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Creative Writing at Reading – University of Reading

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Creative Writing at Reading

Selection of English Literature student anthologies

Creative Writing at Reading

Everyone has the potential to be creative, all of us have an imagination, we tell stories and use language in inventive and surprising ways every day. This is the raw material: language, imagination and experience. The task of the writer is to turn this raw material into something else, something shaped and polished. Our Creative Writing pathway will show you how to do that.

The Creative Writing Team

Our modules are taught by practising, published authors working at the highest professional level. Creative Writing at Reading was founded by Professor Peter Robinson, described in reviews as 'the finest poet of his generation' and 'a major English poet', winner of the Cheltenham Prize and John Florio Prize. Leader of the Creativity Research Theme, he has also published Foreigners, Drunks and Babies, a collection of stories, and the novel September in the Rain. The Director of the Creative Writing Pathway is Associate Professor Conor Carville, winner of the Patrick Kavannagh Award for his poetry. Kate Clanchy has published three prize-winning collections of poetry, and her short stories won the BBC Short Story Prize and V.S. Pritchett Prize. Author of the novel Meeting the English and Antigona and Me, the memoir of her Kosovan neighbour honoured with the Writers Guild Award for Best Book, she has also had eleven plays produced on BBC Radio. Shelley Harris is a bestselling novelist whose first book, Jubilee, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize. It was featured on Radio 4's Book at Bedtime and as a Richard and Judy Book Club Choice. Our multi-talented, award-winning team will give you first-hand insights into the creative process, read and comment extensively on your work, and guide you towards your area of particular strength.


 The Head of the School of Literature and Languages, Professor Gail Marshall, said: “We are very pleased to have Kate and Shelley join the team. Not only do they both have fascinating writing profiles – they also have impressive track records as teachers.”

A Writing Community

We work hard to foster a friendly, cohesive and committed community of practice. As well as learning from us you will also learn from each other through sharing work in progress. This will happen in workshops (see below) but ideally you will also form informal networks of your own during your time with us. In many cases these will continue to exist even after you have left the university. There will also be many other opportunities to hear, discuss and share new writing. We regularly invite professional writers to come and read from their work and we host a poetry festival that attracts some of the most significant poets currently publishing. Every year we publish our Creative Arts Anthology, edited by our own students, containing work by students, staff and visiting writers. The University creative writing group, Scribblers, run by and for students from across the university, is also very active.

How it All Works

We teach creative writing in a variety of ways. You will attend lectures given by our team and by visiting writers. Such lectures will concentrate on one specific practical issue: how to construct a character, for example, or at a more advanced level the challenges of writing historical fiction. You will be assigned novels, short stories or poems to read beforehand, and the lecturer will draw examples from these to illustrate his or her advice. Such lectures are followed by seminars where one of the team will lead a small group in discussion and set short practical writing exercises. These lectures and seminars prepare you for workshops where your writing will be examined closely by one of the creative writing team as well as by your fellow students.

The Pathway Structure

 In your first year you will take Introduction to Creative Writing, a two-term module designed to allow you to experiment with poetry, drama and prose in order to ascertain your area of strength.

Over the next two years you will specialise in the form or forms you find particularly appealing. Writing and Revising is a workshop-only module that is highly effective in reinforcing and extending the lessons learned in your first year. Writing, Genre and the Market encourages you to think about the specific audience you are trying to reach and includes an emphasis on the relationship between writing and research. In your final year there will be further opportunity to specialise as well as to do a lengthy Creative Writing Dissertation.

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