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The heart of the low-residency MFA program involves the relationship between the student and his or her faculty mentor. Each student will have two responsibilities: the creative writing project in a chosen genre and the reading list.

During the academic quarter, the student will be responsible for generating three packets (at approximately three-week intervals). Each packet will consist of a cover letter, in which the student might share thoughts about the creative challenges he or she is facing, and a segment of new or revised creative writing. Some packets will include critical papers that are due. Mentors will respond with detailed critical comments on the work submitted, pointing out strengths and weaknesses, and suggesting fruitful avenues for further development. The norm for low-residency MFA courses is for students to devote 25 hours per week on their work.

In close consultation with their faculty mentors, students will formulate a course of reading. Readings will be chosen from two categories: classic works from the Judeo-Christian literary tradition and contemporary works that may serve as models and inspiration for students’ immediate creative needs and gifts. Special emphasis will be placed on gaining a deeper understanding of the classic works in the student’s chosen genre. By the end of the two-year program, students will have read 62 books.

Students will write one short critical paper (approximately seven pages in length) per quarter in preparation for their long critical essay (twenty pages), due at the end of the final quarter.

The following is a far-from-exhaustive selection of classic literary works from the Judeo-Christian tradition. Every MFA student in this program will be expected to read several titles from this list.

The Bible
Homer, The Iliad, The Odyssey
Virgil, The Aeneid
Augustine, Confessions
Gregory of Nazianzus, Poems

The Dream of the Rood
Dante, The Divine Comedy
The Pearl Poet
Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
Erasmus, The Praise of Folly
Thomas More, Utopia
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
George Herbert, Poems

William Shakespeare, Plays
John Donne, Poems
John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Anthology

Milton, Paradise Lost
Teresa of Avila, Complete Poetry
John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul
Pascal, Pensées
William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
John Henry Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua
Gerard Manley Hopkins, Poems
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Leo Tolstoy, Resurrection
Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop
Miguel de Unamuno, Abel Sanchez
Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter
Georges Bernanos, Diary of a Country Priest
Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker
C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
T.S. Eliot, Collected Poems
W.H. Auden, Collected Poems
Shusaku Endo, Silence
Flannery O’Connor, Collected Stories
Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory
Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins
Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Denise Levertov, Selected Poems
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Uwem Akpan, Say You're One of Them
Kathleen Norris, Dakota

Richard Rodriguez, Brown

Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses