The heart of the low-residency MFA program is comprised of the dialogue between the student and his or her faculty mentor. Each student is expected to correspond on schedule with the mentor, submitting annotations (engaged articulations regarding the books on the student's reading list), new and revised creative work, a short, quarterly critical paper, and eventually, an expanded critical paper and a creative thesis.
After a student's first residency, they will begin exchanging packets with the following correspondence quarter.
Quarter Packet Exchange
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, a segment of new or revised creative writing, and annotations of three or four of the books from the student’s reading list. One packet each quarter will include a short critical paper. 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.
Annotations Reading List & Critical Papers
In close consultation with their faculty mentors, students will formulate a course of reading. Readings will be chosen from two categories: exemplary works from 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 60 books.
Students will write one short critical paper (approximately seven pages in length) per quarter in preparation for their final critical essay (20 pages) due with their graduating work.
The following is a far-from-exhaustive selection of classic literary works from the tradition. Every MFA student in this program will be expected to read several titles from this list: