MASTER OF FINE ARTS IN CREATIVE WRITING
- College of Liberal Arts
- Graduate Degree Programs
The MFA in Creative Writing program is designed to help students who are committed to honing their craft further and become productive creative writers through a grounding in the theoretical and practical aspects of writing. This includes the prospects and possibilities of publication and performance and an intensive examination and evaluation of the students’ works under the guidance of experienced writers.
Instruction is conducted mostly by workshops, including weekend off-campus sessions. These workshops give the students the opportunity to discuss and produce original writing in the company of experienced professionals.
CRW660M/LIT660M Literary Theory and Criticism CRW680M/LIT680M Literary Translation
CRW851M (onwards) Thesis Writing
One literature elective to be chosen from the MA-level Literature Programs or the students may opt to enroll in a 3-unit Cognate course offered by other departments in the College of Liberal Arts relevant to their Thesis.
Fiction Writing Techniques (CRW691M) 3 units An in-depth study of the fundamentals of prose fiction beyond the undergraduate level; includes frequent writing exercises in the elements of description, characterization, dialogue, narrative viewpoint, the writing of short fiction, and peer analysis of these exercises.
Fiction Writing Workshop (CRW801M) 3 units
Actual writing of fiction with focus on a work of substantial length, such as a short novel or novella, or a collection of short stories. The bulk of the course content is composed of the fictional works done by the students, and the workshop process is meant to prepare these works for publication.
Poetry Writing Techniques (CRW692M) 3 units An intensive study of the techniques in writing poetry, including discussion and critical evaluation of the works of contemporary poets in conjunction with a workshop concentrating on the students’ own output.
Poetry Writing Workshop (CRW802M) 3 units Actual writing of poetry with focus on the exploration and practice of various styles; each student works on an individual project. The bulk of the course content is composed of the poetry done by the students, and the workshop process is meant to prepare these works for publication.
Playwriting Techniques (CRW693M) 3 units An in-depth study of the principles and techniques, of playwriting for stage, radio, TV, and screen; writing exercises leading to the creation of short scripts.
Playwriting Workshop (CRW803M) 3 units Actual writing of plays with emphasis on characterization, motivation, plot, etc., the student must present a completed script for stage, radio, or screen. The bulk of the course content is composed of the dramatic works done by the students, and the workshop process is meant to prepare these works for performance.
Creative Non-Fiction Writing Techniques (CRW672M) 3 units A study of the craft of writing biographies and autobiographies and other forms of creative non-fiction; exercises in writing short biographies of literary figures based on research and interviews, and on writing about one’s own life.
Introduction to Professional Editing (CRW675M) 3 units A study of the editing process, from substantive editing to the nature of the editor-writer relationship; manuscript reading, author queries, copy-editing, rewrite and style; editing awareness and skills are developed by working on varied writing examples.
Literary Theory and Criticism (CRW660M/LIT660M) 3 units A study of theories, principles, and techniques of literary criticism, from antiquity to the later twentieth century, with emphasis on major schools of criticism, such as Romanticism, New Criticism, Formalism, Structuralism, Marxism, Feminist Criticism, and Post-Structuralism.
Literary Translation (CRW680M/LIT680M) 3 units A study of the theories, principles, strategies, and problems in literary translation; output is a translation into English or Filipino of a literary text originally written in a Philippine vernacular.
Depending on the thesis topic, a student chooses one elective from the MA-level Literature programs or a CLA cognate course.
Poetry and Philosophy (CRW371M)
The course explores the relations between poetry and philosophy as complementary, though at times antithetical, discourses. It inquires into selected issues drawn from philosophy of literature, philosophy of poetry, and philosophy of language, such as truth in/and poetry, metaphorical meaning, and lyric philosophy.
Women’s Literature (LIT331M)
Close reading of the fiction, poetry, and plays of selected women writers; examines their resolution to the question of the narrative voice, the image of women and women writing reflected in the works and the manner in which the self is presented.
Literature and Environment (LIT345M)
This three-unit interdisciplinary course introduces students to the evolving nature of literature and environment studies.
Pathography: Writing Illness to Wellness (LIT370M)
This course is an elective interdisciplinary seminar course on the intersections of Literature and Medicine, and focuses on Pathography: Narratives of Illness, Recovery, and Death. The texts for study in the course are literary pathographic texts as well as medical theories on pain and literary theories on narrative.
Gender, Sexuality and Literature (LIT763M)
A study of literature from the optic lens of genders and sexualities. Includes a survey of feminist and antihomophobic discourse/theories; an examination of the representations of the female and the homosexual subject in literature; and an interrogation of the identity politics of the writers/texts.
Performance Studies (LIT769M)
This course takes up performance both as object of study and as a mode of critical inquiry in the humanities and social sciences. It explores various understandings of performance, performance studies, and performance research, with a special attention to practices of performance in the Philippines.
Literature Seminar ( LIT 800M)
Special topics in interdisciplinary studies, such as Literature and Psychoanalysis, Literature and Marxism, Literature and Linguistics, and Literature and Historiography.
Thesis (CRW851M onwards)
6 units The application of the skills and knowledge gained in course work with research supervision by a mentor at the department whose interest and expertise of creative-critical practice match the nature, focus, or trajectory of the student’s book project.
