Chatham University

Creative Writing (MFA) Curriculum

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a broad program of study (42 credit hours) designed to prepare students for careers as writers or other positions requiring similar professional skills, such as editing, publishing, and content development for the web; to enable students to improve their writing in more than one genre through interaction with our faculty and other writing students; and to become experienced critics of literary works. Our focus on nature, environmental, and travel writing provides students unique opportunities to explore the world and travel as part of their degree programs.

Most full-time students will be able to complete the program in two years. All students must complete the program within six years of entrance into the program.

Program Requirements

+ Requirements

One craft course in your primary genre (3 credits)

ENG581 The Craft of Fiction

This is a required course for MFA students specializing in fiction. Students will experiment with creating scene, sense of place, summary, dialogue, framing, flashbacks, and transitions. Students will be introduced to the workshop method and given instruction on sending work out for publication.

3
ENG582 The Craft of Nonfiction

This is a required course for MFA students specializing in creative nonfiction. Readings and writing will include exploration of scene construction, sense of place, point of view, character and narrator development, tone, lyricism, structure and oral presentation of the work. Students will be introduced to the workshop method and given instruction on sending work out for publication.

3
ENG583 The Craft of Poetry

This is a required course for MFA students specializing in poetry. Reading and writing will center on the craft of poetry including music and rhythmic devices in both traditional and experimental forms. Students will be introduced to the workshop method and given instruction on sending work out for publication.

3
ENG586 The Craft of Writing for Children

This course, required for all MFA students specializing in writing for children, examines the basic principles that guide writers for children and adolescents, beginning with concept and picture books and extending into full-length works of fiction and nonfiction. Students will explore multiple genres and audiences in this wrting-intensive course.

3

Primary genre craft course must be taken during the fall of student’s first year. Craft courses are Prerequisite(s): for all workshops of any genre.

One readings course in student’s primary genre (3) chosen from the following:

ENG531 Readings in Poetry

This course is a graduate seminar focusing on the close reading of poetry drawn primarily from the modern and contemporary periods. Designed to complement the poetry workshop, this course is required of all MFA students specializing in poetry.

3
ENG532 Readings in Fiction

This course is a graduate seminar focusing on the close reading of important novels and stories drawn primarily from the modern and comtemporary periods. Designed to complement the fiction workshop, this course is required of all MFA students specializing in writing fiction.

3
ENG533 Readings in Creative Nonfiction

This course is a graduate seminar focusing on the close reading of creative nonfiction drawn primarily from the modern and contemporrary periods. Designed to complement the creative nonfiction workshop, this course is required of all MFA students specializing in creative nonfiction.

3

Two advanced writing workshops (6 credits) in your primary genre chosen from the following:

ENG535 Writing Poetry: Form

A poetry writing workshop to focus on form. Pre Requisite: ENG583

3
ENG537 Writing Poetry: Literary Movements

A poetry workshop focusing on readings from a particular poetic movement, and writing poetry that models or responds to movement. Pre-requisite: ENG583

3
ENG544 Writing Creative Nonfiction: The Lyric & Formally Advnt Essay

A creative non-fiction workshop focused on lyric and experimental essay forms.

3
ENG545 Writing Creative Nonfiction: Literary Journalism

A creative non-fiction workshop focusing on literary journalism. Pre Requisite:ENG 582

3
ENG548 Writing Creative Nonfiction

This course is designed to teach the techniques and practice of creative nonfiction through participation in a process of peer review and commentary, reading and discussions of selections of other writers and stories, and regular submissions of original creative compositions. The course is taught in a workshop format. Pre-requisite: ENG582

3
ENG550 Writing Fiction: The Novel

This course further techniques and practices of fiction writing via focusing on the novel. Varied models will be read and analyzed for aspects of sustaining voice, structure, and momentum. Students participate in ongoing discussions, developmental exercises, and weekly peer review. This course is taught in a workshop format. Pre Requisite: ENG581

