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Curriculum


MFA in Creative Writing Program Description

The Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program is a two-year, four-term course of individualized study designed to help poets, fiction writers and creative nonfiction writers advance their command of craft through exposure to literature from a writerly perspective and with supportive critique and mentoring. The program encourages the rich interplay of participation in an extended literary community and seeks to deepen the understanding of writing as an ongoing engagement with discovery and transformation.

Following a negotiated plan of study, each student composes and revises original works in his/her chosen genre, produces an annotated bibliography of key works in the genre and analyzes contemporary and canonical works of literature. In the third term, each student composes a critical paper on a topic of compelling aesthetic interest. The MFA program culminates in a fifth residency where each student teaches a seminar, gives a public reading of original work and submits a creative thesis manuscript.

What Does Low-Residency Mean?

Students attend two, 10-day campus residencies per year, held in January and June. Each residency is followed by a five-month tutorial period with four submissions, at prescribed intervals, of original creative writing and annotations on readings, critiqued by the faculty mentor. The nature and direction of the reading and writing projects during the tutorial period are planned and agreed upon during the residency through individual conferences with the faculty mentor, and are tailored to the specific needs of the student.

MFA in Creative Writing Term One (Residency and Tutorial Period)—12 Credits

A 10-day residency on the UT campus initiates Term One, with program faculty delivering formal talks on elements of craft, as well as seminars on aesthetic issues and works from the literary canon. Students participate in faculty-guided genre and mentee workshops, and discussion sessions. They also attend readings and lectures by guest faculty and visiting writers, and talks by editors and publishers. Assigned readings focus on principles of craft and techniques appropriate to the genre, providing the opportunity for deeper analysis from a writer’s point of view and a broader understanding of literary traditions.

At the conclusion of Term One, each student receives a narrative evaluation from the faculty mentor and the award of credit/no credit for completion of the work. Students must attend the entire residency and complete all contracted tutorial period work to the faculty mentor’s satisfaction. Mentor responses to tutorial period submissions, as well as final evaluations, are a matter of record and will be maintained in each student’s file.

MFA in Creative Writing Term Two (Residency and Tutorial Period)—12 Credits

Term Two extends the student’s accomplishments in Term One and begins with a 10-day residency on the UT campus. In plenary sessions and smaller group settings, program faculty offer presentations on elements of craft, as well as seminars on aesthetic issues and works from the literary canon, often involving pertinent concerns across the genres. Students participate in faculty-guided genre workshops, small group sessions with mentors, individual conferences and more general discussion sessions. They also attend readings and lectures by guest faculty and visiting writers, and talks by editors and publishers. As in Term One, assigned readings focus on principles of craft and techniques appropriate to the genre and the development of the writing life, providing the opportunity for deeper analysis of works from a writer’s point of view and a broader understanding of literary traditions. The nature and direction of the Term Two residency reading and writing projects are tailored to build upon work thus far accomplished, as well as to address the specific needs and interests of the student.

At the conclusion of Term Two, each student receives a narrative evaluation from the faculty mentor and the award of credit/no credit for completion of the work. Students must attend the entire residency and complete all contracted tutorial period work to the faculty mentor’s satisfaction. Mentor responses to tutorial period submissions, as well as final evaluations, are a matter of record and will be maintained in each student’s file.

MFA in Creative Writing Term Three (Residency and Tutorial Period)—12 Credits

Term Three begins with a 10-day residency on the UT campus, with activities similar to those outlined above. But in addition to the required residency program, and a leadership role as an advanced respondent in a workshop or presentation, Term Three students attend a seminar on writing critical essays in preparation for the subsequent tutorial period, which is focused on the writing of an extended critical essay. With his/her faculty mentor, each Third Term student agrees upon an appropriate topic for the critical paper, as well as supporting readings and a schedule of draft submissions that will occur during the tutorial period. The completed critical paper is due at the end of the tutorial period. The student also submits drafts of original work and annotations in accordance with the negotiated plan of study.

At the conclusion of Term Three, each student receives a narrative evaluation from the faculty mentor and the award of credit/no credit for completion of the work. Students must attend the entire residency and complete all contracted tutorial period work to the faculty mentor’s satisfaction. Mentor responses to tutorial period submissions, as well as final evaluations, are a matter of record and will be maintained in each student’s file.

MFA in Creative Writing Term Four (Residency and Tutorial Period)—12 Credits

Term Four is the final full semester of the program and begins with a 10-day residency on the UT campus, with activities similar to those outlined above. Each Term Four student takes on additional responsibilities as a senior respondent in a residency session, but special emphasis in the fourth residency is placed on preparation for teaching a graduating student seminar during the culminating fifth residency and on completing the graduate thesis manuscript. Part of the tutorial period plan of study for Term Four students includes approval and signing of a thesis plan, with a thesis director and a second faculty reader, as well as approval of the student’s culminating residency seminar topic.

At the conclusion of Term Four, each student receives a narrative evaluation from the faculty mentor and the award of credit/no credit for completion of the work. Students must attend the fourth and culminating residencies, and complete all contracted tutorial period work to the faculty mentor’s satisfaction. Mentor responses to tutorial period submissions, as well as final evaluations, are a matter of record and will be maintained in each student’s file.

MFA in Creative Writing Final Residency

The Final Residency serves as the capstone of the program and begins with a 10-day residency on the UT campus, with activities similar to those outlined above. Students in the final term attend practical seminars on such subjects as career management to prepare them for life after the MFA. Each final residency student teaches a seminar to an audience of faculty and peers, and turns in a completed draft of the graduate thesis manuscript. Students at the fifth residency also give a public reading of their creative work, typically an excerpt from the master's thesis. At the conclusion of the 10-day residency, students who have successfully completed the program requirements are presented with the academic hood signifying their forthcoming Master of Fine Arts degree.