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Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011)
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FreakingOutInBd


Oct 12, 2009, 9:36 AM

Post #526 of 1018 (11606 views)
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     Re: [Mae Fields] Nonfiction programs [In reply to]  

Hi! Thanks so much for your post -- I've had Oregon on my list for a long time and just recently decided (still considering) to drop it. I love the idea of Oregon somehow...the location, the program, everything sounds fab and it draws me.

However, as a single mother, who'll be moving from South Asia, funding is paramount for me. I heard that while Oregon does fund all students, the funding itself is fairly low, less than ten thousand annually? How would you rate Oregon's funding? (I'm still hoping to put it back on my list...)

I should mention that I'm applying for fiction.


kbritten

e-mail user

Oct 12, 2009, 11:57 AM

Post #527 of 1018 (11582 views)
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     Re: [cecilpeoples] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Hi Cecil. Everyone has their personal preference when it comes to these things, but I thought I'd chime in with my two cents. Regarding the lit classes: I really don't believe that there is such a thing as a good writer that doesn't read. Furthermore, it is one thing to "read" and another thing to read critically. I learn waaaay more about a book with help from a professor. Also, I can't see how reading a book isn't going to help you with your short stories. Good writing is good writing. Regarding teaching: there are so few programs without teaching requirements (honestly, UT is the only one that I know of) that it is hardly worth it to only apply to those programs (with a 1.33% admit rate, no offense, but you'll probably not get in. Myown application is merely a formality). Most schools that do fund students through teaching also have fellowships for some students, so it's not worth it to exclude schools with T.A.s that might give you a fellowship, which would allow you to not teach (most likely for only a year though). You'll probably have to teach to attend a program, but it's worthwhile experience that looks great on any resume. It will help you with your writing too, as strange as that sounds, but teaching creative writing will help you form that critical perspective on the craft. Freshmen comp... well I don't know, it can be good for you, I guess... Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that you are limiting yourself too much. Again, personal preference, but it's probably not very wise.


cecilpeoples


Oct 12, 2009, 12:11 PM

Post #528 of 1018 (11575 views)
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     Re: [kbritten] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

sure, i understand how most of these programs work. i guess i'm looking for places that minimize classes outside of workshop and craft. places like IWW, john hopkins, umass. i'm enrolled at a MFA program now, but it's not the right place for me.

do low-res programs fund? from information i've gathered, they don't seem to.


WanderingTree


Oct 12, 2009, 1:23 PM

Post #529 of 1018 (11562 views)
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     Re: [cecilpeoples] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

I completely agree with Kbritten. Whatever your future goals, teaching and taking lit classes will help you both artistically and professionally. I've taught and taken many lit classes and sincerely believe that I came out a better writer for it (and way more prepared for an MFA than I would have otherwise been imho). Low-res programs by and large don't fund. As for the astronomical chances of getting into those programs like Texas, IWW and Brown, have faith in your work - seriously. Two former classmates of mine are now in Austin, and I'm sure they weren't holding their breaths either before they got "the call". Also, one thing to remember is that you don't know what the applicant pool will be on any given year. One year might be full of people that are just not ready to apply, that wake up one day and decide they want to be a writer while other years might be full of people that have been practicing their craft for years.


renila


Oct 12, 2009, 2:07 PM

Post #530 of 1018 (11545 views)
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     Re: [cecilpeoples] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

The art schools like School of the Art Institute of Chicago and CalArts have lesser lit requirements.

NYU, Columbia & Sarah Lawrence seem to be lower.

So do University of Arizona and USC's MPW program.

Of course, funding is worse at many of those schools.

I'm with you. I'm happy to read and discuss literature, but I don't want to spend precious time writing critical essays.


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Oct 12, 2009, 2:21 PM

Post #531 of 1018 (11532 views)
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     Re: [renila] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Mmm...Renila and Cecilepeoples,

I think you're both missing an important point about the value of the critical essay. First of all, lit classes for an English degree are NOT the same as lit requirements for an MFA in Creative Writing. Unlike the English major essay, which analyzes such elements as theme or symbolism, the critical essay in an MFA program analyzes elements of craft--the way the author uses setting as a character, the structure of the sentences to alter the pace, the use of voice to create an unreliable narrator, etc.

Understanding HOW these things work in fiction is essential to developing your own craft. They are the tools in your box, and you shouldn't underestimate the value of learning how to use them effectively.

When I started my MFA, I dreaded writing those critical essays and thought they would "busy work." Surprise, surprise! Turned out I've learned more from my reading than almost any workshop or lecture.

You won't be wasting your time writing critical essays. I can guarantee it.

Jeanne
http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


renila


Oct 12, 2009, 2:29 PM

Post #532 of 1018 (11528 views)
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     Re: [jlgwriter] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

I'm sure you're right about some programs, but many have MFAs in the same classes with English grad students. Unfortunately, a lot of them are in my hometown.

I'm happy to take craft classes or "read and respond to books" assignments (as seen in the typical Low Res MFA), but I don't want English crit classes.