3
ENG551 Writing Fiction: The Short Story

This course furthers one's technique and practice of fiction writing via focusing on the short story. Classic models are read and analyzed for variety of P.O.V., character developement, story structure, etc. Students are expected to participate in ongoing discussions and weekly peer review. This course is taught in a workshop format. Pre Requisites: ENG581

3
ENG553 Writing Poetry

This course is designed to teach the techniques and practice of poetry writing through participation in a process of peer review and commentary, reading and discussions of selections of other poets and poems, and regular submissions of original creative compositions. The course is taught in a workshop format. Pre requisites: ENG583

3
ENG554 Writing Fiction

This course is designed to teach the techniques and practice of fiction writing through participation in a process of peer review and commentary, reading and discussions of selections of other writers and stories, and regular submissions of original creative compositions. The course is taught in a workshop format. Pre Requisite: ENG581

3
ENG556 Writing for Children

This course is designed to teach the techniques and practice of writing poetry and prose for children and adolescents through participation in a process of peer review and commentary, reading and discussions of selections of other writers and their work, and regular submissions of original creative compositions. The course is taught in a workshop format. Pre-requisite: ENG586

3
ENG557 Writing Fiction: Story Collections/Novel-in-Stories

This course furthers one's technique and practice of fiction writing via studying booklength story collections and/or story cycles. Contemporary models are considered for their creative melding of varied themes. P.O.V.'s structures, etc. Students are expected to participate in ongoing discussions and weekly peer review. This course is taught in in a workshop format. Pre requisite: ENG581

3
ENG559 Writing for Children: Biography & Autobiography

Focused on developing personal histories into stories that entertain, inform, and inspire, students will write auto-biographies and biographies for young audiences using solid research techniques and story-telling skills. Pre requisite: ENG586

3
ENG560 Writing for Children: Mystery & Suspense

This writing workshop requires students to compase and revise via in-class critiques. Students develop writing skills essential to suspenseful narrative including the creation of: character, setting, atmosphere, critical details, plot. Readings include high quality mystery books and stories for young readers.

3
ENG561 Writing for Children: Picture Book

This course explores the pairing of words and images in creating literature for young children. Students write and revise for children from infancy through the early elementary grades, aiming for lively, lyrical, spare texts that address a young child's growth, development, concerns, and abilities.

3
ENG565 Writing for Children: History

This course examines non-fiction and fiction writing for children based on history. Students examine the use of historical settings and events in high quality books for young readers. As they prepare their own manuscripts, students develop active research strategies, which include the investigation, annotation, and development of primary and secondary sources. Pre-Requisite: ENG586

3
ENG589 Creative Writing: Multi-Genre

A multi-genre craft course that includes poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, children's writing and hybrid genres. This course fulfills the craft requirement for all genre.

3

One of Nature Writing or Travel Writing:

ENG584 Nature Writing

This is a multi-genre course that focuses on the art and craft of nature and environmental writing. Students will read and study contemporary nature and environmental writing, and will be expected to generate creative work that illustrates a deep understanding of the literary tools available to writers in this genre.

3
ENG585 Travel Writing

This course focuses on the art and craft of travel writing. Students will read and study contemporary travel writing, and will be expected to generate creative work that illustrates a deep understanding of the literary tools available to writers in this genre.

3

Four content courses (12 credits), at least 2 of which must be literature-based courses. Sample courses include:

ENG519 Frontier Women

A number of narratives, novels, diaries, and poems recording the responses of women to the American frontier have become available in recent years. By reading about these experiences, and examining differences in perception and conception based apparently on gender, students will better understand how the frontier functioned within American culture.

3
ENG522 American Exploration

Focus on American fiction that records physical as well as metaphysical journeys; writers’ exploration of new territories such as the frontier West, Polynesian Isles, and South Pole; their imaginative discovery of new truths about nature, society, and self. Includes works by Poe, Cooper, Melville, Simms, Kirkland, and Chopin.

3
ENG527 Ethnicity and Place

This course focuses on the connection between geographic places and cultural identities. Ethnic, regional, and linguistic markers help define writers’ distinctive voices. Dislocation from the place of origination can also result in a creative tension. Students will read a variety of texts that explore the borderlands between ethnicity and place.

