Fairfield MFA Program Launches New Concentration in Social Justice

Fairfield MFA Program Launches New Concentration in Social Justice

The new genre of study will focus on harnessing the power of writing to bring about personal, social, and political change.

The stories and perspectives from disenfranchised communities are essential to imagining and charting a survivable future for all of us.

— Sonya Huber, MFA in Creative Writing program director

Throughout the course of history, literature has played an invaluable role in fostering dialogue, empathy, and social change during times of political disquiet and social unrest. In response to a growing interest among today’s writers to harness the power of prose to bring about positive change, Fairfield University’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing program is excited to introduce a new concentration of study in social justice.

“As a Jesuit institution, social justice is central to our mission, and our students are encouraged to orient toward their communities and develop awareness of the ethics of representation and change in the 21st century,” said Sonya Huber, director of Fairfield University’s MFA program. “The stories and perspectives from disenfranchised communities are essential to imagining and charting a survivable future for all of us. Explicitly articulating our program commitment to this value is important as it allows students to chart an MFA experience that aligns with their interests and values.”

As part of the new concentration, MFA students will have the opportunity to work with faculty members who have deep experience and commitment to the intersection of literary work and social change, and who can offer guidance on the theoretical, ethical, artistic, and practical elements of merging the goals of art and justice. Included among these mentors is Huber, whose latest book, Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System, delves into the experience of chronic pain, the political views of disability, and the issue of healthcare access for women. Marine Corps veteran and National Book Award-winning author Phil Klay, whose short story collection Redeployment explores the experience of soldiers in the Iraq War and the ways in which narratives of war experience get used interpersonally and politically, will also serve as a mentor. 

“Ever since I returned from Iraq in 2008, my writing has been concerned with the moral, emotional, and political consequences of war, as well as our collective responsibility toward creating a more just society,” Klay said. “In my teaching, I try to encourage students to explore clashing perspectives and outside voices as a means toward understanding not just individual experience, but also how that individual experience can be meaningfully connected to broader social and political movements.”

Although the social justice concentration is technically a new area of focus within the MFA program, Huber explained that there has always been a social justice strand in various forms since the program first began. Over the years, students have written on a wide range of themes in all genres and have addressed such issues as family violence, environmental concern, sexual and gender orientation, and racial justice, to name a few. 

“In my teaching at Fairfield, I have been lucky to mentor students whose own writing offered us an intimate look into their own difficulties and achievements – as well as students who chose to teach in prisons or to start after-school writing classes for inner-city, at-risk children,” said William Patrick, MFA program co-director. “For me, these attempts to honor and respect everyone are the pragmatic definitions of social justice today.”

Fairfield University’s low-residency MFA in Creative Writing is a full-time, two-year low-residency program that helps aspiring writers develop their literary voice, hone their craft, and make important connections that lead to publication and national recognition. Throughout their course of study, students receive one-on-one mentorship from an award-winning faculty of published authors, and gather for ten-day residencies on Enders Island, a peaceful retreat off the coast of Connecticut that offers inspirational views and an environment of support and encouragement.

For more information about the program, visit fairfield.edu/mfa.

Tags:  Top Stories,  College of Arts & Sciences

Last modified: 05-22-19 12:00 AM

$lastModifiedSwiftType

Your news@fairfield Stories for Friday, May 24, 2019

Fairfield University Celebrates Class of 2019 Achievements at 69th Commencement Ceremonies

Read the Article

Class of 2023 Projected to Make Fairfield University History

Read the Article

Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts Announces Star-Studded 2019-20 Season

Read the Article

Ignatian Solidarity Network Honors Fairfield University Alumnus

Read the Article

Jack Gethings '19 Named MAAC Baseball Player of the Year

Read the Article

Recent Graduates Undertake Water Conservation Research in the Galapagos Islands

Read the Article

Search Results