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umass76


Aug 30, 2010, 9:22 AM

Post #951 of 1018 (15475 views)
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     Re: [alamana] 2011 MFA [In reply to]  

Seth's response to AWP's response to the P&W's rankings is also worth reading. Here is the link to it:

http://sethabramson.blogspot.com/2010/08/on-faculty-parts-i-through-v.html


maybemd


Aug 30, 2010, 12:01 PM

Post #952 of 1018 (15452 views)
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     Re: [alamana] 2011 MFA [In reply to]  

Thank you for posting the link to AWP's take on rankings of MFA programs. It is very much worth the reading.


hamlet3145


Aug 30, 2010, 3:26 PM

Post #953 of 1018 (15429 views)
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     Re: [alamana] 2011 MFA [In reply to]  

From the AWP article:


Quote

Such rankings do for creative writing what pornography does for love.



Ouch.


poundsghost


Sep 1, 2010, 7:30 PM

Post #954 of 1018 (15329 views)
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     Re: [jmmacleod] 2011 MFA [In reply to]  

So, I had Arizona State as my top choice for poetry because I love the sun and Norman Dubie (and it's fully funded I think). But it looks like they dropped quite a bit in the rankings from the previous rankings--any insight on why? Did the program change?


umass76


Sep 1, 2010, 11:22 PM

Post #955 of 1018 (15305 views)
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     Re: [poundsghost] 2011 MFA [In reply to]  

PG,

For program movement over time, it's better to look at the overall rankings, because the "N" is much higher. In the overall rankings ASU moved only 2 spots between the 2010 and 2011 rankings, which is a blip on the radar (a 1.35% movement, given the 148 full-res programs out there). It did drop 18 spots in poetry (a 12.16% drop), but a few things to consider: With a much lower "N," genre rankings should be seen as having at least a 5% MoE (Margin of Error); there were some CGSR compliance-related kerfuffles in the past three years with ASU, and while these are over now (I can say from dealing directly with the program), they may have affected some portion of last year's voting (perhaps explaining the 7.16% drop above and beyond the 5% minimum MoE?), especially as poetry voters are always more "responsive" to issues surrounding funding because they're more worried about it on average (and CGSR compliance, as it plays out in real-time, is a funding-related issue for applicants); the poetry rankings are even more volatile than you would expect "average" genre rankings to be, because poetry is a much less popular genre than fiction, which lends itself to much more voters in the fiction polling and much more stability in the fiction rankings (for instance, in the 2009-10 poetry polling, had ASU received even 5 more votes -- which is certainly not insubstantial under these circumstances, with this "N," but also does put things a little bit into perspective -- it would have been knocking on the door of the top 20 in poetry); there may have been faculty turnover or changes to the website that clarified funding (which in some cases reveals funding to be slightly more modest than presumed); and so on. But if the overall ranking isn't changing much, don't presume much has changed in terms of applicant popularity -- which, again, is what that portion of the rankings sheet measures. You have to look at the hard-data rankings too if you're really trying to track whether something is changing in a program --ASU's funding ranking went up, its selectivity stayed about the same, and it actually got onto the map in placement (it hadn't been ranked before), so there's no evidence of the types of evidence available to us (this is, of course, a tacit caveat in any conversation like this) to suggest anything has changed.

Be well,
Seth


poundsghost


Sep 2, 2010, 1:43 PM

Post #956 of 1018 (15255 views)
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     Re: [umass76] 2011 MFA [In reply to]  

Umass--
Thanks, that makes sense as I read more closely all the variables that go into the rankings. Just freaked out for a second when I saw a lower poetry number, but I'm probably being too focussed don the nitty gritty of the numbers rather than the big picture. I blame years of anxiety over BCS football rankings for this.

Right now, my top choices are ASU, Umass, Brown, Irvine, U of A, New Mexico, UNLV (Phd)

In Reply To


mgoss7


Sep 3, 2010, 7:14 PM

Post #957 of 1018 (15181 views)
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     2011 MFA: where to go? [In reply to]  

I've just started lurking here again, thinking about whether I'm actually going to bite the bullet and give the MFA thing another shot (I applied in 2006 without much luck, but have been working hard on my writing in the 4 years since). I have what I consider an absurdly long list at the moment and am looking for some insights.

