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toadvine


Jul 19, 2007, 10:28 AM

Post #526 of 764 (14470 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Perhaps your judgment's clouded if you're really palling around with Tobias Wolfe, Robert Olen Butler, Derek Walcott, various other BU harassers, or, I dunno, Julie Orringer. I deal in facts. And I didn't name any criminals; I said I thought I'd heard of harassment in connection with BU. And I was right. Umass76 and piratelizzy provided the name.

If a school's rankings are affected by nepotism (or in the case of Florida, one stellar writer chosen four times for BNAV), it deserves a mention.

Fact: Orringer was awarded the Stegner when she was either engaged or married to Ryan Harty, a current Stegner fellow.

Fact: Butler's students win a disproportionate amount of Stegners. Look at the list of winners and where they went to school. A lot of people have said this is because Butler is pals with Wolfe, and Wolfe usually throws him a bone. Teachers like to see their students get ahead. Because who knows, someday the Atlantic may rank you in the top ten.

Fact: Wolfe chose Shimon Tanaka for BNAV, then gave him the Stegner.

Fact: Wolfe chose Adam Johnson for BNAV, then gave him the Stegner.

A few Stegners that were Butler's students: Adam Johnson, Rita Mae Reese, Russell Franklin... There are others. Do I know them all? No. Because I'm not interested enough to spend hours on Google.

Heck, have you even read This Boy's Life? The back cover mentions Wolfe's "stunning act of reinvention". Do you know what that was? Falsifying documents to get into a good school over more qualified applicants.

I first read of this Stegner stuff on Kealey's blog (no, I'm not going to dig around for the link). Kealey didn't correct or remove the comments, as was his habit with false or negative information.

I'm weally sowy if these things have hurt your weetle feewings. However, they do effect my estimation of a school's integrity. They do effect where I'll choose to apply. And I will discuss it even if your mom's daddy's cousin shared a hot dog with Robert Olen Butler.

Here's a link with more people chiming in on the whole Stegner issue:

http://foetry.com/forum/index.php?topic=817.0


Here's a list of recent Stegner winners going back to 2000. Unfortunately, Orringer, Harty, or Johnson are no longer on that list. Perhaps you could Google them if you're really that interested...

http://www.stanford.edu/dept/english/cw/currfellows.html



Fact: all of the so-called evidence you posted above is either circumstantial or hearsay. Another message board on foetry, populated with paranoid rumormongers like yourself, is now a reliable source? You clearly do not "deal in facts": you traffic in implication and innuendo. Oh, and condescension, apparently.

Because it's not possible that a writer as accomplished as Adam Johnson -- even before the Stegner, as another poster pointed our -- could win a Stegner based on his talent. There must be a conspiracy.

You also neglect to mention the fact that FSU is hardly dominating the Stegner. If you glance at the link you posted, the most Stegners over the last ten years or so seem to come from Iowa and Arizona. Both have another one this year. So tell us, please, which faculty members at those institutions are part of this nefarious Wolff-Butler cabal?

And who are the "various other BU harassers"? You drop that little gem right before saying how you deal in facts. So, who are they? Nobody else has mentioned anything but Walcott's name. What are your facts there?

While we're being condescending, perhaps you should put away your Oliver Stone DVDs, burn those Stegner rejections, and get on with your writing instead of concocting conspiracy theories. Lots of us get Stegner rejections every year, but we don't go on smear campaigns on internet message boards.


(This post was edited by toadvine on Jul 19, 2007, 10:30 AM)


__________



Jul 19, 2007, 10:46 AM

Post #527 of 764 (14455 views)
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Re: [toadvine] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Pardon me, but I'm the one who called Adam Johnson a "stellar" writer. I agree he's prizeworthy. I like his book. But let's look at the facts: he had something akin to a prior relationship with Wolfe when he won the Stegner. Wolfe had just awarded him another prize. This happened with at least one other writer. Where's the circumstantial? Where's the hearsay? Or are we just throwing around legal terms now? Subpoena! Subpoena! Force majeur!

What's that? They gave the prize to a fellow's wife? Hearsay! Can you prove they're married?

This is ridiculous. Go back and look at what I wrote. I said the number of Best Americans was a factor in FSU's ranking. Then I said that's a little misleading, as one guy appeared four times.

