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The Creative Writing Option

The Masters of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH) Creative Writing Option is intended for students who plan to do a creative writing thesis project in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. Unlike MFA programs at other institutions that offer more strictly professionally-oriented training in writing, students at UChicago are encouraged to develop their writing skills in the context of interdisciplinary humanistic study. Students may wish to do so in the course of a year of intensive study of literature, or, perhaps, philosophy, music, or art history.

In addition to completing the MAPH core course, students in the Writing Option take:

  • 1 CRWR course in the student's chosen genre in Autumn Quarter
  • 1 CRWR Thesis/Major Projects Workshop in Winter Quarter
  • 3 academic courses relevant to the proposed thesis area
  • 2 elective courses to be taken in any area of student interest

Writing Option thesis projects must have both a creative component and a brief critical essay about the work. In practice, the Writing Option is designed to provide a flexible structure for creative thesis work.

Instructor permission is required for most creative writing courses. Students who apply to and are admitted to the Writing Option in the spring before their MAPH year have priority for one spot in Autumn Quarter CRWR classes. Writing Option students also receive priority in their chosen genre-specific Thesis/Major Projects Workshop in Winter. The Creative Writing faculty member who leads the Winter Workshop will also serve as the student's thesis advisor during Spring Quarter.


The Poetics Option

The Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH) Option in Poetics is intended for students who are primarily interested in the critical study of poetry and poetics. Offered in cooperation with the University’s Program in Poetry and Poetics, this option facilitates a critical engagement with the poetry of numerous historical periods, geographical regions, and aesthetic traditions, including modern and contemporary English language poetry. 

Students enrolled in this option are required to take the MAPH Core course in Autumn Quarter, the Poetics seminar, and three courses on the study of poetry and poetics from any number of departments and committees across the Humanities Division. (Relevant courses in the Social Sciences Division may also count toward these requirements.) Of these three courses, one must be on pre-Romantic poetry, one on non-Anglophone poetry (which can be studied in English translation), and one on modern and/or contemporary poetry. Students will consult with their MAPH preceptors and advisors on how to fulfill these distribution requirements, and may petition to substitute other courses for these requirements under special circumstances. Additionally, students in the MAPH Poetics Option will write a thesis with a relation to poetry and poetics under the supervision of a faculty member in the Poetics Program.

Further opportunities for students in the Poetics Option may include internships at Chicago Review—the University’s graduate student-run literary journal—and participation in the Poetics Workshop, a bi-weekly colloquium for the peer review of student and faculty work. Students in the option also benefit from frequent visits to campus by nationally-recognized poets through the Poetics Program’s “Poem Present” reading series, and talks by distinguished visiting scholars through the “History and Forms of Lyric” lecture series.