Macricostas School of Arts & Sciences

Writing Department

Master’s Degree in English Writing Option

Do you need an advanced degree for personal satisfaction or professional advancement? Do you like to write? Consider Western’s Master’s in English Writing Option. Take advanced courses in literature and writing workshops. Write a creative or nonfiction thesis.

Graduate Option Program Sheet

Graduate Studies: This page includes pdfs of the Graduate Catalog, graduate forms; information about employment opportunities, scholarships, procedures and news.

Writing Option Handbook pdf: This document describes the Writing Option program for the MA in English including the program sequence and detailed description of the thesis requirement.

Writing Option: Students who elect to take the Writing Option will immerse themselves in literary studies in a number of periods. However, they will also emerge from the program with a strong foundation in writing and writing theory that will prepare them for jobs as professional and technical writers, editors, fiction writers, and poets. In addition to literature, their studies will concentrate on several writing courses of their choice. Included in this option are studies in fiction writing, poetry writing, memoir, linguistics, professional writing, and writing theory.

Note: Writing Option students will be required to produce a thesis in order to complete their studies. Click here for further description of the MA in English.

Writing Option Thesis: All students who take this option write a creative thesis. The description of steps in writing and receving approval of a thesis project are contained in the Writing Option Handbook.

MA in English-TESOL Option: We are not accepting students into the program at this time.

Credo for Writing Option

In the Writing Option of the Graduate Program the primary emphasis of each fall semester is creative writing; spring semester courses emphasize nonfiction. However, in each semester some work in other genres or cross-genres will be possible. Students will write and revise pieces of their own writing throughout the semester and discuss them in a workshop setting.

Each semester of a Writing Option workshop will be grounded in a theme. The following criteria will be used for evaluation purposes in Graduate Writing Option courses:

1. Diction (precise word choice)–We look for “lightning,” not lightning bugs. Almost doesn’t count. No, “Well, you understand what I mean.” No cliches. No private meanings of words. No coded discourse without the key.

2. Concrete imagery–We emphasize the importance of the senses, of specific detail. We look for writing that avoids woolgathering, philosophical generalizations (“nesses are messes”). Let your pictures do the talking. Trust your images and metaphors.

3. Sound (the importance of the ear)–We believe the sound of language should contribute to the total effect of any pieces of writing. But we also believe that rhyme, alliteration and other technical devices should never control the meaning.

4. Organization–We like to see everything working together including sound, content, imagery and ideas.

5. Authenticity–Every piece of good writing comes from the individual’s special perspective on reality. Without authenticity a piece of writing quickly becomes a fraud, a rhetorical play, a garish disguise for the ego. An authentic piece goes to the bare bone of the author’s sense of being.

6. Intensity–Writing should invigorate the reader–awe, beauty, loathing and disgust. An acid bath, if necessary.