Toward a Better Creative Writing Degree
Elif Batuman’s September 2010 piece “Get a Real Degree,” in the London Review of Books, Batuman notes that the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing “stands for everything that’s wonderful about America: the belief that every individual life can be independent from historical givens, that all forms and conditions can be reinvented from scratch.” Batuman’s implied critique is that the MFA is, at best, ahistorical. Using a model first established in the Iowa Writers Workshop during the mid-1930s, the MFA is also trapped in time.
Most MFA programs have not given much thought to how the MFA might be reinvented to better serve literature and writers. Such an assessment is long overdue.