FACULTY MEMBERS AND AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION
Marian Amor Romina T. Abuan, MFA Creative Writing, De La Salle University
Poetry; Playwriting; Screenplay; Performance Studies; Women’s Literature
Vijae Alquisola, MFA Creative Writing, De La Salle University
Poetry; Children’s Literature; Literary Studies; Indigeneity
Mesandel V. Arguelles , PhD Literature, De La Salle University
Contemporary Poetry; Contemporary Art; Conceptual Writing; Translation Studies
Genevieve L. Asenjo , PhD Literature, De La Salle University
Creative Writing: Poetry and Fiction; Regional Literature (Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a); Ecocriticism
Eros Atalia, MA Philippine Studies, De La Salle University
Fiction; Creative Nonfiction
Anne Richie G. Balgos , PhD Applied Linguistics, De La Salle University
Educational Theatre; Drama Pedagogy; Applied Linguistics; Language and Literature Teaching
David Jonathan Y. Bayot, PhD Literature, De La Salle University
Theory and Criticism; Philippine Kritika; Translation Studies; Art Studies; Literary Research; Critical Writing
Ronald Baytan , PhD English Studies (Creative Writing), University of the Philippines-Diliman
Creative Writing: Creative Nonfiction and Poetry; LGBTQI Studies; Philippine Literature in English; Philippine Cinema
Ernesto V. Carandang II , DFA Creative Writing, De La Salle University
Creative Writing: Fiction, Poetry & Creative Nonfiction; Drama and Theatre Production; Arts Management; Philippine Arts and Heritage (focusing on Music, Architecture, Sacred Arts, Furniture, and Food)
Genaro Gojo R. Cruz , MA Philippine Studies, De La Salle University
Children’s Literature; Creative Writing: Nonfiction
Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr. , Professor Emeritus, PhD Communication Studies (Film), University of Iowa
Media Studies; Philippine Cinema; Creative Writing: Screenwriting; Film Directing; Film Archiving
Noelle Leslie dela Cruz , PhD Philosophy, De La Salle University
Philosophy of Literature; Poetry and Philosophy; Science Fiction and Philosophy; Existential Phenomenology; Feminist Philosophy
Mary Jessel Duque, MA, University of the Philippines-Diliman
Popular Culture; Art Studies; Creative Writing: Fiction; TV Studies
Johann Vladimir Espiritu , PhD Literature, De La Salle University
Queer Studies; Music and Popular Culture; Creative Writing: Fiction
Marjorie Evasco-Pernia , Professor Emeritus, PhD Literature, De La Salle University
Creative Writing: Poetry and Nonfiction; Pathography; Cebuano Literature; Literary Translation; Ekphrasis; Women’s Literature; Ecocriticism
Ivar Nicholas-Fojas , PhD Music, Fred Fox School of Music, University of Arizona
Classical Guitar; Music Studies
Mark Adrian Ho, MFA Creative Writing, De La Salle University
Theater; Media Studies; Creative Writing: Drama, Poetry, and Nonfiction
Farida P. Kabayao , MA Language and Literature, De La Salle University
Music Studies; Theater; Art Studies
Jazmin B. Llana , PhD Performance Studies, University of Wales
Performance Studies; Philippine Drama; Theater and Theater Studies; Bikol Literature; Performance Research
Shirley O. Lua , PhD Literature, De La Salle University
Philippine Critical Tradition; Film & Media Criticism; Diaspora Studies; Chinese-Philippine Literature; Literary and Cultural Research; Heritage Studies
Clarissa V. Militante , PhD Literature, De La Salle University
Narrative Studies; Philippine Novel; Creative Writing: Fiction; Journalism
Timothy Montes , MA English (Creative Writing), Silliman University
Philippine Literature; Creative Writing: Fiction
Cris Barbra Pe , PhD Literature (candidate), De La Salle University
Biography and Creative Nonfiction; Teaching Literature
Carlos M. Piocos, III , PhD Comparative Literature, University of Hong Kong
Critical Theory; Migration and Diaspora Studies; Mobility Studies; Postcolonial Studies; Creative Writing: Poetry; Southeast Asian Studies; Cultural Research
Dinah Roma , PhD Literature, De La Salle University
Diaspora Studies; Travel Writing/Theory; Creative Writing: Poetry; Southeast Asian Literary Studies
Josephine Roque, MFA Creative Writing, De La Salle University
Creative Nonfiction; Art Studies; Philippine Literature; Travel Writing
Anne Frances N. Sangil, PhD Literature, De La Salle University
Popular Culture; Film Studies; Philippine Cinema
Tanya Sevilla Simon, MFA Creative Writing, De La Salle University
Creative Nonfiction; Children’s Literature; Graphic Literature
Antonette Talaue-Arogo , PhD Literature, De La Salle University
Theory and Criticism; Postcolonialism and Cosmopolitanism; Decoloniality; Gender Studies
Neslie Carol C. Tan-Tolentino , PhD Arts (candidate), University of Melbourne
Performance Studies; Disability Studies; English Language Teaching
John Iremil E. Teodoro , PhD Literature, De La Salle University
Visayan Literature; Creative Writing: Fiction, Drama, Poetry, Nonfiction; Environmental Writing; Archipelagic Studies; Translations; Philippine Gay Culture
Jose Victor Torres , PhD History, University of Santo Tomas
Philippine History; Philippine Theater; Creative Writing: Drama; Heritage Studies
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Master's Degree Programs
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Master’s in Creative Writing
University of the philippines diliman ( ).
The Master’s in Creative Writing at University of the Philippines Diliman is a 2 years long program for international students, taught in English.
The University of the Philippines Diliman (UP Diliman) is a prestigious public research university located in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. As the flagship campus of the University of the Philippines System, UP Diliman is renowned for its commitment to academic excellence, social responsibility, and national development. The university offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs across various fields, including the arts, sciences, engineering, social sciences, and humanities. UP Diliman provides a rigorous and transformative education that fosters critical thinking, creativity, and a strong sense of nationalism. With renowned faculty, state-of-the-art facilities, and a vibrant campus community, UP Diliman serves as a hub for intellectual discourse, cultural exchange, and social engagement. The university's commitment to public service, research, and the pursuit of truth contributes to its reputation as a leading institution in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
🏫 About University of the Philippines Diliman
The University of the Philippines Diliman (UP Diliman) is the flagship campus of the University of the Philippines System and a renowned public research university located in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. Established in 1949, UP Diliman is dedicated to providing high-quality education, advancing knowledge through research, and serving the nation. The university offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs across various disciplines, including the arts, sciences, engineering, social sciences, and humanities. UP Diliman is known for its commitment to academic excellence, critical thinking, and social responsibility. With esteemed faculty, state-of-the-art facilities, and a vibrant campus community, UP Diliman provides an environment conducive to intellectual growth, cultural exchange, and social engagement. The university's strong tradition of public service, research excellence, and commitment to social justice contributes to its esteemed reputation as a leading institution in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
You will need to book the accommodation after you have been accepted.