I'm applying for fiction and wanted to preface my list by saying that one of my main requirements is that the program be fairly far from home (washington, dc). I've lived in the mid-atlantic all my life and really want to push myself outside my comfort zone, both literally and figuratively. I also realize that some of the schools on my list are not so great on funding, but I have luckily been very smart with my savings, so while funding is important it's not a deal-breaker. Mostly I want to know what people have heard/experienced about the programs in general: the faculty, the structure of the program, etc.

U. Oregon
Vanderbilt
INdiana
Montana
Houston
UNC Greensboro
SIU, Carbondale
Louisiana State
Ohio State
Purdue
U. Arizona
Eastern Washington
UC Irvine
UC Riverside
Portland State
San Diego State
Georgia College and State Univ
USC (California)
Wyoming
Western Michigan
U. Washington (Seattle)
Ohio University
Boise State
Northwestern

Thanks, all, in advance.


kbritten

e-mail user

Sep 3, 2010, 7:50 PM

Post #958 of 1018 (15176 views)
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     Re: [mgoss7] 2011 MFA: where to go? [In reply to]  

I don't know if you can't stand humidity (I can't), but Florida has a fantastic, fully funded program that its graduates rave about. Except for the fact that they have one receptionist who doesn't have enough time to email you back *ahem* I've had a great experience with them. Plus, $30 app fee, no personal statement, no critical statement, and only 2 letters of rec required means applying there is a breeze.

I'm a big fan of Ohio State, although I didn't apply there last year. Their application process is like a marathon, though, so if you don't want to spend a lot of time with extra stuff, they may not be a good fit. But, fully funded, good balance between lit classes/workshops, opportunities with The Journal, pretty bad assed faculty. And you might get the opportunity to dot the "i," which would be kind of cool.

I would recommend taking UNC Greensboro off your list. Pretty much zero funding and a whole lot of "misinformation." They were a mess last year, accepting people and retracting their acceptances, notifying rejections very late, not returning phone calls/emails. They seem disorganized and a little deceitful. You'd have to pay out of state tution there, too, which is probably not worth it.

I've heard good things about SIU Carbondale, LSU, Purdue, GCSU, and Boise State. Good luck!


mgoss7


Sep 3, 2010, 7:57 PM

Post #959 of 1018 (15171 views)
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     Re: [kbritten] 2011 MFA: where to go? [In reply to]  

Hey Kbritten-

Thanks for the info. UNC Greensboro sounds like a bad program all around. I was mostly interested in the idea of living in Greensboro for a few years, which I'd heard is pretty lovely.

I'll definitely give some thought to Florida, although the idea of living somewhere with so much humidity does give me pause (right now I feel like dying every time August rolls around in dc and I have a long-haired dog, who can't be shaved down and gets overheated quickly on walks in super hot/humid weather).

Also good to know about all the hoops for Ohio State. Since I'll be super busy in the coming months (I'm an english teacher and college counselor) I might not even have time for all of that, but I'll look more into it.


kbritten

e-mail user

Sep 3, 2010, 8:33 PM

Post #960 of 1018 (15165 views)
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     Re: [mgoss7] 2011 MFA: where to go? [In reply to]  

Cool. I'm a high school teacher, too, so I know what it's like to have zero free time a whole of tension in the neck.

I forgot to recommend North Carolina State. The funding won't blow you away, but it's there. They have opportunities to work with a literary journal *I think. I may be confusing them with another school*. They have a sci-fi writer on staff (hello, open-mindedness!), and they are in Raleigh! They also have tolerable acceptance rate, which is good.

One other thing about the humidity in Florida. I went to school in Alabama and I thought it was hot there, but it's nothing compared to Florida. Dew points are pretty consistently in the mid-seventies and it's hot (and I mean hot) six months out of the year. You have to kind of love the heat and humidity to not be angry all the time. But, the program's cool and Gainesville's a little cooler than the rest of the state. Far from the beach, though, if that's your kind of thing.

