Why UD doesn’t have a creative writing program

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Photo by Emily Ashman

Although writing is at the heart of academics at the University of Dallas, there is no exclusive creative writing program. A creative writing major or concentration is nonexistent.

Nevertheless, it is not neglected from the Core entirely. In Literary Tradition IV, students undertake a short story unit to learn to write their own stories.

“The Lit Trad IV component gives students a taste of actually doing the very thing that they have been analyzing in their other Lit Trad courses,” said Dr. Debra Romanick Baldwin, the chair of the English department. “It invites them to sketch in words from life, and to evoke not an argument, but an experience.”

The department has also made one or two creative writing courses available every year for the past decade. These classes have been taught by Dr. Gregory Roper, Dr. Bernadette Waterman Ward, Dr. Brett Bourbon, Dr. Andrew Osborn and Romanick Baldwin. 

The main reason it does not exist is that there are not enough faculty available, according to Romanick Baldwin.

UD previously offered more in the way of creative writing, Romanick Baldwin notes. Caroline Gordon used to teach creative writing at UD. She was “a novelist and short story writer, a friend of both Flannery O’Connor and Louise Cowan, and a founding member of the creative writing faculty at UD,” according to the university website.

From 2008-11 and in 2015, Osborn led a Visiting Writers’ Series where Christian Wiman, Melissa Range, Peter Campion, Geoffrey Wolfe and Kimberly Johnson stayed on campus for two to three days each. They had two appearances, which consisted of a reading from poetry or fiction and a lecture on the connection between spirituality and the writing process.

Unfortunately, the program ceased due to a lack of funding. If funding could be raised, Obsorn said, “I would very happily resume direction of the exciting series.”

The degree itself has advantages and disadvantages.

Unlike most professions, being a writer does not require a degree. The degree serves to help a student strengthen their practice of writing creatively. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical entry-level education of writers and authors is a Bachelor’s degree, and people in the profession experience long-term on-the-job training.

But, this is not as important at UD. 

“The UD degree itself is what gets you a job because its Core, both in substance and reputation, attests to a broad and deep education. The actual major often matters much less than students think,” said Romanick Baldwin.

Right now, there are no plans for expanding the creative writing curriculum at UD, but Romanick Baldwin is open to hearing the opinion of students. 

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