Critical writing in the MFA
Marion Dane Bauer and Cynthia Leitich Smith gave an overview of the faculty's expectations of student critical writing during the program. There are two basic types of essays students write:
- Essays on the discovery of craft. A student may have an issue from her own work about an element of craft. She sees how others handle it in published work and/or in craft books and then brings the discussion back to her own work.
- Essays with an arguable thesis. A student needs to support this with textual evidence and "move the conversation forward" in some way.
Marion and Cynthia also talked about the benefits of writing critical essays for students' creative work. They also noted that there are opportunities to publish critical work in professional journals like Horn Book. Cynthia said that she's published quite a bit in this field and has received requests to speak because of it. It gets your name out there and shows that you're a professional.