22 November 2007

Experimentally Friendly MFA / Ph.D. Programs

Hello Everyone,
About this time of year I usually have someone ask, 'What schools are good for someone who's interested in experimental, conceptual, hybrid, avant-garde, postmodern (etc.) writing?' I thought it would helpful if we could put our heads together to come up with a list of schools/programs where like-minded students are working on this kind of writing (either as authors or critics), could find a mentor to work with, or at the least, find an atmosphere conducive to this kind of writing. Just off the top of my head, I'd start with the below list. Can you make suggestions or additions?--add you and your school if so inclined. Refine the listing, i.e., by filling in if the school offers an MFA or Ph.D. or whatever other info might be helpful to someone trying to sort out where to go?....

Lance Olsen at U of Utah
Brian Evenson, Robert Coover, Carol Maso at Brown
Ben Marcus at Columbia
Kate Bernheimer and Michael Martone at U of Alabama
R.M. Berry at Florida State
Jeffery DeShell and Elisabeth Sheffield at U. of Colorado
Naropa in Boulder, CO.
Steve Tomasula (fiction); Joyelle McSweeney (poetry) at U. of Notre Dame (MFA Program; the Ph.D. in Poetics is very experimental leaning: Check out Romana Huk and Stephen Fredman).

Suggestions more than welcome to this very sketchy start....


Jason Erik Lundberg said...

John Kessel and Wilton Barnhardt at North Carolina State University. John used to be head of the creative writing program, but I believe that Wilton is now the director of the (fairly new) MFA program.

dave said...

MfA program @ the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Got my MFA there a couple years ago, and found most faculty open to a variety of work, and many doing experimental work of their own. I'm a fiction writer, but I ended up working with more poets than fiction writers, and chose a different adviser to work with each semester. Lots of cross-genre and interdisciplinary work going on too. My last semester, I took a workshop centered on appropriation and bricolage, a seminar on oulipo, and advising with poet Amy England (who also teaches seminars on surrealism and detective story/the avant-garde). Seminars are generative in focus.
Several of the faculty I worked with there had close ties with the University of Denver creative writing PhD program, and I know they're very open to experimental work too (Brian Evenson was there before going to Brown).

Lance Olsen said...

This is a great idea, Steve. Thanks for getting the ball rolling.

A couple other strong programs that flash to mind:

--As Dave says, the University of Denver; Laird Hunt, Selah Saterstrom, and Brian Kiteley are there in fiction, Bin Ramke and Eleni Sikelianos in poetry.

--Temple University, with Alan Singer and Samuel R. Delany in fiction.

--University of Washington, with David Shields in nonfiction and Heather McHugh in poetry.

--S.D.S.U., with Hal Jaffe and David Matlin in fiction.

--SUNY Buffalo Poetics Program, with rotating faculty.

--In addition to me at the University of Utah, Karen Brennan, Fran├žois Camoin, and Melanie Rae Thon teach courses in experimental fiction.

--A small caveat about F.S.U.: R. M. Berry teaches theory and literature courses, not creative-writing ones; the CW program proper is fairly traditional/commercial.

Lance Olsen said...

Oh, and, while an M.A. in creative writing rather than an M.F.A., UC-Davis has a strong innovative fiction line-up, with Joe Wenderoth, Clarence Major, and Lucy Corin.

Davis Schneiderman said...

I'm grateful for this list--as where to go to grad school is the perpetual question from our students at Lake Forest College after a few years of me, and our poetry madmen, Bob Archambeau and Josh Corey.

So, 2 more entries:

1) Cris Mazza and Chris Grimes are at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC)--both in the Program for Writers.

On the lit side, there is also the excellent Joe Tabbi, of Electronic Book Review fame.

Also, I'm teaching a grad lit seminar there in spring 2009 (for kicks, during my sabbatical), on collaborative writing.

And hey, any program that can call Steve Tomasula an alum must be doing something right.

2) There are innovative-oriented faculty at Illinois State University in Normal (ILSTU), including Kass Fleisher and Ricardo Cortez Cruz.

Keep 'em coming, please.


Lily Hoang said...

This isn't directly related to Steve's post, but I'm teaching a course this spring called Avant-Women Writers: A Conversation, & that conversation will be living in the blogosphere. Please come check us out: avantwomenwriters.blogspot.com.

Oh & with Steve's post: what about Shelley Jackson at New School?

Anonymous said...

Bard. Cal Arts. Both the San Diegos (U and State.) Goddard and Warren Wilson for low res. Losta people out there... Lucy (PS Clarence retired last year from Davis)

jdeshell said...

Bard's MFA doesn't do prose much anymore. It's a great place, a really innovative program (3 summers of 8 week intensive, truly interdisciplinary study), but I'm not even sure if they'll accept fiction writers these days. And Naropa, except for the summer program (and obviously that's a big exception), is more or less geared to poetry (with exceptions).
Congrats to Pelton for winning an Isherwood.

Lance Olsen said...

A correction: for some inexplicable reason, I mentioned the faculty at Buffalo as "rotating." They're not. They're permanent, and include, wonderfully, Myung Mi Kim, Steve McCaffery, Dennis Tedlock, Dimitri, and Christina Milletti.

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Unknown said...

Eastern Michigan University -- the program is an MA but hybrid experimentation is required!

Poetry Major said...

The University of Pittsburgh gets a bad rap, but exciting program with Dawn Lundy Martin, Ben Lerner, and Lynn Emmanuel. Although the blogs say otherwise, they do fund the top students with a full ride their entire three years.