafting and revising original work in a workshop setting. Academic writing explores the art of writing well in specific disciplinary contexts. Creative writing explores the art of writing literary fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction. Professional writing explores the art of writing nonfiction and workplace writing.

Creative Writing Program 

Creative writing students learn to create original works of poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction. Writing majors in the creative writing track learn to recognize and describe various poetic and prose forms, to analyze the creative work of others, including both professional writers and fellow students, and to reflect on their own developing personal aesthetic. Creative writing students also develop their editing and professional writing abilities in coursework and extracurricular activities.

This emphasis is designed for students seeking to develop their creative writing abilities with a desire to pursue graduate education, to enhance a love and appreciation of literature, to write independently, or to improve their writing skills for any career in which writing may play a part. Many students combine their study of creative writing with a minor in another academic area, such as art, English, history, liberal studies, philosophy, or theater. Creative writing students typically find careers as teachers, editors, grant writers, program administrators, freelance journalists, or authors.

Professional Writing Program

Professional writing students are taught to generate a wide range of nonfiction prose appropriate for a wide range of rhetorical situations. Writing majors in the professional writing track gain practice in literary writing, persuasive writing, and informational writing. Students become sophisticated analysts of communication situations and self-reflective about their own rhetorical skills. By graduation, professional writing students will feel confident writing and designing pamphlets, newsletters, magazines, Web pages, presentations, and a variety of other forms and genres.

This emphasis is designed for students seeking careers in writing, publishing, or other fields in which specialized skills in written communication are required. Many students combine the professional writing emphasis with a minor in a professional area such as advertising and public relations, business, computer science, English, information systems, or international relations. Students are encouraged to create a major-minor combination that suits their own interests and career plans. Graduates typically find careers as editors, grant writers, program administrators, technical writers, freelance writers, teachers, and authors.

Extracurricular Activities 

The writing department offers a rich community of writers and readers, including students, faculty, local professionals, and regional and national authors. For students, this community begins to take shape in the introductory courses and extends beyond the department itself to the Department of English, the School of Communications, and the university community as a whole. Beyond their courses, students have a number of opportunities to participate in the writing community on campus.

Writers Society. A student organization devoted to recognizing and promoting excellence among student writers. This group hosts various campus writing activities.

fishladder: A Student Journal of Art and Writing. The literary arts magazine publishes creative work of students twice yearly and is edited by students under the tutelage of a faculty adviser.

Oldenburg Writing Contest. An annual writing contest, cosponsored with the English department, carrying cash prizes for essays and creative writing in various categories.

Student Reading Series. A public series of evening readings of promising student work from intermediate and advanced writing courses. Works include drama, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Grand Valley Writers Series. This annual series brings both regionally and nationally known writers to campus for public readings, class visits, and other appearances.

Vinette. An on line publication composed of the work of talented student writers. It features nonfiction writing, both creative and technical as well as print and web designs.

Distinction in Writing. A program that encourages majors to explore opportunities in addition to the regular curriculum. Interested students work with their advisors to plan and complete a series of extracurricular activities over a one-or two-year period. Successful students submit a final portfolio of work and are awarded the Distinction in Writing designation upon graduation.

The following programs are available:

Bachelor of Arts in Writing 

Writing Minor