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jgarbe

e-mail user

Aug 18, 2006, 11:15 PM

Post #26 of 466 (14328 views)
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Re: [mingram] Iowa Questions [In reply to] Can't Post

I thought Iowa was a fairly canonical school. Then I saw its online hyperfiction magazine and Thomas Swiss's homepage, and I found out there might be some hyperfiction going down over there. Any sense in a hyperfictionist trying to get in? How experimental are things over there now? Room to wiggle?

~Jacob


mares


Dec 9, 2006, 11:24 PM

Post #27 of 466 (14181 views)
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Re: Iowa Questions [In reply to] Can't Post

so, i was talking to one of my professors about how I want to be part of an MFA program that is more supportive than it is competitive. He told me to strike Iowa off my list, that the program "breeds" competition, because everyone isn't funded equally.

Don't, worry, I know that all MFA programs are competitive. I just worry that if everyone in the program has their eye on some award they could win at the end of the year, it will cause people to treat each other differently, and maybe hinder progress.

Any thoughts?


silkfx2004


Dec 10, 2006, 10:02 AM

Post #28 of 466 (14154 views)
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Re: [mares] Iowa Questions [In reply to] Can't Post

I too remember hearing this (Iowa breeds competition) when I was applying. Such comments seem to come most often from people who haven't been here.

From my perspective (I'm about to enter my last semester *sniff*) I haven't found this to be the case at all. I've received nothing but support and encouragement from my classmates. Any competitiveness has largely been in my own head.

No, everyone's not funded equally. Isn't that the case for most MFA programs though? Sure, I wish I could've gotten one of the non-teaching fellowships, but I didn't; I got TA- and RA-ships instead, which have allowed me to keep some of my savings. Most people at Iowa do get some kind of funding for both years. If someone's bitching because SoAndSo got more money than WhosIt, then they're probably bitching about a lot of other things as well and possibly missing out on what should be a fun and hopefully productive experience.

(DISCLAIMER: I'm quite a bit older than most of my classmates, have been absent from academia for a very long time, don't do a whole lot of social hanging-out, and am largely floating on a cloud of gratitude for simply being here. I know there are other Iowa students, past and present, who post here; maybe one of them will offer a different perspective.)


--------
Nobody but God gets it right the first time. Everybody else has to rewrite. --attributed to Stephen King


HopperFu


Dec 10, 2006, 7:39 PM

Post #29 of 466 (14091 views)
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Re: [mares] Iowa Questions [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
...the program "breeds" competition, because everyone isn't funded equally....

I've heard both about Iowa from people who have been and are there. I think it is a combination of what Silk (above says) about people who whine are people who whine, and a true sense, for a number of writers, that some people are favored above others. A number of past graduates have told me that there is absolutely a sense of some writers being percieved as "annointed." One of those writers also told me how the only writer in their class who didn't get funding was also the most succesful. Competition is good for some people.
Keep in mind, however, that they have a new director, so it is possible that the atmosphere has changed.

If you are in a program where all funding is equal, however, then yes, that would eliminate one possible bone of contention. When you get accepted to a school (or before hand, if you can), the best thing you can do is ask a number of students the pros and cons about the program. They will give you the straight dope. It's good to ask several, though, because not everybody views things the same way, and one person's supportive is another person's competitive.


mingram
Mike Ingram

Dec 10, 2006, 10:19 PM

Post #30 of 466 (14065 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Iowa Questions [In reply to] Can't Post

Just to dispel one rumor about Iowa: everyone gets SOME funding. At worst you'll get enough to offset tuition and some expenses; at best, enough to offset tuition and ALL your expenses.

I think the issue is just that there are 50 students per year (between fiction and poetry) and to get funding for all those people, the workshop has to go through various sources. So a small number of people are funded through 2-year endowed fellowships, while others are given teaching assistantships, and others are given various research assistantships (like reading manuscripts for the Iowa Review, or working in an academic office). And these things don't always pay equally.

Where the competitiveness comes in: a small number of 2nd year students are given teaching-writing fellowships, which are decided on by the faculty. But this is more a prestige thing than a money thing; the pay is the same as a TAship, I think (or at least very close). So some people will, because of their nature, be really invested in this process and feel aggrieved when they don't get a TWF and someone else does. But most people, in my experience (and I did not get one) realize it's kind of a silly, arbitrary process, are happy for the people who get them, and move on with their lives.

Sam doesn't seem too keen on the whole TWF thing, so maybe it will eventually go away.


mares


Dec 10, 2006, 10:38 PM

Post #31 of 466 (14061 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Iowa Questions [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the replies, guys. It makes sense that different students would have different things to say about it. i'm almost sure I want to be in a smaller program. But now that the deadlines are approaching, a little voice in the back of my head is saying, "Are you sure you don't want to apply here? And here?"


