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Tapeworm


Jan 5, 2007, 4:41 AM

Post #176 of 764 (10175 views)
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Re: [sibyline] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm awaiting my "Women of the MFA" calender pin-up. Oh momma.


writerle


Jan 5, 2007, 10:13 AM

Post #177 of 764 (10146 views)
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Re: [sibyline] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

That's not stereotyping now is it? Why all the California bashing? You people really ought to get a life.


sibyline


Jan 5, 2007, 10:29 AM

Post #178 of 764 (10138 views)
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Re: [writerle] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

are you like saying that like anyone who totally talks like a valley girl is like automatically dumb or something? 'cause that's totally like saying that like anyone who talks in a southern accent is like totally dumb. 'cause i mean, like, i totally did not make any implications about intelligence in my response. any stereotypes conjured are totally like your own. i mean like, i have a life. i totally don't know if you have a sense of humor though.


JKicker
Jonathan

Jan 5, 2007, 12:00 PM

Post #179 of 764 (10117 views)
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Re: [sibyline] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

hahaha


umass76


Jan 5, 2007, 12:11 PM

Post #180 of 764 (10113 views)
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Re: [JKicker] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

Ah, now I see why everyone wanted to stop talking about rankings...this is so much more productive(!) I'm certain all the folks who wanted to shut this conversation down are now long gone from this thread, their mission accomplished. Ah well. As I said, it's a resource, and now it's there whenever people want to use it or even glance at it as a curiosity.
S.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jan 5, 2007, 12:43 PM)


JKicker
Jonathan

Jan 5, 2007, 12:48 PM

Post #181 of 764 (10097 views)
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Re: [umass76] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

Productive... in a way Sib's post could end up being more productive if I end up getting rejected from all the schools I've applied to! We should all laugh more.

Anyway, while I'm talking, I like UMass's list. I like reading people's lists. I don't give it much more credit than anyone else's list though. I've made my own list and its very long and complicated and full of mathematical representations of my own personal biases. I plan to post it once I finish applying...but actually at the moment I've lost one of my most important statistics sheets....I'm afraid I mailed it to Michigan...at least they'll know I wasn't lying when I said I thought they had one of the best faculties in the country.

Anyway I just wasted a bunch of time rambling to Melos about FSU and my idiotic methodologies so I must be off!

xoxo


JKicker
Jonathan

Jan 5, 2007, 12:54 PM

Post #182 of 764 (10092 views)
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Re: [umass76] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

I hope that didn't across as dismissive toward umass's list, because I don't want that. I do appreciate all the work umass has put into his list and, more importantly, all the work he's done to defend it. You guys have generated a couple of informative pages for future MFA prospectives to add into their meat grinders while they are trying to guess which schools will be the best for them. PLUS I have something interesting to read while I enjoy my donuts and milk.

However more valley girl speak is always welcome, in my humble opinion.


sibyline


Jan 5, 2007, 1:13 PM

Post #183 of 764 (10082 views)
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Re: [umass76] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

woah, dude. lighten up. and for the record, i'm a little blonde woman from socal so i feel like i can make fun of my own peeps. it's a message board, not a courtroom. i think i've proven well enough here that i can make substantive arguments when the situation calls for it. i've also talked in the past about the value of updating the current rankings. i don't think kealy's rankings are perfect (um, michener center has no permanent faculty, which i think is a huge problem), but at least they reflect the development of various mfa programs in the past ten years. like, hello?

and i think it should be, "men of the mfa's." i already have a couple of people in mind. :)


blueragtop


Jan 5, 2007, 1:14 PM

Post #184 of 764 (10080 views)
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Re: [JKicker] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

Umass, obviously I was messing around, but I have looked at your rankings, and I think you did a good job. I just wanted everyone to chill out...it's not even Feb. yet and people are kinda wacked out.


writerle


Jan 5, 2007, 2:20 PM

Post #185 of 764 (10050 views)
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Re: [sibyline] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

Ha, Ha. Actually, the stereotype I was referring to was the assumption that everyone from SoCal talks like a valley girl. Didn't that end like twenty years ago? I've lived in SoCal all my life and I've never met anyone who talks like that. Where exactly do you find these "peeps" of yours?


