Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The "Kealey Scale"

A poet and public defender, Seth Abramson, has run some numbers and come up with an analysis of my program comments in the MFA Handbook. The result is something he's calling "The Kealey Scale." Be warned: it's a long post, with his rankings of my non-rankings at the end, along with footnotes.

Much appreciation to Seth for doing all the work with this (I mean: evidently a lot of work), and thanks also to Anxious Latecomer for bringing it to my attention. Happy reading.

And here's a short cut to the bare-bones Kealey Scale Rankings. I neither endorse nor reject them. Like the MFA Handbook itself: They're a starting point for potential MFA students.

While you won't find the numerical rankings that follow anywhere in Kealey's book, I've done the minimal amount of interpretative analysis necessary to take both Kealey's demonstrably declarative statements on programs (e.g., "this is easily a top-five program") as well as his vague but telling categorizations (e.g., "this is an up-and-coming program"; generally, Kealey uses carefully-chosen/easily-ranked superlatives for many of the criteria by which each school is assessed) to their next and most obvious conclusion: a up-to-date, 2006 ranking for creative writing MFA programs.

Needless to say, Kealey's methods are not scientific, nor are they reflective of any sort of consensus: the analysis is his own, the conclusions (which I have extrapolated from but have not regurgitated here, another reason you should buy the book) are his own. It just so happens that no one has attempted such an analysis before, or done the difficult work (which U.S. News & World Report pointedly did not do in 1997) of ensuring that the process of ranking MFA programs takes into account far more than simply a populist notion of which schools have the best "reputation."


Gustavo said...

Hey all,

If you check out the same website, you'll see that our industrious and philantropic colleague (I say this without a shade of irony) has added two more rankings that put emphasis on slightly different aspects (one is based on reputation only; the other is a composite of several factors, such as The Kealey Scale, reputation, etc.). Really interesting stuff. Very useful for prospective MFAers, I think. Also, at the P & W Speakeasy there was an interesting (if very heated, at times) discussion on the methodology used to create the first ranking, a discussion which presumably led the author to come up with the two others.

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