English and Creative Writing



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Additional Program Information

The English and creative writing program at Sweet Briar College employs a studio curriculum with an emphasis on project-based learning. Special topics classes across genres — and in new and evolving genres — ask students to engage in directed readings and sustained individual creative projects. We train students to engage with texts in the way that working writers do, dissolving the boundary between critical engagement and creative response and helping students discover that they grow as writers, as readers, and as human beings through explorations of both canonical and contemporary works of literature and through creative practice.

The reading and writing of literature are always in dynamic conversation, and we encourage students to produce work that references both the historical traditions of literature and the contemporary climate. As working writers, our faculty engage in projects that shift and develop over time and are informed by what we’re reading and what we discover as we write, as well as by the changing world around us. We prepare students to live and work as writers and to be more empathetic citizens and competent communicators, no matter what subjects they go on to study or what careers they pursue.

What is distinctive about studying English and creative writing at Sweet Briar?

  • Novelists John Gregory Brown and Carrie Brown — award-winning authors of 11 books — mentor students from the beginning to the end of their four years of college. These writers offer small, intimate workshops that enable students to work closely with their professors and classmates in an environment that is both challenging and supportive.
  • As part of an annual series, visiting writers offer readings and visit classes throughout the academic year. Visitors have included Natasha Trethewey, Azar Nafisi, Lee Smith, Beth Macy, Salman Rushdie, Yiyun Li, Derek Walcott, and Ha Jin.
  • English and creative writing majors complete portfolios of their writing in a senior seminar in which they also re-examine the authors whose works have informed their writing.

What can you do with a degree in English and creative writing?

  • Sweet Briar’s creative writing majors have received fellowships to many of the country’s most distinguished graduate creative writing programs, including Johns Hopkins University, the University of Virginia, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Pittsburgh.
  • You can pursue graduate degrees in literature, journalism, education, communications, law, and library science, among others.
  • Alumnae have become journalists, gone into publishing, opened art galleries, led nonprofit organizations, and worked as editors and teachers.