Area Program in Literary Prose

Area Program in Literary Prose

The 2023 online application link is here. See below for details on how to apply and what to send. The appplication deadline is 5 p.m. on Friday, 17 March 2023.


This area program of the Department of English allows talented undergraduate writers to pursue serious study of the craft of literary prose writing (fiction, nonfiction, and the hybrid forms between) within the context of the English major. The Area Program in Literary Prose (APLP) stresses not only writing but extensive reading and rigorous thinking about the nature of narrative, and it encourages exploration in corollary disciplines engaging strategies of narrative, according to each student’s individual focus.

The APLP is a two-year course of study and admission is competitive. Students apply in the spring semester of their second year and declare a major in English, although the requirements for the APLP differ from the requirements for a standard English major. We do our best to support students who wish to minor or double-major in another discipline.

In addition to taking upper-level English literature courses, students in the APLP will take at least 12 hours of upper-level (ENCW 3000 level and higher) workshops (three in fiction and one in memoir), two 3-hour literary prose seminars (ENCW 4550) designed especially for writers in the program (these are offered every term), and, in the second semester of the fourth year, a required thesis class (ENCW 4720), a one-semester project which culminates in the creation of a manuscript of original fiction, nonfiction (memoir) or hybrid forms between (40 + pages).

Because close reading and creative writing are inextricably linked, the program requires its students to complete:

  • The pre-requisite to the English major (completion of an ENGL 2000-level course with a grade of “C” or completion of two ENGL 3000-level courses, with the average grade between the two courses being a “B”)

As well as 30 hours of upper-level coursework, including:

  • ENGL 3001 and ENGL 3002
  • Four (4) upper-level workshops (12 hours), at least two in fiction and at least one in memoir/non-fiction. One workshop should be at the 4000 level or higher.
  • Two (2) Literary Prose Program seminars (ENCW 4550) on various topics of interest to creative writers (students may take more of these classes if they wish)
  • One pre-1800-level course in English at the 3000-level or above (Medieval, ENGL 3100/4100; Renaissance, ENGL 3200/4200; or 18th-century, ENGL 3300/4300), including any Shakespeare course at the 3000-level or above)
  • The Thesis Course (ENCW 4720)

We do not recommend APLP students take two workshops in one semester unless the workshop classes are in different genres/forms. APLP students may not take three workshops in one semester without written permission from the APLP director.

How to Apply to the APLP:

Rising third-year majors interested in the APLP should apply each spring using this Google form, where you will provide your basic contact information and the name and email of one faculty or graduate instructor reference. At the end of that application there is a link where you can upload your supporting documents, which include a current transcript, a writing sample (a short story, novel excerpt, creative essay, etc. of fifteen double-spaced pages or fewer), a one-to-two page personal statement, and the name and email of a UVA instructor who knows your work and potential in a small, focused program of study. These supporting documents should have filenames that start with your last name and first initial so we can easily identify who they are from, i.e. "SmithJ-shortstory.doc."

Applications for admission for the 2023–24 academic year are due online by 5 p.m. on Friday, 17 March 2023.

A few FAQ's:

Q: I'm mostly interested in writing science fiction or fantasy or romance (or other mass-market genres). Can I write an APLP thesis like that?

A: Probably not. The APLP is about trying to create literary objects, or prose that captures the human condition. If you're not quite sure what that means, you need to take a little time to read some contemporary literary magazines like The New Yorker or The Paris Review or Virginia Quarterly Review or more locally, Meridian, or many, many others. Stop by Bryan 422 and borrow some magazines from our shelves. This doesn't mean your APLP work must be firmly realist. We do have students write stories and essays with speculative and experimental elements. But our faculty does not specialize in genre writing. The craft techniques you learn in the APLP can help you become a better genre writer, but you won't be able to do a lot of genre work for credit while in our undergraduate program. 

Q: I find stories about _________ difficult to read. Can I get a program accommodation to be excused from those assignments?

A: Probably not. You can certainly talk to your instructors about course content you might find emotionally difficult and see if they are willing to provide alternative assignments, but we leave that decision up to each instructor. We are not required by university policy to make accommodations based on subject matter, and difficult, emotionally challenging material permeates literature. We think our students--and our faculty--are best served by grappling with these challenging topics.

Q: I'm already in the APLP and I thought a workshop-intensive course I took (or am taking) might satisfy one of my workshop requirements, but that course doesn't show up in SIS as fulfilling any requirements for me. Why is that?

A: If a course is not one of our standard ENCW workshop courses (if it is not in our department or the course number ends in 559), it is probably not coded in SIS as automatically satisfying APLP requirements. However, we can make exceptions and manually give credit in SIS. Please email the APLP director with your course details (the course number, title, instructor name, and the semester you took [or are taking] the course) and we'll let you know if we can grant an exception.


For more information, contact Interim Director Jeb Livingood, [email protected]