New creative writing class offered at Butler

by Jaycie Wunder

Books, short stories and poems are aspects we are all familiar with from reading in our spare time to being forced to read Lord of the Flies.

English studies obviously do not strike everyone’s fancy, but they keep a very loyal and devoted fan base. Creative Writing is a new course offered at Butler’s El Dorado campus this fall and is taught by Professor Michael Cissell.

Creative Writing is worth three credit hours and offered on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11-11:55 a.m. The class has been missing from El Dorado campus for the last couple of years and has only been offered at the Andover campus.

The head of Cissell’s department asked if he would be interested in teaching a Creative Writing class in El Dorado, and he was sure to say yes. Cissell has a Master’s in Fine Arts with an emphasis in poetry.

The cornerstone of the class is students constructing their own works, then holding workshops within the classroom. Peers criticize components of each other’s creative pieces and emphasize elements they enjoy.

Classes also consist of reading different literary works from professionals and discussing literary elements they use that students would also like to re-create.

“Good writers borrow, great writers steal” at least that is what T.S. Elliot says.

Cissell explains this process in class regularly, and is sure to identify that it is not to be confused with literally stealing people’s words, because that, my friends, is plagiarism. When he talks about stealing he is referring to taking literary elements from great pieces of work and applying them to our own works.

Creative writing allows a writer to express themselves through art in a very personal form.

“I think it’s important because, like any art, it forces you to think beyond yourself. You are forced to think about your audience and what your audience needs from you,” Cissell says.
Cissell continues to say that, “Self-expression is important because it allows the creative writer to explore different alleys, different corners and different side streets of their minds.”

There are currently six students enrolled in creative writing on the El Dorado campus. The class is small enough to thoroughly peer review creations and make suggestions on how to further writing techniques. Cissell hopes that students who go through the class will end it with a deeper appreciation for the art of creative writing and a desire to continue their writings.

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