another of zooeyincharge's questions. (I hope other people are going to chip into this discussion; don't mean to hog the blog in any way, but to at least start a thread for each question in the Mailbag). This is related to jmwelches' question:
I have a BA in CW and have thought about the MFA next. But, I am torn between that and doing some in-depth literature studies to provide a better foundation. Does anyone have an opinion/advice on studying literature (and if so where) prior to pursuing a MFA?
As an English-Creative Writing double major, I can tell you that English lit courses involve literary analysis, theory, historical criticism, expository essays; creative writing courses involve the study of craft, reading stories to see how the writer's mind plotted them and learning to perform such techniques yourself, editing peers' work in workshops. Some MFA students do an MA in literature first; a few MFA programs even offer up specific TA-ship packages for students who already possess MA's, or let students with MA's graduate from the program faster. And I know someone who did an MFA at Columbia, followed by an MA at Johns Hopkins, so it can also be done the other way around.
Which degree you go for is ultimately your personal decision; if both, same goes for the order. A lot of the answers to the questions asked on this blog ultimately depend on the individual. When my turn comes around I'll probably go for an MFA that incorporates a lot of English lit courses, not just creative writing workshops or courses on craft, since I'm one of those writers who thinks the best writing comes from reading good literature. If you go to my database, http://creativewritingmfa.blogspot.com, and follow the link to any program's website, check out the credit breakdown that shows what courses must be taken to earn the MFA (and whether there are any English lit courses or electives in other departments--always a good thing).