You can choose to live on campus or off campus in private accommodation.
How to book:
- Make a booking online after you have been accepted (in this case please let us know your choice when you apply).
- Register when you arrive - its not possible to reserve a room before arriving. You can arrive a few days before and book it
37,244 PHP per year
74,487 PHP in total
❓ ✅ ❌ Entry Requirements
The minimum age is 18.
Minimum education level: Bachelor's.
The program is competitive, you need to have a high grades of Average A, 70%, or a high GPA.
All students from all countries are eligible to apply to this program.
📬 Admissions Process
3 steps to apply to a university.
Please choose the programs here , "You are advised to select 2-3 programs to increase your chances of getting accepted.
- Personal Statement History Form - University of the Philippines Diliman
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- Two Recommendation Letters
- Bank Statement
- No Criminal Record Certificate
- English Language Certificate
- Your Highest Academic Transcript (in English)
- Your Graduation Certificate (in English)
- Your Passport Copy
You can start your application now and send the application documents during your application. Some documents you can send later if you don’t have them right away. Some more info about preparing application documents is here
Applying Online is simple in just a few steps. More information is available here .
The first steps are to choose the programs, pay the application fee and upload the application documents.
Once submitted to Global Admissions, we will review your application within 2-3 days and proceed to the university or ask you for further clarification
After it has been processed to the university you will receive your unique application ID from each university.
The university may contact you directly for further questions.
We will then follow up each week with the university for updates. As soon as there is any update we will let you know. If you have made other plans, decide to withdraw / change address at any time please let us know.
After you have been accepted you will receive your admissions letter electronically and asked to pay the non-refundable deposit to the university.
Once you have paid the deposit the university will issue you the admissions letter and visa form to your home country.
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Institute of Creative Writing
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UP Institute of Creative Writing is located at the 2nd floor of Faculty Center. Tel. No. 9818500 local 2116 or 2117 / 922-18-30
[UP Institute of Creative Writing Website http://www.upd.edu.ph/~icw/ ]
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PROGRAMS AND COURSES
- What degree programs do you offer?
The Department of English and Comparative Literature (DECL) offers undergraduate and graduate programs in four distinct areas: English Studies: Language, English Studies: Literature, Comparative Literature, and Creative Writing. To check the curriculum for each program, click here .
- Do you offer certificate courses?
No. The DECL does not offer certificate courses.
- Do you offer short courses in grammar or creative writing workshops for non-UP students?
The Intensive English Program (IEP) assists locals and foreigners who need help with their grammar. To know more about the IEP, you may send an email to [email protected]
Currently, there are no creative writing workshops open to non-UP students.
- How do I get admitted into one of your degree programs?
If you are currently a senior high school student, admission is through the UPCAT. Click here for more information. You may also visit the website of the UP Office of Admissions here .
If you are planning to shift or transfer to the DECL from another UP Diliman college, UP unit, or university, click here . You may also send your transfer-related inquiries to Mr. Gerald Perez of the College of Arts and Letters Office of the College Secretary at [email protected]
If you’re a prospective graduate student , click here . You may also send your inquiries to the College of Arts and Letters Graduate Studies Office at [email protected]
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Currently, UP Diliman provides fully subsidized tuition to all of its undergraduate students.
If you’re a second-degree student or a graduate student, click here to get an estimate of the tuition and other fees.
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If you’re a DECL undergraduate with at least second-year standing, you can also apply for the Aguilar-San Juan Scholarship Grant. The grant offers 40,000 PhP per semester, renewable until the recipient’s graduation. The applicant must have a GWA of 2.0 or better, no grade below 3.0, no INCs, and must have passed at least 15 units per semester. To apply, send Ms. Annie Ilagan of DECL an email at [email protected] .
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If you’re an undergraduate student, download and fill out the request slip here and then send it via email to Ms. Sharmainne Jo Arellano of the CAL Office of the College Secretary (CAL 101) at [email protected] . In your email, please attach a scanned copy or a screenshot of your current Form 5 and your UP ID.
If you’re a graduate student, send your requests to the CAL Graduate Studies Office (GSO) at [email protected]
DECL alumni can no longer be issued a TCG and must submit a request for an OTR.
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Click here to view the dropping process, effective 1st semester of AY 2020-2021..
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It is still possible to get a slot in your desired course via Online Waitlisting. Visit CRS to see the mechanics.
Requests for “teacher’s prerog” must be sent to [email protected], and NOT the individual professor’s email. Please take note that graduating students are given priority, especially when it comes to Eng 13.
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For other graduate studies-related inquiries and transactions, you may contact the GSO here .
For inquiries re. return from LOA, readmission from AWOL, and other CAL 101-related transactions, you may email the CAL Office of the College Secretary at [email protected]. You may also download the relevant CAL 101 form/s here .
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PhD Creative Writing
- About this Course
About this course
Things you might need for this course, about the provider.
What does University of the Philippines Diliman (UP Diliman, UP) stand for?
The University of the Philippines (UP) is a state university system, founded in 1908. It was established to provide advanced education in Science and Arts, Philosophy, Literature, and Technical training for Filipino students under the Act No. 1870 of the first Philippine Legislature. It has eight constituent universities (Diliman, Los Baños, Manila, Visayas, Open University, Mindanao, Baguio, and Cebu). Aside from the universities, UP has also expanded and added new programs to cater the basic education with UP Integrated School.
