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Vol 38  No 12
April 6, 2006


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Two new diplomas target emerging writers

By Leslie Vryenhoek

Two new diploma programs offered by the Department of English will give students the chance to hone their writing skills in the professional writing and creative writing genres.

“There is so much angst around the business of writing, and often so much that’s prescriptive in the way that it’s taught, perhaps because we expect too much of ourselves and our students in one course or one semester,” explained

Prof. Jean Guthrie, who will co-ordinate the diploma in professional writing program. “Students need time to work out what they want to say, and a chance to try out genres other than the academic essay.”

Dr. Larry Mathews, who is leading the development of the creative writing program, believes this is a desirable addition for a university that offers such a diversity of programming in other artistic fields. “The absence of a program in creative writing, especially in a place which has produced so many excellent writers, seems anomalous,” he noted, adding that there has been a steady demand for writing courses over the past few decades.

Designed for those who have completed, or are near completing, a bachelor’s degree and have demonstrated an aptitude for writing, the professional writing program entails 18 credit hours of coursework. Subjects covered will include investigative reporting, creative non-fiction, the art of reviewing, and editing. Students will also complete a work term in a professional setting where good writing is imperative.

The creative writing program requires students to complete eight courses (24 credit hours), at least five of which must be in creative writing and the rest drawn from Department of English courses. Courses taken in previous years may count toward the diploma.

As in the creative writing program, many courses in professional writing will be taught by writers from the community. However, Prof. Guthrie noted that the intent is not to train students for a particular type of job or organization. Rather, students will build critical skills and learn to read analytically for argument and style, to consider audience and context, and to edit the work of others tactfully.

“This is about drafting, re-drafting, editing, getting good advice and determining how to use it,” she said.

Admission to the diploma in professional writing program is by portfolio. For those interested in pursuing creative writing, entry to each course is competitive, requiring a portfolio of work in that specific genre.

“It’s anticipated that creative writing courses will now be offered more frequently than in the past,” said Dr. Mathews. “We think that, over time, the creative writing program will make an important contribution to the cultural life of the province.”

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