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mpagan


Aug 13, 2008, 10:39 PM

Post #51 of 165 (6428 views)
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Re: [Raysen] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

They no longer have one.

Instead they have replaced that requirement with something else.

They give out this large reading list the summer before you start - and you have unti March to read all the books (like 25 books from pre-19th on to current lit and crit.) then take an exam that measures how well you understand the different styles of writing. The questions ask you to mimic voices and styles and apply them to different environments from the various works - like write in the voice of a Henry James character who shows up in the world of Flannery O'Connor - that kind of stuff. There are prob 4 or 5 questions like that.

Not hard - it gives you the opp to catch up on reading you might have not done - and to apply different techniques. I hear it's not hard - but if you "fail" you must leave the program.

Essentially it's a big reading test that you get to take home and turn in over 48 hours I think. Easy.


Raysen


Aug 13, 2008, 11:47 PM

Post #52 of 165 (6418 views)
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Re: [mpagan] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
They no longer have one.

Instead they have replaced that requirement with something else.

They give out this large reading list the summer before you start - and you have unti March to read all the books (like 25 books from pre-19th on to current lit and crit.) then take an exam that measures how well you understand the different styles of writing. The questions ask you to mimic voices and styles and apply them to different environments from the various works - like write in the voice of a Henry James character who shows up in the world of Flannery O'Connor - that kind of stuff. There are prob 4 or 5 questions like that.

Not hard - it gives you the opp to catch up on reading you might have not done - and to apply different techniques. I hear it's not hard - but if you "fail" you must leave the program.

Essentially it's a big reading test that you get to take home and turn in over 48 hours I think. Easy.


Easy? It sounds difficult and scary to me. I'd rather have the foreign language requirement. Dammit.


v1ctorya


Aug 14, 2008, 11:59 AM

Post #53 of 165 (6392 views)
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Re: [Raysen] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
They no longer have one.

Instead they have replaced that requirement with something else.

They give out this large reading list the summer before you start - and you have unti March to read all the books (like 25 books from pre-19th on to current lit and crit.) then take an exam that measures how well you understand the different styles of writing. The questions ask you to mimic voices and styles and apply them to different environments from the various works - like write in the voice of a Henry James character who shows up in the world of Flannery O'Connor - that kind of stuff. There are prob 4 or 5 questions like that.

Not hard - it gives you the opp to catch up on reading you might have not done - and to apply different techniques. I hear it's not hard - but if you "fail" you must leave the program.

Essentially it's a big reading test that you get to take home and turn in over 48 hours I think. Easy.


Easy? It sounds difficult and scary to me. I'd rather have the foreign language requirement. Dammit.



My first thought was that it sounds intimidating. Then I thought it's one of those things that sounds intimidating but in the end, since we really know the stuff anyway and think it's intimidating so we study our brains out for it it really isn't that bad, it's just the mental build-up versus reality of the thing.


symmetrical


Aug 14, 2008, 3:41 PM

Post #54 of 165 (6365 views)
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Re: [v1ctorya] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

This type of requirement isn't that odd - I've seen it mentioned in several program websites. I kind of prefer this to the language requirement, and am happy to hear this news.


p.walsh


Aug 15, 2008, 3:56 AM

Post #55 of 165 (6314 views)
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Re: [Raysen] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

 
I agree with Raysen. This requirement sounds horrible. Personally, I prefer programs that don't require their students to fulfill arbitrary requirements that have nothing to do with why they're there in the first place, whether it be a foreign language requiremnt, a lit theory requirement, a lit requirement or whatever. Even if some students are lucky enough to get academic jobs, I doubt they'd ever be required to know lit theory, for example.


phillywriter


Aug 15, 2008, 4:19 AM

Post #56 of 165 (6312 views)
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Re: [mpagan] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The questions ask you to mimic voices and styles and apply them to different environments from the various works - like write in the voice of a Henry James character who shows up in the world of Flannery O'Connor - that kind of stuff.