I have a feeling you're not really concerned about Derek Walcott's good name. You keep asking for easily verified facts but won't say which ones are false, circumstantial, or force majeur!. Just PM me with the name of your buddy and I'll apologize for mentioning him.


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Jul 19, 2007, 10:47 AM)


toadvine


Jul 19, 2007, 11:14 AM

Post #528 of 764 (14437 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Pardon me, but I'm the one who called Adam Johnson a "stellar" writer. I agree he's prizeworthy. I like his book. But let's look at the facts: he had something akin to a prior relationship with Wolfe when he won the Stegner. Wolfe had just awarded him another prize. This happened with at least one other writer. Where's the circumstantial? Where's the hearsay? Or are we just throwing around legal terms now? Subpoena! Subpoena! Force majeur!

What's that? They gave the prize to a fellow's wife? Hearsay! Can you prove they're married?

This is ridiculous. Go back and look at what I wrote. I said the number of Best Americans was a factor in FSU's ranking. Then I said that's a little misleading, as one guy appeared four times.

I have a feeling you're not really concerned about Derek Walcott's good name. You keep asking for easily verified facts but won't say which ones are false, circumstantial, or force majeur!. Just PM me with the name of your buddy and I'll apologize for mentioning him.


More than one Stegner has had "something akin to a prior relationship with Wolff," whatever that means. There have been dozens and dozens of Stegners, and the literary world tends to be small. But you don't think that's circumstantial? You really think that's damning evidence?

I agree that the Harty/Orringer thing certainly seems suspicious. That makes me curious about the screening process, and I'd like to know more about it (if anybody knows, please share). But it doesn't prove to me that the Stegner is rigged, and it shouldn't do so to any reasonable person.

You said a lot of things beyond what you quote above. For instance, you said that Butler's students win a disproportionate amount of Stegners. Butler happens to teach at a great creative writing program, one that presumably produces many talented writers. As I mentioned before, Iowa and Arizona students win a disproportionate amount of Stegners, too: is that also evidence of some conspiracy, or is it just because they're good programs? You also twisted an isolated book-jacket quote grossly out of proportion and presented it as if it were evidence of something.

You can hide behind your sarcasm and condescension and selective memory all you want. The fact is that you're sullying people you don't know in a public forum based on so-called facts you cherry-picked and situations you've heard about second-hand at best. To clarify, I don't know anybody you've mentioned thus far personally, but that doesn't make your posts in this thread any less distasteful or irresponsible.


Clench Million
Charles

Jul 19, 2007, 12:05 PM

Post #529 of 764 (14414 views)
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Re: [toadvine] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

FWIW, it strikes me that you are setting up an impossible task for Junior Maas. If we had water-tight evidence of rigged contests (or sexual harrasement for that matter) we would already have had completed lawsuits. To be honest you sound a bit like the Barry Bonds advocates I see everyday. "These are all allegations and hearsay, you have no actual proof at all!!"

Well, when Barry Bond's shoe size and helmet size radically change despite being well past puberty. Circumstantial evidence tends to be all we have in these types of cases, barring confessions.

And while I think Junior Maas picked a bad tone and sarcasm there (for this board at least, people are quick to get offended...), it seems to me you guys attacked her and goaded her on. Her reply seemed pretty fair to me. You seem to have wanted some grand jury testimony and a photobucket page of bloody gloves.

---

All that said, I have no knowledge of this issue and won't pick any sides. However, I will say that if indeed it is true that Butler's students have won a disproportionate number of awards that one of his best buddies runs, that is indeed quite suspicious. Again, I don't know if it is true or not, but I don't buy your defenses.
a) Iowa and Arizona (along with Columbia) are the largest programs in the country so if all things were neutral you would EXPECT them to have more stegners than anywhere else. And frankly, while I'm sure FSU is a good program, it has never been considered a program on the level of Iowa and I've never even seen it on a top 10 list before. So it is hardly like Butler is just teaching the cream of the crop (like an Iowa or UVA might be able to claim) and that is why they are winning.

b) The literary world is a small one? I dunno about that. Amongst literary authors of a certain age with books published, sure. But there are over 300 MFA programs pumping out graduates every year. At least 30 of them are quality programs too. That's a lot of people eligible for these awards.