University of the Philippines offers a wide array of programs in different fields for undergraduate, graduate, diploma, and certificate courses. The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) awarded the institution’s various programs with Centers of Excellence and Centers of Development. The courses offered by UP vary by campus.
Throughout its history, University of the Philippines upholds its mandate as the country’s state university shaping minds and producing competent students. Notable alumni who graduated from UP include presidents of the Philippines, senators, supreme court justices, and National Artists. The University of the Philippines is one of the top 1000 universities in the world, and is also one of the only three Philippine higher learning institution that is a member of the ASEAN University Network.
University of the Philippines Facts:
UP is one of the top 1000 universities in the world according to the World University Rankings UP held its centennial celebration in 2008 Aside from its quality education, University of the Philippines is also known for its annual Oblation Run where the members of the Alpha Phi Omega organization run completely naked around the university area to expresses the group’s stance on socially relevant issues. Sources: https://www.up.edu.ph/index.php/about-up/university-seal/
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Ma in creative writing.
An MA in Creative Writing is a very different sort of masters degree to most. Unlike many degrees, where the focus is on learning about the subject, and undertaking research, a creative writing masters focuses on honing your writing skills. This doesn’t mean there’s no studying or learning involved and that you just write – just that it is a very different style of degree. You’ll have to be prepared to work hard, to suffer writer’s block and work past it, and take constructive criticism on the things you’ve written. For some people, this might be incredibly difficult but for others it may sound like just the thing they’ve been looking for. If you’re the latter, then an MA in Creative Writing may just be perfect for you.
Creative writing MA
So, what sort of work will you be expected to do on your Creative Writing MA ? As we mentioned, it’s not quite as simple as choosing between research or taught . It’s unlikely that you’ll be taught just how to be creative, but rather, the focus will be on technical skills. It’s not just aimed at those of you who want to write fiction either, thanks to the scope of skills a Masters in Creative Writing will teach, it’s well suited to prospective journalists, or other such careers.
Generally, there are workshops held on a regular basis working on a variety of different styles and genres. Don’t expect to be able to coast by on the areas you’re comfortable writing in – the whole point of studying a creative writing MA is to get you out of your comfort zone and into strange new worlds of writing, working on things that will teach you the most. In addition to workshops, there’ll also be a mix of one-to-one supervision, working on portfolios and extended writing projects. There will be a variety of modules available, for example, you may focus on writing for young adults, and learn the technical skills required to be successful in that area. Or it’s possible you might move away from prose and into working on poetry.
Qualifications needed for a masters in creative writing
But what qualifications are required to do such a course? You might be concerned that you need proof of your written work, or instance, evidence of having been published. Luckily, that’s not the case. You’ll instead you will usually be required to have an upper second class degree (2.1) or above, as well as presenting a portfolio of work available for evaluation.
Funding a masters in creative writing
How can you fund a Creative Writing MA ? Well, as always there’s the standard ways – from loans through to charity grants. But what is there specifically available for this course? Well, let’s take a look at those charities again. It’s likely you’ll be able to find a few specifically aimed at creative writing students. It’s the same with bursaries as some universities will have bursaries available for certain courses. Of course, there are some more unconventional alternatives available for you. It can often be difficult to hold down a job with a regular schedule as a postgraduate student, but if you’re doing a creative writing MA why not put those skills to good use? From picking up freelance writing work, to entering writing competitions, there are all sorts of alternative methods to gain money for your degree.
Career options after completing your masters in creative writing?
But what exactly can you do with a creative writing MA ? Well, there’s the obvious career course of becoming a novelist. But this is a difficult area to break into, and you don’t want to pin all your hopes on it. Not to worry, there are a bunch of other jobs that can use this sort of degree. Firstly, ghostwriting. Ghostwriting can be a fairly lucrative career, and if you’re not bothered by having your name attached, a great way to start. Then there are fields such as journalism or publishing. But these are the obvious career choices.
Where else could doing an MA creative writing land you? Employers in areas such as marketing and advertising love people who can spin words, and other areas such as writing grant proposals or patents find a knack for writing useful. Think outside the box, and you’ll find there are plenty of places it could go! In recent times, even universities such as Cambridge have started doing masters in creative writing, so the degree is gaining more and more respect. Who knows where you’ll end up?
Top 10 Masters Degrees In Creative Writing In The UK & Europe
What Can You Do With A Postgraduate Degree In Creative Writing?
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BA in Creative Writing University of the Philippines Diliman (UP Diliman, UP)
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The Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing o ffers various approaches and techniques in the writing of fiction, poetry, essay, and drama
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Up diliman masters in creative writing
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Full-time: 1 year, Part-time: 2 years
£6,950 for the full course or £775 per 20 credits* (2023/24)
£14,900 for the full course (2023/24)
Kedleston Road, Derby Campus
- This programme offers you a range of opportunities to learn, research and workshop different approaches to creative writing and critically reflect on your practice.
100% of students said that they were overall satisfied with this course, according to the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey, 2021.
- Creative Writing for Gaming focuses on script and narrative design in a variety of games (such as role playing games and video games)
- Creative Writing with Publishing enables students to work on book production by taking modules from our MA in Publishing.
- The degree has a strong focus on employability. Students get the opportunity to pitch their work to a literary agent. Plus they receive advice from experienced writers including guidance on contracts and tax, the business of publishing and how to run a workshop.
- The course gives all students the opportunity to undertake arranged work experience in the arts or in communication. In 2022/2023, students were given the opportunity to work on the prestigious Writer’s Conference with the organisation Writing East Midlands. Graduates leave this MA with a portfolio of their own writing, prepared for a career as arts professionals or for progression to doctoral level study and teaching.
