Due to more  students being able to travel to Shanghai for the Fall 2022 semester, NYU Shanghai faculty had to make last minute adjustments to offered courses to ensure students of a sophomore standing were able to meet their Perspective on Humanities (PoH) requirement. 

As more sections of PoH courses became available, faculty within the writing department stepped up to fill in for those sections— specifically faculty who had previously taught creative writing courses. 

 David Perry, a professor who had intended to teach a creative nonfiction course for the Fall 2022 semester, outlined the changes he made following the increase in demand for PoH sections.   

“Things changed considerably in the wake of the spring lockdown, of course, and, like everyone at NYU Shanghai, my plans and schedule changed again and again and again until the very beginning of the semester when I’d accepted the necessity of teaching POH,” he said. 

“I love teaching POH, but it has been difficult at points to go through the process of planning to teach creative writing and then, at the last minute, to have to accept and adapt to the necessary changes.” 

Not only has Perry noted the effects of these changes on a personal level, he also mentioned its impact on the creative writing community.. 

He  feels that, “…the biggest change has probably been a sense of a loss of momentum and the diminishment of an often-vibrant culture among our creative writing students, one that starts in the classroom but that has always grown outside of the classroom.”

To compensate for the lack of courses offered to creative writing students this semester, Perry mentions the variety of creative writing events offered that could serve as a replacement. These events take the form of workshops and open mics, run by students and professors of creative writing courses. 

To stay updated on the latest creative writing information, Perry urges students to email IEP Fellow Jasmine Zou to have your name added to the Creative Writing Newsletter.

While students are still able to pursue their interests in creative writing through these events, their ability to fulfill their passions through dedicated courses or by aiming for a creative writing minor has yet to be realized. 

While Perry expresses histhe hope “to get back to our previous rotation of 3-4 courses per semester,” he intends for the time being to offer a January term course on travel writing. Perry recently confirmed there will also be no creative writing course offerings for the Spring 2023 semester, as writing professors are needed for the Writing as Inquiry course. 

Even though creative writing courses are not mandatory for any major, the demand from students still remains. Though unable to provide details of the number of students who had signed up for courses for the Fall 2022 semester (classes were canceled before it began), he supplied numbers from previous years. 

From Fall 2021 to Spring 2022 a total of 47 creative writing students were enrolled over six creative writing classes, 13 of which took Introduction to Creative Writing. In both 2019 and 2021, seven students graduated with creative writing minors, the creative writing department’s highest number yet.

Maanyaa Jain, a sophomore who intends pursuing a minor in creative writing, is concerned for her future plans. 

“Not having classes this semester means I haven’t been able to follow my four-year plan,” she said.

“It’s caused me some anxiety and a little bit of stress because now I either have to choose a new minor or move my credits around.” 

The disconnect between available creative writing courses and a sense of community for creative writers is another stressor for Jain. 

“I feel like last semester, when I took Intro to Creative Writing, it was something I looked forward to since it was a group of like minded individuals. It seemed like there was more of a community created around these courses, but now they aren’t offered it’s so fragmented… there is no ‘anchor’ of the classes.”

The stronger sense of community being lost has created a dissonance for creative writing students as NYU Shanghai stresses community building and inclusivity for all its students. 

All is not lost, though, as students and professors have been putting  their own time and resources into organizing engaging events for writers. These have included poetry slams (an event Maanyaa Jain held last month), writing workshops, self-led student projects, and the Brightlines project, the creative writing department’s student publication. 

 Creative writing students hope the same energy devoted to organizing these events will be put towards securing creative writing courses in the upcoming semester, to further solidify the community and attract new members.