The Columbia University MFA Writing Program is highly regarded for its rigorous approach to literary instruction and for its faculty of acclaimed writers and editors who are devoted and dedicated teachers. The faculty, the students, and the curriculum represent and foster a full range of artistic and literary diversity. Students are encouraged to make the most of their own artistic instincts and to realize as fully as possible, beyond any perceived limitations, their potential as writers.
At the core of the curriculum is the writing workshop. All workshops are small (7 to 12 students), ensuring that all students present work at least three times per semester. Students receive substantial written responses to their work from their professors and classmates; they also have regularly scheduled one-on-one conferences with faculty. The second-year thesis workshops (6 to 9 students) are dedicated to shaping each student’s work into book form.
The Columbia MFA is a two-year program requiring 60 credits of course work to complete the degree and can take up to three years to complete the thesis. Students concentrate in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction, and also have the option of pursuing a joint course of study in writing and literary translation. Most MFA programs require 48 credits or as few as 36 credits, but the Columbia Writing Program considers the study of literature from the practitioner's point of view—reading as a writer—essential to a writer's education. Every semester, students take a workshop and, on average, three craft-oriented seminars and/or lectures designed to illuminate, inform, clarify, augment and inspire each student’s experience and practice as a writer. New seminars, lectures and master classes are created every year.
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On May 6, 2014, Stacey D'Erasmo released her fourth novel, Wonderland. The book offers a riveting look at the life of musician Anna Brundage as she embarks on her comeback tour at age 44, after being out of the spotlight for years.
On March 26, Alan Ziegler released Short: An International Anthology of Five Centuries of Short-Short Stories, Prose Poems, Brief Essays, and Other Short Prose Forms, which he edited. The book collects hundreds of pieces (under 1250 words) from 24 Western countries, written over five centuries by more than 200 contributors, including major authors of every era. Fables, histories, aphorisms, anecdotes, faux dictionary entries, a faux job application, hint fiction, lists, tableaus, meditations, chants, rants, and much more.
This September marks the second year that Columbia Global Centers | Europe in Paris and the Bibliothèque nationale de France have partnered on the Festival des Écrivains du Monde, a celebration of global literature.
Kristopher Jansma ('06), a graduate of Columbia's fiction concentration, was awarded the 2014 Sherwood Anderson Foundation's Fiction Award on September 2 for his debut novel, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards (Viking 2013, Penguin 2014).
Yvette Siegert ('07) was awarded a 2015 National Endowment of the Arts Literature Translation Fellowship. She received $12,500 to support the translation from the Spanish of the collected poetry of Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik. Born to Russian‐Jewish immigrants in Argentina, Pizarnik (1936‐72) was one of the leading avant‐garde writers of 20th‐century Latin American literature.
James Gunn ('95) co-wrote and directed the summer blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy, an adaptation of the Marvel comic of same name. The film features an ensemble cast including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper.
On July 8, Catherine Lacey ('10) publishes her first novel, Nobody is Ever Missing (FSG), which centers around Elyria, who without telling her family, takes a one-way flight to New Zealand, abruptly leaving her stable but unfulfilling life in Manhattan.
On July 8, acclaimed music critic and author Amanda Petrusich ('03) will release Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78rpm Records (Scribner), a nonfiction exploration of 78rpm records and the insular community that celebrates them.
On July 1, Josh Weil ('04) releases his first novel, The Great Glass Sea with Grove Atlantic. It is the story of inseparable twin brothers Yarik and Dima, living on their uncle’s farm after the death of their father. The boys once spent their days in collective fields, their nights spellbound by their uncle’s mythic tales.
On May 21, 2014 the School of the Arts graduates in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts and Writing gathered in Miller Theatre to celebrate the end of their time as students, and the beginning of their lives as professional artists.
As of this year, the School of the Arts has won the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching more than any other school in all of Columbia University.
"I think it's truly extraordinary, and I'm not really surprised,&