Literary Arts

The WAA Literary Arts program provides students with an exploratory experience in the world of literature and writing. Students have opportunities to publish their work in various magazines, read poetry in a community setting, and participate in building literacy for personal growth and community growth.

Westinghouse Arts Academy Charter School provides writers with the opportunity to immerse themselves in a variety of composition styles. Students study poetry, fiction, nonfiction, screenplay, playwriting, and more. Through workshops, readings, and publication opportunities, writers are supported in a dynamic learning environment, which not only helps them grow as writers, but also as professionals.

In the Literary Arts program, students are encouraged to specialize in a writing style of their choice (poetry, fiction, or nonfiction). This selection will provide students with the opportunity to customize their Literary Arts education as they proceed through their coursework.

In addition, students will not only gain a practical education on the nuances of writing, but also a theoretical background. Understanding the foundations of literary criticism and cultural studies provides students with a unique opportunity to challenge themselves to think critically and apply literary criticism to the world around them, and their own reading and writing experiences.

Publication opportunities and collaborative workshops are a regular structure in the Literary Arts program. Throughout the school year, students read and write as a team. These collaborative opportunities allow students to learn through peer to peer editing, and foster an important relationship with giving and receiving constructive criticism.

Graduating seniors leave the Literary Arts program with a compendium of their work, containing previously published pieces that can be shown to agents, used for college admissions, or form the basis of a professional portfolio. This artifact showcases the skills our writers develop throughout their time at Westinghouse.

What to Expect

Learning Objectives:

Learning objectives are valuable skills a student can learn by the time they graduate from Westinghouse Arts. 

  • Analyze the cultural and intellectual value of the humanities, the arts, and literature in everyday life.
  • Create a compendium of written works that demonstrate mastery of multiple writing forms.
  • Demonstrate the value of reading and literary interpretation when problem-solving in academic and professional environments.
  • Participate in positive learning environments where differences of opinion are respected and valued.

Artistic Expectations:

  • To show a genuine desire to improve their writing skills, and an enthusiasm for reading.
  • Show an interest in exploring all different forms of writing and literature.
    To demonstrate the desire to be team-oriented, and not be deterred by constructive criticism.
  • To have reading and writing comprehension skills relative to the student’s grade level.

Audition/ Portfolio requirements:

In order to audition for the Literary Arts program, students must answer a list of questions provided by the school, and submit a portfolio with samples of the student’s writing. The samples should be varied and showcase the student’s ability and interest in a variety of literary genres.

Students must submit:

  • Pre-selected questions provided by the school
  • A portfolio with multiple writing samples that vary in genre


Opportunities/ Events:

Concerts, Performances, Coffee Shop Nights

Clubs/ Service Organizations

Quill and Scroll International Honors Society for High School Journalists
Pieces of My Pen Literary Magazine
Fall Coffee Shop (Poetry Reading)
Spring Lemonade Stand (Poetry Reading)

Past Awards

Students have won individual awards via publication through Scholastic, Appelley, and other publications for young writers.

Genna Malatino | 412-646-1718 Ext. 8025

Genna Malatino received her Bachelor’s degree from Penn State University with a major in English, and a minor in Technical Writing with concentrations in Media Writing, Rhetoric and Writing, Creative Writing, and Professional Writing. Malatino went on to pursue a master’s degree at Carnegie Mellon University and completed a program in Literary and Cultural Studies. After studying at CMU, Genna decided to pursue teaching full-time and got a master’s degree in Teaching: Secondary English from Chatham University. Professionally, Genna has worked as a copywriter for an educational firm located in New York City, as an instructional designer for an educational firm that focused on curating content for institutions in higher education, and as an Academic Counselor for students of varying disciplines and degree levels. Genna has had a wide array of experiences in writing and education and brings that knowledge to the classroom at WAA.

Required Courses

All Students:

Literary Arts Foundations I & II (Grades 9 & 10)

This is the introductory Literary Arts course required for freshman and sophomores. Students in this class will explore a variety of different authors, genres, and writing techniques. In addition, this class will focus on the basics of creative writing mechanics and genres. Units focused on poetry, short stories, screenplays, etc. will be taught throughout the school year. The exploratory nature of the class will provide students with the opportunity to learn about a variety of different writing styles prior to choosing a specialization.