But maybe Butler is just a magician amongst teachers and can turn his little MFA stones into diamonds in a way no other teacher can. Or maybe he just molds them into writers whose stories appeal to Wolfe? Who knows. But I think it is a fair question to raise, if it is indeed true he gets a significant number of students winning awards from his friend.


(This post was edited by Clench Million on Jul 19, 2007, 12:08 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

Jul 19, 2007, 12:11 PM

Post #530 of 764 (14410 views)
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Re: [toadvine] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Also, I took JM's point on Adam Johnson winning BNAV 4 times not to mean he didn't deserve it or anything, but rather that FSU seems to have been ranked highly on this list due to student work and student work seems to have been judged mostly on who got into BNAV. It seems inappropriate to give a school 4 marks for BNAV when they have only actually produced one writer that got in.

One notable alumni shouldn't be an indication of much either way about a program.


mingram
Mike Ingram

Jul 19, 2007, 12:30 PM

Post #531 of 764 (14400 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Ultimately, this whole thing strikes me as a circular argument. School A produces graduates with a record of success, except maybe that success was ill-gotten. So should said success not count in the rankings? Should some other measure be used? Who's to determine which literary connection is legitimate and which is scandalous? Sure, the lit world isn't "small" in the way that, say, Rhode Island is small, but it's not that hard to play a version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon in which nearly anyone's success is dubious, especially considering the popularity of writing programs and conferences.

Not to mention the fact that with MFA programs, perhaps more so than other grad programs, rankings are mostly a matter of perception. If everyone thinks FSU is a top-ten school, then it pretty much is a top-ten school. There just aren't that many objective ranking criteria to go on.

And Clench, I wasn't taking Junior to task so much for his arguments as for the condescending ways in which they were delivered. I didn't find it surprising when people asked him to back up his conjecture, so I'm not sure why he got so touchy when they did so.


mingram
Mike Ingram

Jul 19, 2007, 12:35 PM

Post #532 of 764 (14396 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Fact: Wolfe chose Shimon Tanaka for BNAV, then gave him the Stegner.

Fact: Wolfe chose Adam Johnson for BNAV, then gave him the Stegner.


I guess this doesn't strike me as all that scandalous. Wolff liked Tanaka's work when he read it for BNAV, and then liked it again when he read it for the Stegner?

Why is that so weird?


Clench Million
Charles

Jul 19, 2007, 12:44 PM

Post #533 of 764 (14391 views)
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Re: [mingram] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

mingram: first let me say I agree with you totally on the last post. That is one argument I don't understand. Foetry.com really undermined itself by making the same type of argument every second. I remember them claiming it was scandalous that a journal picked a poet to publish a collection of poems by who had previously been published in the journal. Huh? Why is it surprising that they liked his book of poems and also like some individual poems?

As for counting or not counting in the rankings, putting all this aside I will say that everytime I see a ranking that is based (in part) on publication the ranker almost always picks one book to look at. This strikes me as a really bad policy. One book series is, well, only one book series. On top of that, everyone knows that individual anthologies tend to lean towards specific aesthetics. Of course it isn't surprising that a lot more Iowa stories get into BNAV than Brown stories when Wolfe is the judge. It would make a lot more sense, to me at least, to pick 10 anthologies and/or major journals and see who is getting published where. That would give us a much better idea.

Of course, it would also take actual work and research.


mingram
Mike Ingram

Jul 19, 2007, 3:10 PM

Post #534 of 764 (14357 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
mingram: first let me say I agree with you totally on the last post. That is one argument I don't understand. Foetry.com really undermined itself by making the same type of argument every second. I remember them claiming it was scandalous that a journal picked a poet to publish a collection of poems by who had previously been published in the journal. Huh? Why is it surprising that they liked his book of poems and also like some individual poems?

As for counting or not counting in the rankings, putting all this aside I will say that everytime I see a ranking that is based (in part) on publication the ranker almost always picks one book to look at. This strikes me as a really bad policy. One book series is, well, only one book series. On top of that, everyone knows that individual anthologies tend to lean towards specific aesthetics. Of course it isn't surprising that a lot more Iowa stories get into BNAV than Brown stories when Wolfe is the judge. It would make a lot more sense, to me at least, to pick 10 anthologies and/or major journals and see who is getting published where. That would give us a much better idea.

