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Unit Contributions to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion 6551

Academic Years: 
Creative Writing Program
1. Faculty: 

Our program is strongly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion and demonstrates this commitment in the individuals who currently comprise the faculty, in the search and hiring process, in the curriculum taught, and in the authors invited by the faculty to participate in CRWR’s annual Reading Series. Of the seven TTF in the program, one is Asian-American (Garrett Hongo), one is African American (Mat Johnson, who was just hired at .6 FTE in CRWR), and three are women (Marjorie Celona, Geri Doran, and Karen Walker). David Bradley (African-American) taught for several years as a full professor in the program until his retirement about a decade ago. Sara Jaffe (openly queer) taught as a visiting Assistant Professor from 2016-2017. Authors who have participated in the Reading Series for 2016-2017 or as visiting poets include C. Dale Young (gay, Asian/ Latino), Rick Barot (gay, Filipino-American), Ocean Vuong (Vietnamese American), Solmaz Sharif (Iranian American), and Chinelo Okparanta (Nigerian and openly queer). This Fall, 2017, we are welcoming Michael Copperman (Asian-American) and Robin Coste Lewis (African American) as participants in the CRWR Reading Series, and Laila Lalami (Moroccan-American) will be visiting in the spring, 2018.


Our faculty strive to include as many diverse creative and critical voices as possible on their syllabi. One faculty member states that 30-40% of the fiction taught is by authors of color and about half of it is by women. Another faculty member notes that, in an effort to undo decades of white, male, hetero-normative, and American bias in reading and writing, she includes fiction by Edward P. Jones, Jeanette Winterson, Chimananda Ngozi Adichie, Ayana Mathis, and Chinelo Okparanta, as well as criticism by Toni Morrison, bell hooks, Pam Morris, Claudia Rankine, and Pauline Palmer, among others. In addition, this faculty member is now a Center for the Study of Women in Society faculty affiliate and in spring of 2017 led a reading group discussion on Ayana Mathis’ The Twelve Tribes of Hattie for Black History Month; she also participated on a Northwest Women Writers Symposium panel focused on the Great Migration and the work of women, along with Mathis, Ethnic Studies professor Sharon Luk, and community members. In his graduate courses, Garrett Hongo focuses on decolonization and decentering race by assigning works by Gloria Anzalduah, K. Anthony Appiah, Homi Bhabha, Anne Anlin Cheng, Franz Fanon, Garrett Hongo, Albert Memmi, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Charles Taylor, Derek Walcott, and more.

3. Graduate Programs: 

The MFA in Creative Writing at the UO is committed to attracting students that represent diversity in relation to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and socio-economic background. Of the MFA students currently enrolled the program, four of eighteen come from minority and/or international backgrounds (two are Hispanic, one is Egyptian, one is Afghan, and one is Kenyan). Although successful recruitment of minorities can be difficult, ten out of the top twenty poetry candidates who were accepted or waitlisted for the program last year self-identified as coming from minority and international backgrounds (Cuban-American, Columbian, Vietnamese, Asian, Syrian-American, Metis, Puerto Rican, Afro-Cuban, Mexican-American, and African). The program consistently nominates student applicants for promising scholar awards and last year two MFA poetry student candidates received the awards but chose to go elsewhere.

This past year, 2017-2018, the Diversity Committee of CRWR conducted diversity discussions with the MFA students regarding classroom pedagogy and the overall environment. This will be continuing this academic year, 2018-2019. To facilitate these discussions, the committee drew up and distributed an extensive document about the status of diversity in the field overall.

See above in the faculty section for information regarding the curriculum in the MFA program.

4. Undergraduate Programs: 

The Kidd Tutorial program for undergraduates also incorporates a diversity of creative and critical voices in its curriculum, looking back to its origins in the Watts Writers Workshops in Los Angeles. The curriculum includes the following texts: Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Hell-Heaven” (Indian American); James Alan McPherson’s “Why I Like Country Music” (African American); “Red Convertible” by Louise Erdrich (Native American); “The Usual Human Disabilities” by Nicolas Montemarano and A Chapter from Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips (Disability); “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin (African American). Jamaica Kincaid,“Girl” (African American). In addition, the Readers who visit campus as part of CRWR’s Reading Series also give lectures to in the Kidd classes, so this incorporates the diverse voices of such authors as Michael Copperman and Robin Coste Lewis who are visiting this Fall.

A similar range of diverse voices is featured in the curriculum choices for the other undergraduate courses in CRWR—both at the 200 and the 300 levels. For example, in a course on Embodied non-fiction, the instructor has the students read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home (Queer); Ta-Nehishi Coates Between the World and Me (African American); Chang-Rae Lee (Asian American); Aparna Nancherla’s stand-up album (Indian-American); essays by Floyd Sloot and Nancy Mairs (Disability).

In addition to the focus on diversity and inclusion in the curriculum, collaboration between CRWR and Ethnic Studies has resulted in cross-listing of courses such as ES 399: Special Studies: Writing from the Margins with CRWR 240: Introduction to Fiction Writing

5. Outreach and Partnerships: 

The MFA students partner with Wordcrafters, a county program that, among other community events, leads a weekly one-hour creative writign class in the Phoenix program for youth in detention at Serbu

The CRWR Reading Series that features six readers of poetry and fiction, from backgrounds representative of underrepresented groups, throughout the year is advertised prominently throughout the community through posters and listservs