Saturday, April 01, 2006

Change in Faculty (at UCI?)

Confounded has the least creative codename of the week, but we won’t hold that against her. Her two questions:

First, how concerned should I be about the retirement of a prominent faculty member, especially in regards to the potential for a radical and/or negative change in the atmosphere of a program? Second, do any of the programs in your top ten attract significantly more attention from agents or offer significantly better publishing prospects than the others?

Well, I’m just going to take a shot in the dark here and say that the loss of Geoffrey Wolff is a significant one to UC-Irvine. He shaped that program into what it is. My sense though is that he’ll have a hand in where it’s going too. I wouldn’t let that change your decision either way. As for agents/publishing etc., the names most often mentioned are Iowa, Columbia, and UC Irvine. Is this true though? I don’t have any statistics or even anecdotes about it. I’d advise you not to put two much weight on the rumors. If anyone would like to comment, go for it. Good luck, Confounded.


Anonymous said...

On the publishers/agents question: I once met someone who worked at Zoetrope and said all the stories coming from Irvine, Iowa, and Columbia MFAs went straight to the editor. On the other hand, in the several years since I met this person, I can think of only three stories published in Zoetrope by recent MFA grads--one who went to Iowa, one who went to Michigan, and one who went to Arizona (but also the Stegner, so . . .).

Anonymous said...

Iowa and Columbia certainly make sense to me. Iowa being the most famous program in the country and Columbia being the most famous in NYC, where all the agents are.

Anonymous said...

Oh, if only I was a member of the leisure class... Columbia doesn't really care about awarding talent. They want Daddy's money. Spend, Daddy, spend!

Re: Zoetrope, you could just bypass Irvine--one of their online classes guarantees its best student a move to the top of the slushpile.

Anonymous said...

Columbia is FAR from the only program that doesn't fully fund all their students.

People only pick Columbia out because they are one of the few TOP programs with bad funding (though frankly EVERY NYC program has bad to horrible funding)

Anonymous said...

Also, don't confuse Columbia the university with Columbia the writing program. I'm sure the professors at the writing program would like nothing more than to "award" writing. Columbia actually does fully fund a few students through TAs and RAs, which is as much as most schools do. The difference is just that Columbia takes 25 fiction writers, not 4, and doesn't fund them all.

Anonymous said...

I work in a literary agency. No one here gives a hoot what MFA program you went to, or if you went at all. We just want to see good writing.

(NB. It also matters how smoothly-written the query itself is. If the writer can't explain her novel in grammatical sentences, I won't even look at the next page.)

Kanani said...

I agree with anonymous 6:
It's been consistently noted in many agents blogs throughout the country, that the vast majority of the manuscripts they select do not come from MFA programs.

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