The Maymester program offered by the Department of English offers undergraduate students the opportunity to explore language and literature during a four-week course commencing at the end of the spring semester in May.

  • The Poet in Paris

    The Poet in Paris offers an intermediate-level course in poetry-writing to undergraduate creative writing majors (and non-majors with the approval of the instructor) in Paris, France, over the month-long Maymester term. Students participate in intensive workshops with the instructor and guest instructors, as well as literary and other events meant to stimulate the creative process, deepen the students' sense of history and language, and expand the range and ambition of their poetry. There are excursions to museums, cafes and bookshops in and around Paris, meetings with French and expatriate poets living and working in Paris, and opportunities for the students to perform their original work for international audiences. Students in the course typically generate a dozen to twenty new poems over the course of the four-week program.

    The course is fully commensurate with ENGL 406 currently taught at USC, is strictly limited to 12 students, and is intended for mature undergraduates who have some sophistication about how to comport themselves in other cultures and who are able to make arrangements at their own expense for transportation, lodging and meals. For information on how to apply, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

  • Writing on the Rez

    Writing on the Rez is a month-long literature/video documentary course offered in the USC Maymester program. The course will bring up to twelve USC students to Leech Lake Reservation for a month-long immersion writing experience where they will study and work with Native American students from Bemidji State University and the surrounding area. All students will spend one-third of their time reading everything from treaties to Native American fiction and nonfiction and traveling to Leech Lake, White Earth, and Red Lake Reservations for first-hand immercial experiences, one-third of their time writing nonfiction essays and articles based on those experiences, and one-third of their time shooting, editing, and creating collaboratively a feature-length documentary film about contemporary Native American lives to be screened at the end of the Maymester at the American Indian Resource Center and once again at USC in the fall.

    Course Goals and Expectations
    This course is designed to collapse the distance between what we all imagine about Native American lives and how those lives are expressed on the ground, to bring USC students into direct contact with their Native peers and vice versa, to collectively and productively question the assumptions we share about culture and communication, and to, with the final documentary project, share our discoveries with a wider audience. This is not a study of Native life; rather, it is a study with Native peoples and between Native people and the wider world. Students will have a chance to socialize with and interview tribal members, attend cultural events (such as powwows), examine tribal structures and government, schools, and engage in cultural activities (subsistence gathering and fishing, etc.). This course is ideal for American Culture and Ethnicity, English, History, and Cinema students.

    All students are expected to read a great deal, write daily, and interact socially and professionally with a great number of people of all ages in the broader Native community. Students are also expected to be able to work and travel independently as they document their experiences and exhibit the motivation and self-direction necessary for independent work.

  • Featured Videos

    The American Indian Lives Project: Volume 1, Ojibwe Country

    (Runtime 1:02:15)

    The Poet in Paris 2012

    (Runtime 23:39)

"The Poet in Paris" students

"Writing on the Rez" students


"This has been absolutely one of my favorite, most enjoyable, most enriching, most fun, most you-name-it courses I have taken at USC. I feel I have grown both as a poet and a person, and you can't put any kind of price on that. If I could take this class again I would. And twice on sunday. And especially if it lasted for a whole semester."
Billy Youngblood
(Poet in Paris)

"I also just want to thank you for allowing me this opportunity and pushing me and my work to even further dimensions. I haven't written this much poetry in so long--it's a great renewing feeling. And all of the guest poets left me with something to think about, work on, try out--I've really had the most amazing experience. I only wish it could have lasted longer."
Ariel C. Smith
(Poet in Paris)



Undergraduate alumni publications pictured above:
Hiram Sims, Photoetry: Poetry and Photographs from South Central L.A., Figueroa Press 2014; Susan Straight, Between Heaven and Here, McSweeney's 2012; Brad Thor, Hidden Order: A Thriller, Pocket 2014; Patrick Ness, More Than This, Candlewick Press 2013; John J. Gobbell, Edge of Valor, Naval Institute 2014; Ellen Plotkin Mulholland, Birds on a Wire, Logos 2013.

  • USC Dornsife Department of English
  • 3501 Trousdale Parkway
  • Taper Hall of Humanities 404
  • University Park
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0354
  • Fax: (213) 741-0377