Glad you're enjoying your program. I'm sure I've read this, but what MFA program are you in?


cecilpeoples


Oct 12, 2009, 2:59 PM

Post #533 of 1018 (11518 views)
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     Re: [jlgwriter] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

at my program so far i've been the only MFA student in each lit class. it's me and 14 english students and my profs definitely make a point to make sure I remember to "not be too creative" when writing my papers. it's awkward. there's an obvious split between the two departments. half of my time as an MFA student will not be spent writing/reading stuff of no interest to me.

i'm a writer, of course i analyze and critique everything, no matter what type of literature i read. for me, this experience should be the time to explore my writing, take risks, and spend whatever free time i can on my own craft.


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Oct 12, 2009, 3:37 PM

Post #534 of 1018 (11506 views)
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     Re: [renila] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Renila,

I'm in a low-res program at Vermont. I'll be graduating in Jan. 2010.

Cecilpeoples,

Your program is combined with English lit majors? Sorry, but that sucks. The English lit approach and the creative writing approach are two different critters. I speak from prior experience as an English major studying for my Masters.

The study of creative writing is about understanding the tools of the author's craft. The study of English literature is about analyzing the product of that craft. A subtle difference...

Jeanne
http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


R D Lite


Oct 12, 2009, 7:19 PM

Post #535 of 1018 (11470 views)
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     Re: [FreakingOutInBd] Nonfiction programs [In reply to]  

Hi,
That's old information about Oregon.

I'm a fiction student in the program. This year's funding package includes a full tuition waiver, nearly all fees paid ($150 per term is our responsibility), health insurance that includes dental and vision coverage, and a monthly stipend of $1,258.86.

And yes, because it seems to cause some confusion, all students are funded.

Nobody's going to be living in a penthouse on their stipend, of course, but it's perfectly adequate for Eugene, especially if you're willing to live away from the University. (Public transportation throughout the city is free for students.)


taraberyl



Oct 12, 2009, 10:44 PM

Post #536 of 1018 (11428 views)
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     Re: [WanderingTree] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

WT - you raise an interesting point. Maybe this is silly of me, but I never thought of the overall quality of the applicant pool varying from year to year. I always sort of figured things would average out, and that every year there would be a certain number of serious and not-so-serious contenders.


OldScribe2000


Oct 13, 2009, 3:17 AM

Post #537 of 1018 (11391 views)
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     Re: [jlgwriter] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Renila,

I'm in a low-res program at Vermont. I'll be graduating in Jan. 2010.

Cecilpeoples,

Your program is combined with English lit majors? Sorry, but that sucks. The English lit approach and the creative writing approach are two different critters. I speak from prior experience as an English major studying for my Masters.

I've never heard of MFA students taking literature courses independent from the English Department's, with the exception of the "Form & Theory of Fiction" classes that are so prevalent. As far as I know, students pursuing an MA are always mixed with MFA students in a few literature classes.

The study of creative writing is about understanding the tools of the author's craft. The study of English literature is about analyzing the product of that craft. A subtle difference...

Jeanne
http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com



morganapple


Oct 13, 2009, 6:17 PM

Post #538 of 1018 (11314 views)
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     Re: [cecilpeoples] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

i think it's way too late in the game for me to be changing my list so much. help! literally any info you have on these schools will sway me.

i'm on the fence about u of washington-seattle, sdsu, u of arizona, houston, and indiana.

my genre is poetry, and while i'm obsessing over location, my numero uno concern in adding to or cutting from my list is definitely funding.


WanderingTree


Oct 13, 2009, 8:31 PM

Post #539 of 1018 (11285 views)
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     Re: [morganapple] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

If funding is a concern then your decision is easy - get rid of washington.


Woon


Oct 13, 2009, 9:49 PM

Post #540 of 1018 (11263 views)
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     Re: [WanderingTree] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

I thought I read an article somewhere about UW-Seattle having a potential big donor who wants to leave $$$ to help build an upper echelon MFA program. There was a catch that the $$$ would not be available until the donor died, or something like that. Unless I read the article wrong, I find it specious. If some rich cat wanted to indeed donate big $$$, he/she doesn't have to wait till death. They can set up a trust NOW.

The article was a Q&A among several MFA directors.

Did I imagine this?


cantonioni


Oct 13, 2009, 10:21 PM

Post #541 of 1018 (11254 views)
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     Re: [Woon] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

She did commit the money but, yes, is waiting until her death to fork it over.

There are several fully funded TAships available at UW, but no, funding is not automatically given to all students; it's competitive.

If you're a poet, there are some heavy hitters amongst the faculty, and then there's David Shields, who I suppose is multi-genre? From what I hear, fiction faculty is a bit scant since Charles Johnson retired last year.


silkentent
Margaret DeAngelis

e-mail user

Oct 14, 2009, 8:33 AM

Post #542 of 1018 (11193 views)
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     Re: [Woon] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I thought I read an article somewhere about UW-Seattle having a potential big donor who wants to leave $$$ to help build an upper echelon MFA program. There was a catch that the $$$ would not be available until the donor died, or something like that. Unless I read the article wrong, I find it specious. If some rich cat wanted to indeed donate big $$$, he/she doesn't have to wait till death. They can set up a trust NOW.

