The English Department provides students with introductory and advanced courses in creative writing and literatures in English from a wide variety of cultural and historical contexts. English majors and minors take a range of courses that allows them to explore diverse authors and periods, experiment with written forms, develop critical thinking and writing skills, access new creative techniques, and prepare for graduate degrees and careers in a variety of professions. A major must choose one of two different emphases, creative writing or literature; both emphases require the same set of foundational courses which are designed to develop literary skills and enhance awareness of the ways history and literature intersect. The six remaining courses offer the student great flexibility to design a program that meets her individual goals and interests as a writer and scholar; these six courses should be chosen in close consultation with the major advisor to help prepare her for the senior thesis in creative writing or literature. Students are asked to begin planning for their thesis in the second semester of their junior year; we offer the creative writing and literature thesis courses each semester, so seniors can choose the semester in which they want to complete the thesis requirement. Thesis projects for creative writers can range from a collection of experimental poetry to the first chapters of a historical novel; literature students can choose to do research and analysis on a particular genre, writer, or theme.
Workshops in creative writing are offered in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and writing for young adults. In literature, we offer a regular rotation of course topics from Greco-Roman myth to the 21st century in both British and American contexts, and each semester we feature a rich variety; topics may range from African American poets since 1965 to science fiction, New York School to pop fiction. Students may also take courses in journalism (offered through the English Department) and book art.
The classes in the English Department are small and rely on discussion among the students. We have a lively community-oriented population who get involved in the literary activities at Mills. The Place for Writers and the Contemporary Writers Series support our curriculum with publishing workshops and author presentations. The Walrus Literary Journal is an annual Mills College publication which includes "wonderful, whacky, weird, witty, and whimsical poetry, prose, and art from the Bay Area and beyond." Undergraduate students collect submissions, conduct blind readings, design the layout, and choose artwork during the first weeks of the fall semester. By the spring, they have taken the best, most intriguing work and given it a home. The Walrus reaches out to the Bay Area community at large, seeking work most recently from such local writers and artists as Sharon Coleman, Barry Ebner, Michelle Tea, and Diane DiPrima. The staff also publishes works created by Mills professors, such as Stephen Ratcliffe, Elmaz Abinader, Chana Bloch, and Truong Tran. Any questions regarding The Walrus can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our faculty are published writers and critics, and each year we enhance our program by having important visiting writers teach some of our courses. Our most recent distinguished writers include: Achy Obejas, Faith Adiele, Daniel Alarcón, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Micheline Aharonian Marcom, Miranda Mellis, and Truong Tran.
The department also offers graduate work leading to a master of arts in English Language and Literatures or a master of fine arts in creative writing and in book art and creative writing. For information on these graduate programs, see the Graduate Catalog.
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