The Literary Arts program at Oakland School for the Arts is a rigorous introduction to the art and practice of writing. The curriculum is a comprehensive, dynamic, and innovative exploration of literary genres, styles, and techniques. The program is driven by a faculty of published authors who are, in equal measure, dedicated teachers and practicing, published writers. Intensive, craft-oriented writing workshops—with literature and literary analysis folded into the curriculum—comprise the core of the program. Courses are differentiated, to allow students at all levels to feel comfortable yet challenged. Course offerings change each semester; all are writing-intensive but include significant amounts of readings intended to expose students to a diverse array of writers both traditional and contemporary, canonical and experimental. Literary Arts also focuses on project-based and collaborative learning, and students get hands-on experience in editing, compiling, designing and producing a range of publications. 

Course offerings change each semester. Fall Craft Course courses include workshops in Fiction and Poetry, as well as an Introductory and Advanced workshops.  Spring Craft Courses include Play/Screenwriting, Creative Non-Fiction, and Literary History classes. Each Craft Course has a rotating theme. Stretch + Explore Electives offer opportunities for students to explore either the Page (DIY) or the Stage (Spoken Word), while Project-Based courses allow students to work collaboratively on a range of publications.

Craft Courses: 

Craft Courses (CCs) are designed to assist students in developing literary craft. Craft Courses follow a traditional Creative Writing workshop model, and cover basic and advanced concepts, terms, and techniques of the genre. CCs cover basic elements of genre and form and have rotating themes each semester. CCs are writing-intensive and also include reading a diverse assortment of texts intended to showcase and support important course concepts. Students give and receive written and verbal constructive feedback in one-on-one and group settings. They also share their work out loud, allowing them to observe the work of their peers. Class sizes are small and course content and instruction are highly differentiated, enabling students of all levels to be challenged and comfortable. Introduction to Literary Arts is required for all incoming Lit Arts students. Advanced Workshops offer a more in-depth environment for students ready for an additional challenge.

Project-Based Courses:

Project-Based Courses give students a chance to work collaboratively to envision, organize, and produce high quality literary publications (online and print). Students learn multiple skills with real-world applications, including editing, leadership, time management, group decision making, promotion and PR, marketing, and professional communication. Students also learn the basics of blogging platforms (WordPress) and design software (InDesign), and learn about the larger arts communities to which their publications are connected.

Literary Arts also focuses on project-based learning, and students get hands-on experience in editing, compiling, designing and producing a range of publications. Current literary arts print and online publications include:

OSA Telegraph: Class-produced online journalism site featuring articles, essays, interviews and more by Literary Arts students. New posts on weekly/bi-weekly basis. Students work as writers, editors, proofreaders, and group leaders, and also learn marketing and social media. Instructor also covers basics of journalism and online publishing. www.osatelegraph.org

Nomenclatter: Class-produced online monthly literary journal featuring new writing by Literary Arts students. Class meets 3x/week; students write, workshop, and edit individual theme-based pieces for monthly publication. www.nomenclatter.org

Enizagam: Class-produced annual literary journal edited and produced by Literary Arts students. Features fiction and poetry submitted by writers from around the country and world. Annual Literary Contest is judged by renowned authors and results in 250+ submissions. Students read and select all submissions. www.enizagam.org

An Exchange: Annual print anthology of Literary Arts students. Each student selects one piece of writing (poetry, fiction, novel/play excerpt) to be included for publication. Students design, layout, and coordinate publication of the book.

Stretch + Explore:

Stretch + Explore (S+E) courses offer students the chance to take their creative work to the next level by exploring what can happen beyond the page. Spoken Word incorporates performance and Theater, while Transformation Strategies encourages students to make connections between literary and other art forms. These courses are writing intensive, but will also include myriad other modes of expression. S+E courses remind students that their writing craft is part of a larger context of art, culture, and expression.

STUDIO HABITS OF MIND (SHOM) as interpreted for Literary Arts

The Studio Habits of Mind (SHOM) is an influential thinking framework for arts education. It comes out of intensive research from Project Zero, an innovative educational research group at Harvard’s School of Education. SHOM is based on the eight habits of the most effective artists, and while it was initially developed around Visual Art, it is highly adaptable to Literary Arts (see below: the bullet points are our own, explaining the relation to Lit Arts). SHOM also encourages a balanced, holistic approach to assessing artists, and Lit Arts incorporates SHOM into its monthly 3P grading system (in which both students and teachers grade and write reflections about the students’ Participation, Progress, and writing Product).

8 Studio Habits of Mind

Stretch + Explore
Take risks with new genres and styles

Expand who and what you read

Convey emotion and ideas in creative work

Offer feedback to others
Verbalize reactions to texts
Perform work in front of audiences

Develop craft
Take seriously the Art of Writing

Revise, edit, revise
Think of writing as something that requires practice and effort
Work on taking writing from automatic expression to a polished, finished text

Imagine your stories! Envision your narratives!

Outline, brainstorm, doodle, sketch

Understand Arts Community
Familiarize yourself with writing communities on international, national, and local levels

Attend readings and events
Visit and explore bookstores and other literary spots

Listen to the work and ideas of your peers

Study your heroes and favorites—how do they do what they do?
Be aware of trends and themes in publishing

Engage + Persist
Banish writer’s block—arm yourself with techniques and tricks to get you through when inspiration isn’t striking

Follow-through, even when an idea becomes tired

Think critically and honestly about yourself and your work. What are you doing? What are you creating?

Praise yourself! What are you great at? Be real: What needs work?