Literature and Creative Writing (BA)

Program Description

Literature has been central to the formation of collective identities across cultures, nations, and historical epochs. Though literary works are anchored in a particular time and place, many of them are read widely in other times and other places, and by cultures to which they would seem not to belong. The Literature and Creative Writing major at NYU Abu Dhabi is uniquely organized around problems presented by translation, adaptation, and circulation. Unlike many college literary curricula that restrict majors to the study of works in a single language or from a specific national tradition, this major engages students in critical conversations that cut across fields, and in doing so help to rethink the very foundations of literary studies and creative writing.

How are literary forms and the histories of literature and literary exchanges shaped by translation, by military victory and defeat, by colonization and postcolonialism, and by the rise of an economic world system? How do new forms and traditions of literature arise and is there such a thing as an emergent world or global literature? How might the imaginative encounter with other cultures renew our engagements with ourselves and our world? How do cultural, political, class, racial, or sexual differences inform and sustain a vision of a common world? How are literary studies and creative writing in dialogue with the other arts as well as with cultural analysis and theory? What is the role of literary writing in contemporary local and global contexts? What is the relationship between the written, the oral, and the performance? How do we define aesthetic significance across different cultural traditions and different literary modes? Students discuss these and other questions intensively with a distinguished faculty of scholars and writers who come from and work across a wide variety of literary cultures.

The Literature and Creative Writing Program teaches students to become effective analysts of culture, history, and politics, and to become confident writers across a wide range of genres. Creative writing seminars—open to the entire NYUAD student body—include instruction in poetry, fiction, non-fiction, literary journalism, and writing for stage and screen.

Though most course materials are written in or translated into English, they are drawn from an array of cultural traditions. Students with fluency in other languages are encouraged to read assigned texts in the original. All majors take at least one course in creative writing. In advanced coursework, students may pursue a specialization in either literary studies or creative writing, culminating in a capstone thesis or creative project and contextualizing essay.

A major in Literature and Creative Writing prepares students for careers that require critical thinking, forceful and lucid writing, and the ability to undertake challenging research. The Literature and Creative Writing major might lead to graduate school in literature or creative writing, but could just as readily lead to graduate work in law or public policy, and to careers in journalism, publishing, international relations, advertising and media, arts administration, museum and gallery work, or work in the non-profit sector.


The major in Literature and Creative Writing offers two twelve-course tracks, one emphasizing scholarship, the other emphasizing creative work. The program is devoted to the idea that an undergraduate literature major becomes more fruitful when literary scholarship and creative literary work enrich and inform one another.

Students in both tracks take five required courses, which explore the interplay between reading, scholarship, and creative practice: Literary Interpretation; Foundations of Literature I: Epic and Drama; Foundations of Literature II: Lyric Poetry and the Novel; Introduction to Creative Writing; and Problems and Methods in Literary Studies.

Students in the scholarship track take five scholarly electives (at least one of which must be from a list of courses dealing with “pre-modern” subjects). One of these five electives may include an additional creative writing course. Students in the creative track take three creative writing electives and two scholarly electives, which prepare them to produce a creative capstone that is informed by a scholarly perspective. Students in the scholarly track may take one additional creative writing course in lieu of a scholarly elective. All students must take one 3000-level course, one course in pre-modern literatures, and may count only one course with a core curriculum course number (e.g. CADT-UH 1021 Art of Narrative Science) for elective credit. All seniors enroll in two semesters of Capstone Seminar and Project in addition to intensive study with a faculty mentor on the project.

Study Away

The Literature and Creative Writing program recommends that students complete four of their five required courses before studying abroad. Students use their first study abroad to explore the breadth of NYU’s global liberal arts curriculum, and to seek courses that complement their literary studies. Students who choose to apply for a second semester abroad should do so in consultation with an advisor who will help them take into account their possible capstone topic or other academic endeavors. All students planning to be away in spring of junior year should meet with the Literature and Creative Writing Program Head in fall semester to discuss a capstone plan. Students are encouraged to pursue language studies as a complement to the major and we recommend that, where possible, students take at least one course that focuses on the literatures of the study-away site.


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