- In 2019/20, we had talks from twenty guest speakers and students took part in writing retreats, each with a guest lecture on writing and publishing. Our students have learnt from poets and novelists, literary agents and established screenwriters. In recent years we have had guest lectures by Dan Abnett , Meg Clothier , Sarah Dunnakey , Tom James , Momtaza Mehri , Natalie Olah , JT Welsch and James Wills .
"The programme continues to provide students with the opportunity to engage in modules that are at once challenging and nurturing, and to develop their skills as writers across a wide range of contexts and in close communication with a clearly dedicated team of staff. The programme’s outlook is striking for its combined emphasis on the practical real-world aspects of being a writer and the possibilities of experiment, conceptual and theoretical interrogation, and creative risk-taking."
—Dr Honor Gavin, External Examiner Report 2020.
Take a look at what our staff and students had to say about Creative Writing at Derby:
View Creative Writing video video transcript
Postgraduate Open Event
Join us at an upcoming Postgraduate Open Event, where you will get the opportunity to meet our expert academics and find out more about your course.
What you will study
The programme offers the flexibility to study in more than one writing form or genre. The teaching method encourages a gradual specialisation over the three trimesters. You participate in workshops where you read and respond both to published work and the work of peers. You also work with supervisors on an individual basis and in small groups. In the summer you work on a significant writing project for your dissertation.
In the autumn trimester everyone takes:
- Writing Workshop (20 credits)
- Working as a Writer (20 credits)
Then one of the following modules from the MA Publishing:
- Books and Society (20 credits)
- Editorial and Editing (20 credits)
In the spring trimester your module choice depends on your pathway. Everyone takes:
- Writing Apprenticeship (20 credits)
- Writing Commission (20 credits)
In the summer trimester everyone takes:
- Independent Project (60 credits)
The MA Creative Writing has a core programme (the MA Creative Writing) and two pathway awards: Gaming and Publishing. Each pathway has its own module in the Spring trimester:
- What is the Imagination For? for MA Creative Writing
- Writing for Games for MA Creative Writing (for Gaming)
- Magazine Publishing for MA Creative Writing (with Publishing)
The teaching takes a variety of forms, preparing you for the creative, intellectual and practical challenges of working as a writer You are taught by lectures, tutor-led seminars and workshops, where students reflect on critical approaches to literature or create and share work in response to briefs and exercises. Guest speakers enrich student experience by adding their knowledge and insights to industry-focused modules.
Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.
How you will learn
Who will teach you.
Adrian Buckner is a poet. He is particularly interested in the exemplary power of poetry to inspire students. His most recent collection, Downshifting, was published by Five Leaves Press in April 2107. Adrian is also an extremely enthusiastic amateur cricketer of long experience and notably limited ability.
Dr Christos Callow Jr is a scriptwriter, theatre maker and researcher, and the artistic director of the contemporary Greek and science-fiction theatre company Cyborphic. The focus of his own writing practice is science fiction, utopian/dystopian literature and science fiction theatre.
Dr Matthew Cheeseman is a novelist. He works across fiction and non-fiction, drawing on critical theory and cultural studies, often collaborating with others to create books and pamphlets. He runs the small press Spirit Duplicator and loves making things.
Matthew Clegg is a narrative and lyric poet and performer. His creative practice touches on edge-land landscapes, human predicaments (especially the marginalised or disenfranchised), and the relationship between voice, personae, and place. His influences are catholic, including the classics in translation, Romantic, Modernist and contemporary poetry, New Nature Writing, and Psychogeography.
Dr Simon Heywood is a novelist and storyteller. He holds a PhD on contemporary storytelling from Sheffield University’s National Centre for English Cultural Tradition. He is the author of 'The Legend of Vortigern' (History Press, 2012) and 'South Yorkshire Folktales' (with Damien Barker, History Press 2014). He has toured nationally and internationally in live and contemporary storytelling, and is currently engaged in original research on modern and historical Jewish storytelling and oral tradition.
Dr Moy McCrory is a short story writer and creative writing researcher. She is interested in Irish writing with special attention to the role of women within the Irish diaspora. She has also collaborated on a number of graphic novels.
Dr Christos Callow Jr
The entry requirement to this programme is a good honours degree (1st or 2:1) in any subject, or its international equivalent. Applications may be considered if you have a 2:2 honours degree and/or can demonstrate significant experience with creative writing or related industry experience or aptitude. You are expected to send a small sample of your writing, 1,000 words maximum along with your application,
The university welcomes applications from every sector of society. Prior to formal acceptance, applicants will be invited to an informal interview to discuss the course, and what will be expected of you during it.
While a good, competent all-round standard of English is expected, if English is not your first language you will need to have passed the International English Language Teaching System (IELTS) at the overall level IELTS 6.5, including a minimum score of 5.5 in each test category. (Where appropriate the university’s International Admissions office can give further details, including information regarding approved IELTS test centres.) The English language qualification required by this programme is at a higher level than that required for other university programmes due to the advanced level required to produce creative writing at MA level.
Fees and funding
2023/24 (august 2023 - july 2024).
Please note fees normally increase in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees, which is reviewed on an annual basis. The total fee you pay may therefore increase after one year of study.
* UK full-time fees paid within one academic year are rounded down to the nearest £50 if applicable
2024/25 (August 2024 - July 2025)
About postgraduate awards.
Please note at postgraduate level, you’ll need to gain the following number of credits in total to obtain the respective awards. If you have any questions please contact us .
This means you will gain 180 credits in total to complete the full MA or MSc. If you are studying part time you will normally complete your studies over two or three years, depending on the course structure.
Funding your studies
Find out more about fees, postgraduate loans and support you may be entitled to.
Find out about funding your studies Find out about funding your studies
Alumni discount for Derby graduates
We offer a discount on postgraduate course fees for all Derby alumni.
Find out about the Alumni discount Find out about the Alumni discount
International student scholarships
We have a range of scholarships and discounts available to international students which can be used together to offer a reduction in your tuition fees.