Clench Million
Charles

Jan 5, 2007, 2:42 PM

Post #186 of 764 (10039 views)
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Re: [umass76] My Fiction Rankings [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote

Finally, your comment that "funding" is a subjective criteria is just laughable. I can't believe you really believe that. Just because some people get funding and some don't doesn't make the criterion "subjective"--you do know that, right?; a criterion is only "subjective" if it can't be measured, and I can't believe you actually think we can't measure a school's financial activities, particularly when your own rankings-producing heroes at USNWR make such determinations all the time.


umass76:

While I wouldn't call funding "subjective," I think it is a lot more complex than some people are making it and while I liked Kealey's book and the Kealey Scale post, I think some of the funding discussion is actually confusing. Some problems I see with the funding talk:

"Funding" and "cost" are being conflated. Funding is theoretically the the amount of gift money the program has available combined with the amount of work money (funding dependent on teaching or journal work or whatever). However, many programs give out tons of money but due to the high cost of school (private big city school) are said to have bad funding. OTOH, a state school program with little actual gift money is often said to have good funding just because the neutral cost is lower in those schools.

Funding is also a mixed bag at most schools. How do you rank school A that funds everyone equally, at half-tuition each, against school B that funds a few people fully, but where most people don't get any funding?

The last point is my big problem with Kealey's and the KS rankings. Kealey seems to really overvalue programs that offer free rides to a handful of people. NYU does that, but has weak funding beyond that. Yet I see its funding regarded as better than programs which cost a lot less for the average student. Likewise with Amherst, which IIRC gives full rides to a fair number, but a lot get left out.

I think this is an area where Kealey's funding obesssion seems to get things out of balance.


jargreen

e-mail user

Jan 5, 2007, 2:43 PM

Post #187 of 764 (10039 views)
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Stereotypes are fun and comforting [In reply to] Can't Post

Honestly, it's good to be talking about something other than what fonts and margins to use for writing samples and whether to use handwriting on an envelope or a mailing label. All of which are important questions, but may also compound the nervousness. Best of luck, all!

R


blueragtop


Jan 5, 2007, 3:11 PM

Post #188 of 764 (10018 views)
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Re: [jargreen] Stereotypes are fun and comforting [In reply to] Can't Post

The funding issue is as simple as you wanna make it. For me, it's very simple: I will not pay for this degree. Why you ask? Simple, too. I don't think it's a good investment to going into debt for writing. And I know for a fact that a good portion of these schools use MFA programs as cash cows.

Shoot, look at Alabama. They just gave Nick Saban $40 million dollars. I love sports, but c'mon, Alabama doesn't seem to wanna shed that "dummy school" persona do they. Point is, these schools are swimming in money. I'll be damned if I give a billion dollar university like Columbia my money. I can write at home.


(This post was edited by melos on Jan 5, 2007, 3:15 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

Jan 5, 2007, 3:12 PM

Post #189 of 764 (10018 views)
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Re: [jargreen] My Fiction Rankings [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote

The chief point of my argument is that the opinion of fellow creative writing people is important to me, as I'm hoping for success in that field. Tell me the top twenty programs by reputation, and I'll sift through them for the ones I can afford, for the name of a faculty member I admire, and for the locations I find desirable. I'm afraid that your own--more, what's the word, precise?--rankings missed some of the things those creative writing experts were already able to tell me, that diamonds in the rough such as Bowling Green State and Southern Illinois deserve a second look, and that truly great programs like Iowa and Columbia are not second-tier!

I think this paragraph of Jargreen really sums up my own feelings on the rankings. While the UNWR rankings and ones like it are less mathematical and perhaps more "subjective" (a term that is really being misused a lot here, I think) than TK's or Kealey Scales's, I find them to be more accurate and helpful because they rank essential factors (reputation, faculty, publication success of students, student body etc.) that are hard to determine yourself.

