Two writing students laugh about the comics they've created in class.

BAWriting + Literature

Cultivate your creative writing potential and literary analysis skills in an inspiring, intensive studio environment.

Overview

The living art of writing and literature

Our program emphasizes the historical knowledge of literature, interdisciplinary exploration, and critical inquiry to help you create original work. Situated in one of the best art and design schools in the country, creativity and innovation are at the heart of everything we do. Students learn to develop their individual voices through workshops in prose, poetry, drama, screenwriting, graphic novels, improvisation, and more. They incorporate visual art into their own writing as they work on a thesis manuscript.

BA writing student award winners pose with their book cover art.

Immersed in the Bay Area’s rich literary history

The Bay Area has long been home to exciting literary communities, from the San Francisco Renaissance and Beat poetry movement to New Narrative and Slam/Spoken Word. During any given week, there are dozens of reading series students can attend. It’s this vibrant literary scene, combined with our art and design backdrop, that makes our Writing and Literature program so unique.

Studios + Shops

Work within many modes and genres

A creative writing degree is an investment in your development as a writer and reader. You’ll have the opportunity to practice image-making, meter, and other poetic gestures; character development and fiction forms; lyric essays, literary journalism, travel writing, hybrid narratives, and more.

Your workshop submissions in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction will be informed by close readings and analyses of writing that spans movements. We read the Romantics, Gothic literature, non-Western traditions, graphic novels—we read everything. Courses focused on literary writing by a single author, such as Walt Whitman or Octavia Butler, allow us to dive deeper into diverse perspectives and critical theory.

Our curriculum also includes four open electives, giving you the freedom to explore different disciplines such as community arts, printmaking, painting and drawing, and illustration.

Connect with published writers and literary organizations

Our students learn what it’s like to live and work as a writer through internships with some of today’s most noteworthy literary organizations: McSweeney’s, Zoetrope, 826 Valencia, and Small Press Traffic. Within our classrooms and workshops, guest lecturers and faculty—all widely published—guide students through the fundamental steps for publication.

Your writing life at CCA

  • Organize and host our HearSay Reading Series
  • Create, edit, and design our Humble Pie undergraduate journal
  • Perform during public open mic nights
  • Collaborate with animators and illustrators
  • Intern for organizations like Small Press Distribution and 826 Valencia
  • Write a full-length collection for your senior thesis

Faculty

Work with award-winning writers

Our faculty are accomplished scholars, prose writers, poets, nonfiction writers, and playwrights. They publish New York Times best-sellers, mount exhibitions, and even write libretti for operas. Students benefit from their diverse practices during small workshops and one-on-one sessions.

Chair Anne Shea is a researcher and widely published writer. Her teaching and research expertise include twentieth century and twenty-first century North American literature, as well as English composition. Shea’s essays have been published by scholarly and peer-reviewed journals, such as MELUS, Contemporary Literature, and Women’s Studies. Her writing on contemporary art has appeared in X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly and n.paradox: international feminist art journal. Currently, Shea’s working on a book about documentary poetry and neoliberal violence.

Eric Olson, Associate Chair of Writing and Literature

Eric Olson, Associate Chair of Writing and Literature

Associate Chair Eric Olson is a fiction writer who teaches courses in literature, creative writing, academic writing, and literary theory. He is the author of The Procession of Mollusks, a novel published in 2009 by Astrophil Press. Olson is the former associate editor for Conjunctions, an online literary journal that champions experimental writing.

Curriculum

We think with our hands

Develop your writing into works of art

Writing and Literature at CCA is a combination of forms workshops, open electives, and topical courses on theory, visual arts, and historical and modern authors and techniques. The program is designed to help you develop your writing into publishable works of art through individualized attention and access to one of the country’s most dynamic literary communities. View sample courses

Investigate ideas through every dimension

Before diving into their chosen major, every undergraduate participates in the First Year Experience. Students explore a wide range of materials and tools over the course of two semesters. Faculty from different disciplines guide studio projects, group critiques, and theoretical discussions, setting students up for success throughout their major coursework.

BA Writing + Literature

Core Studio

Drawing 1, 2D, 3D, 4D or two of the core classes and two writing workshops or studios
12 units

Writing + Literature Major Requirements

Workshop: Literary Forms (2000 level)
6 units
Literature: Historical Topics (2000 level)
3 units
Literature: Modern Topics (2000 level)
3 units
Media History: Literary Theory
3 units
Ways of Reading
3 units
Literature (LITPA 2000 or 3000 level)
9 units
Literary Journal
3 units
Writing Majors Workshop
3 units
Workshop: Critical Essay
3 units
Writing and Literature Practicum
3 units
Senior Project: Thesis
6 units

Additional Studio Requirements

Interdisciplinary Studio
3 units
Diversity Studies Studio
3 units
Studio Electives
3 units
Open Electives
12 units

Humanities + Sciences Requirements

Writing 1
3 units
Writing 2
3 units
Introduction to the Arts: Antiquity to Early Modern or World Literature Survey
3 units
Introduction to the Modern Arts
3 units
Foundation in Critical Studies
3 units
Philosophy and Critical Theory (2000 level)
3 units
Social Science/History (2000 level)
3 units
Science/Math (2000 level)
3 units
Visual Studies (2000 level)
3 units
Diversity Studies Seminar
3 units
Humanities and Sciences Electives (2000 or 3000 level, at least 6 units must be 3000 level, excluding Writing and Literature and Literature and Performing Arts Studies)
12 units

Total 120 units

Careers

Your future as a writer and artist

Our students emerge from the Writing and Literature program with highly transferable skills in critical thinking and oral and written communication. Alumni secure positions at newspapers, literary nonprofits, small-press publishers, and advertising agencies. Many have gone on to pursue graduate degrees in creative writing, education, law, and library science.

Potential career paths

  • Freelance writer
  • Journalist
  • Editor
  • Playwright
  • Content strategist
  • Copywriter
  • Arts administrator
  • Social activist
  • Entrepreneur
  • Technical writer
  • Publication and production assistant
  • Art therapist
  • Small-press publisher
  • Lawyer
  • Librarian
  • Travel writer
  • Essayist

News + Events

What’s happening in the writing community?

How to Apply

Learn the craft of writing in a supportive community

Our students are excited to study various styles and formal techniques with acclaimed writers. They want to stretch their creative writing skills in intimate workshops and establish industry connections at prominent presses and journals. Inspired by CCA’s resources for fine arts and design, students are comfortable going beyond the written page to make compelling work. As thoughtful readers, collaborators, and community members, they’re prepared to flourish in many professional spheres that require critical thinking and literary inventiveness.

Find your creative community at CCA

Apply now