UNLV this fall will launch a unique creative writing program with an international emphasis.
The UCCSN Board of Regents voted Friday (April 25) to approve the new Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree.
An important component of the program is its international emphasis. Students will be required to spend one semester during their three years of study in a non-English speaking country and also will be required to complete one significant literary translation. Additionally, foreign novelists, short-story writers, and poets will be brought in to teach each semester.
"This international element makes this a one-of-a-kind program in the country," said UNLV associate professor and Pulitzer-nominated novelist Douglas Unger. "It singles us out from the other 200 creative writing programs in the country."
Provost Douglas Ferraro said, "The creative writing program in UNLV's department of English has already attracted considerable acclaim because of its nationally known faculty such as novelists Doug Unger, Richard Wiley, and John Irsfeld, and poets Jim Hazen and Claudia Keelan.
"Our new M.F.A. program will permit aspiring writers to pursue an advanced degree with a unique international focus they can get in no other such program,"
The program will begin small - with an estimated six students to be admitted this fall. Even at its largest, the program is expected to admit only 12 students per year. Students will be divided equally between two tracks - one in fiction and one in poetry.
The program will require students to earn 54 credits during three years of study. The final project required of each student will be a book-length manuscript of poetry or fiction.
To gain admittance to the program, prospective students will have to provide samples of their writing.
"It's all about the writing," said Richard Wiley, a UNLV professor of English and award-winning novelist. The quality of the writing, more than any other single component, will determine who is admitted, he said.
"It is very different from being a tradition English major," said Keelan, an assistant professor of English at UNLV whose book of poetry, "The Secularist," recently was published by the University of Georgia Press. "You work on developing your own art as a writer or poet."
Unger predicted that like other creative writing programs, such as the one at the University of Iowa, UNLV's program eventually will attract many more applicants than it has openings. A ratio of 20 applicants for every opening would not be unusual, he said.
"There already are people who want to be in the program, and it hasn't even been announced," Keelan said.
Wiley said, "It's a great program because of the international component. It's truly unique, and that's a word you don't use lightly."
Much of America's literature is "introspective" - in part because of America's somewhat isolated geographic location, Wiley said.
What we want to do is try to put a hole in that (isolation), because the world in fact is much smaller today than ever before," he said. "We want to infuse that global sensibility into American literature."
Unger expressed a similar sentiment. "American writing gets very insular. It gets devoted to either the American landscape, or American domesticity, or American points of view. We will add that outside dimension, that outside perspective of the international view of literature."
For additional information on the new creative writing program, or to learn how to apply for admission, call the English department at (702) 895-3533.