The Department of Language and Literature has established competitive merit-based fellowships to propel its emerging creative writing major and minor and attract the interest of prospective students. The fellowships will be offered in amounts of $2,500 or $1,000 to incoming students who will major or minor in creative writing.
“[Offering fellowships] is a really good idea,” said sophomore English major Emily Duncan, an aspiring fantasy fiction writer. “If they had been doing that when I was coming in, I would have been even more inclined to look into the school.”
Director of Creative Writing and Assistant Professor of English Dr. John Estes dubbed these awards “fellowships” rather than scholarships because they represent more than mere financial assistance. According to Estes, they are intended to cultivate a “rich and fertile exchange within student culture that is encouraging, challenging and stimulating.”
Estes said he hopes these university-funded scholarships will not only propel the program but also extend beneficial opportunities to mesh self-expression with linguistic competence.
“Creativity is highly valued by employers,” Estes said, highlighting the importance of these skills in any career. “We do people a disservice to not let [them] have more emphasis in liberal arts.”
The development of a creative writing program is in response to its increased popularity among post-secondary institutions over the last decade. According to Estes, there is “a real hunger in people” for more than mere vocational certification.
“College is a time to explore who we are and develop as human beings … with a mix of skills and experiences that is appealing,” he said.
“I needed four years [as an English major] to develop an understanding of what good writing is,” senior English and philosophy major Holly Nunn said. “Now I can move on to graduate school for creative writing because I feel like I have done what I can do with English literature. I’m ready to expand now.”
Those considering an undergraduate degree in creative writing are eligible to apply for the new fellowships by submitting an original selection of poetry, fiction or non-fiction, in addition to a personalized artist’s statement and cover letter. Submissions must be received by Dec. 1 and abide by specified length requirements.
Fellowship recipients will be determined by the quality of their work and passion to pursue creative writing at the academic level. Their submissions will be evaluated by department faculty members during the first year, but the committee may eventually include the expertise of faculty from related disciplines, outside writers and poets or other students.
Although current Malone students cannot apply for the creative writing fellowships, which are intended for incoming freshmen, Nunn hopes this new major will inspire closet writers to get involved with this creative movement. She envisions a reading and writing community that permeates campus, provides increased enrichment opportunities like literature groups and workshops and actively involves administration in promoting literacy.
“I’m always surprised at the number of writers who appear on campus and the amount of talent that Malone students seem to have for writing and creativity,” Nunn said, who also serves as editor of Sightlines, Malone’s student journal of the arts. “Students often think they would never get into [publications, but] we are trying to crunch that myth.”
With eyes bright and pens poised, English undergrads are instead extending an invitation to future “fellows” and any undiscovered on-campus prodigies who desire to engage in and expand the growing literary community.
Caitlin Pickard is a contributing writer for Aviso AVW.