Go to Slate and read MFA vs. NYC, which is an essay by Chad Harbach from the journal n+1. It draws heavily from the excellent, even tour-de-force work of literary criticism and history The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing ( Amazon ) by Mark McGurl, which we discussed a bit here at AMV as part of Th.’s Stephen Tuttle interview about the BYU MFA.
Some excellent points are made so are some overgeneralizations and deliberate provocateurisms. But taking the model seriously for a moment I’d like to ask a) are there any Mormon NYC writers of literary fiction? (It seems to me that — to borrow a phrase from Harbach — “we are all MFAs now”) and b) would the better dichotomy for modern Mormon fiction be MFA vs. Speculative Fictionists?
Stephen B Tuttle is a participant professor in BYU’s new MFA for creative writing. The first half of this interview posted August 5.
Do you worry about the MFA bubble that was written about in I think it was The New Yorker last year. This idea that MFAs exist to train MFA instructors and soon we’ll have more MFAs than we need?
I’m not concerned about that at all. That’s a concern that’s been around a while, and it makes sense if you think about us as a vocational school where we’re training writers who now need to get jobs as writers. One thing that is true about BYU—and I think it’s probably more true about BYU than many programs, certainly thnt the big prestige programs, certainly more than Texas-Austin or anywhere else—is that a great many of our writers aren’t planning on careers in writing. They’re good writers and they want to keep writing but for a lot of reasons that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the job market. I don’t think our writers are by and large thinking about going on to jobs in teaching.
I think a lot of them are hoping to go on to publication. That market may be oversaturated as well, but it’s oversaturated in a different way and has been for a longer time than the teaching market. Continue reading “The BYU MFA: An interview with Stephen B Tuttle of the new creative-writing program (part two)”
Stephen B Tuttle is a writer of fiction whose short stories Amanuensis and The Weather Here I am happy to recommend. After finishing his MFA and PhD in creative writing at Utah, he became what he is still: a professor at BYU. He currently represents BYU’s new creative-writing MFA on the graduate committee and has been one of the architects of that new MFA. I spoke with him in mid-May, shortly after the close of the program’s first full year.
So maybe the first question I’ld like to ask is, what is the difference between the M.A. in creative writing and the M.F.A. and why did B.Y.U. decide to upgrade? Continue reading “The BYU MFA: An interview with Stephen B Tuttle of the new creative-writing program”
So that BYU is starting an MFA in Creative Writing. My only real wonderment is why it took so long. It’s a trendy program to have and BYU, one would think, should have a vested interest in flooding the earth with good writers. This is self-evident.
Furthermore, I am hopeful that this will result in writers being treated with the same slavish love and devotion that lawyers and MBAs receive. I’m wondering if the economic crisis and Tim Flanigan might be making them rethink their institutional preference for those professions and start giving writers a shot. Surely this is the underlying message behind the new MFA program: Perhaps artists aren’t that dangerous after all. (Comparatively.) Continue reading “On the new BYU MFA”