Of course, it would also take actual work and research.


I would agree with that -- the more robust the data, the better the rankings. Not to get too wonky here (I am a former D.C. trade journalist, so it's often my natural inclincation) but it seems that what's needed, more than anything, is a consensus about what data points should actually count when trying to rank these schools.

I know people have pointed out how it's hard to rank MFA programs the way law schools or med schools are ranked, but does anyone know how, say, lit PhD programs are ranked?

There must be some objective data, even if a large chunk of the rank is a subjective "reputation" score (which I do think is valid ... the reason Iowa is ranked highly is not because my education was any better than someone's who went elsewhere, but because when I mention to people in the academic or publishing world that I went to iowa, it means something to them, and therefore might help my career -- of course, in that way, I guess rankings become a kind of self-propagating beast, which must be frustrating for newer programs trying to establish themselves).


edwriter



Jul 19, 2007, 6:55 PM

Post #535 of 764 (14323 views)
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alphabetized lists [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Are those other rankings in order, because they don't seem alphabetical?



Actually, Clench, I think they are alphabetical (if you ignore the "University of" prefixes and use the relevant state names for alphabetizing purposes).

Best,
Erika D.


Quiet Americans: Stories
http://www.erikadreifus.com



edwriter



Jul 19, 2007, 7:07 PM

Post #536 of 764 (14319 views)
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Re: grad programs in other disciplines [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I would agree with that -- the more robust the data, the better the rankings. Not to get too wonky here (I am a former D.C. trade journalist, so it's often my natural inclincation) but it seems that what's needed, more than anything, is a consensus about what data points should actually count when trying to rank these schools.

I know people have pointed out how it's hard to rank MFA programs the way law schools or med schools are ranked, but does anyone know how, say, lit PhD programs are ranked?


Oh, my. What a topic.

This is apparently one of the most reputable sources for doctoral program ratings. As you'll see, there's a pretty big project underway to update the ratings, and it looks as though the criteria have changed since the last investigation.

Hope that helps.

Best,
Erika D.


Quiet Americans: Stories
http://www.erikadreifus.com



__________



Jul 19, 2007, 7:30 PM

Post #537 of 764 (14314 views)
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Re: [mingram] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
Fact: Wolfe chose Shimon Tanaka for BNAV, then gave him the Stegner.

Fact: Wolfe chose Adam Johnson for BNAV, then gave him the Stegner.


I guess this doesn't strike me as all that scandalous. Wolff liked Tanaka's work when he read it for BNAV, and then liked it again when he read it for the Stegner?

Why is that so weird?



Yes, sorry I was so touchy. As I said, they insulted my grammar!

I don't know whether the above is weird, immoral, unlawful, unethical, or just merely sucky. I'd have to fetch a dictionary. But to me it seems that Wolfe might know going in who one or two of the fiction folks are going to be. And I've never applied, but I hear those applications are mighty expensive even when you think you're competing for five slots, not three or four. It really is true that the Cheetos Sweepstakes has tighter rules than most literary contests. In no other scenario would someone give out one prize, then turn right around and give that person a bigger prize he or Cheetos is judging.

This could totally be ok with you guys, and I respect that. I didn't want to get pushed into the role of moral crusader. It just strikes me as a bit odd, both on its own, and in conjunction with other stuff, like the wife.

Plus there's always the more obscure psychological factors at work. My neighbor, our state's go-to rock star of experimental psych, is fond of mentioning the "mere ownership" effect: judges will get more jazzed about a piece they've already seen (and liked) than a new, equally worthy piece. It's one reason Cheetos et al avoid any sort of nepotism.


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Jul 19, 2007, 7:39 PM)


toadvine


Jul 19, 2007, 9:40 PM

Post #538 of 764 (14280 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

 

In Reply To
FWIW, it strikes me that you are setting up an impossible task for Junior Maas. If we had water-tight evidence of rigged contests (or sexual harrasement for that matter) we would already have had completed lawsuits. To be honest you sound a bit like the Barry Bonds advocates I see everyday. "These are all allegations and hearsay, you have no actual proof at all!!"

Well, when Barry Bond's shoe size and helmet size radically change despite being well past puberty. Circumstantial evidence tends to be all we have in these types of cases, barring confessions.

