English Department’s New MFA Program to Attract Top Writers

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The Department of English is working to recruit some of the best writers in the country to enroll in its newly created Master of Fine Arts program, which will begin offering classes this fall.

Marilyn Kallet, director of the Creative Writing Program and the Nancy Moore Goslee Professor of English, says she looks forward to the MFA program’s inaugural class.

“We have wonderful doctoral students who are brilliant and have published both widely and well,” she said. “Now we can guarantee the entry of some of the nation’s most talented and creative writers to our master’s program,” she said.

“It’s a boost to the English department, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the university,” said Stan Garner, professor and head of the Department of English. The establishment of the MFA degree program advances the university’s journey to the Top 25, he said, since many of UT’s aspirational peers offer the degree.

Kallet says the new program is the result of much work.

“We have been discussing and planning this change for many years,” Kallet said. “The crucial work came from the creative writing faculty as well as leadership from the department, the college, and the university.”

“This new degree program is coming from one of the strongest departments in the college, which already has a national reputation,” said Theresa Lee, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The talented creative writing faculty who will anchor this program are the key to its success in attracting bright and creative students.”

Kallet said the MFA differs from the previous Master of Arts degree in that it includes an additional writing workshop at the graduate level and requires students to publicly defend their projects.

“Students earning the MA degree would take an exam, either written or oral, and turn in a book of stories or poems at the end of their studies,” she said. “MFA students now will be asked to give a public reading of their project, with questions and answers from the public following the performance.”

Kallet stresses the word “performance” in the MFA students’ final project.

“The public readings remind me of the finals at the Sorbonne, which are open to the public,” she said. “I will help coach our students to not only read their work aloud, but to perform it, to really engage their audience.”

The program also will offer expanded access to the speakers who appear at the UT Libraries’ Writers in the Library series, which have included Pulitzer Prize winners and US poet laureates.

For more information, visit the Creative Writing website.

C O N T A C T :

Marilyn Kallet (865-974-6947, mkallet@utk.edu)

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