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The Creative Writing Program

2022 New Student ReadingABOUT The CWP

The PhD in English Literature with Creative Dissertation at the University of Georgia is for writers who wish to advance their expertise and sophistication as scholars. Our students are accomplished poets, fiction writers, essayists, translators, and interdisciplinary artists who are ready to move beyond the studio focus of the MFA to a more intensive program of literary study. Over the course of the five-year program our students develop research specialties that complement their writing practice and prepare them professionally for a teaching career at the university or college level.

Our creative writing faculty are nationally and internationally recognized writers and translators with academic specializations in a variety of literary and theoretical fields, including Genre Theory, Poetics, Global Literature, Native American Literature, African American Literature, Postcolonial Literature, and Translation Studies. Our program fosters serious conversations among our students about aesthetics and criticism, experience and culture, and politics and history—not only in the classroom but through public readings and lectures. Our faculty and students play an active role in the cultural life of Athens, both as artists and organizers.

Program Overview

During the first two years of study our Ph.D. candidates select from course offerings in the English Department, seminars that signal both our faculty’s recognition of intellectual and disciplinary change and our abiding commitment to traditional literary history. Each student takes at least one Creative Writing course a year in addition to courses in various literary specialties. A list of our department’s recent graduate course offerings can be found here.  Prior to beginning their third year, students prepare reading lists for comprehensive exams in three academic research fields of their choosing. Every CWP student chooses “Forms and Craft” as one of their exam areas. This reading list serves as a research field unique to each writer’s approach to their particular genre. Some of the “Forms and Craft” lists designed recently by CWP students include, “The Midwestern Novel”; “Occult and Visionary Poetics”; “History of Surrealism”; “Monstrosity in Epic Poetry”; and “Literary Translation: Theory and Practice.” The two other exam fields should complement and expand the student’s areas of expertise beyond craft in order to broaden their historical and theoretical understanding of literature. In recent years, CWP students have elected to take exams in fields such as, “A Global History of the Novel,” ”Modernism and the Historical Avant-Garde,” “Aesthetic Theory,” ”African American Literature,” “Latinx Literature,” “Ecopoetics,” “The Southern Novel,” “Lyric Theory,” and “Science Fiction.”

Typically the exam committee is headed by a member of the creative writing faculty and two other professors from the department at large, experts in the respective exam areas. During the third year students read in preparation for written and oral exams. Each written exam takes the form of a twenty-page written exhibit in which the student answers a directive question formulated in conjunction with the exam area’s director. This exhibit should demonstrate the student’s grasp of the field as a whole and serves as a demonstration of their ability to teach in this area at the undergraduate level. Once the student has passed written exams, they are admitted to an oral exam overseen by the exam committee as a whole. Once the student passes both oral and written exams, they are admitted officially to candidacy for the PhD and begin working on their dissertation.

During their fourth and fifth years CWP students complete a creative dissertation with a critical introduction. The dissertation typically is a full-length work in a single genre—a work of fiction, creative non-fiction, or poetry. The introduction is the author’s scholarly address to their audience. In the past students have used the introduction as a scholarly analysis of the state of the genre, a critical meditation on process informed by literary history, or a theoretical tracing of literary influence.

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