3
ENG546 Wilderness and Literature

Students read poetry, nonfiction and fiction that explores the relationship between wilderness and humans as well as the relationship between wilderness and culture. This seminar will trace the idea of wilderness in American literature through the twenty-first century.

3
ENG552 Ecofeminist Literature

This course brings together theoretical, non-fictional, and fictional approaches to the study of women and the environment. This course focuses particularly on how representations of women and environment can help students rethink and re-imagine their relationships to the Earth.

3
ENG562 Children's Literature

Designed to complement "Writing for Children and Adolescents," this course surveys the best of children’s fiction and nonfiction and encourages the student to examine issues of plot, story development, character, setting, and creative use of language.

3
Note: Students in Writing for Children Track are required to take ENG 562, Children’s Literature, as one of their literature courses.

One ENG 710 Summer Community of Writers

ENG710 Summer Community of Writers

6

One Thesis Seminar corresponding to the student’s primary genre (3). Choose from:

ENG605 Thesis Seminar: Fiction

A workshop focusing on generating a thesis proposal, bibliography and significant creative work towards completion of the student's thesis. Readings will focus on creating and articulating a creative process and vision as well as models for longer creative projects. Normally taken the first semester of the student's second year, this course is a prerequisite for ENG698 Final Manuscript.

3
ENG606 Thesis Seminar: Creative Nonfiction

A workshop focusing on generating a thesis proposal, bibliography and significant creative work towards completion of the student's thesis. Readings will focus on creating and articulating a creative process and vision as well as models for longer creative projects. Normally taken the first semester of the student's second year, this course is a prerequisite for ENG698 Final Manuscript.

3
ENG607 Thesis Seminar: Poetry

A workshop focusing on generating a thesis proposal, bibliography and significant creative work towards completion of the student's thesis. Readings will focus on creating and articulating a creative process and vision as well as models for longer creative projects. Normally taken the first semester of the student's second year, this course is a prerequisite for ENG698 Final Manuscript.

3
ENG608 Thesis Seminar: Children's Writing

A workshop focusing on generating a thesis proposal, bibliography and significant creative work towards completion of the student's thesis. Readings will focus on creating and articulating a creative process and vision as well as models for longer creative projects. Normally taken the first semester of the student's second year, this course is a prerequisite for ENG698 Final Manuscript.

3

*The Thesis Seminar is a prerequisite for Final Manuscript (698)

ENG 698 Final Manuscript (3)

One elective from any course in the MFA program that does not require prerequisites.

+ Dual-Genre Concentration Requirements

By taking a craft course and two writing workshops in their secondary genre, students may attain their MFA with a Dual Concentration. Thus, students choosing this option will take one craft course, one reading course and six credits in workshops for their primary genre and one craft course plus six credits of workshops for the secondary genre. The Thesis Project for Dual Concentration may be composed of work in either genre or a combination of both.

+ Concentration in the Teaching of Writing

Students who wish to earn a Concentration in the Teaching of Writing take an additional nine credits specifically in courses designed to study the pedagogy of writing. Students earning this concentration take related course work throughout the degree program aimed at increasing their knowledge and understanding of current theoretical and practical approaches to the teaching of creative writing. During the final semester, students teach in a field placement that they design and implement in a working classroom or other approved setting.

3 required courses chosen from the following:

ENG514 Readings in the Pedagogy of Creative Writing

This course is a pre-requisite for ENG515 and focuses on the theoretical and pedagogical readings related to the teaching of creative writing.

3
ENG515 Teaching Creative Writing

Students will explore the genres of poetry, fiction, drama, and nonfiction from the perspective of a teacher, producing lesson plans, as well as developing a final curricular creative writing unit/course. Aspects of lesson design, classroom environment/management, the writing process, writing workshops, assessment, publication, and performance will be emphasized. Prerequisite(s): ENG 514

3
ENG678 Field Placement

During this course, taken in one of the final semesters of the M.F.A., students teach/study in a supervised field placement and practice the pedagogy of creative writing in a working classroom. Prerequisite(s): ENG 514 and ENG 515

3

+ Concentration in Literary Publishing

Students who wish to concentrate in literary publishing may take nine hours of related courses to do so.

