Writing at UC Santa Cruz 2012-13
*UCSC does not offer this as an undergraduate major.
The Literature Department and the Writing Program at UC Santa Cruz offer courses in creative writing and in composition and rhetoric. The creative writing concentration within the literature major supports students in developing their craft alongside their peers and with the guidance of a faculty adviser. The courses offered through the Writing Program assist students in improving research and writing skills in a setting designed specifically for the development of writing proficiency.
Study and Research Opportunities
- B.A. in literature with a concentration in creative writing, with selective admission to the concentration
- Introductory writing courses with topical foci and courses with disciplinary foci involving significant amounts of reading, formal and informal weekly writing, and peer and instructor review
- A range of courses for students at all class levels offered through the Writing Program
- Student media that include award-winning student publications; KZSC, a public radio station serving three counties; campus newsmagazines; and annual literary journals
High School Preparation
In addition to completing the courses required for UC admission, high school students planning to major in literature with the creative writing concentration at UC Santa Cruz should emphasize reading and writing skills in high school. Some background in a foreign language is helpful. The Literature Department faculty requires that all literature majors have proficiency in a second language.
Transfer students planning to major in literature with a concentration in creative writing will find it helpful to take courses that satisfy campus general education requirements before coming to UC Santa Cruz. They should also have some training in analytical and expository writing; an introductory course in literary interpretation and two additional literature courses are especially desirable. Also, please see the Creative Writing section. Transfer students are urged to complete the Literature language proficiency requirement before transferring to UC Santa Cruz. The Literature language proficiency requirement is as follows: One year (three quarters or equivalent) of college level study of a non-English language OR demonstrated reading ability at this level.
Transfer students are urged to declare the major in their first quarter at UC Santa Cruz. Students must successfully complete Literature 1 (Literary Interpretation) or its equivalent prior to declaring the literature major or minor. A student may petition to receive credit toward the lower-division requirements of the major for up to two courses taken at other institutions. An introduction to literature course may be used to satisfy the Literary Interpretation course requirement. One literature course may be applied toward the Literature 61 series and the Literature 80 series course requirement.
UC Santa Cruz lower-division requirements in literature are:
- Literature 1 (Literary Interpretation): close reading and analysis of literary texts
- One Literature 61-series course: categories, methodologies, and problems of literary study OR one Literature 80-series course: topical, thematic, and comparative study of literary texts
- Language proficiency: One year (three quarters or equivalent) of college level study of a non-English language OR demonstrated reading ability at this level
While it is not a condition of admission, students from California community colleges may complete the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) in preparation for transfer to UC Santa Cruz.
Transfer course agreements and articulation between the University of California and California community colleges can be accessed on the ASSIST.ORG web site.
Merrill Feitell (’03) is the author of Here Beneath Low-Flying Planes (University of Iowa Press, 2004), for which she received the 2004 Iowa Award for Short Fiction. She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at University of Maryland, and is at work on a novel called Any Minute Now, which tells the story of a fractured New Hampshire family and chronicles an aspiring rock band’s rise to fame.
Reyna Grande ('99) is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Across A Hundred Mountains, for which she has received an American Book Award and El Premio Aztlan Literary Award. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing and Film and Video from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University. Grande’s most recent book, The Distance Between Us: A Memoir, was published by Atria Books in 2012.
Stephen Meadows (’88) is the author of Releasing the Days, a collection of poetry published in 2011 by Heyday Books. Meadows’s work is also included in The Dirt Is Red Here: Art and Poetry from Native California, edited by Margaret D. Dubin and published by Heyday Books in 2002.
Martha Mendoza (’88) was co-winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting and the Polk Award for the Associated Press story about the No Gun Ri massacre in the opening weeks of the Korean War. She is also co-author of the book The Bridge at No Gun Ri: A Hidden Nightmare from the Korean War.