Good luck and try to get some sleep ;)


ChrisLes

e-mail user

Sep 7, 2010, 8:20 PM

Post #961 of 1018 (15066 views)
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     Help for 2011 MFA Applicants [In reply to]  

Hi folks,

I just wanted to post a quick note to announce that Driftless House is now offering reviews of nonfiction portfolios for writers preparing to apply to MFA programs. We've been doing portfolio reviews in fiction and poetry for over a year now, we specialize in working with MFA applicants, and we're happy to expand into nonfiction here at the start of the 2010-11 application season by adding a graduate of the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program. Nonfiction portfolio reviews are $290 for up to 30 pages. If you have any questions about our services, please feel free to post them here or e-mail us at driftlesshouse at yahoo dot com.

Thanks,
Chris


Driftless House


flobelle


Sep 8, 2010, 11:17 PM

Post #962 of 1018 (15000 views)
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     Re: [ChrisLes] Help for 2011 MFA Applicants [In reply to]  

I'm curious. Who is the nonfiction person you've found? I saw the posting on the NWP listserv when you were looking for someone initially.


ChrisLes

e-mail user

Sep 9, 2010, 4:47 PM

Post #963 of 1018 (14945 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Help for 2011 MFA Applicants [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I'm curious. Who is the nonfiction person you've found? I saw the posting on the NWP listserv when you were looking for someone initially.


We took Gabriel Houck, class of '09. His bio should be up on our website shortly.


Driftless House


themanHimself
David Stockdale


Sep 15, 2010, 6:31 PM

Post #964 of 1018 (14803 views)
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     Re: [ChrisLes] Help for 2011 MFA Applicants [In reply to]  

Get a Real Degree:

<http://americansfortruth.com/...lly_huge_wash-dc.bmp>


Basically this woman's argument is that an MFA is useless. Thoughts on this? Obviously, I disagree with her. But I haven't attended an MFA program, so I'm wondering what you guys think. I admittedly skimmed through it, but I find is quite unfair that Batuman is blaming the state of literature today solely on MFA programs. Certainly it's the publishing industry, and in a broader sense, the sharp rise in idiocy in society that's to blame. Furthermore, I think it's rather boring that Batuman still feels it necessary to base much of her argument on the race dichotomy. Intuitively, it seems unfair to put things in those terms.


-David Stockdale

http://stockdalespeaks.tumblr.com/
http://scribasaurus.blogspot.com/

"Darwinian evolution tells us that we are incipient compost: assemblages of complex molecules that - for no greater purpose than to secure sources of energy against competing claims - have developed the ability to speculate." -George Monbiot


rain_raine


Sep 15, 2010, 7:15 PM

Post #965 of 1018 (14794 views)
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     Re: [themanHimself] Help for 2011 MFA Applicants [In reply to]  

Hi themanHimself,

Your link seems to be leading somewhere else, the correct link is (hopefully): Get A Real Degree.

My thoughts about it haven't quite come together yet. I ended up agreeing with a lot more of it than I would have expected based on the title (which she apologizes for on her blog, saying that it was added by the editor). I found a lot of the nuts and bolts of it hard to address since the essay is a book review: instead of presenting her own analysis she's critiquing McGurl's analysis. I haven't read McGurl's book, so I can't comment on that. (For a lot of it I wondered about differences between how MFA programs have been run historically and how they're run now, if there are any, and between academic-oriented programs and studio programs, etc. Maybe I need to track down the book...)

All of that aside, I mostly agree with the ideals she states in her last four paragraphs. I think there is a difference between good writing and good books, and an exclusive focus on technique would ignore that. I think creative writing programs should "teach writers about history and the world, and not just about adverbs and themselves." I think it's important to be in conversation with the great books that have gone before.

What I can't say is whether or not MFA programs do that. It sounds like McGurl's descriptions of the program do not match her hopes; I'm applying to MFA programs because I'm hoping that's somewhat inaccurate.


themanHimself
David Stockdale


Sep 15, 2010, 7:44 PM

Post #966 of 1018 (14784 views)
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     Re: [rain_raine] Help for 2011 MFA Applicants [In reply to]  

Whoops, I got my links mixed up. My bad.