Yes, this sounds horrible, but more than that, it just sounds totally insulting to the students. Write in the voice of a Henry James character that shows up in the world of Flanner O'Connor? Honestly, that sounds like one of those really pointless writing exercises my high school creative writing teacher would give us . . . I mean, is that really a requirement at Michigan? That sounds totally absurd. After all, that type of thing neither measures one's knowledge of these authors' work, not does it measure one's ability to write compelling fiction. At the most, it measures one's ability to mimic Henry James, and don't they expect that their students are a little bit beyond that by now?

That a student might be denied admission to an MFA program because they can't successuflly mimic a Henry James character living in 1950s rural Georgia seems beyond ridiculous. It's insulting.


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Aug 15, 2008, 9:27 AM

Post #57 of 165 (6300 views)
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Re: [p.walsh] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I agree with Raysen. This requirement sounds horrible. Personally, I prefer programs that don't require their students to fulfill arbitrary requirements that have nothing to do with why they're there in the first place, whether it be a foreign language requiremnt, a lit theory requirement, a lit requirement or whatever. Even if some students are lucky enough to get academic jobs, I doubt they'd ever be required to know lit theory, for example.


Requirements like that are part of why I went for an MFA vs an MA!
That definitely sounds more like an MA requirement. Sheesh!


http://jessiecarty.com


Yugao


Aug 15, 2008, 11:39 AM

Post #58 of 165 (6285 views)
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Re: [mpagan] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd be okay with the writing requirement if it was a take-home exam. There is no way I would want to write that kind of gobbledygook in a timed setting. To be honest though, the questions sound like the kind of "imitating voice" assignments I had in my undergrad Comp 101 class and in the community college class I took to get some workshop feedback.


Raysen


Aug 15, 2008, 12:44 PM

Post #59 of 165 (6272 views)
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Lit theory exam [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think it's a terrible terrible idea at all. I'm just frightened by the idea that they'll kick me out of the program in my second semester of my first year just because I didn't pass the bloody thing. I don't like it. I'm doing the MFA thing to write, not to understand the ins and outs of 18th century English literature.

I'm also not attracted to schools that require a comprehensive MFA exam at the end of your time there -- Arizona State, Oregon, San Jose State.


moomoocow42


Aug 15, 2008, 1:12 PM

Post #60 of 165 (6263 views)
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Re: [phillywriter] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
The questions ask you to mimic voices and styles and apply them to different environments from the various works - like write in the voice of a Henry James character who shows up in the world of Flannery O'Connor - that kind of stuff.


Yes, this sounds horrible, but more than that, it just sounds totally insulting to the students. Write in the voice of a Henry James character that shows up in the world of Flanner O'Connor? Honestly, that sounds like one of those really pointless writing exercises my high school creative writing teacher would give us . . . I mean, is that really a requirement at Michigan? That sounds totally absurd. After all, that type of thing neither measures one's knowledge of these authors' work, not does it measure one's ability to write compelling fiction. At the most, it measures one's ability to mimic Henry James, and don't they expect that their students are a little bit beyond that by now?

That a student might be denied admission to an MFA program because they can't successuflly mimic a Henry James character living in 1950s rural Georgia seems beyond ridiculous. It's insulting.


I'm going to preface my response by saying that if Michigan offered me a spot in their program, I'd take it, hands down, no questions asked. That said, I guess I don't really see what the big deal is. At the end of the day, I don't think Michigan is giving out homework to their incoming students with the intention of kicking people out of the program. After all, they do give you entire summer to do what essentially sounds like a take home test. And if I remember high school correctly, take home tests were understood by everyone, including the teacher, as gimmes, an easy A. If you didn't get an A, well... you just didn't put the time into it.

Not that I don't agree with the fact that the exercises sound a little absurd, and maybe a little bit like busy work. But that's the point of homework, right? To prepare you for school and schoolwork and all that jazz. After all, what's an MFA if not reading, writing, reading, and more writing?