Literary Theory and Cultural Studies (Juniors)

This is a foundational literary and cultural studies course which teaches students about important literary movements, theories, and their impact on culture and the world at large. This is a theory oriented class which requires academic writing. Students will research, analyze, and critique a variety of social structures via the lens of literary theory and cultural studies. This class focuses on the analysis of culture and the impact literature has had on its growth and development.

Literary Arts Senior Workshop (Seniors)

The Literary Arts Senior Workshop is a workshop intensive course where seniors collect the writing they have done throughout the Literary Arts program and compile them into a compendium. This class is project based and student driven. At the end of the course students should have a book containing their favorite pieces of writing. This book acts as the senior project for the Literary Arts program.

Poetry Specialization

Poetic Interpretation: A Visual and Verbal Analysis (Juniors)

This course looks at different types of poetry ranging from experimental to traditional. Within these genres of poetry, students will analyze different strategies a poet can use in order to evoke specific emotions from the reader. In addition, students will write their own original poetry which utilizes the strategies learned in class. By the end of the course, students will have acquired an understanding of how figurative language and form can change the reading experience.

Spoken Word: Poetry as Performance (Juniors)

Some poetry is meant to be performed. This course focuses on spoken word poetry, and poetry as performance. Students will focus on identifying poetic patterns which lead to rhythmically pleasing sounds. Stressed and unstressed syllables, pacing, and general pronunciation will be a primary focus. Students will read poetry aloud to demonstrate their understanding of the basics of performing poetry.

Poetry Study: Movements and Time Periods (Seniors)

This course examines the evolution of poetry over time. Various poetic movements throughout history will be discussed, and students will identify the traits of those particular movements. The connection between poetry, culture, and time period will be analyzed in depth, as poetry is often a cultural response.

Poet Focus: Analyzing Style (Seniors)

After having studied the various poetry movements throughout history in “Poetry Study: Movements and Time Periods” students will have the opportunity to pick one poet to study during this course. Students will analyze the work of that poet, and write imitation pieces to demonstrate their mastery of the content.

Fiction Specialization

Genre Study (Rotating) (Juniors)

This is a reading and writing based course which will focus on one particular genre, which can vary based on when the course is offered. Students will read works that fit within a particular genre and study the tropes within that genre and how they function. Students will write original stories based on the selected genre and identified tropes.

Creating a Fictional World: The Nuances of Worldbuilding (Juniors)

Oftentimes, when writing fiction, new worlds need to be created. In this class, students will learn about the nuances of worldbuilding and how to create believable people and cultures. Students will write an original work that requires them to build a world with its own intricacies, people, etc. The story that students write in this course will take place in the world that they created, which will give students the opportunity to test their own logic through writing.

Character Development, Dialogue, and Psychology (Seniors)

In order to create a believable narrative, you must create believable characters. This course will focus on the development of believable characters with a psychological and historical approach. Students will create a variety of different characters that could fit into different contexts based on their dress, way of speaking, personality, etc. The characters students create will be placed into the world they coincide with through character driven narratives.

Advanced Fiction Writing (Seniors)

After learning about worldbuilding and character development, students will implement their fiction writing strategies in this Advanced Fiction Writing course. Students will work on the development of a novel or novella using the methods learned in the program. This is a workshop oriented and intensive fiction writing course.

Nonfiction Specialization

Introduction to Journalism (Juniors)

Introduction to Journalism teaches foundational journalism skills with a focus on research, terminology, and the effect journalism has on media and culture. In this class, students will conduct research through a variety of different methods and compile their research into a research paper or nonfiction article. Through this course, students will learn about the nuances of journalism and what makes good reporting.

Creative Nonfiction: Forms and Applications (Juniors)

Nonfiction can take many forms. In this class, students will explore different types of creative nonfiction and discuss their application. Students will explore elements of tone and mood in nonfiction to analyze the intent of a writer. These strategies will be implemented in original writing as students compose their own creative nonfiction pieces.

Research and Investigation (Seniors)

The Research and Investigation course will teach students how to navigate databases, identify reliable sources, and interpret and collect data. Students will learn how to appropriately implement data and research findings in their writing, while conveying important information to their readers. In addition, students will learn about how to identify different types of sources when researching. This course will give students a base understanding of how to perform research and investigate questions.

Rhetoric and Writing (Seniors)

This course focuses on rhetoric and ways in which rhetoric is used in our day to day lives. Students will engage in multiple types of writing tasks that involve rhetoric, and students will be required to look at examples of rhetoric in everyday life. When looking at rhetoric in current events, we will analyze the intent and audience in different media.

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