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The Writing Seminars

The Writing Seminars

Student & Faculty Resources

Across Campus

  • The Writing Seminars

    Admissions

    Any applicant to the graduate program must have earned a bachelor’s degree. Apply online for either the MFA in Fiction or the MFA in Poetry here by December 15. The application fee is $75.

    • Three recommendation letters
    • Writing sample
    • Statement of purpose (critique of work)
    • Transcripts
    • GRE scores
    • TOEFL or IELTS scores (for those applicants whose native language is not English)
    Letters of Recommendation

    Applicants must ensure that three former teachers (or editors familiar with the applicant’s writing) write letters of recommendation. At least one letter should specifically address the applicant’s writing.

    Writing Sample

    MFA poetry applicants must submit 10 poems (not to exceed 25 double-spaced pages); MFA fiction applicants must submit a maximum of three short stories or a self-contained section of a novel (40 double-spaced pages maximum). The writing sample must be sent electronically as part of the online application.

    Statement of Purpose (Critique of Work)

    The statement of purpose (critique of work) should consist of a two-page (at most) introduction and critique. This statement should give admissions faculty a view to the scope and thoughtfulness of the work submitted and a sense of the student’s ability to identify both its strengths and weaknesses. It should convey a sense of the tone and approach by which the applicant hopes to contribute to the writing workshops. It must be sent electronically as part of the online application.

    Transcripts

    The Writing Seminars requires transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work (including overseas study and college work which may be shown as transfer credits on another transcript).

    Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

    Applicants must have taken the GRE within the last five years and direct the Educational Testing Service to submit official notification of the scores directly to Johns Hopkins University. Please note: JHU Institution code is 5332; Department code is 2503. Any application lacking GRE scores will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed. The applicant must take the GRE no later than December.

    International Applicants

    International applicants should visit the Office of International Services website for pertinent information. All application documents must be provided in English (either the original or translations of the original documents).

    Additional Information

    Please consult the Graduate Admissions and Enrollment website for additional information on applying to graduate programs at Johns Hopkins University.

    Also in Graduate
    Part-Time MA Writing Program

    Applicants interested in obtaining information about the part-time Master of Arts in Writing program should visit the Advanced Academic Programs website, which is an entity at Johns Hopkins separate from The Writing Seminars.

    © 2018 Johns Hopkins University, Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts & Sciences

    The Writing Seminars, 3400 N. Charles Street, Gilman Hall 81, Baltimore, MD 21218

    The Writing Seminars

    The Writing Seminars

    Student & Faculty Resources

    Across Campus

  • The Writing Seminars

    Founded in 1947, the Writing Seminars is the second-oldest creative writing program in the United States and has always been ranked highly in the field. The department is celebrated for the quality of its faculty and its small classes. No course is lecture-sized; all are seminars.

    For the B.A., students work primarily in fiction and poetry but may take courses in nonfiction prose, editorial writing, screenwriting, playwriting, and science writing. A broad and diverse liberal arts curriculum, including philosophy, history, and foreign language, is a hallmark of our major. More than 30 sections of our “Introduction to Fiction and Poetry” course are offered each semester, with approximately 20 additional reading seminars and writing workshops for majors and non-majors. Students may also take for-credit courses within the school year that involve them with Baltimore and its other writers. An array of internships offers wider opportunities.

    For the two-year M.F.A., students concentrate in either fiction or poetry. Tuition is fully funded, and all students receive a generous teaching fellowship, currently set at $30,500 per year. With the guidance of a faculty advisor, all students produce both a first year portfolio and, in the second year, a thesis of fiction or poetry. Many students publish books shortly after graduation, and they often win major prizes.

    All students, undergraduate and graduate, benefit from a visiting writers’ reading series and other lectures and events which bring writers of international importance to campus.

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    Writing Seminars

    We are a two-year low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing program, with ten-day residencies in January and June. Students work closely with distinguished and actively publishing faculty, their path determined by the reading discipline as well as the production of original work. Our mission is to connect the emerging writer with much of the best that has been done and to cultivate the critical skills that serve the writing as much as the reading.

    Hours & Location

    • during term: M-F 9:00AM-5:00PM
    • summer/FWT: M-F 8:30AM-4:00PM
    • Barn 106
    • 802-440-4452
    • writing@bennington.edu

    Mark Wunderlich

    Program director and poetry faculty member.

