Creative writing at UCLA: not just for English majors anymore

Published: November 13, 2015

Professor Fred D’Aguiar, who joined the UCLA English department this fall as head of creative writing, hopes to create a robust and diverse program that will appeal to students from many areas of study.

The UCLA English department is doubling-down on the right-brain mentality of undergrads.

Starting in Fall 2016, non-English majors will for the first time be able to enroll in a creative writing course — specifically a general education introductory class — currently under construction and to be taught by UCLA professor and acclaimed novelist Mona Simpson, and newly hired head of creative writing, Fred D’Aguiar.

“Exposure to the art of writing — or rather, arts, there are many forms of writing — increases our ability to empathize,” said D’Aguiar, an award-winning poet and novelist who joined the faculty last spring and began teaching two classes this fall. “That act of feeling connected to the narrative fate of a character on a flat page, if you can empathize with that, it can wake up a dormant ability to empathize with others in the world around you, even when they look, behave or believe differently from you.”

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