ABIGAIL CHADWICK, Contributing Writer
Curriculum changes generally only affect incoming freshmen, but new changes to the creative writing major also affect some who have already completed courses in the major.
After a long process, various changes to the creative writing major were implemented this year.
One of the changes to the creative writing major is the creation of the course Introduction to Creative Writing (ENGL 2763). This course will replace the previously used Introductory Fiction Workshop (ENGL 2623) and Introductory Poetry Workshop (ENGL 2613).
“We just felt that many of the foundational aspects were really shared between poetry and fiction and so we were teaching a lot of the same stuff in two classes,” said Dr. Benjamin Myers, Crouch-Mathis professor of literature and professor of literature and English.
Myers is one of the two primary teachers for the creative writing major.
Changes to the catalogue requirements only change the graduation requirements for incoming students.
“The implementation into course requirements is a little complicated,” said Dr. Sidney Watson, professor of English.
“Basically, changes in curriculum apply to the students who enter the university once the requirement appears in the catalog. However, it’s rarely that simple.”
Students already in the major who had not yet completed both Introductory Workshops must take the new class to meet their requirements for graduation as the separate workshops are no longer offered.
“Even though we no longer have the intro in each form, if you’ve taken one [workshop] then you can just take the Intro. to Creative Writing and substitute it for the other [workshop] and graduate with those requirements,” Myers said.
Another change is that new creative writing majors will be required to complete the Capstone in Creative Writing (ENGL 4973) course. This course will differ from the Advanced Workshops and from a Directed Thesis in Creative Writing (ENGL 4983).
“Essentially the capstone is aimed at helping writers transition from undergraduate student writers to professional writers, working writers,” Myers said.
“Whether that means going into a graduate program or beginning to write in some professional context or simply living in the woods and working on your novel,” he said.
“We want to make sure students take that step so the capstone will focus on assembling a sample body of writing that can be used for a graduate application, for a job application or that can be sent out into the world seeking publication. It will focus on things like how to write a cover letter for publication [and] how to function professionally as a writer.”
Another change is that the literature classes Transatlantic Modernism (ENGL 4403) and Contemporary Literature (ENGL 4413) are now required, not recommended.
“We wanted to make sure that writing majors were grounded in recent literature,” Myers said. “A creative writing major, and this rarely happened, but conceivable could have avoided reading anything written after the 19th-century and that does not make for good writing.”
The final change is that Playwriting (THEA 3633) is now an option for a creative writing composition class.
“We just realized there was some student interest in it and obviously it’s very much a form of writing and a major part of the literary tradition and we just thought we should take advantage of the fact that it’s being offered on campus,” Myers said.
Changes like these must go through a long process before being introduced to the catalogue to affect new students.
“Between idea and implementation, there may be a year or two,” said Dr. Charles Swadley, associate professor of English and Spanish.
“It’s a slow, deliberate process, which includes many voices and perspectives in order to arrive at what’s best for the students and the institution.”
As Watson said, the first of these voices is often the faculty members of the affected department, who must complete paperwork describing the changes, rationale and implications of the changes to start the process.
“Then the paperwork goes to the appropriate dean and then to the Curriculum Committee, a faculty committee that reviews all curriculum changes in OBU’s undergraduate programs,” Watson said.
“The paperwork also goes to the Registrar, who assigns numbers to new courses, making sure that they don’t conflict with any other courses, even those that are no longer in the catalog. Finally, the proposal is brought to the Faculty Forum, a monthly meeting of all faculty, for a vote.”
Curriculum changes can result from a variety of considerations.
“The faculty members consider many factors when they contemplate curricular change: trends in the profession, the needs of our students, and staffing implications, among others,” Swadley said. “Our regular assessments also make
faculty aware of needs for curricular change.”