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The Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative

Heeding the Call for Narrative in a Fragmented World

This is the age of Story, a time when organizations need people who can absorb great sums of diverse information and organize it well. Business, Medicine, Social Work, Law, Sciences, and the Arts all thrive on effective storytelling. This is the job of the narrator.  


The Master of Arts in Writing Program at the Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative at Lenoir-Rhyne University offers graduate-level and certificate courses in Creative Writing and Narrative Medicine in Thomas Wolfe’s hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.  The Master of Arts in Writing degree engages scholarship in literature, narrative theory, and creative process development to prepare graduates to be the storytellers and story interpreters in professional and cultural environments.  Students will participate in a journey of discovery, exploring the evolution of literary genres, paired with a series of supportive, intensive close reading and writing workshops.  

The M.A. in Writing at The Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative encourages the practices of exploration, eloquence, and attention in developing expansive and insightful narrative.  Students learn to seek the shape of story that emerges organically from deep engagement with a topic and with close consideration of the multiple forces at work within all stories.  The Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative honors its namesake by encouraging the individual voice free from the constraints of self-censorship in the process of self-discovery, while recognizing the value of the writer-reader relationship as well as the teller-listener relationship.

Graduates leave the program prepared to be a voice in the culture as well as an author of it.  They are also are prepared to support themselves in the creative economic sector as writers, editors, publishers, and book consultants.  Students develop skill in desktop publishing, self-publishing, e-publishing, and traditional publishing as they also experience first-hand technical and conceptual editing practices.  With its own press run by students, the Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative provides graduates with opportunities to publish their work. Students work in groups and learn from multiple sources, minimizing the risk of excessive influence by one voice. Graduates write like themselves upon completion, only better. Students publish the work of graduates, working closely to move completed projects through a rigorous editing process then into an ambitious marketing campaign. Hands-on learning meets an opportunity to honor one another as writers, and to demonstrate our faith in you.Students discover both a limitless creative voice and an empowered attitude toward their professional writing path. Graduates start their own businesses and create strong works.

Coursework includes: Workshops in poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction; Evolution of Genre courses in poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction; Foundations in Rhetorical Theory and Research; Practica in Publishing and Editing throughout all courses; Special Topics Electives such as Screenplay, Journalism, Environmental Writing, Transformative Writing, and more.

Summer 2014: Foundations in Rhetorical Theory and Research

Fall 2014: Workshop in Creative Nonfiction, Explorations in the Evolution of Poetry, Special Topics: Changing the Face of Medicine

Spring 2015: Workshop in Poetry, Explorations in the Evolution of Fiction, Special Topics: Screenplay with Hollywood Writer/Director Josh Stolberg



The Narrative Medicine Certificate within the M.A. in Writing at The Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative offers narrative competency training to physicians, nurses, social workers, mental health professionals, chaplains, social workers, academics, and all those interested in the intersection between narrative and care.  Lenoir-Rhyne University seeks to develop the narrative future of medicine, a field that proposes that effective care requires increased human engagement.  Narrative training builds empathy, a skill required for effective care. 

The Narrative Medicine student takes four courses to develop enhanced skills in listening to patient and client histories and stories and cultivates a more profound attention to the meaning of illness and struggle, beyond the diagnosis of it.  Those who complete the Narrative Medicine track to supplement licensure and professional degrees will be prepared to expand the narrative culture within healthcare through program development, research, writing, supervision, and training of colleagues and students.


Literature and Life all share one thing in common: story. And while some may occur on the page or stage, all are formed from the clay of human experience. Learning to recognize the forms and elements in “art” help us recognize them in “life,” thereby preparing us to remain present in the face of paradox and uncertainty. In each course, we will develop this strength by drawing on the legacy of works endowed us by centuries of storytellers.

A study of readings by narratively trained practitioners alongside writing assignments that move practitioners beyond clinical knowledge into narrative knowledge. Through engagement with literature and writing, students develop comfort with the less-defined areas of care—the open spaces of provider-patient relationships where ethics, empathy, and the unknown hold more power than heart-rate and x-ray.

A study of illness narratives in poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction, and novels. Emphasis on close reading and developing narrative competency and empathy.

A study of narratives by doctors and other care providers.  Emphasis on reflective writing skills as students develop their own narratives, addressing presence, complexity, paradox, fatigue, shame, love, listening, and other human facets of care.  Three credits.

INDEPENDENT PROJECT (you design this!)

We will begin in the Fall of 2014 with the following course which will be a hybrid of online and in-person work (to best facilitate professionals' demanding schedules). Classes will meet on the dates listed.
FA14 WRI 540 Introduction to Narrative Medicine: Narrative as a Form of Knowledge Meeting days:  8/29, 9/5, 9/26, 10/18, 11/7, 11/22, 12/6


Call: 828-407-4268

Email: Laura Hope-Gill, Director, at