Azadeh Moaveni ('98) is the award-winning author of Lipstick Jihad and Honeymoon in Tehran, and co-author, with Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, of Iran Awakening. She has lived and reported throughout the Middle East, and speaks both Farsi and Arabic fluently. As one of the few U.S. correspondents allowed to work continuously in Iran since 1999, she has reported widely on youth culture, women's rights, and Islamic reform for Time, the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. She is currently a Time magazine contributing writer on Iran and the Middle East.
Marti Noxon (’87), former executive producer of the hit television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is now a writer for the Emmy Award-winning television drama Mad Men.
In 2010, Dana Priest (’81) shook the blogosphere with an online investigative feature that she co-authored called “Top Secret America,” which refers to a group of government agencies created in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Priest, a Washington Post reporter, is known for her accomplishments in hard-hitting investigative journalism, and has won two Pulitzer Prizes, one in 2006 for exposing CIA “black site” prisons and one in 2008 for her articles with two colleagues on the mistreatment of wounded veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Michael Scherer ('98) is a Time Magazine Washington correspondent.
Julia Sweig (‘86) is an internationally recognized authority on Latin America and U.S. foreign policy, especially with respect to Cuba. An award-winning historian and prolific writer, Sweig’s most recent book is Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know. Her writing also appears in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, and a host of international publications.
Mark Teague (’85) is a bestselling children’s author and illustrator of more than 40 books, including How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?
Hector Tobar (’85) is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and was part of the writing team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. He is author of the novel The Tattooed Soldier and the nonfiction book Translation Nation: Defining a New American Identity in the Spanish-speaking United States.
Creative writing student Kristen Holden won first place in the Ina Coolbrith Memorial Poetry Competition and second place in the Poet Laureate Contest in 2002. UC Santa Cruz students have earned six awards in the Poet Laureate and the Coolbrith Memorial competitions, including three first prizes.
Sam Laird (’07) was awarded the fifth annual David W. Miller Award for Student Journalism by the Chronicle of Higher Education for three articles he published in the campus newspaper City on a Hill.
The Department of Literature offers a sequence of workshops from introductory through advanced levels in both poetry and fiction. Other activities available to interested students include participation in the production of literary journals on campus, attendance at readings by visiting writers, and use of a creative writing reading room.
Admission to this concentration is selective. Interested students are required to take one lower-division creative writing workshop at UCSC before applying to the creative writing concentration; however, students are strongly encouraged to complete two lower-division workshops (at least one at UCSC) before applying.
Students accepted into the concentration must complete three advanced writing workshops and a senior project (e.g., a group of stories, a significant portion of a novel, a collection of poems). To apply for admission to the creative writing concentration, students should submit a completed application form (available at the Literature Department office and at creativewriting.ucsc.edu/for-students/apply.html) and a thoughtful selection from their work (8–10 pages of poetry or fiction). Once accepted into the concentration, students are required to declare (or redeclare) the major in literature. At that time, students should meet with their adviser to discuss plans for a senior project.
Student media at UC Santa Cruz include numerous student-published periodicals and a radio station that serves both the campus and the Monterey Bay Area. Many students are able to receive academic credit for participation in media organizations.
KZSC 88.1 FM presents diverse music, news, and public affairs programming for the three-county listening area. In 2010, the station was named one of the top nine college radio stations by the Huffington Post. The award-winning student newspaper City on a Hill publishes weekly. It covers campus, local, national, and international news and offers reviews and commentary. Fish Rap Live! publishes twice monthly and provides a forum for free expression of ideas, coverage of local and campus events, and personal journalism.
Campus newsmagazines such as Black/African Voice, Eye Candy, TWANAS, and Leviathan are dedicated to current cultural, political, and social concerns. Annual literary journals offer poetry, prose, photography, and art. Examples are Chinquapin, Red Wheelbarrow, La Revista, Alay, and Las Girlfriends.
The Writing Program
The campuswide Writing Program offers courses designed to help students become more competent and confident writers of prose. The courses offered through this program teach skills of grammar and organization and strategies of invention, composition, revision, and editing. These courses approach writing as one of the most important ways we have of making discoveries about ourselves and the world around us and of communicating these insights to others.