HopperFu


Dec 11, 2006, 8:41 AM

Post #32 of 466 (14025 views)
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Re: [mingram] Iowa Questions [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Sam doesn't seem too keen on the whole TWF thing, so maybe it will eventually go away.

Lan Samantha Chang, the director, has said a number of times (in interviews, etc.,) that one of her top priorities is to get equal funding for everybody. That's something that will take time, but if she does that, it would be good for the program.
It's a tall order, though. That's a ton of money.

edited to read: EQUAL funding for everybody...


(This post was edited by HopperFu on Dec 11, 2006, 8:42 AM)


Vivien


Dec 11, 2006, 11:30 AM

Post #33 of 466 (14004 views)
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Re: [mingram] Iowa Questions [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm at Iowa now, and I don't find the atmosphere to be poisoned with animosity. It's actually much less competitive than I thought it would be, and I find that people don't talk much about financial aid. From what I understand, the funding situation has gotten better in recent years. Everyone gets some kind of aid now, as Mike said (hi Mike!), but it used to be that the first years had to compete for a small number of second-year fellowships (the Teaching-Writing Fellowships), and if they didn't get one, they were screwed. So I can see how that would have bred a lot of discontent, but I think things have mellowed considerably since then.

This isn't to say that the financial aid isn't distributed unequally here, or that it's not uncomfortable, or that it doesn't seem unjust. I have a very good aid package, and I'm sure that my peers have wondered, when I've turned in a bad story, why I got such a cushy deal -- I've certainly wondered it myself. But again, people don't really talk about it. Sam is actively working to get more financial aid for the program.


hamholio


Dec 11, 2006, 1:28 PM

Post #34 of 466 (13982 views)
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Re: [Vivien] Iowa Questions [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Sam is actively working to get more financial aid for the program.


That's good to hear -- I know one of the fears when they appointed her was that she might get railroaded by the burocracy and not stand her ground as well as Frank was able to.

And if she's actively improving things -- so much the better!


Fear&Loathing


Dec 15, 2006, 12:44 AM

Post #35 of 466 (13887 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Iowa MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Has anyone noticed the new facelift to the Iowa website? The faculty poses remind me of alternative rock band covers and stills. The poetry faculty picture gives me recurring flashbacks of REM (photos) before Berry departed. Is this the new post-Conroy Iowa Writer's Workshop? Shiny happy people laughing.


silkfx2004


Dec 15, 2006, 5:54 PM

Post #36 of 466 (13818 views)
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Re: [Fear&Loathing] Iowa MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

I was there (okay, I was in the building, and around the corner) when the fiction faculty portrait was taken. I remember hearing that the poetry picture was really nice (it is) and that they wanted to get something similar for the fiction picture (it's not, but it's nice too).

Shiny happy people laughing? Perhaps. I don't spend enough time in Dey House to be able to gauge accurately. Too busy sitting at home surfing the Internet (ahem...writing).


--------
Nobody but God gets it right the first time. Everybody else has to rewrite. --attributed to Stephen King


BorFalk


Dec 20, 2006, 3:29 PM

Post #37 of 466 (13725 views)
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Re: [silkfx2004] Iowa MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi, I hope this question hasn't already been asked and I apologize if it has.
The Iowa application asks for previous literature courses taken. Do you think it's a major problem if one has been at of school for say, four years and when they were in school, majored in social sciences and didn't take that many literature courses?

Thanks.


hamholio


Dec 20, 2006, 3:32 PM

Post #38 of 466 (13722 views)
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Re: [BorFalk] Iowa MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

I think you're in trouble -- didn't you know only English majors could apply for MFA programs??!!

Nah -- if your writing sample is strong and you're a good fit for the program, they'll probably let you in. Whether or not they let you teach any literature courses is another thing, though.


hamholio


Dec 20, 2006, 3:36 PM

Post #39 of 466 (13721 views)
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Re: Iowa weather [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh, and to anyone thinking of applying to Iowa: Iowa City is rainy, cold and depressing today. Do you really want to apply here? Too bad the deadline for U.C. Irvine is passed; y'all should be chasing sun!


Aubrie


Dec 20, 2006, 3:38 PM

Post #40 of 466 (13718 views)
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Re: [hamholio] Iowa weather [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi BorFalk - I'm in the exact same position. When I could, I addressed it in my SOP, and when I couldn't, well... I guess I'll just keep my fingers crossed!


silkfx2004


Dec 22, 2006, 8:57 AM

Post #41 of 466 (13621 views)
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Re: [Aubrie] Iowa weather [In reply to] Can't Post

Seriously, this needs to be your mantra for Iowa (and any other place, really):

Writing sample. Writing Sample. WRITING SAMPLE.

I'm willing to bet there are folks here who haven't taken a literature class in their entire lives. (Okay, just because I can't think of any off the top of my head doesn't mean they don't exist.)

I took 3 lit classes in college...20 years ago.