In addition to the funding confusion I talkeda bout in my last post, I think that that factors like funding, program size, and such are best determined by the individual themselves.

I don't personally care what an individual thinks the correct amoutn of money to spend on an MFA is or the what not. I can find the funding informaiton myself and decide what I'm willing to pay. Likewise I can decide myself what locations are worth applying to, what program size I would prefer, etc.

What I'd like from rankings is a list of the QUALITY of program, as best as it can be determined, which gives me a guide to then narrow down with my own subjective criteria. Reputation, publishing success, and stuff like that is impossible to figure out from program websites or really for myself. I NEED something like the people the UNWR surveyed to tell me those factors and how the schools rank and then allow me (and every other individual) to narrow down our lists by our own subjective needs in regards to location, funding, etc.

I also agree that Columbia, Iowa and BSGU are getting screwed.


Quote
I'm also sure The Kealey Scale is more accurate than USNWR97. I think the math proves it.


Personally, I think it is your emphasses on "math" that is the problem (such as it is a problem. I thought your TKS ranking was helpful and I'm glad they are out there, I just have a few issues with it, like Jargreen.)

Interestingly enough, like I said above, I think it is the use of "objective math" that actually makes TK's and TKS rankings too subjective. TK and your subjective weightings of funding, location and the like confuse things. By my reakoning at least.

Shit, I gotta run.
peace


sibyline


Jan 5, 2007, 3:29 PM

Post #190 of 764 (10006 views)
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Re: [writerle] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

um, hello? it's like a parody?


writerle


Jan 5, 2007, 3:36 PM

Post #191 of 764 (10001 views)
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Re: [sibyline] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm going to be mature and end this now so everyone can get back to the important stuff. Just keep in mind that there is a fine line between parody and insult.

I wish everyone the best of luck. I was in the same position as many of you this time last year (or so) and now I am happily entering my second semester of an MFA program (not in California, by the way) that suits me perfectly. It can be done. Just try not to get bogged down in all the small stuff.


renapoo


Jan 6, 2007, 1:15 AM

Post #192 of 764 (9948 views)
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Re: [writerle] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

Sib raised an interesting point about Michener. Sure, they give you $20,000 for three years in a cool city, but who exactly are you studying with? Maybe faculty isn't so important because you don't know whether a good writer is a good teacher and because they go on leave a lot, but I'd be interested in seeing which programs people think have the top faculty. In my estimation UVA is way out front, but I worship at the altar of Ann Beattie. Then maybe Michigan and Cornell and JHU and Iowa...? Sadly, Irvine and Michener are kind of question marks, even though those are among my top program choices. Anyone else care to chime in on this question? (go on, rank em, I know you want to...)


blueragtop


Jan 6, 2007, 1:40 AM

Post #193 of 764 (9945 views)
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Re: [renapoo] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Virginia has the best fiction faculty. They have some serious star power. Everyone says Michigan has a great faculty, but other than Peter Ho Davies, I don't see anyone so great. Harty and Orringer don't impress me. JHU has McDermott but Dixon is leaving. Columbia probably has the most people I'd like to work with, but I don't ever count them in these lists because I could never afford to go there.

For some reason, I like the faculty at Amherst a heck of a lot. Noy Holland and Sabina Murray are award winners, and the new guy Chris Bachelder, is something most of these schools are lacking: a relatively young up and comer.


jargreen

e-mail user

Jan 6, 2007, 4:11 AM

Post #194 of 764 (9934 views)
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Re: [renapoo] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

I love this question, renapoo. I truly believe that the people make the program. We’re all getting sick of these lists, but here’s a list of fiction faculties I’d already put together to help me narrow ‘em down. Ryan

