A small class meets outdoors in the grass. They are wearing masks.
Program Overview

Creative Writing

Writers as artists, writers in the world.

Photo credit: Dale Preston

Creativity, Clarity, Community

Oberlin offers undergraduates the rare opportunity to major in creative writing—not as a concentration in another department, but as an independent discipline in its own right. Creative Writing provides an intense and rigorous course of study with instruction, studio training, and coursework in a variety of genres, including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, drama, translation, screenwriting, and hybrid forms. Our program encourages work across disciplines and prepares students for a range of careers both within and beyond the literary world.

An Inclusive and Imaginative Workshop Culture 

Creative Writing at Oberlin emphasizes an inclusive workshop climate where creative expression, experimentation, and collaboration thrive. Our faculty are practicing poets, novelists, screenwriters, and essayists who value the art of teaching and supportive mentorship. Advanced creative writing students pursue large-scale independent projects with the support of a faculty mentor and a dedicated small group of peers. Because we are more than just a studio program, our students employ the skills of open inquiry and intellectual curiosity: their liberal arts education enriches their creative work, and their creativity inspires rigorous cross-disciplinary thinking both in the classroom and beyond.

Established 45 years ago as one of the first creative writing programs in the nation, it continues to be one of the most innovative and vibrant

Writers in the Community

In Oberlin Writers in the Schools (WITS), students learn how to take their passion for writing into the local schools in meaningful and effective ways.

A student presents in front of a class.
6 Oberlin alums have won the Pulitzer Prize in literature or criticism

Distinguished Visitors

Students have the opportunity to connect with diverse visiting writers, including notable alumni, through campus readings, master classes, craft workshops, and individual consultations.

A woman gives a talk at a podium.

Featured Courses

CRWR 212

Word & Image: Poetry in Dialogue with Visual Art

Join in the dynamic conversation between poetry and visual art and explore how visual art can inspire and challenge the making of poetic image and meaning.  Through collaboration with the Allen Memorial Art Museum, students have the opportunity for close-looking at superb and diverse works of art across many cultures and centuries.

Taught by
CRWR 215

Race and Poetic Innovation

Explore the dynamic relationship between racial identity and creative inventiveness in poetry. Delve into contemporary and classic poems that broaden and challenge notions of race and representation. Experiment with using craft and technique to subvert conventional understandings of identity and racialized experience.

Taught by
Chanda Feldman
CRWR 238

Plot & Structure

In this course, cross-listed with Comparative Literature, students read experimental contemporary fiction from around the world. Students gain an understanding of the historical basis of Western narrative structure, while simultaneously considering alternate models and learning to question established rules about managing plot and action. Students respond to texts both critically and creatively, with the goal of structuring their own narratives more boldly.

Taught by
Emily Barton
CRWR 273

False Documents

A false document is “a technique employed to create verisimilitude in a work of fiction.” This can take many forms, such as epistolary novels, or fictions in the form of annotated poems, online reviews, author acknowledgments, wills, indexes, email threads, and beyond. How do we perceive verisimilitude as readers? How do we, as writers, fake it? In addition to examining literary false documents (and hoaxes and frauds), students will write a number of short fictions over the course of the semester.

Taught by
Tom Hopkins

Student Profiles

Paige Reinstein ’21

Creative Writing and English

“In this tight-knit community we get to see each other grow (as both people and writers) from introductory courses as awkward first-years to capstone senior year. The faculty and students are some of the most supportive people in my life, and I love learning with them.”

Paige Reinstein

Fiona Warnick ’22

Creative Writing and English

“I feel so consistently lucky to have such dedicated professors. Everyone I’ve worked with in the Creative Writing Program cares deeply about their students both as writers and as people. Classes are small, so you’re able to actually know and trust each other, which is important for productive workshopping.”

Fiona Warnick

Khalid McCalla ’21

Creative Writing and Africana Studies

“From the professors to the students, everyone always wanted to see me and my writing grow and develop, but not at the expense of what made my voice unique. It's a warm and supportive community that only gets better the longer you're a part of it.”

Khalid McCalla

Upcoming Creative Writing Events

What does Creative Writing at Oberlin look like?

Three people sit on one side of a table facing an audience.

Professor Tom Hopkins moderates an alumni panel on publishing and journalism in the first annual Creative Writing Program Career Fair.

Photo credit: Yvonne Gay
A woman speaks at a podium.

Award-winning novelist and essayist Zadie Smith (White Teeth, NW, Grand Union) reads to a packed house at Finney Chapel.

Photo credit: Yevhen Gulenko
A group meets around a round table, laptops open and papers out.

Editorial board meeting for Two Groves Review, a new student publication dedicated to poetry, literary criticism, and writing about writing.

Photo credit: Audrey Tran
3 book covers:All Adults Here by Emma Straub; Deacon King Kong by James McBride; Minor Feelings an Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong.

Our alumni have found notable success in the publishing world: these were only a few of the best-selling books by Obies published in 2020.

Next Steps

Get in touch; we would love to chat.

Campus scenery: flowering trees in spring.