--------
Nobody but God gets it right the first time. Everybody else has to rewrite. --attributed to Stephen King


Aubrie


Dec 22, 2006, 9:15 AM

Post #42 of 466 (13615 views)
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Re: [silkfx2004] Iowa weather [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Silk - about how many pages did you send to iowa - manuscript-wise?


silkfx2004


Dec 22, 2006, 9:27 PM

Post #43 of 466 (13557 views)
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Re: [Aubrie] Iowa weather [In reply to] Can't Post

I sent approximately 35 pages.


--------
Nobody but God gets it right the first time. Everybody else has to rewrite. --attributed to Stephen King


hamholio


Jan 18, 2007, 12:36 PM

Post #44 of 466 (13408 views)
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U. Iowa Creative Writing BA?? [In reply to] Can't Post

The Daily Iowan (the U. of I newspaper) published an article today about the house across the street from the Writers' Workshop, and its recent use as an area for writing related activities (It's currently housing four writing fellows, and hosting "salons" to explore the writing and culture of different locales.)

The article dances around the creation of a creative writing undergraduate degree, introducing the house as a good location to "house an undergraduate writing degree" and then dropping the issue until later in the article when it mentions:

"In a creative-writing major or track, "postgraduate fellows would play an integral role, including instruction," Merrill said. Recent grads would be a stepping stone for undergraduates: less harried than M.F.A. candidates busy with theses and not as intimidating as some full faculty members might seem to a first-semester freshman writer."

If this happens, it looks like it will mean more TAships for students in the workshop, and if I'm reading that last quote correctly, an opportunity for students to stick around an extra year or two to continue teaching (much like Cornell.)

I personally disagree with a creative writing undergraduate degree (the idea is a little silly to me) -- but the opportunities it would open up to Workshop students is compelling, and would fix a lot of their funding issues.

Full article here: http://media.www.dailyiowan.com/...collegepublisher.com


Markers54


Jan 18, 2007, 1:05 PM

Post #45 of 466 (13389 views)
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Post deleted by Ytsur82 [In reply to]

 


augustmaria


Jan 18, 2007, 8:06 PM

Post #46 of 466 (13287 views)
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Re: [Ytsur82] U. Iowa Creative Writing BA?? [In reply to] Can't Post

Yeah, what's silly about a creative writing major? I have a BFA in creative writing and, honestly, the advanced workshops at my undergrad were just as demanding as the workshops at IU. I think is was a more writer-friendly environment in general, as well. A tight-knit community of people who genuinely cared about writing. We had Alice James Books on campus for internships, opportunities to TA (as in really being a teacher's assistant) were plenty, we had a Visiting Writers Series that attracted Richard Ford, Lucille Clifton, Nicholson Baker, and the like. I can't praise that program enough. Maybe studying creative writing as an undergrad isn't right for everyone, but it was definitely not silly for me!


hamholio


Jan 18, 2007, 10:41 PM

Post #47 of 466 (13250 views)
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Re: [augustmaria] U. Iowa Creative Writing BA?? [In reply to] Can't Post

I regret making that comment in this thread -- I don't want to discuss it here (in a thread about the University of Iowa, in a forum about grad programs), and it's based entirely on personal opinion and not on any experience or first-hand knowledge that I have.

:-)


__________



Jan 19, 2007, 3:49 AM

Post #48 of 466 (13208 views)
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Re: [hamholio] U. Iowa Creative Writing BA?? [In reply to] Can't Post

The idea may or may not be silly, but at my school, workshops have seen a big rise in quality just three years after offering creative writing as an undergrad major.


six five four three two one 0 ->


wiswriter
Bob S.
e-mail user

Jan 19, 2007, 7:59 AM

Post #49 of 466 (13193 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] U. Iowa Creative Writing BA?? [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think the idea of studying creative writing as an undergrad is silly. But as someone who's working part-time as a college advisor, my concern is, what's a grad going to do with a creative writing major? The MFA is unmarketable enough, but at least it's not your only degree.


jaywalke


Jan 19, 2007, 8:58 AM

Post #50 of 466 (13179 views)
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Re: [wiswriter] U. Iowa Creative Writing BA?? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I don't think the idea of studying creative writing as an undergrad is silly. But as someone who's working part-time as a college advisor, my concern is, what's a grad going to do with a creative writing major? The MFA is unmarketable enough, but at least it's not your only degree.



(from the musical "Avenue Q" - which is sort of a Sesame Street with adult themes)

What do you do with a B.A. in English,
What is my life going to be?
Four years of college and plenty of knowledge,
Have earned me this useless degree.

I can't pay the bills yet,
'Cause I have no skills yet,
The world is a big scary place.

But somehow I can't shake,
The feeling I might make,
A difference,
To the human race.

---------------------


(This post was edited by jaywalke on Jan 19, 2007, 12:25 PM)

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