Graduate Curriculum

eastern-washington-university-e1390678552837

Pictured: Showalter Hall on EWU’s Cheney campus. Graduate classes are held on EWU’s satellite campus in Spokane, but MFA candidates with TAships teach their classes on the Cheney campus. Spokane’s public transportation system is free for students and staff to use for this twenty-minute commute.

Graduate students in the MFA program at Eastern Washington University are expected to exit the program significantly advanced as writers and scholars in one of three concentration areas: poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. Required courses fall into one of four categories: form and theory courses, workshops, internships, and thesis work. In form and theory courses, whose structure and content are similar to academic lit courses, analysis of the craft of master writers is emphasized in study and application to student writing. The focus of workshops is student work, and emphasizes the art of the literary critique.

Internships are hands-on application of editing, publishing, teaching, promoting and marketing skills in one or more of our associated programs: Willow Springs, Willow Springs Books, Writers in the Community, and Get Lit!

*2016-2017 MFA candidates: There is 500-level credit available for anyone interested in a study abroad opportunity in Paris and London this spring.

Program Requirements

A. Students should spend 6 quarters in residence.

B. Students should concentrate in one of the following areas:

  1. Poetry
  2. Fiction
  3. Nonfiction

*Students, however, are expected to take course work in areas other than the one in which they concentrate. One out-of-genre form and theory class is required, and out-of-genre workshops are encouraged.

C. In consultation with a thesis adviser, each student will compile a list of fifteen books to augment the reading done in course work. A portion of the oral examination, held near the end of each student’s term of study, will be devoted to questions about this list and works covered in required form and theory literature courses.

D. Each student must submit a literary thesis of substantial length and publishable quality. The thesis will be reviewed in the oral examination.

* Minimum total credits for Master of Fine Arts Degree–72 Credits

Course Descriptions (CRWR)

514 LITERARY EDITING AND DESIGN—5 Credits
Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

The class will study the history of literary magazine publishing in America since 1950. It will also study typography, layout, graphics, and editorial vision. Students will be asked to examine and discuss various influential literary magazines of the past as well as the present and to produce a mock-up of their own literary magazine.

515 INTERNSHIP LITERARY EDITING AND DESIGN (Literary Publishing)—1-5 Credits
Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

This internship offers hands-on instruction in the craft and business of book publishing. It will cover acquisitions, typography, cover design, copy editing, author liaison, printing, binding, marketing and advertising, promotion, publication law, and publishing house operation and structure. Members of the class will help to screen submissions to the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction competition, and will assist in the design, production, marketing and promotion of the winning entry, to be published each year by Willow Springs Books, an offshoot of the Willow Springs literary journal. The Literary Publishing internship also offers students the opportunity to assist in the planning and production of Spokane’s annual literary festival, Get Lit!, which occurs each year in April.

517 GRADUATE WRITING WORKSHOP: Fiction, Poetry, or Literary Nonfiction—5 Credits
(Drama, Scriptwiriting, or Translation offered occasionally)
Prerequisite: MFA Students (others with instructor permission).

Classroom discussion of student writing, concentrating on editing and revision with a view to attaining publishable quality.

539 SPECIAL TOPICS—1-5 Credits

569 LITERATURE OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST—5 Credits

A survey of Northwestern literature from 1800 to the present time, including representative exploration journals as well as more recent work by such writers as Richard Hugo, James Welch, Carolyn Kizer, Rick Bass, and Ursula LeGuin. The course also addresses questions of geography, economics, and regional culture as they relate to the literature.
(Cross-listed ENGL 569)

584 FICTION I—THE NOVEL—5 Credits
Prerequisite: MFA or English MA students (others with instructor permission)

A study of the novel from a writer’s point of view, considering the roots, various periods, and stylistic approaches to the form. Works to be considered might include texts by Homer, Cervantes, Diderot, Hardy, Austen, Flaubert, Tolstoy, Faulkner, Nabokov, Dos Passos, Robbe-Grillet, Cather, Hurston, Fowles, Fitzgerald, Bellow, Calvino, Murakami, Woolf, Robinson, Pynchon, and Morrison, among others. Through a study of style, structure, and historical development, the course willconcern itself with the many shapes the novel takes, has taken, or might take, while also examining common elements that link various examples of the form.

584 FICTION II—THE SHORT FORM—5 Credits
Prerequisite: MFA or English MA students (others with instructor permission)

A study of the short story from a writer’s point of view, considering the roots, various periods, and stylistic approaches to the form. Works to be considered might include texts by Chaucer, Chekhov, Tolstoy, DeMaupassant, Crane, Kafka, Mansfield, Joyce, James, Lawrence, Porter, Toomer, Anderson, Updike, Carver, Munro, Dubus, Oates, Dybek, and Davis, among others. Through a study of style, structure, and historical development, the course will concern itself with the many shapes the short story takes, has taken, or might take, while also examining common elements that link various examples of the form. An added area of focus may include study of the short-short and novella.