My MFA Blog -- Watch me slowly lose my sanity.

(This post was edited by moomoocow42 on Aug 15, 2008, 1:18 PM)


katiej


Aug 15, 2008, 2:26 PM

Post #61 of 165 (6249 views)
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Re: [moomoocow42] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm starting the Michigan program in the fall and I thought I'd add a few things to clarify:

phillywriter: no one is "denied admission to an MFA" based on his or her ability to write like Henry James. This is for people already in the program.

Yuago: it's a take-home exam. I believe we have a weekend to complete the exam: Friday to Monday. We received the booklist this May, and the exam is scheduled for the last weekend in March 09.

Poets have a different reading list, comprising selections and collections of individual poets from Chaucer through contemporary. Both fiction and poetry lists have a small selection of critical/craft texts to boot.

Bear in mind that this is the first year the reading list and subsequent exam has been implemented, so probably there are many kinks to be worked out. The question of "dropping James' voice into O'Connor's landscape was one sample question of many, and there are other questions that involve analysis of craft, use of imagery, etc.

But most of all, I believe the important thing is not the exam, it's the reading, and the exam is just a way of making sure we've done the reading. The idea is that over the course of the school year, the cohort has a set of unifying works to identify with and discuss. So if in workshop someone wants to talk about characterization by way of citing Moby Dick, everyone will know where that comparison is coming from: and have read the book, not just the title. Etc.

Moreover, if you're appalled by this requirement and feel like your MFA should require nothing of you but writing stories and showing up for workshop: Do you have any idea how much money we're talking about here? Even considering "having" to read a list of wonderful books, and being able to comment on them fairly coherently in a 72-hour period, do you realize that the requirements are actually staggeringly low? Do you realize what other MFA programs and graduate programs in other fields require in terms of course load, teaching load, methodological study, GRE requirements for entrance in the first place? And in those programs you're required to read specific texts, but you can bet the reading list is not going to be populated primarily with texts like Austen, Dickens, Fitzgerald, Kundera. Not to mention the reading requirements if we were talking about schools in the UK, but that's another matter.

My point is, if you're going to be entrusted with a large sum of money and a tuition waiver that comes to something like $50K over 2 years, it's a small, small, small thing for the faculty to ask you to read some specific examples of the very medium you are there to study and produce.


Yugao


Aug 15, 2008, 2:38 PM

Post #62 of 165 (6242 views)
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Re: [katiej] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, I do think the reading list is a good idea. I feel like I have missed certain books along the way, and it would be nice to have a minimum reading list laid out for me and to know that my peers had made a commitment to familiarity with the same texts.


kevinfinnerty


Aug 15, 2008, 2:44 PM

Post #63 of 165 (6235 views)
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Re: [katiej] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

I completely agree, and, if I were ever admitted to the program, I would enjoy doing it, learning and interpreting authors' choices and then incorporating them into another piece of work. I imagine it will force extremely close reading. It will inevitably help you. How could it not?


Raysen


Aug 15, 2008, 3:40 PM

Post #64 of 165 (6217 views)
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Re: [katiej] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

How voluminous is this reading list? Are we talking about 10 books (of short story collections, novels, and theoretical texts) or 30 books?


phillywriter


Aug 15, 2008, 7:56 PM

Post #65 of 165 (6185 views)
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Re: [katiej] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

 
Well, it sounds like you've drunk the kool-aid and you're a believer, Katie. I don't think I've ever seen a student defend a program's administration so vehemently, especially a student who hasn't even attended that program yet. Looks like we'll have to agree to disagree, though, since I think that any type of requirement like this is ultimately insulting to the students and reflects on the way the adminstration and faculty view the students, which is to say, not as writers just like them, who are maybe at an earlier stage in their development, but rather as students (beneath them), who should be asked to perform tricks and jump through hoops and read a subjective list of books in order to prove that they are worthy of being there.