    Megan Galbraith

    Administrator and academic adviser to all students.

    Dawn Dayton

    Coordinates all aspects of the Writing Seminars Program in conjunction with the associate director.

    The Writing Seminars

    The Writing Seminars

    Student & Faculty Resources

    Across Campus

  • The Writing Seminars

    Founded in 1947, the Writing Seminars is the second-oldest creative writing program in the United States and has always been ranked highly in the field. The department is celebrated for the quality of its faculty and its small classes. No course is lecture-sized; all are seminars.

    For the B.A., students work primarily in fiction and poetry but may take courses in nonfiction prose, editorial writing, screenwriting, playwriting, and science writing. A broad and diverse liberal arts curriculum, including philosophy, history, and foreign language, is a hallmark of our major. More than 30 sections of our “Introduction to Fiction and Poetry” course are offered each semester, with approximately 20 additional reading seminars and writing workshops for majors and non-majors. Students may also take for-credit courses within the school year that involve them with Baltimore and its other writers. An array of internships offers wider opportunities.

    For the two-year M.F.A., students concentrate in either fiction or poetry. Tuition is fully funded, and all students receive a generous teaching fellowship, currently set at $30,500 per year. With the guidance of a faculty advisor, all students produce both a first year portfolio and, in the second year, a thesis of fiction or poetry. Many students publish books shortly after graduation, and they often win major prizes.

    All students, undergraduate and graduate, benefit from a visiting writers’ reading series and other lectures and events which bring writers of international importance to campus.

    First-Year Writing Seminars

    You are here

    Enrollment

    Your first semester at Cornell should include a first-year writing seminar (FWS); what you learn in your writing seminar will help you in all of your courses, and you will need two FWS’s to graduate. First-year writing seminars are 3-credit courses offered by nearly every department in the college.

    Enrollment in your FWS is conducted separately from (and after) enrollment in your other courses. All students submit five FWS choices via an electronic ballot – all the FWS choices you submit must fit around the days and times for the other courses on your schedule!

    1. Consult the list of spring-semester FWS offerings in the Course Roster (also available through the Knight Institute website).

    After ballots are processed, an FWS will be automatically posted onto your course schedule. You can also change or add an FWS to your schedule using your regular Student Center during add/drop at the start of the semester, but your choices will be limited by that time.

    Students Said.

    I always thought of first-year writing seminars as a chance to take something that was fun and interesting but had nothing to do with my major. It’s a chance for a little pizzazz and I’d definitely advise that freshmen take advantage of the crazy topics available! – Alexandra McClellan, ’17

    There are a lot of different first-year writing seminars on offer [well over 100 each semester] – it would be hard to believe that someone wasn’t able to find one from the list that they wanted to take. – Brian Park, ’16

    I chose unusual/out of the ordinary topics – I wanted to learn something new while also refining my writing skills. – Patrick Molligo, ’15

    I loved having a smaller class in the midst of my introductory lecture courses. I had the opportunity to get to know a diverse group of peers and it made the large Cornell community seem a little smaller. – Poornima Manikantan, ’17

    Princeton’s writing seminars need a makeover

    My freshman year was generally a breeze — making new friends, experiencing Princeton — but for a single blight. The culprit? My writing seminar. To say I did not enjoy my seminar was a gross understatement — I contemplated shifting it to my sophomore year.

    Yeah, it was that bad.

    While my case is (hopefully) an outlier, I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve met who classify their writing seminars as fun. For the vast majority of sophomores and upperclassmen, writing sems were like filing taxes, the undesirable ritual one had to endure as part of the package that is Princeton University.

    However, the Writing Program was created, I imagine, with the more pleasant analogy of learning to ride a bike in mind. According to its official website, it is supposed to “help students build a critical research and writing toolkit for their later work at Princeton, including junior independent work and the senior thesis.” This, of course, is a laudable goal. The jump from a five-paragraph high school essay, consisting of an introduction, three-pointer body, and concluding paragraph, to a thesis anywhere from 50 to a 100 pages, or beyond, is Herculean. Besides, we all take delight in beautiful work, and who hasn’t read a lucid essay, or easy-to-follow yet sophisticated prose, and wished they could write as well? Writing sem had one job: to, at least, set us on that path. Yet, as a friend once quipped, “No one actually writes that way.”