585 FICTION III—SELECTED TOPICS IN CRAFT—5 Credits
Prerequisite: MFA or English MA students (others with instructor permission)

Advanced, close study of selected topics in fiction, focusing primarily on elements of craft and technique, such as point of view, voice, setting, character, plot. Particular attention will be given to how the technical choices a writer makes in a specific work regarding one or some of these elements of craft serve to shape, limit, and inform the fiction being examined. Other topics might include: the role of politics in fiction; the role of mythology in fiction; the effect of the book market upon fiction; the trend toward categorizing fiction, applying to a particular work or body of work such terms as realism, post modernism, meta-fiction, minimalism. More than one topic may be considered during the course

586 LITERARY NONFICTION I—ANCIENT ROOTS THROUGH THE 19TH CENTURY—5 Credits
Prerequisite: MFA or English MA students (others with instructor permission)

Intensive study of the nature and development of nonfiction, beginning with ancient Greek, Roman, Chinese, and Japanese writings and the Bible, moving to the nonfiction of Continental writers such as Kempe, Montaigne, Browne, Swift, Johnson, Addison and Steele, and Lamb, and on to American writers such as Emerson, Thoreau, Twain, and Muir. Forms such as oral traditions of indigenous peoples, exploration accounts, slave narratives, captive narratives, biography, autobiography, meditation, diaries/journals, and the essay may be considered.

587 LITERARY NONFICTION II—20TH CENTURY AND BEYOND—5 Credits
Prerequisite: MFA or English MA students (others with instructor permission)

Intensive study of the nature and variety of modern and contemporary literary nonfiction, including such established writers as Woolf, Orwell, White, Didion, Mailer, Tom Wolfe, Tobias Wolff, Kingston, Momaday, McPhee, Baldwin, Walker, Kincaid, Dillard, Eiseley, Sanders, Rodriguez, and Haines, as well as lesser-known contemporary writers. Forms such as memoir, essay, short nonfiction, literary journalism, and the nonfiction novel may be considered, as well as effects of the works on the world.

588 LITERARY NONFICTION III—SELECTED TOPICS—5 Credits
Prerequisite: MFA or English MA students (others with instructor permission)

Advanced, close study of selected topics in creative nonfiction, such as nature writing, travel writing, oral history, memoir, diaries/journals, the personal essay, short nonfiction, radio commentary, literary journalism, biography, nonfiction literature for social change, creative nonfiction in translation, research methods, ethical questions, cross-cultural writing, political writing, historical writing, and science writing. More than one topic will be considered during the course.

589 POETRY I—BACKGROUND AND THEORY—5 Credits
Prerequisite: MFA or English MA students (others with instructor permission)

A study of some early poetry important to the development of the art, including Sappho, Catullus, Horace, the poets of the Tang Dynasty, and the English Metapysicals. It will also include discussions of traditional forms and prosody.

590 POETRY II—THE MODERNS AND MODERNISM—5 Credits
Prerequisite: MFA or English MA students (others with instructor permission)

The course will begin with the study of Dickinson and Whitman and move through the “High Moderns” to Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, and Roethke. It may also include discussion of Symbolism, the Spanish poets, the French Surrealists, and other non-English speaking poets of the period.

592 POETRY III—CONTEMPORARY WORLD POETRY AND POETICS—5 Credits
Prerequisite: MFA or English MA students (others with instructor permission)

An intensive study of selected authors and literary developments, both national and international, since 1960.

598 SEMINAR IN CREATIVE WRITING OR LITERATURE—5 Credits

This course deals with specialized aspects of creative writing or literature. A student may take the seminar several times. The exact content of the course will be indicated in the title to be entered on his or her permanent record. (If the topic is literature, the course may be cross-listed with ENGL 598.)

600 THESIS—1-15 Credits

698 INTERNSHIP IN INSTRUCTION—1-5 Credits

A practicum in teaching writing. This courses offers hands-on training and teaching experience through Writers in the Community (WITC). MFA students and others serve in volunteer teaching positions at public and private schools and other institutions (such as prisons, juvenile detention centers, halfway houses, drug and alcohol treatment centers, senior centers, children’s hospitals, etc.).

WITC interns teach creative writing in general, or writing the creative process. An anthology called InRoads is published annually, (the student director of WITC has editorial control of the magazine) featuring the writing of WITC participants.