This is the type of thing that our high school English teachers used to assign, and it's called a summer reading list. I don't care that this summer reading list might include Michel Foucault, it's still ridiculous, and all I'm saying is that there are a ton of other programs out there who don't make their students do things like this, and those are the types of programs that interest me.


p.walsh


Aug 15, 2008, 8:11 PM

Post #66 of 165 (6181 views)
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Re: [phillywriter] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

  
Phillywriter,

Well said. I think what bothers me is what this says about the faculty and the people running the Michigan program. I have no desire to apply to Michigan for a number of reasons, but if they did accept me, and then asked me to read a list of books or do a stupid 10th grade exercise like this it would tell me a lot about what they thought about me as a student, namely, that despite my writing sample, GRE scores and grades, they still weren't convinced that I belonged there yet. They still didn't trust that I was well-read enough or skilled enough as a writer to be there.


(This post was edited by p.walsh on Aug 15, 2008, 8:13 PM)


mpagan


Aug 16, 2008, 9:57 PM

Post #67 of 165 (6126 views)
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Re: [p.walsh] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

my goodness - if you feel like reading a bunch of books you might have already read - is so insulting then I can see where Michigan's super fine program is not for you. "Make me read books!" "Write in those styles!"
"Take your full funding and great rep and shove it!"

But please don't make assumptions about the faculty and people running the program because you have certain ideas about your intellectual honor.

And truth be told - many people who get admitted to MFA's are not that well read - some come from science, math or other non-literary fields.

Look - its an easy requirement that allows some folks to read texts they have not read before. That simple. It's not insulting in any way.

your reactions are a bit overblown. I understand that applying to MFA's can be scary, but seriously, don't pass up the opportunity to apply to a great program because of this requirement - it would be foolish. If you have other beef with Mich, then I get it, but not for something this easy that is designed to make everyone more well rounded.


phillywriter


Aug 17, 2008, 4:17 AM

Post #68 of 165 (6093 views)
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Re: [mpagan] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

mpagan,

I never said the requirement was difficult. I only said it was pointless and insulting. And yes, I'm sorry, but it does reflect the basic attitude of the people running the program, and yes, it does reveal how they really feel about the students entering the program. If they truly felt that the incoming students knew what they were doing, they'd be encouraging them to write as much as they could over the summer, rather than making them study a list of books which may or may not be of any value to them. I agree that, on the one hand, it's not a big deal, but on the other hand, I think that the fact that this type of ridiculous requirement exists reveals something very interesting about the program itself.

Unlike you (apparently), I feel like an applicant can learn a lot about the general atmosphere and attitude of a program by looking at that program's requirements. If a program requires you to take more literature and theory classes than creative writing classes, then that tells you a lot about what that program values and what type of atmosphere you might expect there. Similarly, if a program's only requirement is that the students write, then that suggests a different type of attitude. The same holds true for pointless requirements like that one at Michigan. It's a small thing, yes, but it says a lot about attitude, at least to me.


phillywriter


Aug 17, 2008, 11:05 AM

Post #69 of 165 (6074 views)
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Re: [mpagan] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post



P.S. And yes, you're right to think that there are other things I don't like about Michigan. And one of the things that turns me off the most is what I perceive to be a very self-satisfied, condescending attitude among the students there, as evidenced by the comments made by Michigan students like yourself on this thread and others, comments like this:

"i understand that applying to MFA's can be scary, but seriously, don't pass up the opportunity to apply to a great program because of this requirement - it would be foolish."

Please don't talk down to me, okay. Of course, applying to MFA Programs is scary, but that's not where my issue with Michigan comes from at all. Don't flatter yourself. I'm scared of applying to Iowa, and Cornell, and UC Irvine, and Virginia, because I generally respect and admire those programs and want to attend them, but I've never even had Michigan on my list. And "foolish?" Really? It would be "foolish" not to apply to Michigan? The idea that I'd have to sit in the same classrooom with someone who would say such a thing is reason enough not to apply. And I'm sorry to break the news to you, mpagan, but Michigan is simply one of maybe 10-20 strong programs in the country. And that's all it is. And the only reason I even began to develop a negative impression about the program at all is because of the strong presence of Michigan students on this messageboard, most of whom feel the need to mention the fact that they love Michigan or think Michigan is great in almost every post they make, regardless of the topic of the post or its relevance to Michigan. If there's anything that's turned me off (and others, too, I'm sure), it's this.


