Opinion | The English and creative writing major should be renamed

The English and creative writing major has a misleading name.


Abigail McDaniel

The English-Philosophy Building is seen on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020

Gabriel Arboleda, Opinions Contributor

The English and creative writing major at the University of Iowa may sound like a double major, but it is not.

I was overcome with confusion when I investigated the name of my major, thinking it may be a double major with English included.

The name of the major seemingly implies a hybrid between the studies of English and creative writing, but the name is representative of only one major. To make matters more confusing, the UI also has an English major.

The English and creative writing major should be renamed to better communicate a distinction between the English major and prevent confusion.

Creative writing is the study of language with a focus on self-expression and producing creative works that stray away from the formulaic structures of essay writing. English refers to the study of analyzing English text and identifying writing methods used by the author.

Creative Writing differs from English by emphasizing analysis on method and craft. Creative Writing focuses on how to improve your writing skills whereas English focuses on how to improve your reading skills.

Eric Gidal, UI English Department director of curriculum, gave insight on the naming of the major.

Despite their differences, the majors are mutually beneficial. In order to study the process of writing, one needs to have comprehension in reading and literature, making English essential to creative writing.

The two majors are operated by the English department. The department is responsible for the curriculum and courses available and required for the students of both the English and the English and creative writing majors.

Both majors have requirements to take English and literature courses covering material from various time periods and styles. These courses include interdisciplinary and literature theory, medieval and early literature, British literature, American literature, and postcolonial literature.

However, the course requirements are not all the same. English majors are required to take twice as many English literature courses as creative writing majors. Creative writing majors are required to take creative writing classes that are not required for the English major. The two majors also lead into separate MFA programs.

I came to the UI to study creative writing and was confused when the name of my major implied hybridity with English.

These distinctions are what make the naming of the English and creative writing major confusing. Though the connection between the majors is understandable, the English and creative writing major does not fully encompass the English major as the name suggests.

“It’s not the most elegant name,” Gidal said. “We could just call it the creative writing major. The name came about due to institutional different departments, subunits, and how these emerge.”

Gidal said that the English and creative writing major will evolve over the course of the next few years. It seems like the English department is open to the idea of changing the name of the major to “creative writing.”

With the existence of an English major, changing the name of the English and creative writing major to simply creative writing can lead to less confusion.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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