And while I think Junior Maas picked a bad tone and sarcasm there (for this board at least, people are quick to get offended...), it seems to me you guys attacked her and goaded her on. Her reply seemed pretty fair to me. You seem to have wanted some grand jury testimony and a photobucket page of bloody gloves.


I didn't attack her in my first post. Nor was I the person who impugned her grammar. I first asked for explanation of some claims she made.

It strikes me that by your logic, we could all run around posting every literary rumor we heard second-hand and that would be OK. If I sound like a Bonds apologist, this whole "it's rude to ask someone to explain themselves" angle sounds like something a Bush apologist would say.



In Reply To
a) Iowa and Arizona (along with Columbia) are the largest programs in the country so if all things were neutral you would EXPECT them to have more stegners than anywhere else. And frankly, while I'm sure FSU is a good program, it has never been considered a program on the level of Iowa and I've never even seen it on a top 10 list before. So it is hardly like Butler is just teaching the cream of the crop (like an Iowa or UVA might be able to claim) and that is why they are winning.


Iowa and Columbia I'm not sure about. But I don't think Arizona is quite as large as them, and certainly not to the point that would statistically explain eight Stegners in the last 10 years (I believe that's the correct number, from searching the Stegner site). That's a lot more than FSU, and both are probably equivalent programs in terms of prestige -- so why is the Butler link so suspicious, and not whoever is teaching at Arizona?


In Reply To
But maybe Butler is just a magician amongst teachers and can turn his little MFA stones into diamonds in a way no other teacher can. Or maybe he just molds them into writers whose stories appeal to Wolfe? Who knows. But I think it is a fair question to raise, if it is indeed true he gets a significant number of students winning awards from his friend.


If this were indeed the case, I would agree with you completely. But I don't think anybody's established that Butler is producing an inordinate number of Stegners. How many are we talking about here? That's not a rhetorical question -- I'd really like to know. Three? Four? In how many years? All anybody seems to mention is Adam Johnson, a guy who seems to have merited the fellowship more than just about anybody else who's gotten it the last few years.

I'm really not trying to make this discussion less civil -- quite the contrary. I agree that the question, "Is there unfair preference given to Butler/Stegner spouses/whoever?" is a fair one to ask -- I just don't agree that it's fair to claim that the answer is definitively yes, based on what scant rationale has been presented here. The only thing I've heard thus far that seems legitimately suspicious is the Orringer/Harty connection. That makes me curious about the screening process, but it doesn't make me want to join this Wolff/Butler/Stegner witch hunt.


__________



Jul 19, 2007, 10:17 PM

Post #539 of 764 (14274 views)
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Re: [toadvine] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think a Wolfe-Butler cabal is a definite yes either. It's just something I've heard from writers and teachers, that they're friends, and that sometimes Butler makes a 'recommendation' that Wolfe moves on. There's nepotism like this in many literary ventures; some illegal (prizes), some not (Best American Poetry, say). And while the verdict's not necessarily in, as you say, prior behavior (wives, and yes, forging documents to get into a good school) is enough to make one cautious.

Why so many Iowans or Arizonians got the Stegner? Who can say. It's a different issue. If a murderer kills three people, but knows a lot of other people he didn't, does that make those three transgressions puny or OK? No. We wouldn't say, Hey conspiracy, man, why isn't everyone dead?


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Jul 19, 2007, 10:18 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

Jul 20, 2007, 1:40 PM

Post #540 of 764 (14205 views)
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Re: [toadvine] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

I never said it was rude to ask her to explain her post. I thought your response to the explanation was what was odd.


Quote
Iowa and Columbia I'm not sure about. But I don't think Arizona is quite as large as them, and certainly not to the point that would statistically explain eight Stegners in the last 10 years

Tom Kealey lists Iowa as having 60 students in poetry and fiction, Columbia as having 70 (but at least 15 or more of those are non-fiction) and Arizona as having 25 per genre. So All three of those programs are hovering between 50 and 60 students in fiction and poetry. So yes, Arizona does seem to be up there as one of the largest (Umass lists Arizona as having 53 and Iowa as having 47). There are probably 3 or 4 other programs that are as large as those three, but Arizona is indeed one of the biggest.

