Writing Classes Turn Students Away

“The difficulty has to do with the fact there’s so many of you and so few of us,” Powell says. “That’s the main problem, there are not enough of us.”

No New Faculty Planned

Chair of the English department Lawrence Buell says he knows of the difficult time many students have getting into creative writing classes.

The size of the creative writing faculty has increased slightly over the past few years, but the department has no immediate plans to increase further the number of faculty positions in creative writing, according to Buell.

He says that the number of creative writing instructors was increased from four to five this year.


Brighde Mullins, a playwright who teaches screenwriting and play writing classes each semester, joined the program this fall.

According to Buell, the department is also offering a “longer-term appointment” to Visiting Lecturer on English and American Literature Jamaica Kincaid, who is now teaching one fiction class.

Beyond these moves, however, Buell says the department has no additional plans to hire more faculty in creative writing.

“I’d like to, but that’s down for a future department discussion,” Buell says.

Buell says the fiction classes are the main issue since there were so many more applicants than spots.

He says he feels the English department has sufficient offerings in the other areas of creative writing.

“The question goes like this: should a college-level creative writing course be open to anybody who desires to take it fundamentally, or should there be a threshold of quality or preparation before being let in?” Buell says. “If we accept the second position, that it’s reasonable for the student to audition, so to speak, then I think that we’re pretty close to a balance of supply and demand in poetry and nonfictional prose and play writing.”

“There is, this year, certainly a problem in the asymmetry of supply and demand in fiction,” he says.

Although no new faculty positions are planned, Buell says that there will be one more fiction class next year because the responsibilities for coordinating the program will switch from Powell, a fiction teacher, to Doug A. Powell, a poet.

But that means there will be one fewer poetry class, since the coordinator is exempt from teaching one class.