How to apply
Please look at our application deadlines before you apply.
Students should apply directly to the University.
Open for applications for 2024:
Find your agent
Guidance for international applicants applying for a postgraduate degree
When applying you will be required to provide a short sample of your writing. This will be an example of your original writing in any form or genre, maximum 1000 words (or 3 A4 pages for scripts and poems). You may have completed this work for your BA or for any other purpose or it may have been published. Please attach this as part of your supporting documents.
Our programme is unique in being orientated towards your future as a writer whilst pushing you creatively and conceptually. Beyond working as a writer and an arts professional, you can consider several other options, such as freelancing or setting us a business in the arts, and your tutors and the University Careers and Employment Service will be happy to explore these with you. The MA Creative Writing will prepare you for a wide variety of roles and positions while the Careers and Employment Service will advise you on all of these possibilities. The University also offers business incubation units for graduates.
If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.
Additional information about your studies
Download programme specification
Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.
Other courses you might like
- Publishing MA
- Creative Writing and Publishing BA (Hons)
French Journal of English Studies
Home Numéros 59 1 - Tisser les liens : voyager, e... 36 Views of Moscow Mountain: Teac...
36 Views of Moscow Mountain: Teaching Travel Writing and Mindfulness in the Tradition of Hokusai and Thoreau
L'auteur américain Henry David Thoreau est un écrivain du voyage qui a rarement quitté sa ville natale de Concorde, Massachusetts, où il a vécu de 1817 à 1862. Son approche du "voyage" consiste à accorder une profonde attention à son environnement ordinaire et à voir le monde à partir de perspectives multiples, comme il l'explique avec subtilité dans Walden (1854). Inspiré par Thoreau et par la célèbre série de gravures du peintre d'estampes japonais Katsushika Hokusai, intitulée 36 vues du Mt. Fuji (1830-32), j'ai fait un cours sur "L'écriture thoreauvienne du voyage" à l'Université de l'Idaho, que j'appelle 36 vues des montagnes de Moscow: ou, Faire un grand voyage — l'esprit et le carnet ouvert — dans un petit lieu . Cet article explore la philosophie et les stratégies pédagogiques de ce cours, qui tente de partager avec les étudiants les vertus d'un regard neuf sur le monde, avec les yeux vraiment ouverts, avec le regard d'un voyageur, en "faisant un grand voyage" à Moscow, Idaho. Les étudiants affinent aussi leurs compétences d'écriture et apprennent les traditions littéraires et artistiques associées au voyage et au sens du lieu.
Keywords: , designing a writing class to foster engagement.
1 The signs at the edge of town say, "Entering Moscow, Idaho. Population 25,060." This is a small hamlet in the midst of a sea of rolling hills, where farmers grow varieties of wheat, lentils, peas, and garbanzo beans, irrigated by natural rainfall. Although the town of Moscow has a somewhat cosmopolitan feel because of the presence of the University of Idaho (with its 13,000 students and a few thousand faculty and staff members), elegant restaurants, several bookstores and music stores, and a patchwork of artsy coffee shops on Main Street, the entire mini-metropolis has only about a dozen traffic lights and a single high school. As a professor of creative writing and the environmental humanities at the university, I have long been interested in finding ways to give special focuses to my writing and literature classes that will help my students think about the circumstances of their own lives and find not only academic meaning but personal significance in our subjects. I have recently taught graduate writing workshops on such themes as "The Body" and "Crisis," but when I was given the opportunity recently to teach an undergraduate writing class on Personal and Exploratory Writing, I decided to choose a focus that would bring me—and my students—back to one of the writers who has long been of central interest to me: Henry David Thoreau.
2 One of the courses I have routinely taught during the past six years is Environmental Writing, an undergraduate class that I offer as part of the university's Semester in the Wild Program, a unique undergraduate opportunity that sends a small group of students to study five courses (Ecology, Environmental History, Environmental Writing, Outdoor Leadership and Wilderness Survival, and Wilderness Management and Policy) at a remote research station located in the middle of the largest wilderness area (the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness) in the United States south of Alaska. In "Teaching with Wolves," a recent article about the Semester in the Wild Program, I explained that my goal in the Environmental Writing class is to help the students "synthesize their experience in the wilderness with the content of the various classes" and "to think ahead to their professional lives and their lives as engaged citizens, for which critical thinking and communication skills are so important" (325). A foundational text for the Environmental Writing class is a selection from Thoreau's personal journal, specifically the entries he made October 1-20, 1853, which I collected in the 1993 writing textbook Being in the World: An Environmental Reader for Writers . I ask the students in the Semester in the Wild Program to deeply immerse themselves in Thoreau's precise and colorful descriptions of the physical world that is immediately present to him and, in turn, to engage with their immediate encounters with the world in their wilderness location. Thoreau's entries read like this:
Oct. 4. The maples are reddening, and birches yellowing. The mouse-ear in the shade in the middle of the day, so hoary, looks as if the frost still lay on it. Well it wears the frost. Bumblebees are on the Aster undulates , and gnats are dancing in the air. Oct. 5. The howling of the wind about the house just before a storm to-night sounds extremely like a loon on the pond. How fit! Oct. 6 and 7. Windy. Elms bare. (372)
3 In thinking ahead to my class on Personal and Exploratory Writing, which would be offered on the main campus of the University of Idaho in the fall semester of 2018, I wanted to find a topic that would instill in my students the Thoreauvian spirit of visceral engagement with the world, engagement on the physical, emotional, and philosophical levels, while still allowing my students to remain in the city and live their regular lives as students. It occurred to me that part of what makes Thoreau's journal, which he maintained almost daily from 1837 (when he was twenty years old) to 1861 (just a year before his death), such a rich and elegant work is his sense of being a traveler, even when not traveling geographically.
