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[Dec. 17th, 2007|11:22 pm]
English Major Central


So, just to throw this out there:

I'm currently finishing up my undergraduate work in English, and I want to be an English/Poetry Professor. So I guess I'm a prospective professor? ...

I'm planning on spending a year doing an MA in either Humanities or English, then on to a PhD!

I'd like the PhD program to focus on Creative Writing as well as Literature. I know there are plenty of Lit programs and some Creative Writing programs, but I think there are only a few that combine them. Any recommendations on programs and their reputations? Right now, USC (Trojans, not Gamecock..) looks pretty appealing.

Anyway, is this the right path to take to achieve that aforementioned goal of becoming a prof?

What else should I be doing to prepare? I graduate in about a year and a half. I'm going to take the GRE later this year, I've been published (barely, just one poem...) and I'm planning on submitting more to various lit mags...

What else is there to do? I have a sneaking suspicion that unlike college, the graduate admissions folks won't care that I play saxophone and do photography and social justice work.

Oh, and as far as grades go, my frosh/soph years were a bit low (I came in at a 3.5), but I'm doing much better now (3.9), so hopefully that's not detrimental. Is that detrimental?

Oh man. So many questions! Thanks a bouquet for your help!

[User Picture]From: wildflowerfever
2007-12-18 09:27 am (UTC)
All creative writing PhD programs include literature courses. Check out the Poets and Writer's speakeasy forum. There is a good discussion about CW PhD programs in the MFA thread: http://www.pw.org/speak.htm

When you say you want to teach poetry, do you mean you want to teach literature classes about poetry or actually teach creative writing? If it's the latter, you might want to consider an MFA instead of an MA, as it's the degree typically required to teach creative writing in universities (though a PhD is becoming more and more common after the MFA).

As far as preparing yourself, know that the writing sample is by far the most important part of your application. If you apply to MA programs, you will need both a critical and creative writing sample. For MFA programs, you usually only need a creative writing sample. Publishing doesn't matter for the MFA, and I'm unsure about the MA.
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[User Picture]From: wildflowerfever
2007-12-18 09:29 am (UTC)
Also, depending upon the creative writing program, they may indeed care about your other arts-related training (saxophone and photography). Does it relate to your writing in any way?
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[User Picture]From: _pianississimo
2007-12-18 05:05 pm (UTC)
See, I'd like to be able to teach a range of classes (Composition, Literature, Creative Writing). Is this possible? Do people do this?

I was unsure if getting an MFA would disable me from teaching lit classes.

And I didn't realize that all Creative Writing courses offer lit courses. Is it odd, then, that USC touts itself as one of a handful that focuses on both lit and creative writing?

Thanks for your help!
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[User Picture]From: wildflowerfever
2007-12-18 05:16 pm (UTC)
Yes, most academic poets teach composition and creative writing. Sometimes literature, but I think that's less common depending upon the school.

It does seem strange to me that a PhD program would tout itself as offering both CW and literature, but maybe it asks students to focus on literature more than other programs? I'm really not sure.
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[User Picture]From: _pianississimo
2007-12-18 09:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks for all your help! I'd been shying away from the MFA because I was afraid of limiting myself. I mean, I know that nothing is certain in this profession (concerning the job market, especially), but I'd like to have a shot at a job, at least.

I'm really starting to think that the MFA is the way to go. As I see it now (and please let me know if this is right), an MFA will help me hone/own my skills as a poet and, since it seems you're required to create a book-length manuscript of publishable quality, I'd leave the program if not published, then a hop, skip and a jump from it (when I spoke to a rep from the PhD program I'm interested in, she said that to prepare for the application process, I should get all A's and I should publish). Ah run-on. Beyond that, though, it will give me the option of teaching while I'm working on my PhD.
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[User Picture]From: wildflowerfever
2007-12-18 09:42 pm (UTC)
That sounds about right, although it's (of course) difficult to get a first book published.

Good luck!
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