1. Michigan ... Check out their philosophies of the workshop on the UM website. I think these are my kind of people. Peter Ho Davies is one of the great short story writers. Michael Byers is not bad. Nicholas Delbanco is considered to be a teaching giant. Eileen Pollack, too.
2. Houston ... Perhaps more awards have been won by this faculty (Robert Boswell, Antonya Nelson, Chitra Divakaruni, Daniel Stern, Robert Phillips) than any other.
3. Iowa ... Marilynne Robinson has two Pulitzers. James McPherson has one. Then, there's the beloved Ethan Canin. And visiting writers.
4. Virginia ... Ann Beattie has written eight novels and seven short story collections! She is the bomb. John Casey has a National Book Award.
5. Johns Hopkins ... Stephen Dixon has published more short stories than any other American. Every book Alice McDermott publishes wins a plethora of awards. Tristan Davies and Jean McGarry are also the tops.
6. Texas ... I'm just going on the faculty that amassed in Austin this year. Outstanding. Michael Adams is a really terrific writer. James Magnuson and Rolando Hinojosa-Smith each have ten novels. Peter LaSalle, Elizabeth Harris, and Zulfikar Ghose are widely published. Laura Furman is the editor of the O. Henry Award anthologies.
7. Brown ... This just looks like a large, competent faculty. Robert Coover, Meredith Steinbach, and Brian Evenson have many awards between them. Thalia Field, Carol Maso, and Renee Gladman appear to be those fine "experimental" writers we all hear about. What is experimental fiction, anyway?
8. Minnesota ... This is all about Charles Baxter. His stories drive me insane they're so great.
9. Columbia ... Lots of people here that probably never teach. Richard Ford seems to headline the group with his Pulitzer and PEN/Faulkner Award. Nicholas Christopher has published at least fourteen books of fiction and poetry. Ben Marcus and Binnie Kirshenbaum widely publish too.
10. Florida ... David Leavitt is a terrific writer and, I've heard, a top-notch teacher/mentor. Mary Robison and Padgett Powell are also quite accomplished.
11. Cornell ... Alison Lurie has a Pulitzer, I believe. Then, there's Alice Fulton, but she's mostly poetry, right? Add Dan McCall and Molly Hite. Pretty solid.
12. Arizona ... Large group. I've heard great things about Fenton Johnson and Jonathan Penner. I have a grudge against C.E. Poverman, because of his pissy assessment of the MFA and what it can do for you. Get out of town with that negative shit.
13. NYU … E.L. Doctorow.
14. Massachusetts … I’ve heard Anthony Giardina is the best teacher around. Seems like an extremely solid, if not spectacular, bunch.
15. Indiana … I know these people well. Tony Ardizzone and Alyce Miller have won the Flannery O’Connor Award. Samrat Upadhyay is the first Nepali writer to be published in the West, and he leads an amazing workshop. Crystal Wilkinson is thoroughly published and awarded, and is a delightful person. Maura Stanton went to Iowa, was friends with Raymond Carver, has published numerous works of fiction and poetry, won several awards, and is very, very sweet. John McCluskey Jr. wouldn’t let me in his graduate workshop.
16. Florida State … This is a stacked lineup, and leading off is Robert Olen Butler.
17. Syracuse … I’ve heard things about George Saunders. Good things. And bad things. Arthur Flowers serves as a very nice complement, or compensation.
18. Colorado State … A very underrated faculty for a very underrated program. Look at this pedigree: Leslee Becker comes from Iowa, David Milofsky from UMass, Stephen Schwartz from Arizona. All are widely published. But the best-known would be Judy Doenges; she’s swell.
19. Arizona State … T.M. McNally has written some great stuff. Melissa Pritchard has a lot of awards. But I think there’s only three permanent fiction faculty.
20. Washington U in St. Louis … Marshall Klimasewisky is very popular. Not the most widely-published or awarded faculty, but I get the impression that they really excel in the classroom.