Traveling a Good Deal in Moscow
I have traveled a good deal in Concord…. --Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854; 4)
4 For Thoreau, one did not need to travel a substantial physical distance in order to be a traveler, in order to bring a traveler's frame of mind to daily experience. His most famous book, Walden , is well known as an account of the author's ideas and daily experiments in simple living during the two years, two months, and two days (July 4, 1845, to September 6, 1847) he spent inhabiting a simple wooden house that he built on the shore of Walden Pond, a small lake to the west of Boston, Massachusetts. Walden Pond is not a remote location—it is not out in the wilderness. It is on the edge of a small village, much like Moscow, Idaho. The concept of "traveling a good deal in Concord" is a kind of philosophical and psychological riddle. What does it mean to travel extensively in such a small place? The answer to this question is meaningful not only to teachers hoping to design writing classes in the spirit of Thoreau but to all who are interested in travel as an experience and in the literary genre of travel writing.
5 Much of Walden is an exercise in deftly establishing a playful and intellectually challenging system of synonyms, an array of words—"economy," "deliberateness," "simplicity," "dawn," "awakening," "higher laws," etc.—that all add up to powerful probing of what it means to live a mindful and attentive life in the world. "Travel" serves as a key, if subtle, metaphor for the mindful life—it is a metaphor and also, in a sense, a clue: if we can achieve the traveler's perspective without going far afield, then we might accomplish a kind of enlightenment. Thoreau's interest in mindfulness becomes clear in chapter two of Walden , "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For," in which he writes, "Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me. To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face?" The latter question implies the author's feeling that he is himself merely evolving as an awakened individual, not yet fully awake, or mindful, in his efforts to live "a poetic or divine life" (90). Thoreau proceeds to assert that "We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn…. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor" (90). Just what this endeavor might be is not immediately spelled out in the text, but the author does quickly point out the value of focusing on only a few activities or ideas at a time, so as not to let our lives be "frittered away by detail." He writes: "Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; … and keep your accounts on your thumb nail" (91). The strong emphasis in the crucial second chapter of Walden is on the importance of waking up and living deliberately through a conscious effort to engage in particular activities that support such awakening. It occurs to me that "travel," or simply making one's way through town with the mindset of a traveler, could be one of these activities.
6 It is in the final chapter of the book, titled "Conclusion," that Thoreau makes clear the relationship between travel and living an attentive life. He begins the chapter by cataloguing the various physical locales throughout North America or around the world to which one might travel—Canada, Ohio, Colorado, and even Tierra del Fuego. But Thoreau states: "Our voyaging is only great-circle sailing, and the doctors prescribe for diseases of the skin merely. One hastens to Southern Africa to chase the giraffe; but surely that is not the game he would be after." What comes next is brief quotation from the seventeenth-century English poet William Habbington (but presented anonymously in Thoreau's text), which might be one of the most significant passages in the entire book:
Direct your eye sight inward, and you'll find A thousand regions in your mind Yet undiscovered. Travel them, and be Expert in home-cosmography. (320)
7 This admonition to travel the mysterious territory of one's own mind and master the strange cosmos of the self is actually a challenge to the reader—and probably to the author himself—to focus on self-reflection and small-scale, local movement as if such activities were akin to exploration on a grand, planetary scale. What is really at issue here is not the physical distance of one's journey, but the mental flexibility of one's approach to the world, one's ability to look at the world with a fresh, estranged point of view. Soon after his discussion of the virtues of interior travel, Thoreau explains why he left his simple home at Walden Pond after a few years of experimental living there, writing, "It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves" (323). In other words, no matter what we're doing in life, we can fall into a "beaten track" if we're not careful, thus failing to stay "awake."
8 As I thought about my writing class at the University of Idaho, I wondered how I might design a series of readings and writing exercises for university students that would somehow emulate the Thoreauvian objective of achieving ultra-mindfulness in a local environment. One of the greatest challenges in designing such a class is the fact that it took Thoreau himself many years to develop an attentiveness to his environment and his own emotional rhythms and an efficiency of expression that would enable him to describe such travel-without-travel, and I would have only sixteen weeks to achieve this with my own students. The first task, I decided, was to invite my students into the essential philosophical stance of the class, and I did this by asking my students to read the opening chapter of Walden ("Economy") in which he talks about traveling "a good deal" in his small New England village as well as the second chapter and the conclusion, which reveal the author's enthusiasm (some might even say obsession ) for trying to achieve an awakened condition and which, in the end, suggest that waking up to the meaning of one's life in the world might be best accomplished by attempting the paradoxical feat of becoming "expert in home-cosmography." As I stated it among the objectives for my course titled 36 Views of Moscow Mountain: Or, Traveling a Good Deal—with Open Minds and Notebooks—in a Small Place , one of our goals together (along with practicing nonfiction writing skills and learning about the genre of travel writing) would be to "Cultivate a ‘Thoreauvian' way of appreciating the subtleties of the ordinary world."
Windy. Elms Bare.
9 For me, the elegance and heightened sensitivity of Thoreau's engagement with place is most movingly exemplified in his journal, especially in the 1850s after he's mastered the art of observation and nuanced, efficient description of specific natural phenomena and environmental conditions. His early entries in the journal are abstract mini-essays on such topics as truth, beauty, and "The Poet," but over time the journal notations become so immersed in the direct experience of the more-than-human world, in daily sensory experiences, that the pronoun "I" even drops out of many of these records. Lawrence Buell aptly describes this Thoreauvian mode of expression as "self-relinquishment" (156) in his 1995 book The Environmental Imagination , suggesting such writing "question[s] the authority of the superintending consciousness. As such, it opens up the prospect of a thoroughgoing perceptual breakthrough, suggesting the possibility of a more ecocentric state of being than most of us have dreamed of" (144-45). By the time Thoreau wrote "Windy. Elms bare" (372) as his single entry for October 6 and 7, 1853, he had entered what we might call an "ecocentric zone of consciousness" in his work, attaining the ability to channel his complex perceptions of season change (including meteorology and botany and even his own emotional state) into brief, evocative prose.
