University of St. Thomas Starts New Master’s Creative Writing Program

December 18, 2017

The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota has started a new master’s program in Creative Writing and Publishing, with enrollment open for students looking to begin next fall. The program will put students both in writing workshops (creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry) and in publishing courses, making this one of a few creative writing graduate programs that train their students to work in literary publishing. AWP spoke with Matthew Batt, associate professor in the English department at St. Thomas, who, along with Graduate English Program Director Alexis Easley, have been working to establish the program for the last five years.

AWP: I’m curious about the publishing aspect of the new program: How will students interact with the publishing industry in Minneapolis/St. Paul?

Matthew Batt: As much as possible—at least annually but hopefully every semester—we will bring editors and other folks from the many fine presses and publishing-related establishments in the Twin Cities such as Milkweed Editions, Graywolf, and Coffee House Press to our campus and our classrooms. We’ll also offer field trips to their offices for tours and some behind-the-scenes peeks to find out what it means to work at a press or other literary organizations such as the Loft Literary Center or the McKnight Foundation, or even to do fun, hands-on activities such as book binding, paper making, or broadside making at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Starting this summer, we’re also going to offer a free one-day Midwest Summer Publishing Institute. We’re still finalizing our line-up of guests, but we’ll have established and emerging writers, agents, publicists, and literary magazine and book editors from both our metro area and well beyond so our students and other attendees can get to know the world of publishing from many points of view. It’s our hope that this will help writers navigate the publishing process as well as give our students a vocational edge for those who want to work in the field of publishing.

AWP: Will there be internships or publishing courses that put students in the offices?

Batt: Our faculty and staff will help our students seek and apply to internships both locally, online, as well as nationally as part of our individual advising and also a part of how we teach all of our creative writing workshops. Beyond that, we’ll have a dedicated cornerstone class that all of our students will take where they’ll study creative writing as a discipline, but also look at its unique pedagogy and especially how it’s related to publishing.

AWP: What would you say is the makeup of the coursework—what percentage writing vs. publishing?

Batt: Of the required creative writing courses, there are four workshops—all of which will dedicate a portion to the study of publishing within the given genre—and then there’s the cornerstone class, Creative Writing and Publishing, required of all students. The workshops will concentrate perhaps ten to twenty percent of their time on publishing and then the cornerstone class will dedicate up to half of its time to publishing. Other program requirements include a multicultural literature course, a portfolio development individual study, and then three non-creative writing electives where students can study more literature, linguistics, pedagogy, professional writing, more publishing, and beyond. We consider it a studio/research program with lots of flexibility and a vocational concentration on publishing.

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