Graduate Program: Genres


Fiction students at Brown complete a program of workshops, independent studies and electives designed to provide feedback for an eclectic mix of talented writers who are in the process of refining or defining their artistic visions.  Through readings, assignments, and discussion of works in progress, instructors encourage the inherent diversity of approaches to the art of writing that are found within the graduate writing community.

Fiction faculty:  Colin Channer, Robert Coover (Emeritus), Thalia Field, Laird Hunt, Karan Mahajan, Carole Maso, Meredith Steinbach (Emerita)


Like Fiction students, Poetry students at Brown complete a program of workshops, independent studies and electives that emphasize feedback and exposure to many literary traditions and anti-traditions. Poets are encouraged to develop their independent voices and unique artistic visions through readings, assignments, and discussion of works in progress, as well as through participation in a vibrant and diverse literary community.

Poetry faculty:  Forrest Gander (Emeritus), Sawako Nakayasu, Eleni Sikelianos, Cole Swensen, Keith Waldrop (Emeritus)

Digital Language Arts

Since the early 1990s, Brown has been at the forefront of what is widely known as Electronic Writing, or, in other contexts, Electronic or Digital Literature, or Literary Hypermedia. Today we acknowledge that all writing practices are reliant on the support of new technologies and that certain, increasingly prominent, practices of language art are profoundly influenced and changed by networked and programmable media. Digital Language Arts discovers and explores practices of aesthetic writing that emerge when digital technologies and digital cultures allow writing to work with other artistic media across disciplines, such as those offered by Brown's music, visual art, Modern Culture and Media, Computer Science, and Theater and Performance Studies departments, and by RISD, especially its Digital+Media graduate program. 

While our students are encouraged to work in mixed hypermedia, including aesthetic computation, creative hacking, computer graphics, animation, electronic music and sound art, digital video, and even artificial 3D audiovisual environments, the focus is still on writing, and on taking the writer/language artist's commitment to language-as-medium seriously. Working in an artificial 3D audiovisual environment (known as a CAVE or 'CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment') is one of the Brown Literary Arts Department's specialties; with the support of Brown's Center for Computation and Visualization, we regularly teaching 'Cave Writing/Writing 3D' in the highly collaborative context of the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. Digital Language Arts works to facilitate all kinds of collaborative projects.

John Cayley directs Digital Language Arts at Brown and Robert Coover is emeritus faculty.


Literary Arts has established a graduate track designed to give students the opportunity to explore interdisciplinary methods and issues. For those who apply to work as Cross-Disciplinary MFA candidates, the program faculty anticipates that these practitioners will have work that incorporates materials from a discipline other than writing, such as music, visual art, or performance art.  

Note:  This track is NOT for students who want to work in more than one genre of writing.  All accepted MFA graduate students have the opportunity to attend workshops in genres other than their primary genre (fiction students may take a poetry workshop, for example).

Cross-Disciplinary faculty:  John Cayley and  Thalia Field


The Playwriting program has moved to Theater Arts and Performance Studies.