Yeah, it just miffs me a little when she says things like, " Indeed, think of Tim O’Brien. As a White Person, he couldn’t write about most of his life experience, which was probably just like Father Knows Best. Instead, in If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home and the several novels that followed, he had to write about the period of his life when he – like the conscripted Native Americans, like the napalmed Vietnamese – was the victim of the murderous policy of the White Man."

It's such an absurd criticism of O'Brien. Vietnam was an important and traumatic part of his life. I would think as a writer it would be the source of a lot of his baggage emotionally, and thus be subject to a large amount of poetic use. What does his race have to do with anything? Am I misinterpreting her argument here?


-David Stockdale

http://stockdalespeaks.tumblr.com/
http://scribasaurus.blogspot.com/

"Darwinian evolution tells us that we are incipient compost: assemblages of complex molecules that - for no greater purpose than to secure sources of energy against competing claims - have developed the ability to speculate." -George Monbiot


rain_raine


Sep 15, 2010, 8:48 PM

Post #967 of 1018 (14773 views)
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     Re: [themanHimself] Help for 2011 MFA Applicants [In reply to]  

Yeah, that's part of the middle section that I found hard to parse my first time through the essay.

Here's what I understand to be happening in the middle section of the essay: Starting with the paragraph that begins "The discussion of Chief Bromden's..." she is responding to McGurl's assertion that 'write what you know' and 'find your voice' "were enormously productive for 20th century fiction." She identifies how, according to McGurl's own examples, 'write what you know' has been translated to write from your own experience, while 'find your voice' has been translated to writing other people's experience. More specifically, the authors who write what they know tend to be minorities, while those who find a voice other than their own for their writing are white males. Rather than those two slogans being productive for 20th century fiction, Batuman argues that they've been limiting, and that in practice, the authors McGurl cites as following them all end up writing about persecution. So, when she brings up O'Brien's race she's pointing out that even though he's a white male writing about what he knows, he still fits into this larger pattern because he's writing the time in his life when experienced persecution.

Here are my opinions: I think it was a misstep for her to use O'Brien--as you said, considering how traumatic it must have been, it would be far stranger if he didn't write about his time in Vietnam. I think she got caught up in responding to McGurl, and since McGurl mentioned O'Brien she did, too. I find it hard, until the end, to figure out how much of what she's saying are her own thoughts about the state of literature and how much is simply her criticizing McGurl. For example, McGurl states that the two slogans have been productive for 20th century fiction, and she responds by finding the fiction he uses as examples limiting. But does she agree with him that they've had a major influence on 20th century fiction? I don't know.


themanHimself
David Stockdale


Sep 16, 2010, 12:09 AM

Post #968 of 1018 (14750 views)
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     Re: [rain_raine] Help for 2011 MFA Applicants [In reply to]  

See, I could go on about this for hours. I think Batuman has fundamentally misunderstood this age-old bit of advice, "write what you know." What that advice ultimately means is actually better put in a negative form, don't write about things of which you have little or no knowledge. If you have never been skiing before, don't write a novel about a skier. That is not to say that if you have done the research, and perhaps done some skiing yourself in preparation, that you shouldn't pursue the story. That's really all the advice is saying. It doesn't mean "write about your own experiences." That's a faulty implication to make, and it has indeed influenced the state of literature unfortunately. We have so many authors that are simply afraid to think outside the box because of this "write what you know" sort of philosophical imprisonment.

Thus, Batuman takes the dichotomy between writing what you know and finding your own voice too literally. These two things are simply not mutually exclusive. I find that the best advice I have ever heard on the subject of writing in general is "write what you love." Now, this is problematic because we often love things we know little about. This statement seems counter intuitive but I find it to be true in many cases. Alas, I am rambling.