(This post was edited by jargreen on Jan 6, 2007, 4:52 AM)


jargreen

e-mail user

Jan 6, 2007, 5:16 AM

Post #195 of 764 (9923 views)
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Re: [jargreen] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry for the confusion, to those of you who viewed my faculty list immediately after I posted it; I just had to change my rankings for JH, Cornell, and UMass, which were not well-informed. Okay, unless I do another line here, that's probably my last list tonight. R


augustmaria


Jan 6, 2007, 6:46 AM

Post #196 of 764 (9915 views)
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Re: [jargreen] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

McCluskey is a great guy and ran a wonderful workshop. It was also a workshop full-to-the-limit with MFA students, which is probably why he had to tell you no.


jargreen

e-mail user

Jan 6, 2007, 7:37 AM

Post #197 of 764 (9912 views)
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Re: [augustmaria] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for letting me know, augustmaria! How do you think I sized up the other Indiana faculty members?


Banyon


Jan 6, 2007, 8:14 AM

Post #198 of 764 (9907 views)
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Re: [jargreen] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

 
20. Washington U in St. Louis … Marshall Klimasewisky is very popular. Not the most widely-published or awarded faculty, but I get the impression that they really excel in the classroom.



I'll chime in on this. I just took a fiction class with Klimasewisky, and he is a really amazing teacher. He can make you feel good about your writing while at the same time being very critical and helpful. I got four pages of single-spaced, typed comments on the first story I gave him, and that was for an undergrad class. I'm sure his grad classes are even better.

Before anyone asks, I haven't had any contact with the other writing faculty at Wash U (which is unfortunate, since I am applying for the MFA in poetry, not fiction...).


Clench Million
Charles

Jan 6, 2007, 12:40 PM

Post #199 of 764 (9876 views)
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Re: [renapoo] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Anyone else care to chime in on this question? (go on, rank em, I know you want to...)


As far as fiction goes, for my personal tastes Columbia has the best faculty, which is a large reason I choose to come here.
They have a lot of hip, young, interesting authors (Ben Marcus, Sam Lipsyte Gary Shtyngart, Rebecca Curtis, Paul LaFarge) as well as older, established writers (Binnie Krishenbaum, Richard Ford, Maureen Howard, etc.) Probably the most diverse faculty out there (helps a lot that its such a large program).

After that, I agree with the people saying that UVA is up there. They aren't exactly the professors that interest me the most, but the likes of Anne Beattie and Deborah Eseinburg are people you can't go wrong with.

Syracuse would up there thanks to George Saunders and Mary Gaitskill. Two of the best out there.

Brown's faculty interests me. Coover, Everson, etc.

Florida gets up there with Padget Powell and stays with Leavitt and Robinson.

Iowa seems quality, but they seem to favor an aesthetic that is traditional and not as diverse or interesting as I would like it to be.

Those are the only ones that come to mind. I used to think JHU had a good faculty, but aht opinion was almost entirely based on Dixon, so they'd be off my list now that he is leaving. A lot of big programs seem to honestly just have one big name who probably doesn't teach (NYU with Doctorow, FSU with Robert Olen Butler, etc.) and then a bunch of other people I've never heard of.


laughingman


Jan 6, 2007, 12:55 PM

Post #200 of 764 (9873 views)
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Re: [jargreen] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

Not sure if it was an accident or you did it on purpose, but you left Mary Gaitskill off of your assessment of Syracuse. She's kind of a big deal with novels, short stories, frequent prize anthology nods, etc.

Also, I'd point out that Texas State at San Marcos usually has a *REALLY* great Mitte chair (Denis Johnson and Tim O'Brien in the last three years) and they have a list of great names who they send your work off to be critiqued by (though, admittedly, I'm not really sure how this works or how much feedback you get). I've heard that Tom Grimes, the program director, is great, and he was friends with Charles D'Ambrosio at Iowa. They still interview and plug one another and I kind of think that D'Ambrosio--who has been visiting writer/workshop teacher at Iowa and Montana in recent years and recently published a collection of essays (Orphans) and his new collection of short stories "The Dead Fish Museum"--might be one of the Mitte chairs in the next few years. If not him, maybe one of the well-known visiting faculty members from Michener @ Austin--there seems to be some kind of pipeline or association between the two programs. (I think that both D Johnson and T O'Brien were at Austin right before taking Mitte Chair positions.)

-laugher

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