The article was a Q&A among several MFA directors.

Did I imagine this?


This woman lives in my area. She has endowed an arts center in the wealthy (and small -- in population and in geographic area) school district where I lived when I was in high school (I went to the Catholic high school) -- the strings she attached to the donation (the exact location where it would be built, what it would look like, what it will be used for, etc.) have caused not a few problems. Ground has been broken and the center is under construction (I haven't been over there in several months -- I see a trip that way coming today!). The site is unsuitable for the purpose (even if the purpose were a really good one, which I think it is not, really), and conditions mean that an alley had to be closed, cutting some homeowners off from their garages (that is, they can't use the alley to get their cars into their detached garages, and there is no street parking in the front of their houses).

I'm usually not this blunt about local issues -- that is, I can damn with criticism somebody like Sarah Palin, who is an iconic public figure far distant from my direct experience, but hesitate to say anything about somebody I could potentially meet in the supermarket) -- but I think the donation is well-meant but poorly-thought-out, a sentimental indulgence of long-ago feel-good memories.

I don't know what implications this donor's mindset has for the money intended for the UW writing program.


Margaret DeAngelis
Markings: Days of Her Life
http://www.silkentent.com/Trees


silkentent
Margaret DeAngelis

e-mail user

Oct 14, 2009, 8:47 AM

Post #543 of 1018 (11191 views)
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     Re: [silkentent] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

I wrote about the arts center donation I mentioned in my last post in 2007 (see link below). I'd forgotten the brouhaha where the donor threatened to withdraw the gift. She has been placated.

http://www.silkentent.com/Trees/?p=139


Margaret DeAngelis
Markings: Days of Her Life
http://www.silkentent.com/Trees


Woon


Oct 14, 2009, 6:38 PM

Post #544 of 1018 (11123 views)
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     Re: [silkentent] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

So I guess I didn't imagine it!

Good to know.


gcsumfa


Oct 14, 2009, 7:46 PM

Post #545 of 1018 (11101 views)
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     Re: [Woon] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

It seems that the UW system in general has issues. I read an article not too long ago about UW losing many of its top English faculty to similarly ranked schools.


FreakingOutInBd


Oct 14, 2009, 10:48 PM

Post #546 of 1018 (11065 views)
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     Re: [R D Lite] Nonfiction programs [In reply to]  

Thanks so much R D Lite! Oregon is back in my list, yayyyyy!


umass76


Oct 14, 2009, 11:57 PM

Post #547 of 1018 (11051 views)
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     Re: [gcsumfa] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Hi guys,

I think we should be clear that when we say "UW" we mean "UW-Seattle." As you know, UW (University of Wisconsin-Madison) also uses this acronym, and is having no funding problems whatsoever--all students are fully funded. Given that Wisconsin is the much-more-applied-to program, I wonder if we should say "UW" (or Wisconsin) when we mean Wisconsin, "UW-Seattle" or "Washington" when we mean Washington, and "WUSTL" or "Wash U" when we mean Washington University at St. Louis.

Just a point of clarification,

Be well,
Seth

P.S. Hopefully everyone has had a chance to see the important announcement here.


gcsumfa


Oct 15, 2009, 12:02 AM

Post #548 of 1018 (11046 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Hi guys,

I think we should be clear that when we say "UW" we mean "UW-Seattle." As you know, UW (University of Wisconsin-Madison) also uses this acronym, and is having no funding problems whatsoever--all students are fully funded. Given that Wisconsin is the much-more-applied-to program, I wonder if we should say "UW" (or Wisconsin) when we mean Wisconsin, "UW-Seattle" or "Washington" when we mean Washington, and "WUSTL" or "Wash U" when we mean Washington University at St. Louis.

Just a point of clarification,

Be well,
Seth

P.S. Hopefully everyone has had a chance to see the important announcement here.


Hi Seth,

Good point, but really, if a poster can't read through the posts on this thread and pick up that "UW" referred to The University of Washington, and not the University of Wisconsin, he or she is probably not even bright enough to fill out the application, so I doubt it'll matter.


yeahyeahyeah


Oct 16, 2009, 3:11 AM

Post #549 of 1018 (10949 views)
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     Re: [gcsumfa] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Come on now, be nice.


honeyhex


Oct 16, 2009, 11:41 AM

Post #550 of 1018 (10918 views)
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     Experiment-Friendly Programs? [In reply to]  

Hey guys, when the topic of experimental writing comes up on these boards, I feel like Brown and CalArts are automatically thrown out there, but I'm sure there must be other programs in the country that encourage or have a reputation for encouraging experimentation. (I know that if a school accepts you, they're gonna be willing to work with your aesthetic, but I'm trying to narrow my list to begin with.) Any schools that come to mind? Thanks!

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