Creative Writing

Creative Thesis Information

Starting with students who have enrolled at Reed in 2020, those wishing to write a Creative Thesis must fulfill the Creative Writing Concentration within the English major.  English majors enrolled before 2020 may follow this emphasis OR apply using the previous process (below):

English majors (only those enrolled before 2020) who are hoping to write a creative thesis should keep in mind that proposals are screened by the Division and must be approved by the Creative Thesis Committee. The Committee decides whether or not to grant permission based on the nature of the project, the merit of the writing sample, and the educational benefit of the project for the student. Some of the proposals for creative theses that have been approved in the past include: a series of short stories, a series of poems, a play, and a series of creative non-fiction essays. When deciding on a creative thesis, the student should be realistic about the amount of quality work
that can be completed in the time alloted. Each creative thesis includes a critical introduction, in which you "place" your own writing in a context which illuminates the work in terms of its genre and artistic goals.

We encourage students to meet with members of the Creative Thesis Committee to discuss both proposals and writing samples before they turn their proposals in. Anyone who wishes to apply to write a creative thesis must submit a thesis proposal via email to Jolie Griffin ( by no later than 12 noon on January 16, 2023. The proposal should include:

  1. A one or two page introduction, including the genre in which you hope to write; your past experience as a writer (in most cases this will be classes you have taken); and anything else you think will help us evaluate your proposals. Three distinct proposals of 1-3 sentences should also be included; if your application is successful, your thesis topic will be decided by you and your advisor.
  2. A writing sample: six to eight poems, if you wish to write poetry or ten to twelve pages of writing, if you wish to write fiction or nonfiction.

The Creative Thesis Committee will read these proposals with as much speed as possible and will make recommendations to the English Department by the first week of classes.  Shortly after that time, applicants will be notified by letter in their mailbox.

Acceptance by the Creative Writing Thesis Committee is only valid for the year in which the student applies. Students who take leave from the College will, upon their return, need to submit a new proposal in order to be considered a candidate for a Creative theses.

If the proposal is rejected, students may appeal; however, appeals are rarely granted. The appeal deadline is 12 noon on Tuesday of the second week of school, four copies to Jolie Griffin's office (Vollum 320). Committee members cannot discuss with students proposals that are rejected, nor can they help students write appeals. However, given the criteria for writing creative theses, students who wish to appeal might consider revising their proposed project in order to make clear the educational benefit, and, if they think they have work that better demonstrates their abilities, students may also wish to submit new work at the time of their appeal.

The Creative Thesis Committee, in consultation with the Division faculty, will assign thesis advisers to those approved to write creative theses. Until the Committee has completed its review, all thesis registrations with specific faculty members should be considered tentative and subject to change.

Since not all creative thesis proposals are accepted and since students will want to have an adviser and a thesis topic settled by early in the semester, applicants should also consider alternate thesis topics. You should, therefore, be speaking with faculty members with whom you might want to write a critical thesis.

If the Committee approves your proposal, students will follow the same thesis schedule and meet the same thesis due dates as those students writing critical theses, with the exception of the Draft deadline, even though requirements may overlap. A calendar of specific thesis due dates for your entire senior year will be sent to you at the beginning of your thesis year or you may pick up a copy from the Division office (Psych 116).

It is required that students proposing to write a creative thesis take at least two writing workshops (at least one of which in the genre in which the student is applying) prior to submitting their proposal. 

Thesis Reading List

Students accepted for creative thesis work may be asked to put together a reading list appropriate to their thesis genre in cooperation with their thesis adviser. Such a reading list should reflect both the student's interests and needs in the genre, and might include critical as well as creative texts. Normally, creative thesis students give a public reading.

Thesis Colloquium

Typically, theses are advised by Creative Writing faculty. A Thesis Colloquium in Prose and Poetry, respectively, will be instituted if thesis numbers of five or more are approved. Thesis colloquium includes: group meetings revolving around assigned readings and technical discussions; one-on-one meetings at regular, bi-weekly intervals; and individual editing and feedback.  This culminates in a Creative Thesis document (creative work and afterword).