Neither UMass or Tom Kealey list FSU's though, but I'm pretty sure it isn't one of the largest.



bodel


Jul 22, 2007, 4:36 PM

Post #541 of 764 (14086 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

 

hey y'all. found a site listing the full Atlantic mfa rankings w/ links to the article and interview:

http://mfarankings.blogspot.com/2007/07/2007-mfa-rankingsgraduate-programs-in.html


umass76


Jul 22, 2007, 6:02 PM

Post #542 of 764 (14065 views)
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Re: [bodel] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

I know I'm horribly biased (and self-interested) here, but--as a concept at least, that blog strikes me as a step backward, inasmuch as it only features two rankings and one of them is the USNWR97. Why should the world care about the 1997 rankings anymore? They weren't very good to begin with (small [0.1] increments of difference in a single measure [reputation] led to a difference of dozens of spots between schools in the rankings), and now they're a decade old. I think they've been proven--even if you don't buy (or follow) the LJPW Reader Poll, simply the comments on this site have proven--that those rankings are obsolete now.

That said, I'm not trying to start an argument here, so I'll put it more pragmatically: even if nothing on the TSE site interests you and you never go there for information, I'd still strongly advocate that prospective applicants ignore the 1997 rankings and put all your stock in the rankings done by The Atlantic, which are available at the link above (i.e., a site other than mine; trying to limit the self-interest here) and, however flawed, are at least current.

Just my two cents.

S.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jul 22, 2007, 6:03 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

Jul 23, 2007, 12:49 AM

Post #543 of 764 (14014 views)
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Re: [bodel] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

While I'll avoid getting back into the debate of the helpfulness of the 97 rankings (I still find them helpful and important, though I certainly wish UNWR would redo them to get them more up to date.), I will say that I wish that site made it a little clearer that the Atlantic rankings are not official rankings on the level of USNWR. They were just the opinion of one writer, somewhat based on people he talked to, but not based on any kind of extensive survey ala the 97 rankings.


Zash
Zachary Ash

Jul 23, 2007, 1:01 AM

Post #544 of 764 (14011 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Here's an excerpt that details the writer's informal methodology.


So it must have been pretty difficult for you to come up with a top ten list.

I can say this. The top ten list was for the most part a poll. As I went around and did my various interviews, I did a lot of polling. What I tended to see was this. There were probably 5 programs that everybody agreed belonged in the top ten. But then there were probably 20 more that could have taken the other 5 slots. So for every one of the programs that did end up on the top ten list, there were as many if not more programs that could make an absolutely legitimate case as to why they’re just as good and should be there instead. Things that could be measured were certainly an important factor. If a program gives its writers more financial aid or has a smaller faculty-to-student ratio or is more selective (and therefore can offer workshops with better peers), then that makes it a little easier to rate one program a notch above another. But for the most part it was just a matter of talking to a lot of people, and hearing the same programs spoken well of again and again and again.

http://www.theatlantic.com/...07u/writing-programs


Clench Million
Charles

Jul 23, 2007, 1:37 AM

Post #545 of 764 (14005 views)
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Re: [Zash] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Right, exactly. A perfectly fine method for making a top 10 list, but not any kind of official ranking backed by an official group or even necessarily The Atlantic.


bennyprof


Jul 24, 2007, 9:31 PM

Post #546 of 764 (13879 views)
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Re: [umass76] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

THE ATLANTIC
Boston University
University of California at Irvine
Cornell University
Florida State University
University of Iowa
Johns Hopkins University
University of Michigan
New York University
University of Texas, Michener Center
University of Virginia



After countless hours spent reading as many MFA-ranking articles I could get my grubby little hands on, I've come to a general, overall, entirely non-scientific conclusion: The ones that keep showing up in the top ten probably deserve to be there. Regarding the Altanic's list, almost all of the above are consistently in that top tier grouping, the exceptions being Boston, NYU and Florida State.

We all know that Cornell (which has shown up as one of the top three pretty much everywhere I've looked), UC Irvine, Virginia, Johns Hopkins, Michigan and Iowa are relative no-brainers. And you could easily make the same case for UT, although that program is somewhat divisive in terms of public opinion (mainly due to the rotating faculty system.)

It seems to be the ones on the fringe causing most of the debate... those "could be top 10, could be top 20" schools, like Florida, Arizona, Florida St., Indiana, Oregon, Washington, UMass, Brown (whose uniqueness I suspect might be slightly overstated), Syracuse, Columbia, etc... I know I've left several out.