-David Stockdale

http://stockdalespeaks.tumblr.com/
http://scribasaurus.blogspot.com/

"Darwinian evolution tells us that we are incipient compost: assemblages of complex molecules that - for no greater purpose than to secure sources of energy against competing claims - have developed the ability to speculate." -George Monbiot


(This post was edited by themanHimself on Sep 16, 2010, 12:10 AM)


maybemd


Sep 16, 2010, 12:29 AM

Post #969 of 1018 (14746 views)
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     Re: [themanHimself] Help for 2011 MFA Applicants [In reply to]  

"We don't write what we know. We write what we wonder about."
- Richard Peck



themanHimself
David Stockdale


Sep 16, 2010, 12:35 AM

Post #970 of 1018 (14744 views)
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     Re: [maybemd] Help for 2011 MFA Applicants [In reply to]  


In Reply To
"We don't write what we know. We write what we wonder about."
- Richard Peck

Haha, you basically said what I was trying to say, only a lot better, and a lot more concisely. Thanks.


-David Stockdale

http://stockdalespeaks.tumblr.com/
http://scribasaurus.blogspot.com/

"Darwinian evolution tells us that we are incipient compost: assemblages of complex molecules that - for no greater purpose than to secure sources of energy against competing claims - have developed the ability to speculate." -George Monbiot


rain_raine


Sep 16, 2010, 9:59 AM

Post #971 of 1018 (14711 views)
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     Re: [themanHimself] Help for 2011 MFA Applicants [In reply to]  

 
It doesn't mean "write about your own experiences." That's a faulty implication to make, and it has indeed influenced the state of literature unfortunately. We have so many authors that are simply afraid to think outside the box because of this "write what you know" sort of philosophical imprisonment.

Thus, Batuman takes the dichotomy between writing what you know and finding your own voice too literally.


I think you're getting confused between what Batuman is saying and what McGurl says. It's McGurl that lays out the dichotomy between writing what you know and finding your own voice, what Batuman is doing is exploring the implications of that dichotomy. And I actually think you agree with her implications ("We have so many authors that are simply afraid to think outside the box..."), though you may not agree with her about which authors are philosophically trapped. Anyway, this is why I'm curious about McGurl's book now. I agree with Batuman's criticisms of many of the quotes she offers from the book, but is that an accurate description of the book? I'll have to read it to find out.

Personally, I think both 'write what you know' and 'find your voice' have been overused, interpreted and re-interpreted by so many people, that they have become meaningless to me. I like that Richard Peck quote a lot.


patrickdunn


Sep 16, 2010, 3:35 PM

Post #972 of 1018 (14679 views)
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     Re: [rain_raine] Help for 2011 MFA Applicants [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Personally, I think both 'write what you know' and 'find your voice' have been overused, interpreted and re-interpreted by so many people...



rain_raine


Sep 16, 2010, 4:27 PM

Post #973 of 1018 (14673 views)
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     Re: [rain_raine] Help for 2011 MFA Applicants [In reply to]  

A review of Batuman's review by someone who has read McGurl's book is here. Apparently, she has distorted McGurl's arguments, which definitely changes my reading of her review (and makes me still more interested in reading McGurl's book).


umass76


Sep 18, 2010, 5:52 PM

Post #974 of 1018 (14586 views)
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     Re: [In reply to]  

Shoot, I just realized I posted this (about a week ago) in the wrong thread! I meant to post it here -- it's an article I wrote recently for The Huffington Post:

Six Myths About the Creative Writing MFA


I hope you'll pass this link along via Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, &c, if you like the article -- or even if you don't but consider it thought-provoking!

Best to all,
Seth


bokmakierie



Sep 21, 2010, 6:17 AM

Post #975 of 1018 (14502 views)
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     university of new mexico [In reply to]  

I am considering applying to the University of New Mexico, and would love to hear from anyone who went there or is currently in the programme.

I like it that the programme encourages cross-genre work, and am also interested in the community outreach stuff. And it specifically welcomes older students, which is good for a 47 year old to hear. The teaching and professional training elements are pragmatic, though I don't want my writing time to get too eroded. I know nothing about the faculty, but have started exploring their work on the net. The MFA retreat appeals, as does the Taos Writers Conference.

I am concerned about the funding. The website doesn't give enough information for me. I need full funding, or as close as possible.

Also, I would like to know what living in that part of the world is like, and Albuquergue in particular, including costs.

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