Feb 5, 2011, 9:11 AM
Post #2300 of 2554
Re: [EllaJ] Low-Residency MFAs
[In reply to]
Congrats on your acceptances!
I just graduated from Spalding U's Low-Residency MFA Program in Dramatic Writing in November 2010--it was the BEST thing I've ever done! I work full-time, so I needed to enroll in a program that was flexible enough to allow me to work, but still challenging in terms of deadlines and expectations. I could go on and on about Spalding, but I'll summarize my top three favorite things:
1) Quality of faculty: The mentor professors at Spalding are amazing! Even though I was a dramatic writing student, I was able to participate in a number of lectures with faculty from other genres and they're all top notch. I think this program attracts faculty who are working successfully within their field, but also those who are genuinely interested in helping students become better writers. In my experience, all of the faculty have been tremendously talented, smart, challenging and interesting. Within my program, I was fascinated by how different each mentor was, but also by how their differences really helped me take my writing to a new level each semester. (PS: the staff at Spalding are the best as well---seriously, they take care of the students in a way I've never seen---Sena, Karen, Kathleen, Katy, Gayle---they're all amazing!!!)
2) Quality of the curriculum: Spalding believes in the interrelatedness of the arts, which I think is critical! Each residency focuses on a different genre, so all students (regardless of major) will read a book or script outside of their focus area and then attend residency and participate in discussions with other students and even the author sometimes. During residency, we also take "field trips" to attend the opera or symphony or perhaps visit an art museum. All of this has been incredible to broadening our horizon and reinforcing the importance of how all art can inform your work. For example, one day our playwriting workshop visited a contemporary art exhibit and we had to identify a piece of artwork and allow a setting for our play to emerge from our engagement with it. From that experience, I wrote a short play that was extremely different from my previous work, which is very, very cool! I think we (writers, in general) have the tendency to be very genre-focused, which is fine. But I think we miss the opportunity to develop our talents even more if we don't consider how poetry can challenge us to use better imagery in our dialogue or how classical music can challenge us to make our words sing.
3) Quality of students: I can't say enough good things about this part! Sure, I thought I'd meet a few folks during residency and perhaps we'd stay in touch during the semester...well, I had no idea how close you bond with your classmates in just ten days. It's truly amazing! I've developed incredibly strong friendships through this program that will last a lifetime. My writing pals are truly talented and extremely encouraging and supportive. And it's so much fun to have writing pals sprinkled around the country!
If you'd like to know more, I'm happy to chat anytime! Just let me know! Best of luck with your decision!