    So where did it all go wrong?

    It all begins with the very methodology adopted by the program. I recall, during my first lesson, my professor telling us that the five-paragraph model would simply not cut it in college, after which he gave a vague wishy-washy description of the ideal essay, which sounded honestly intimidating. That was the only reference throughout the class to a method I had known my entire life. That was the method that got me the grades necessary for Princeton admission. It had been so ingrained in me, it was my first resort whenever it came to writing.

    The treatment of freshmen like tabula rasa (thanks, Locke!) when it comes to writing is one of the biggest flaws of the writing program. It has been well established that efficient teaching builds on the known, then draws the student into the unknown. Yet, there is no segue here, no unlearning. Would it not have been better if students first wrote in the manner that they had been taught, then professors tried to mold that into what ought to be?

    Speaking of what ought to be, one of the strongest criticisms of the writing program is the lack of exposure to what constitutes “good” writing. Of course, we spend a class or two parsing a sample paper, seeing how someone made a good argument, or problematized a situation adequately, but is that enough? As Bernard Shaw, a good writer himself, points out, “Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery — it’s the sincerest form of learning.” Source materials should themselves be emulated; not just worthy of emulation, but structured such that reading them illustrates to students easy-to-pick-up ways of writing well. If I am what I read, can I blame my bad writing on the bad examples of those I read?

    Tied to this learning issue is the matter of what we learn in the seminar. As emphasized in its name, writing sems teach us to write. This, however, cannot occur in a vacuum, hence the myriad of over 50 different topics with catchy names, from “The Big Apple” (about New York City) to “Sex on the Brain” (it’s purely anthropological, disappointingly). Let’s set aside, for a moment, the fact that the options are heavily skewed towards the social sciences and humanities (as if physicists do not write papers), and focus on the content of these seminars. While it is desirable to learn something new in these seminars, there must be a balance between trying to develop an important skill (writing), and learning a new subject, even if it’s the interesting one of anthropological basis for sex and the brain.

    Take, for example, a (hypothetical?) student in “Property, Wealth and Equality,” who has no background in either Locke’s philosophy or economic arguments. In addition to learning to write, they have to grasp all of the material and sources necessary for that essay. Yes, it depends on the depth the professor decides to take the class. Nonetheless, quality papers require a thorough understanding of the topic. This is why, for instance, we spent more time in my class discussing Neanderthals than we spent on the rubrics of writing; no one in the class had a background in evolutionary anthropology.

    The solution is simple. Writing seminars should be on topics already familiar to students, preferably at the high school level, or should be less intense and interdisciplinary. “Villains and Villainy” and “The Uses of Photography” are good examples of such classes, in which the subject matter is obviously a conduit for learning to write. In these classes, students can quickly and easily grasp the crux of the source material, allowing more time and effort to be spent on actually polishing their writing. They can even compare it to their high school work, noticing the difference and how far they have come.

    The recent task force on General Education noted that “Given the University’s high expectations for students in their independent work, we should consider more carefully the ability of the current first-year writing seminar model, by itself, to adequately prepare students for writing in their concentrations.” I would go further to question whether it prepares students for writing well at all. With such a flawed program packed into the 12-week whirlwind that is a Princeton semester, I would not be surprised if the answer is no.

    University Writing Program

    Fall 2017 University Writing Seminars

    Note:  Please refer to the Registrar’s website for the Online Writing Assessment and UWS lottery timelines. 

    Fall 2017 UWS courses can be found here. Course descriptions can be found by selecting the course number on the far left. 

    • See the Brandeis University Bulletin for undergraduate writing requirements

    • Further information and frequently asked questions regarding the writing program, including composition, can be found here.

    Institute for Writing and Rhetoric

    First-Year Seminars offer every first-year student an opportunity to participate in a course structured around intensive writing, independent research, and small group discussion.

    The First-year Seminar Program serves four purposes. First, by means of a uniform writing requirement, the seminar stresses the importance of written expression in all disciplines. Second, it provides an attractive and exciting supplement to the usual introductory survey. Third, it guarantees each first-year student at least one small course. Fourth, the program engages each first-year student in the research process, offering an early experience of the scholarship that fuels Dartmouth’s upper-level courses.

