Fairfield Now - Summer 2008
Inspire the Writer Within: Fairfield's New MFA in Creative Writing
Somewhere, deep down inside many of us, is an idea for a novel or memoir or even a snippet of poetry. Providing students with the inspiration, the skills, and the confidence to write is at the forefront of Fairfield's new low-residency MFA (master of fine arts) in Creative Writing, which will open to its first class in December 2008.
It's expected that applicants will come from a range of disciplines and areas of the country. "The great thing about the low-residency MFA is that our students will range in age from 23 to 83," said Dr. Michael White, professor of English and director of the MFA program. "The common denominator is a love of writing." Students graduating with an MFA pursue careers in professional writing, publishing, and teaching, but just as often they enroll in the program simply so they can finish a long-buried novel or write that family memoir they've always wanted to write.
This two-year program will be an exciting new endeavor for the University. With concentrations in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry, aspiring writers will be able to hone their individual voice with the help of accomplished faculty. Students will do most of their writing and curriculum work at home and connect to professors via e-mail; twice a year, the group will come together for intensive, 10-day collaborative sessions with faculty, visiting authors, and fellow students. Equally important, students and mentors will be encouraged to develop a supportive writers' group through online communities established to keep them in touch and engaged between residencies.
Faculty that will guide...
It's been said that the best mentors are those who not only guide students in their work, but also support their instincts. With that in mind, faculty and students will design a plan of study for the months away from the residency, though they will meet frequently and work together closely while at the residency. Guest writers for the first semester include Anita Shreve, author of The Pilot's Wife and Temptation, and Mark Doty, poet and author of Firebird and Heaven's Coast. Other authors include Josip Novakovich (April Fool's Day), Persian author and poet Roya Hakakian (Journey from the Land of No), and Fairfield University's own Dr. Kim Bridgford (Undone). "All of our faculty are superb writers as well as excellent mentors and supportive teachers," said Dr. White. In addition, a permanent panel of editors and agents will allow students to learn about the more practical aspects of getting published.
A working vacation that doesn't feel like work...
After a long and thorough search, Dr. White and his team of University scouts settled on what they believe is just the right spot for the first 10-day residency: St. Edmund's Retreat on Enders Island, near the quaint seaport town of Mystic, Conn. "As soon as I set foot on the island, I thought this was the perfect writer's retreat - a magical place for the imagination to take flight," Dr. White explained. With details such as food and lodging taken care of, students can immerse themselves in their writing and study. Listening to the waves crashing against the island's sea wall, roaming through the beautifully landscaped grounds, quietly reflecting amidst the island's remoteness - all of this will help stir each writer's potential. "I'm excited by the prospect of forming such a vibrant and close-knit writers' community. And equally by the thought of helping writers reach their goals," said Dr. White.
Coming up: Masters in Communication
The MFA in Creative Writing is just one of Fairfield's new graduate programs now pending state approval. The second is a Masters in Communication, which will begin in January 2009. This degree will provide a broad understanding of communication theory, technologies, and behavior in a variety of relational, institutional, and organizational settings. The degree can be applied to a number of careers such as public education and administration, management and human resources, healthcare delivery and health campaigns, public relations and marketing, information management, and political research.
For more information on these programs, call the graduate admission office at (203) 254-4184 or toll free: (888) 488-6840, firstname.lastname@example.org
For more details on the MFA in Creative Writing, see www.fairfield.edu/mfa.