Held bi-annually, the intensive and stimulating 10-day residency period serves as a principal component of the Program and as the foundation of a supportive, committed community of writers. Each student attends the residency as a prerequisite to the semester’s study.
The 2017 Winter residency took place January 3rd-13th. The 2017 Summer residency will take place July 5th – 15th.
During the first day of the residency, new students meet with the Director and Board Chairman for orientation, are introduced to the faculty, and join returning students for a reception, dinner, and the first of the evening readings by faculty and graduates. Throughout the residency, the Director and Board members meet with students grouped by semester to discuss expectations for the term: deadlines, guidelines for preparing the essay and thesis manuscript, instructions for completing evaluation forms, and details about the exchange with the supervisor. In addition, the Director meets individually with each student entering the essay or final semesters, to review and approve his/her Semester Project plan. Much informal counseling also takes place among students and faculty members, and, because the group is small, new students have little trouble becoming acquainted with both the members of the community and the procedures of the Program.
Each day, discussion classes and lectures in literature, poetics, and the craft of writing, are offered by our faculty and graduating students. Students receive descriptions of the courses prior to the residency, select the classes that interest them, and complete preliminary readings. Students and faculty attend all of the lectures, which often set a general focus for the residency session. Classes serve as introductions to a body of work or an element of craft that students may opt to pursue in greater depth during the semester project. Students are urged to attend as many classes as their energy allows.During the residency, students develop analytical skills, serve as resources for one another, and receive a broad range of responses to samples of their writing in the daily workshops. Students are able to choose between genre-specific workshops that include poetry, fiction, novels or a “mixed group” that discusses both forms. Each group includes 10-14 students from every stage of progress through the Program (new students, graduates, etc.). Faculty members rotate among the standing groups in pairs–no single aesthetic can dominate, and any individual student has a chance to work with most of the faculty. Each student is assigned one hour of workshop discussion for his/her worksheet material, which has been submitted, printed, collated and distributed to workshop members in advance of the residency for careful preparation of the texts.
Early in the residency, students are asked to submit a Project Preference Statement describing briefly but clearly their goals for the writing they will do in the upcoming semester. Faculty meet as a group to review the statements carefully and make a collective judgment about appropriate supervisor selection; each faculty member works with no more than five students (the average faculty load is three) during the non-resident term. The Program is concerned that every student work with a faculty supervisor who is enthusiastic about his/her work and feels able to make a contribution toward the pursuit of that student’s goals and the development of his/her talent. Prior to the residency, each faculty member reads the samples of student work in the worksheets and thus is able, in the group discussion, to assess whether he/she can be supportive of and helpful to a particular project. It is assumed that each student will work with a different faculty supervisor each semester.
On campus, students meet at least twice in individual conferences with the faculty supervisor, preparing the Semester Project Study Plan. Faculty familiarize themselves with the student’s file before the second conference, but students should not expect faculty to read and comment on additional manuscript material during the residency. Students are reminded that they are extremely valuable resources for one another and should not restrict themselves to faculty response.
During the residency, each student prepares a written narrative account, describing preparation for and participation in the session. This first evaluative occasion helps the student summarize and articulate useful ideas for his/her own writing and reading. The Residency Evaluation (familiarly known as “the Green Sheets”) also helps the Program plan the next session and enters into the student’s record work done in literary and contemporary letters, practical criticism and creative writing.
Students are required to participate fully in the entire 10-day period for award of both the semester’s credit and the degree. If for some exceptional reason a student cannot do so he/she must petition the Academic Board in advance of the period. Continuing students unable to attend the residency may request a Leave of Absence; a new semester, however, cannot be undertaken without an initiating residency. On the other hand, students taking a Leave of Absence semester who wish to participate only in the residency are welcome to do so, when there is space for them in workshops and classes.