Writing Classes Turn Students Away

Kincaid may also teach an additional fiction class.

“We will have more fiction sections next year, more workshops,” Buell says. “Whether that will suffice remains to be seen.”

Creativity Sells

According to CUE Guide ratings, creative writing classes are some of the most well-liked in the College. They often get near-perfect ratings.

Mandy H. Hu ’02-’03, who is in English Csr: “Fiction Writing I” says the courses are “dramatically different from all the other classes here, save for maybe the VES [visual and environmental studies] classes.”


“They’re creative, you know?” Hu says.

Creative writing thesis writer Reema Rajbanshi ’03 says creative writing courses offer a unique experience.

“One of the things I think I enjoyed a lot was that when you take those writing classes you get to know people in a way that you never get to know them in any other activity here, because you get to know so much about what haunts them, their fears and desires,” Rajbanshi says.

Although many students say they agree on the value of the creative writing classes, they are divided over the courses’ selectivity.

Rajbanshi, who did not get into any fiction classes this year, says she approves of the rigorous admissions process because it motivates students to take the class and makes them value the experience more.

Maloney, however, says that there is too much applying and denying at Harvard after a student is admitted to the College.

The Merits of Selectivity

Boylston Professor of Oratory and Rhetoric Jorie Graham, whose poetry won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996, writes in an e-mail that the creative writing courses are environments where their participants “learn how to make.”

“They learn how to take ‘experience’ and use craft to undergo that experience more deeply on the page, and therefore, subsequently, in their lives,” Graham says

Graham says that creative work involves a “form of practice whose rigors are demanding in ways that perhaps differ from critical classes, but can, and often do, benefit from prerequisite preparation.”