English department hopes to develop new minor
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 18:02
There is a well-known rumor in the English department of a possible Creative Writing minor.
While the minor isn’t created yet, Jerry Ball, interim chair of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences said there have been steps towards making it available to students.
“It’s something we’ve been working on for a number of years and there’s been some interest expressed in it,” Ball said. “It was put on hold for a while.”
Ball said there have been many attempts towards creating the minor, but they have all been delayed due to several obstacles.
“Aside from having limited personnel, for a long time we couldn’t figure out how to get the hours for the courses. We need 18 hours to make it a minor,” Ball said. “After working on it for a while, we finally got the idea that we could offer the minor if we required the people who were seeking the minor to take the two basic courses, introduction to fiction and introduction to poetry and drama.”
It was realized that the two basic courses are requirements already for an English major and could easily be used for creative writing as well.
“In that case, it made it possible that you could come up with courses that made up 18 hours which would be enough for the minor, but then we encountered another problem,” Ball said. “When the registrar started checking the courses, checking the wording, they discovered that the wording made it seem like you were taking the same course twice.”
Most of the courses have the same name and could affect a student’s financial name because it would seem as if the student was taking a course again, even though it was a different genre.
“We redid the descriptions for the courses,” Ball said. “The problem we have to work on now is the sequencing of the courses. How to stagger courses so that people could actually take them and finish them in a year”
Once the department can come up with a way to take care of the sequencing problem, making sure a person can enter into the creative writing minor and be able to complete it within a year or two, it needs to get approved by the undergraduate curriculum committee.
“I anticipate getting the paperwork through there by the end of this semester,” Ball said. “It could be as early as next semester, but more than likely it will be available the semester afterwards, so next spring.”
Ball acknowledged how the length of this process could hinder upperclassman’s decision to declare this minor.
“Once it’s approved, while it may not be in the bulletin, we may be able to offer it because it’s been approved,” Ball said. “That’s another question we have to answer. We’ll get those questions answered.”
Frances Hunter, associate professor of English and one of the creative writing professors, believes creative writing is a minor that most students can relate to.
“Every person has a story to tell and what we want to do is help you tell it to the best of your abilities,” Hunter said. “ASU has an emphasis in writing. Creative writing is a very right brain experience that satisfies.”
Creative writing is essential for any sort of major Ball said.
“For one thing (creative writing) is a way to improve your writing without having to do what we call academic writing, which people consider to be very dull,” Ball said. “Let’s say you are in a completely unrelated field, not English. If a person is looking at your résumé and looks at what your degrees are, they see that you have a minor in creative writing, that will imply that not only do you know your field but that you’re also a person who can write well and that is of great value to a lot of working communities.”
The department also encourages students to have their work from class published.
“We encourage students to write for publications and the Tributary or other places,” Hunter said. “While it isn’t for student writing, we also have a fine literary magazine on campus, The Arkansas Review.”
The faculty also encourages writing outside of the ASU campus. While Hunter serves as chair of the freshman composition writing class, Robert Schichler, professor of English, is the chair of the High School Writing Prize, according to Hunter.
“We have students from high schools submit essays, short stories and poetry, so we embrace all those disciplines and we want to see our teachers and our students in the region as well as here to be better writers,” Hunter said. “(Creative writing) is something different that you don’t get in many areas.”