English majors may take specified courses to complete a Creative Writing Emphasis, a special track that provides a strong background in both literature and creative writing skills.
Los Angeles is an ideal location for students interested in creative writing. It offers a wide array of readings, workshops and exhibitions, allowing students to experience the full diversity of literary voices that characterizes poetry and fiction in the United States today.
Each winter, the English department sponsors an Annual Literary Contest to which students may submit their poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction. The winners receive substantial cash prizes and prize-winning work is published in Feast, Occidental’s art and literary magazine. In addition, Feast welcomes submissions from the student body as a whole.
A designated fund allows the English department to bring noted writers to campus for both public readings and smaller meetings with creative writing students. Recent visitors include novelists Rachel Kushner, Angela Flournoy and Anouar Benmalek, and acclaimed poets Solmaz Sharif and Joshua Bennett.
Many of these activities are supervised by our Writer in Residence in coordination with the department chair. Our most recent Writer in Residence was Zinzi Clemmons, author of What We Lose (2017), a novel hailed by the National Book Foundation as heralding “the arrival of a virtuosic new voice in fiction.” The English department is currently looking for a new Writer in Residence to teach courses, mentor students, and organize events that spotlight the creative writing emphasis.
For more information on the coursework required to complete the emphasis, please consult the Courses & Requirements page or contact the department chair.