3 required courses chosen from the following:

ENG595 Independent Literary Publishing

This course gives students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience as publishers. Students will research independent literary presses or magazines of their own choosing, and then they will publish a literary chapbook by an author other than themselves.

3
ENG569 Practicum: Fourth River Journal-2

This course is a practicum in which grad students publish the print edition of Chatham's national literary journal, Fourth River. All phases of the publishing process are addressed, with a special emphasis on design, production, proofreading, marketing, and distribution.

3
ENG694 Internship

3

+ Concentration in Travel Writing

Students who wish to concentrate in Travel Writing must take nine hours of related courses to do so.

3 required courses chosen from the following:

ENG585 Travel Writing

This course focuses on the art and craft of travel writing. Students will read and study contemporary travel writing, and will be expected to generate creative work that illustrates a deep understanding of the literary tools available to writers in this genre.

3
ENG674 Field Seminar

The field seminar is a traveling creative writing workshop designed to push students outside the realm of comfort and make them question their assumptions about themselves and their culture. Travel locations and specific topics will vary, but will always be outside the United States. An additional fee applies to this course. May be repeated for credit.

3
ENG675 Field Seminar: National

Same as ENG674 but destinations will be within the United States. An additional fee applies for this course. May be repeated for credit.

3
ENG676 The Pittsburgh Field Seminar

Same as ENG674 but destinations will be within Pittsburgh and Western PA. An additional fee applies to this course. May be repeated for credit.

3
ENG693 Independent Study

Independent study on a topic of the student's choice.

3

+ Concentration in Nature and Environmental Writing

Students who wish to concentrate in Nature and Environmental Writing must take nine hours of related courses to do so.

3 required courses chosen from the following:

ENG552 Ecofeminist Literature

This course brings together theoretical, non-fictional, and fictional approaches to the study of women and the environment. This course focuses particularly on how representations of women and environment can help students rethink and re-imagine their relationships to the Earth.

3
ENG555 Shakespeare: Ecocriticism and Pedagogy

Students in this course study Shakespeare's sonnets and plays from a "green" perspective. This course looks at how Shakespeare's works engage deforestation, enclosure, (ab)use of animals, stewardship, cultivation, and the exploitation of natural resources. Pedagogical strategies for teaching Shakespeare will will also be discussed.

3
ENG584 Nature Writing

This is a multi-genre course that focuses on the art and craft of nature and environmental writing. Students will read and study contemporary nature and environmental writing, and will be expected to generate creative work that illustrates a deep understanding of the literary tools available to writers in this genre.

3
ENG546 Wilderness and Literature

Students read poetry, nonfiction and fiction that explores the relationship between wilderness and humans as well as the relationship between wilderness and culture. This seminar will trace the idea of wilderness in American literature through the twenty-first century.

3

+ Concentration in Food Writing

ENG513 Writing About Food

Students will develop technique and skills for writing about food and culture by studying ethics; journalism; advertising, multimodal and new technology venues; recipe writing; food criticism; writing about food in a variety of genres from history to fiction, magazines, and websites. Course emphasizes both print and online media.

3
Plus two of the following:
FST505 Food and Representations

Food is elemental to survival, culture, home, and subjectivity - to rituals of love, oloss, and celebration. Focusing on representations of food and eating in spiritual narratives, epic texts, myth, novels, and film, this class examines the cultural work food performs along with the varying meanings assigned to food and eating.

3
FST683 Special Topics

3
FST603 Food Journeys

3
With permission of the MFA and Food Studies Program Directors students may choose to substitute a special topics Food Studies course (i.e., FST 602 Grains FST610 Culture and Politics of Sustainable Meat; FST 531 Fermentation; FST 609 Dairy; or FST 6XX Chocolate)
Students who choose the Food Writing Concentration may count one of the FST courses as one of their MFA required content courses, and may count the other FST course as an elective.