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Nother query

It's possible that the combination of a love of fantastic or irreal fiction and a louche academic (or extra-academic) situation, which I perceive in many contributors here, might give me suggestions:  What MFA programs in fiction do you know of, have heard of, or suspect, are accepting of work in genres, or at least in non-realistic fiction?  My students are asking.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 18th, 2013 03:00 pm (UTC)
Well, EJ Fisher is in Iowa now, having gotten in with a full SF portfolio. Rachel Swirsky is also a recent graduate.

At Brown, Brian Evenson is interested in genre, or at least in the fantastic.

Then there are various low-res programs, which probably won't suit Yale students so well: Stonecoast, Western Connecticut, Seton Hill (not Seton Hall!), Eastern Kentucky, Western State Colorado, are all open to genre material.
Oct. 18th, 2013 03:32 pm (UTC)
John, I just got a ntoficiation that my comment was marked as spam. Since you've known me since teaching at Clarion West in 1992, perhaps you could consider whitelisting me?

Oct. 18th, 2013 06:50 pm (UTC)
What!? I'm not sure those credentials are authentic. What happened to the old LJ neighborhood? Oh, I know, I know... Anyway, sorry. I don't make these choices.
Oct. 22nd, 2013 03:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks, John. Sorry that it took me days to come back and notice that the comment is no longer spam-marked.

The Whidbey Island program is fairly new, started this century. Magic realist author Kathleen Alcala, who studied with Charles Johnson at University of Washington and has both attended and taught at Clarion West, is on their board. Nebula Award winner Bruce Holland Rogers is on their faculty. They're definitely genre-friendly.
Oct. 18th, 2013 03:56 pm (UTC)
LZ, you've met her at Readercon, she's been a protege of Greer's and mine, just went through this process of trying to find a genre-friendly MFA that would also offer some financial support. She's now in the MFA program at Columbia (with support), which is (at least so far) unfriendly to The Genres That Must Not Be Named. However, she's taking a course on writing historical fiction with Simon Schama and another one on (believe it!) "The Suspension of Disbelief." Even though that professor told them "This course is NOT about the fantastic," she believes she's learning a lot. This long post may or may not be helpful, but if you want a list of places she applied that rejected her, I can put you in touch with her.

Edited at 2013-10-18 03:57 pm (UTC)
Oct. 18th, 2013 06:48 pm (UTC)
A list of places that rejected her for wanting to write genre fiction? I could probably supply that myself. The Columbia picture is fairly typical. The usual problem they state is that they have no instructor who could mentor a writer in those genres, because none of the instructors read/know about/write them. There is, of course, a fix for that.
Oct. 20th, 2013 08:59 am (UTC)
Warwick university could cover the mentoring issue as China Mieville lectures there. Mind you it is a long way from Kansas even if still a long way from Oz. On the other hand I did bump into an American lad at the Black cat cabaret at the Café Dr Paris who was going there to do post grad studies in Economics. But then studying with China might result in being dragged up in front of the tea parties unamerican activities committee as according to the current US definition of socialism (anyone marginally to the left of Jesus and it's only a matter of time before the Bible gets rewritten to allow further redefinition of what qualifies as the left) he is probably considered a Maoist.
Oct. 20th, 2013 12:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the hint. They speak that funny English there, though, right? I'm not sure that I can responsibly counsel an American lad or lass to suffer that. It would be confusing and could well later harm his/her American literary prospects. Far more than the political implications.
Oct. 20th, 2013 06:00 pm (UTC)
It would involve being sent to Coventry. I advised the budding economist not to cross the A45 as that's all that lies between Warwick university and the wrong side of the tracks.
Oct. 22nd, 2013 02:46 am (UTC)
I got that response when I did my BA in Creative Writing at Bennington, until one professor bravely decided that good writing crossed genre boundaries.
Oct. 20th, 2013 12:53 pm (UTC)
Actually, I am not that knowledgeable. Yes I would like the list of places you refer to,
Hugh Behm-Steinberg
Oct. 18th, 2013 05:26 pm (UTC)
Hugh Behm-Steinberg
The program I teach at, California College of the Arts in San Francisco, welcomes students that work in genres/non-realistic fiction.
Oct. 18th, 2013 06:03 pm (UTC)
One of my Milford friends got accepted at the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. Since we met at Milford it means she's sold sf, and she got into the program.
Oct. 20th, 2013 12:54 pm (UTC)
Many speak well of that program.
James Crossley
Oct. 21st, 2013 09:25 pm (UTC)
Peter Turchi used to run the low-res program at Warren Wilson College, and now heads the one at Arizona State University. His book MAPS OF THE IMAGINATION shows that he's personally sympathetic to speculative fiction, so I suspect his program may be.
Oct. 21st, 2013 09:30 pm (UTC)
hanks. I've always heard good things about Warren Wilson. The big divide is between those who can get into the regular MFAs and spend a couple of years on campus as graduate students, making enough to (barely) live on, teaching a course or two, and writing all the rest of the time, and people who can't interrupt their lives like that. Stonecoast, Warren Wilson and the many like them are for such people.
James Crossley
Oct. 29th, 2013 07:56 pm (UTC)
All true about low-res programs. I have a friend who speaks very highly of the one at Bennington also.

I should perhaps clarify that the ASU program is not low-res, however, but a traditional campus-based one.
Nov. 2nd, 2013 12:02 am (UTC)
I've been looking lately and University of California in Irvine and Arizona State University in Tempe have both been recommended to me as fantasy-friendly institutions.
Dec. 12th, 2013 03:00 pm (UTC)
Hunter College MFA
Hi all
I'm a bit late to the game here, so apologies for adding my two cents when folks are perhaps not paying attention....but I graduated from the Hunter College MFA program some years ago, and while I can't say they are 100% genre friendly (Colum McCann is a great teacher, guy, writer, but I don't think he reads or can teach genre) we did have students trying out SF and fantasy tropes in Peter Carey's class. He was more then willing to discuss how to approach these elements with fresh eyes. We had a wonderful class discussion on the nature of ghosts and how to present them. He's certainly written his share of genre-bending novels.

And it's worth noting that they've just brought on Chris Adrian to teach, although I don't know how long he will be there. Maybe just the semester. Still, it might be worth looking into. As MFAs go, you certainly get the most bang for your buck. (We were fond of saying you could six Hunter MFAs for the price of one at Columbia)


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