MFA in Writing & Publishing (Residential)

Sample Course Offerings

We aim to meet the needs of each incoming class through versatile course offerings. The following is a list of possible course offerings, including classes that span the genres and classes specific to genre specializations. 

Courses Across Genre

  • Publication & Fieldwork
  • Thesis Prep
  • Research in Prose & Poetry
  • Revision in Prose & Poetry

Fiction

  • Techniques of Fiction Writing
  • The Novel
  • Short Story & Flash Fiction
  • Fairy Tale & Mythology
  • The Graphic Novel
  • Genres in Fiction

Nonfiction

  • Techniques of Nonfiction Writing
  • Lyric Essay & Hybrid Prose Forms
  • Memoir Writing
  • Cultural Criticism in the Arts: The Review
  • Journalism: Magazine Writing Forms

Poetry

  • Techniques of Poetry
  • Original Poetics: Ancient Forms & Structures
  • Contemporary Fields: Conceptual & Visual Poetry
  • The Poet As Critic
  • Translation
  • The Prose Poem

Stage + Screen

  • Techniques of Screenwriting
  • Techniques of Dramaturgy
  • Adaptation

New Media

  • Techniques in Intermedia Writing
  • Writing in the Digital Field

Sample Course Schedules based on a 64-unit graduation requirement

RESEARCH (Modular Class, 5 sessions, M/Th 2-5pm)

This semester-long continuum of 3-week intensives defines research broadly, bringing insights from every genre into the classroom to provide students with a sense of how integral and various research practices are in the literary arts. We all know that factual research plays a central role in fact-checking and ethical discussions in nonfiction; and that research is vital to historical fiction. But more broadly defined, to study research methodologies is to learn assorted, wide-ranging investigative and archival tools that can help one to locate new sources of inspiration, to overlay ideas, and to ultimately arrive at new conclusions about praxis between genres. Learning biological forms as a way into poetry, practicing memoir through the rigors of screenplay formats, understanding how to build landscapes in fiction that transcend descriptive settings, establishing correlations between personal and professional writing practices—all of these studies require participants to stretch their notions of what research is, and what exciting results these extensions can yield.

Writing 1: September 1-22

The Art of the Profile
Martha Southgate (Nonfiction)

We’ve all read ‘em. Now let’s consider how to write ‘em. We will study skillful magazine profiles of celebrities and artists by more recent writers such as Joan Acocella and Tom Junod as well as some of the classics such as Gay Talese’s “Frank Sinatra Has A Cold.” Before the course is over, you’ll have some practice at writing a profile yourself, using a fellow student as subject. We’ll also spend a little time thinking about the place of such pieces in the modern world.

Writing 2: September 23-October 14

Landscape: Creating the World in Fiction Writing
Janet Fitch (Fiction)

The case has been made that all great fiction is fiction of place. Try to separate Dostoevsky's Petersburg from Dostoevsky, Faulkner's Mississippi from Faulkner. Fiction is character, but without the world surrounding them, your characters are swimming around in midocean, in limbo, like figures in a Beckett play. The detail and texture of landscape makes us believe your story is real. It allows the reader to enter your world. Even people, when they're not talking, are landscape. In this block, we will work with the tools of landscape--the senses, dimensionality and layering--as well as its uses in mood and foreshadowing.

Writing 3: October 15-November 5

Making it Meld: the Mindful Manner
A Directed Study Advisory: Professional Development
Allison Hedge-Coke (Publishing)

Though rewards of practical field engagement are numerous, how can we ensure a personal distinction while discovering the way the field operates? In this course, students will conduct directed study / internship advisements and presentations as well as learn/practice/study. This course offers direction and discovery alongside literary citizenship, while actively seeking to incorporate applicable elements into a bit more remarkable flow. Class will research ways to make the most of every internship opportunity and gather the bits together to inspire new directions. Class will plan, platform, present, perform, prepare and execute innovative approaches with a holistic view. Participants are encouraged to engage fully and ask the unanswered while instructor steers and shares the trade.

Writing 4: November 2-25

The Bird’s Nest Poetic: Eco Ethos and Organic Form
Allison Hedge-Coke (Poetry)

Of course we care about the state of the world we inhabit. How do we form an eco-poetic that participates in such an essential and enormous conversation without sacrificing ourselves to cliché? This class will investigate and employ innovative form through exploration of some amazing organic structures. Like the biosphere we serve, we seek simple elements that demonstrate the most diversely complex field imaginable. We search for and define structures while learning to build unique and powerful forms to brilliantly vessel greater intent. Far from didactic and nothing cliché, this class brings an inspiring stream of unique.

Writing 5: November 30-December 21

Screenplay As Memoir
Tim Kirkman

Until recently, memoir has lived primarily in print form, but a growing number of storytellers have discovered their voices in cinema: Ross McElwee, Sarah Polley, Julia Sweeney, Jonathan Caouette - to name a few. Each has expanded the boundaries of nonfiction filmmaking through use of the first-person narrator. Other filmmakers have taken a highly personal experience, often a memoir, and dramatized it for the screen in more traditional screenwriting: Tobias Wolf’s This Boy’s Life; A.E. Hotchner’s King of the Hill; Lynn Barber’s An Education; and Marianne Pearl’s A Mighty Heart. In the broadest sense, the memoir film, like the print memoir, seeks to share a story of something that happened somewhere at sometime to the writer, capturing not the entirety of a life, but a moment within. This research project asks students to bring to the seminar personal experiences in whatever form they currently exist — memory, diary, essay — and begin to consider how they might adapt for the screen. Outside of class, students will screen memoir-focused films across genres.

TRANSLATION (Semester-long class, M/Th 10-12:30)

Ann Armbrecht

Translation is essential not only in communicating between languages but also in communicating between different ways of perceiving and knowing the world. This course will consider translation in the broadest sense and the ways in which exploring the art and practice of translation between languages and cultures can enrich students’ observation, writing and revision skills. We will read and discuss essays on the craft of translation by leading translators to provide students with an understanding of the history of the discipline and the broader context of the practice of translation. We will also read essays exploring broader questions on translating culture and discuss issues including: the translation between oral and written cultures, the impacts of globalization and commercialization on different cultures, the relationship between language and experience among others. Readings will include selections from the following books: Experiences in Translation by Umberto Eco, The Translation Studies Reader, ed. by Lawrence Venuti, Why Translation Matters by Edith Grossman, Translated Woman by Ruth Behar, Writing Culture by James Clifford and George Marcus, The Interpretation of Culture by Clifford Geertz, and The Day of Shelley’s Death: The Poetry and Ethnography of Grief by Renato Rosaldo, among others. Students will explore issues discussed in class through their own projects that involve translation in some form (from traditional translation to cross-cultural translation of some form). Class will be divided between discussing the readings, in-class writing exercises, and presenting individual projects/writing in a traditional workshop format. Knowledge of a second language is not needed for this class.