Literary Arts


Fiction, Poetry, Digital and Cross-Disciplinary, Playwriting, and Screenwriting and Non-fiction


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


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

Digital and Cross-Disciplinary

Literary Arts at Brown is at the forefront of innovative, experimental, performance, multimedia, and cross-disciplinary practices in literary and language arts. In particular, since the early 1990s, Brown has been a leading institution for the research-based practice of  Digital Language Arts (then and now also widely known as Electronic Writing). In the late 2000s Literary Arts established a graduate track designed to give students the opportunity to explore cross-disciplinary methods and issues. Recognizing the ubiquity of digitalization in art and culture, and coinciding with the fact that many cross-disciplinary practices are supported by digital media, the department has brought these tracks together into one admissions pool and now welcomes [two/three] graduate students per annum into its graduate cohort.

Digital and Cross-Disciplinary discovers and explores practices of aesthetic writing that emerge when cross-disciplinarity allows writing to work with the arts studied and practiced elsewhere at Brown and at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). The department fosters collaborative relationships with Music, Visual Art, Modern Culture and Media, Computer Science, Theater and Performance Studies—and with RISD. Students are encouraged to study and find practical support in these collaborating departments and institutions.

Incorporates Materials from other Disciplines

For those who apply to work as Digital and Cross-Disciplinary MFA candidates, the department’s faculty anticipates that these practitioners will have work that incorporates materials from a discipline other than writing, such as music, visual, or performance art.

Digital and Cross-Disciplinary is not for

Digital and Cross-Disciplinary is NOT for students who simply want to work in more than one genre of writing or add illustrative media to their fiction and poetry, for example. Applicants should provide digital and cross-disciplinary sample materials that integrate these aspects of the work compositionally. ALL accepted MFA graduate students will however have the opportunity to work and attend workshops across genres and modes of practice other than their category of admission (fiction students may take a poetry workshop, for example).

Digital and Cross-Disciplinary FAQ

Candidates whose chief engagement with literary or language art is digitally mediated or distinctly computational will continue to be well-supported and enabled to specialize thanks to the strong tradition and expertise in the department with this specific mode of practice.

All members of the cohort, including MFA candidates in fiction and poetry, will be encouraged to sample modes of practice beyond their primary genre or discipline. So much literary and language arts practice today incorporates other media and is inherently cross-disciplinary. All writing practices are reliant on the support of new technologies and certain increasingly prominent practices of language art are profoundly influenced and changed by networked and programmable media.

To date, cross-disciplinary students have worked at interfaces between literary arts and textile art, performance, multimedia, and installation. Digital writers have worked with everything from mixed hypermedia, through aesthetic computation, creative hacking, computer graphics, animation, sound art, digital video, and even artificial 3D audiovisual environments (VR and XR) for which Brown has special facilities.

The department’s focus remains, consistently, on literary and language art, on writing, and on taking seriously the writer and language artist’s commitment to language as their primary medium.

Digital and Cross-Disciplinary Faculty


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

Screenwriting and Non-fiction

There are no MFA tracks in Screenwriting or Non-fiction. If these are your areas of focus, you may find that another institution is a better fit. If you are working with film as part of an experimental and cross-disciplinary practice, you may wish to review the cross-disciplinary track. If screenwriting is part of a range of approaches taken in writing scripted material, you may wish to review the Playwriting program in Theatre and Performance Studies.