The Writing Program
Unlike liberal arts curricula, Pratt's writing program is not for students of writing but aspiring writers. Pratt's program takes full advantage of two local facts of life: the hothouse work ethic of Pratt's other studio programs and New York City, the literary capital of the United States (and arguably the world). Both allow Pratt to attract a writing faculty that is without parallel. Our professors are all working professional writers, happy to share their experience.
This four year undergraduate program leads to a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Writing. The attainment of this goal requires serious and sustained commitment. In contrast to traditional colleges, in which a major is often declared only in the third year of study, writing majors at Pratt begin an intensive concentration on writing in the first term of their freshman year and gradually expand it over the course of the program.
Writing studios form the core of the curriculum. Here students concentrate on producing fiction, poetry, plays and creative non-fiction. In the first year, while the assignments are often creative in nature, the primary focus of the studios is on word choice, grammar, and the honing of a forceful clarity of expression; in the second year, narrative and poetic forms come to the fore; in the third year, students are encouraged to specialize in genres that will culminate in their senior theses: book-length original works of prose, poetry, or an experimental form; the composition and polishing of which take center stage in the fourth-year studios.
A writer writes. There is simply no other way to learn. It’s hard and humbling but tremendously exhilarating. As an aspiring writer you already know this. That’s what drew you to Pratt’s writing program.
Beginning in the sophomore year, special topic writing tutorials provide students with the opportunity to work closely with accomplished writers in areas such as artists’ books, short stories, poetry, satire, feature and editorial journalism, screenplay, and drama. On Friday afternoons, literary agents, poets, editors, novelists, journalists and humorists come to campus to discuss their work with students during Writers’ Forum. Each year a well-known author is chosen to be the program’s Writer-in-Residence.
The overall emphasis on the practice of writing is reinforced throughout by courses in literature, cultural studies, science, and history. A solid grounding in these disciplines is crucial to real achievement in the written word. Moreover, with an eye to sharpening students’ analytical and argumentative skills, a two-semester sequence called Critical Thinking and Writing is a requirement of the freshman year. To ensure that writing majors explore the rich courses available in the Institute, a minimum of nine elective course credits must be taken in the School of Art and Design or the School of Architecture.
Finally, the internships, typically taken in the spring of the junior year, give students invaluable opportunities for work experience at places such as the Village Voice, Saturday Night Live, Vibe magazine, and A Public Space, as well as nonprofit arts organizations such as St. Mark’s Poetry Project, Ugly Duckling Presse, and the Dia Foundation.