Creative Writing Program Hopes for Capital Campaign Support in Continued Expansion

With the addition of two new creative writing instructors this academic year, the English Department is looking to continue the program’s expansion, hopefully with the help of Harvard’s ongoing capital campaign, the department’s interim chair said last week.

The desire to expand the program comes as creative writing courses—from screenwriting to creative non-fiction—have seen a dramatic increase in popularity over the past few years.


Interim English Department Chair Nicholas J. Watson said that in recent years, the department has received twice the number of applications than they have seats to fill for any given semester.

“The number of lecturers teaching has somewhat increased, but we haven’t reached a number close to capacity,” Watson said. “Over the last five to 10 years we have had about a 30 percent increase in applicants."

He attributed the excess in applications to small class sizes and a relatively small teaching staff for the size of the demand. While each course has a maximum enrollment of 14 students, the program only currently employs nine instructors, the majority of whom are non-tenure track lecturers within the English Department.

In addition to the two recent hires, as well as the return of African and African American Studies professor and creative writing instructor Jamaica Kincaid, Watson said that the department has requested permission from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to hire another creative non-fiction instructor this year.

“From our point of view, I am hoping that the capital campaign might result in some extra resources for our program,” he said. “We certainly indicated having a larger number of people. We put these requests into the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. I think that the general understanding is that this is something that needs to be grown.”

English professor Jorie Graham, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who teaches creative writing, made a similar argument before administrators and faculty members at FAS’s monthly meeting in October.


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