As has been said many times before, it's an inherently subjective issue, and, personally, I'd be thrilled to get into any one of the programs I've mentioned above. From everything I've read, they're all excellent in their own, distinctive ways.

So yeah, I've jotted down a sort of preliminary "top five" wish list -- which I suspect are the same five schools for most everyone -- and plan to carpet bomb about ten more (a few of which are not considered "top 20" programs) to cover my bases.

How's that sound? ;)

-Benny


(This post was edited by bennyprof on Jul 24, 2007, 9:42 PM)


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Jul 24, 2007, 10:05 PM

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Give us your top 5, benny -- so we may assault you, unceasingly and without mercy!

Seriously, though, what's the deal with Virgina? Everyone loves it, and as far as I can tell, you'd get a good peer group (recent stories in FENCE and McSweeney's that I really liked)...but the funding looks pretty iffy, and I'm not sure why you'd rank the fiction folks above a UMass or a Syracuse. It's hard to quantify these things, but what gives? What am I missing? If it's near the bottom of my list, why should they get my application money, and not someplace else?


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bennyprof


Jul 24, 2007, 10:52 PM

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Give us your top 5, benny -- so we may assault you, unceasingly and without mercy!



Okay.

These are more or less based on my gut feelings right now and are subject to change...

1.) Cornell
2.) UC Irvine
3.) Iowa
4.) UMass
5.) Virginia

I take that back... Cornell is not subject to change -- it's my top pick, and I can't imagine a scenario where I was accepted at Cornell and turned it down for any other school. Outstanding reputation, faculty, funding... way too good to pass up. Same with UC Irvine. I can't fathom a situation where I'd be forced to choose between those two programs, but if it actually happened I'd still go with Cornell -- full tuition, 18k/yr stipend, job with their literary mag... insane!

Furthermore, the fact that I'd have a better shot at going on a date with Bridget Moynihan than getting into either one of those programs goes without saying...

If Cornell and UC Ivine turn me down (a virtual certainty) and Iowa rings, I'd be thrilled to death. However, I've yet to make up my mind on the funding issue... that is to say, if I got into Iowa with only partial funding, would I turn down another school -- perhaps lower down my list... say, Florida State -- that was offering full? I just don't know. (Potentially unnecessary hypothesization over my long-shot programs is fun!)

UMass... love the idea of three years instead of two... can definitely see the benefit to that. Plus, the school's got a great rep -- have heard nary a negative comment regarding that program. Another of my top choices.

I've got Virginia up there based almost solely on reputation. It's almost always in the top five and always in the top ten. So yeah, pretty flippant about that pick at this point... but it might turn solider (not a word, I know, but I like it!) as I learn more about the program in the coming months.

Let the merciless assault begin. ;)

-Benny


mrshankly


Jul 24, 2007, 11:59 PM

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Maybe I'm missing something about UMass, but I don't know how you could possibly rank their program on par with Virginia's. Virginia fully funds and provides a stipend; and their fiction faculty (Beattie, Eisenberg, Tilgham) seems vastly superior to that of UMass (Bachelder, Holland, Murray), at least as far as professional accomplishment goes. But of course well-known writers don't always make the best teachers...


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Jul 25, 2007, 12:26 AM

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Re: [mrshankly] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, that's what I was asking. To me, the funding looks a bit sketchy -- at least compared with various other 'top' schools. Looks like you get some sort of "fellowship" in the first year, but you have to pay tuition, and it pretty much equals out. To me that's a tuition waiver, although UVA doesn't call it that. In the second year they waive tuition and pay about $4,000 per semester to teach one class.

Taste in faculty is subjective. I'm not sure who comes out ahead 'accomplishment'-wise (they all have good books). And isn't Beattie like the 80's minimalism queen? The weird thing is I prefer Noy Holland; but from what I've read of student work, I'm more aligned with the UVA bunch.

Trickier still: let's say you really dig someone like Michael Knight, UVA grad (which I do). And let's say he's now teaching somewhere like Mississippi (which he does). All things equal, do you go for the writer you admire, or the school that helped him get there?

Quandaries, man. Quandaries!


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(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Jul 25, 2007, 10:32 AM)

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