Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Academic Concentrations: an Interdisciplinary Approach

Stonecoast students’ individualized courses of study are shaped, not only by the possibilities of genre, but also by Stonecoast’s six academic concentrations. Ranging from theory and craft through teaching and publishing to creative collaboration and community service/social justice, Stonecoast’s concentrations offer our students a rich array of approaches to embodying the writer’s role in the world.   

Classes relevant to each concentration are offered every residency, and every Stonecoast student chooses one concentration to contextualize their work as a writer; to bring focus and continuity to their choice of residency classes; and to help shape the third-semester project. 

Student at ComputerAll third-semester projects involve at least one concentration, and some projects blend elements of two or even three concentrations: for example, a student might write a paper on the connections between visual art and poetry in the Romantic period as viewed through postmodern feminist theory, and incorporate what was learned by mounting and documenting their own interdisciplinary poetry/art exhibit (theory and creative collaboration); another student might develop a creative writing curriculum for teenagers in a homeless shelter culminating in the publication of a group anthology (teaching, publishing and social justice).  

Craft

Literary craft is the concentration most commonly chosen by Stonecoast students in all genres.  Third-semester projects in craft usually involve close readings of texts by writers in one’s genre and focus in on literary elements such as the structure of a novel or a poem, character development, the role of setting, or diction and language.  Questions of literary influence, comparisons between writers across eras or cultures, and technical explorations of how writers achieve their goals are all appropriate topics of discussion for this concentration, which offers Stonecoast writers the opportunity to delve deeply into the workings of their art and to challenge themselves to new ways of understanding their own creative methods.   

Craft: Presentation Samples

Community Service/Social Justice

One of the most exciting and fulfilling concentrations offered at Stonecoast, and one to which we are deeply committed, Stonecoast’s popular concentration in community service/social justice offers students the opportunity to frame their work as writers within a larger sense of urgent connection with the culture that shapes and informs a literary voice.  Stonecoast students with this concentration have arranged internships at prisons, battered women’s shelters, and centers for pregnant teenagers; they have taught language-impaired autistic children, facilitated readings in American Sign Language, led writing workshops in homeless shelters, nursing homes, and prisons, and organized regional creative writing conferences. This concentration lends itself easily to combination with Stonecoast’s concentrations in teaching, publishing, and craft.

Community Service/Social Justice: Presentation Samples

Literary Theory

The Literary Theory concentration offers Stonecoast students the opportunity to explore a range of critical approaches to literature through residency seminars and independent reading under the guidance of a faculty mentor, and to focus in on a particular theoretical approach in an extended research paper.  Students working in this emphasis may also audit university courses in critical theory and build them into the semester study plan. Recent residency classes have considered the work of theorists including Barthes, Derrida, Kristeva, and Cixous, as well as Deconstruction, Marxist Theories of Reading, Structuralism, Sociological Criticism, Feminist Theory, Reader Response Criticism, and Cultural Studies.  Students working in this emphasis may also audit university courses in critical theory and build them into the semester study plan.  This concentration is useful for students who intend to pursue Ph.D work in English or Comparative Literature as well as for students who want to expand their understanding of the theoretical context of their own writing.

Literary Theory: Presentation Samples

Creative Collaboration

creative collaboration

This concentration allows students interested in collaborating with artists in other media and/or developing their own interdisciplinary collaboration to undertake ambitious semester-long interdisciplinary projects. Examples might include adapting a story into a screenplay, or incorporating poetry into a film; writing text to accompany a dance piece; scripting a nonfiction documentary; exploring the boundaries between written and visual art by creating a series of Blakean "illuminations"; writing text for musical accompaniment in collaboration with a musical composer or doing a series of improvised performances with music; exploring the intersection between literature and theater by creating and staging performance art; and more.

Creative Collaboration: Presentation Samples

Teaching/Pedagogy

The pedagogy concentration enables students to develop and field-test creative writing curricula for any level from elementary school through secondary school to college, as well as community settings from prisons to homeless shelters.  Under the guidance of the Stonecoast mentor, students may work as teaching assistants in universities near their homes, engage in online teaching, or volunteer or intern in a range of other teaching situations.  Each third-semester project in pedagogy involves a research component where the student conducts textual research or field work that will inform and shape their own teaching.  This exciting concentration is supported by residency classes in such areas as workshopping technique, effective exercises for teaching creative writing, curriculum development, and facilitating classes with non-traditional populations.

Teaching/Pedagogy: Presentation Samples

Publishing

Stonecoast students who focus on the publishing concentration carry out projects or internships involving publishing, from interning with trade book publishers or university-based literary journals to putting together anthologies or independent online zines.  Residency classes in this field, presented by faculty and by visiting editors, have addressed the history of the publishing industry, the acquisition, selection and editing of manuscripts, the use of standard proofreader's symbols, self-publishing, large trade houses vs. university and small presses, the growth of e-books and audiobooks, and marketing and promotional procedures. 

Publishing: Presentation Samples

 

interdisciplinary-pedagogyAs part of Stonecoast’s holistic approach to creative writing, and in addition to Stonecoast’s flexible, student-centered curriculum which includes the opportunity for cross-genre work and the third semester enhancement project, Stonecoast students are given the freedom to earn credit for interdisciplinary work in every semester of their Stonecoast education.

Stonecoast students have pursued interdisciplinary tracks in pedagogy, the visual arts, environmental science, social justice, and many other areas.

For more information about developing an individualized interdisciplinary program as part of the student-centered curriculum at Stonecoast, please contact the Director at stonecoastmfa@usm.maine.edu.