(This post was edited by phillywriter on Aug 17, 2008, 11:06 AM)


HollinsMFAer
Luke Johnson


Aug 17, 2008, 11:17 AM

Post #70 of 165 (6066 views)
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Re: [phillywriter] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

Jeez. Who pooped in your kool-aid?


http://www.lukejohnsonpoetry.com


mpagan


Aug 17, 2008, 2:01 PM

Post #71 of 165 (6039 views)
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Re: [phillywriter] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

For those interested in applying to Michigan - DO NOT WORRY about this reading requirement. It's easy. Seven months to read some great books and then write about it instead of learning French, easy. Enough said.

And please - I did not really mean to call anyone debating this issue - foolish.

Phillywriter - I'm sorry that you felt spoken down to and you've found most Michigan students on these boards "self-satisfied, and condescending."

good luck with your apps. Iowa, Cornell, UC Irvine, and Virginia are of course awesome programs worthy of your respect.

If you ever change your mind or want some information or insight about the Michigan program then I'd be happy to help.

I'm just trying to be helpful to others who wander into this thread looking for info.

Rock on everyone!
Michigan RULES!!!!!!! (just kidding. It must be the big blue kool-aid they gave me.)


aiyamei

e-mail user

Aug 17, 2008, 4:23 PM

Post #72 of 165 (6017 views)
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Re: [mpagan] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

Mpagan, I'm so impressed that you would wish this phillywriter "good luck" in his or her applications to Michigan. The attitudes displayed in the above posts are a smörgåsbord of contempt toward education, and carelessness toward educational rigor as such. It's statistically probable that this person's writing reflects that contempt and empty-headed venom, and in my view the luck is to be found elsewhere: Michigan is terribly lucky if this person absents himself.


Dovlatov


Aug 17, 2008, 7:11 PM

Post #73 of 165 (5996 views)
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Re: [aiyamei] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with Aiyamei's assessment. Phillywriter is way off base here. Mpagan 's comments have been perfectly generous and on topic - unlike the unprovoked rants provided to us by Phillywriter. You do realize, Phillywiter, that the sizable chip on your shoulder may shine through in your applications . Good luck with that.

In Reply To



(This post was edited by Dovlatov on Aug 17, 2008, 7:17 PM)


phillywriter


Aug 17, 2008, 8:09 PM

Post #74 of 165 (5981 views)
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Re: [Dovlatov] foreign language requirement [In reply to] Can't Post

  
I apologize if my tone came off as angry, but I felt that the tone of mpagan's response was condenscending, and I think a lot of other people would, too, if that response was directed toward them.

Secondly, my comments were not anti-education, they were "anti-arbitrary busywork," which is how I perceived the requirement described above.

This is my opinion, and since this is a public forum, I feel entitled to express my opinion. It is also my opinion that the Michigan students posting on these messageboards tend to come across as smug and self-cogratulatory. This is my simply my personal impression, which, again, I'm entitled too.

Don't worry, though. In the future, I'll stay off the Michigan thread, where it seems that one is not allowed to challenge or question the Michigan program.


(This post was edited by phillywriter on Aug 17, 2008, 8:11 PM)


Raysen


Aug 17, 2008, 9:22 PM

Post #75 of 165 (5965 views)
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reading list [In reply to] Can't Post

I just want to know how big this reading list is. Perhaps no one can disclose it on this public forum and I can respect that. I merely want to know the size of this reading list. Is it deep and lengthy like those of Brooklyn College and Arizona State?

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