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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Poet Emily Fragos ('96), an adjunct professor at Columbia, was named a 2015 Witter Bynner Fellow earlier this month. The fellowship, which the United States poet laureate has awarded to two poets each year since 1998, carries an award of $10,000.
Austin Flint, distinguished author, playwright and Columbia University professor, passed away on January 31, 2015. Flint was a pivotal figure in the Writing Program when it was administered by the School of General Studies and then later when it moved to the School of the Arts.
The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion (2014 Farrar, Straus and Giroux), the fourth book by alumna and adjunct faculty member Meghan Daum ('96), has been garnering positive notice since publishing late last year.
Poetry Concentration Director Lucie Brock-Broido and adjunct faculty member Mark Wunderlich ('94) have been named finalists for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Awards. Roger Reeves, an adjunct professor, was named a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award.
Visit your local bookstore and look for writing guides, and you’ll find no shortage of options, including old standards, new angles, punctuation guides and comprehensive plans.
Valeria Luiselli turns to a different source: Towards A New Architecture, the groundbreaking book of architectural theory published by Le Corbusier in 1923.
The Magic Flute is one of the most well-known operas in the world. With its fairy-tale overtones of good and evil, its love stories and musical themes, including the notoriously challenging Queen of the Night Aria, it appeals to a wide audience. It is one of the world's most frequently performed operas, and it is often used to introduce children to operatic form.
Professor Phillip Lopate is the director of the Nonfiction concentration in the graduate writing program of Columbia School of the Arts. He is the author of 17 books of essays, other nonfiction, fiction and poetry, and he has edited four anthologies.