    • View ORC course description for Writing 7, one of many First-year Seminars offered in different departments under the course number “7”.
    • View course descriptions for First-year Seminars.
    • For placement and enrollment policies for First-year Seminars, or advice on switching among First-year Seminar courses during drop-add, please visit our Policies page.

    Superstars Writing Seminars

    Teaching you the business of being a writer

    Donate to Scholarship Fund

    Superstars Writing Seminars 2019

    Our 10th Conference!

    Colorado Springs, Colorado

    Main Seminar:

    February 7–9, 2019 (Thursday–Saturday)

    Intensive Writing Craft Day add-on:

    February 6, 2019 (Wednesday)

    Superstars Writing Seminars, founded in 2010, is unique among writing seminars. The curriculum focuses on teaching writers the business of being successful in the publishing industry. The instructors are chosen from the top of the industry and include International Bestselling Authors, Top Editors, Indie Publishing Platform Managers, and many more. The primary goal at Superstars is to teach you how to have a successful writing career by sharing how those at the top of the industry manage their careers.

    Click here to see the cost of attending the seminar.

    Photo by Superstar alumnus Tiffany Brazell

    Learn about the specifics we teach, and why. To get a closer look at our general curriculum click here. To see our workshop schedule for 2018 (subject to change) click here.

    Previous Superstars Seminars are made available as DVDs and MP3s as well, in case you weren’t able to make it. Remember, the wealth of information taught in Superstars changes each year, as the industry itself changes. Past seminars have useful information that might not be covered in this year’s hot topics and lessons.

    Superstars Writing Seminars will be held February 7 – 9, 2018 (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) at the Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs , Colorado. A day of intensive writing craft seminars is also available Wednesday, February 6, 2019 as an add-on to the regular seminars (registration not yet open for Craft Day).

    Click HERE to begin your registration!

    2019 Updates

    • Guest instructor Jim Butcher (NYT bestselling author) confirmed!
    • Guest instructor Donald Maass (author and agent) confirmed!
    • Guest instructor Seanan McGuire (bestselling author) confirmed!

    Pricing for 2019 is the same as 2018 below

    (chart to be updated soon)

    Click HERE to begin your registration!

    Click here for an example of our seminar schedules.

    Find out more about our Scholarship Program here.

    Gopen Writing Seminars

    Held annually in October/November, Writing from the Reader’s Perspective is a three-part seminar series focuses on writing from the reader’s perspective. The series is based on the concept that in order to improve writing, it is first necessary to understand the process of reading. The ideas presented in this series of workshops have changed participants’ writing habits permanently, often resulting in improved grant-writing and publication success. The 12-hour workshop is divided into four sessions, each one building on the one before. For maximum benefit, those who register should plan to attend all four sessions.

    How to Register

    Registration for Writing from the Reader’s Perspective typically opens 6-8 weeks prior to the first session. Exact program and registration dates are posted on the upcoming events page as soon as they are available. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Faculty are given priority. There are limited seats available for fellows, postdocs, students, and staff. Faculty are notified of registration by an e-mail from the Office for Faculty Development. Seats typically fill up within 72 hours of the e-mail being sent.

    About the Speaker

    George D. Gopen, JD, PhD, has taught for more than 35 years at Duke, Harvard, the University of Utah, Loyola University of Chicago, the Harvard Law School, and Duke University Law School. Dr. Gopen received both his law degree and a PhD in English from Harvard University, which he achieved simultaneously. For almost 30 years he has acted as a consultant on written communication for scientific research companies, law firms, corporations, universities, and governmental agencies. His publications include many articles on the rhetorical analysis of poetry, music, fiction, and non-fiction prose, as well as law review articles and essays on pedagogy. His latest two books explore the “Reader Expectation” approach to the English language, which is the subject of the annual Gopen writing lectures.

    What Past Participants are Saying:

    “Outstanding speaker and seminar. A wealth of relevant knowledge was transformed about how to write. This was the first time I felt cultural knowledge had been transferred to me, since I came to this country.”

    “This 4-part seminar has already been invaluable! The speaker is wonderful, informative, entertaining. Dr. Gopen makes this subject wonderfully enjoyable.”

    “The approach presented in this seminar has already improved my writing.”

    “Excellent series. Very informative and helpful. I believe Dr. Gopen has developed this group of classes to a fine art; hence, it could not be improved upon.”

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