10 I certainly do not expect my students to be able to do such writing after only a brief introduction to the course and to Thoreau's own methods of journal writing, but after laying the foundation of the Thoreauvian philosophy of nearby travel and explaining to my students what I call the "building blocks of the personal essay" (description, narration, and exposition), I ask them to engage in a preliminary journal-writing exercise that involves preparing five journal entries, each "a paragraph or two in length," that offer detailed physical descriptions of ordinary phenomena from their lives (plants, birds, buildings, street signs, people, food, etc.), emphasizing shape, color, movement or change, shadow, and sometimes sound, smell, taste, and/or touch. The goal of the journal entries, I tell the students, is to begin to get them thinking about close observation, vivid descriptive language, and the potential to give their later essays in the class an effective texture by balancing more abstract information and ideas with evocative descriptive passages and storytelling.
11 I am currently teaching this class, and I am writing this article in early September, as we are entering the fourth week of the semester. The students have just completed the journal-writing exercise and are now preparing to write the first of five brief essays on different aspects of Moscow that will eventually be braided together, as discrete sections of the longer piece, into a full-scale literary essay about Moscow, Idaho, from the perspective of a traveler. For the journal exercise, my students wrote some rather remarkable descriptive statements, which I think bodes well for their upcoming work. One student, Elizabeth Isakson, wrote stunning journal descriptions of a cup of coffee, her own feet, a lemon, a basil leaf, and a patch of grass. For instance, she wrote:
Steaming hot liquid poured into a mug. No cream, just black. Yet it appears the same brown as excretion. The texture tells another story with meniscus that fades from clear to gold and again brown. The smell is intoxicating for those who are addicted. Sweetness fills the nostrils; bitterness rushes over the tongue. The contrast somehow complements itself. Earthy undertones flower up, yet this beverage is much more satisfying than dirt. When the mug runs dry, specks of dark grounds remain swimming in the sunken meniscus. Steam no longer rises because energy has found a new home.
12 For the grassy lawn, she wrote:
Calico with shades of green, the grass is yellowing. Once vibrant, it's now speckled with straw. Sticking out are tall, seeding dandelions. Still some dips in the ground have maintained thick, soft patches of green. The light dances along falling down from the trees above, creating a stained-glass appearance made from various green shades. The individual blades are stiff enough to stand erect, but they will yield to even slight forces of wind or pressure. Made from several long strands seemingly fused together, some blades fray at the end, appearing brittle. But they do not simply break off; they hold fast to the blade to which they belong.
13 The point of this journal writing is for the students to look closely enough at ordinary reality to feel estranged from it, as if they have never before encountered (or attempted to describe) a cup of coffee or a field of grass—or a lemon or a basil leaf or their own body. Thus, the Thoreauvian objective of practicing home-cosmography begins to take shape. The familiar becomes exotic, note-worthy, and strangely beautiful, just as it often does for the geographical travel writer, whose adventures occur far away from where she or he normally lives. Travel, in a sense, is an antidote to complacency, to over-familiarity. But the premise of my class in Thoreauvian travel writing is that a slight shift of perspective can overcome the complacency we might naturally feel in our home surroundings. To accomplish this we need a certain degree of disorientation. This is the next challenge for our class.
The Blessing of Being Lost
14 Most of us take great pains to "get oriented" and "know where we're going," whether this is while running our daily errands or when thinking about the essential trajectories of our lives. We're often instructed by anxious parents to develop a sense of purpose and a sense of direction, if only for the sake of basic safety. But the traveler operates according to a somewhat different set of priorities, perhaps, elevating adventure and insight above basic comfort and security, at least to some degree. This certainly seems to be the case for the Thoreauvian traveler, or for Thoreau himself. In Walden , he writes:
…not until we are completely lost, or turned round,--for a man needs only be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost,--do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of Nature. Every man has to learn the points of compass again as often as he awakes, whether from sleep or any abstraction. Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations. (171)
15 I could explicate this passage at length, but that's not really my purpose here. I read this as a celebration of salutary disorientation, of the potential to be lost in such a way as to deepen one's ability to pay attention to oneself and one's surroundings, natural and otherwise. If travel is to a great degree an experience uniquely capable of triggering attentiveness to our own physical and psychological condition, to other cultures and the minds and needs of other people, and to a million small details of our environment that we might take for granted at home but that accrue special significance when we're away, I would argue that much of this attentiveness is owed to the sense of being lost, even the fear of being lost, that often happens when we leave our normal habitat.
16 So in my class I try to help my students "get lost" in a positive way. Here in Moscow, the major local landmark is a place called Moscow Mountain, a forested ridge of land just north of town, running approximately twenty kilometers to the east of the city. Moscow "Mountain" does not really have a single, distinctive peak like a typical mountain—it is, as I say, more of a ridge than a pinnacle. When I began contemplating this class on Thoreauvian travel writing, the central concepts I had in mind were Thoreau's notion of traveling a good deal in Concord and also the idea of looking at a specific place from many different angles. The latter idea is not only Thoreauvian, but perhaps well captured in the eighteen-century Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai's series of woodblock prints known as 36 Views of Mt. Fuji , which offers an array of different angles on the mountain itself and on other landscape features (lakes, the sea, forests, clouds, trees, wind) and human behavior which is represented in many of the prints, often with Mt. Fuji in the distant background or off to the side. In fact, I imagine Hokusai's approach to representing Mt. Fuji as so important to the concept of this travel writing class that I call the class "36 Views of Moscow Mountain," symbolizing the multiple approaches I'll be asking my students to take in contemplating and describing not only Moscow Mountain itself, but the culture and landscape and the essential experience of Moscow the town. The idea of using Hokusai's series of prints as a focal point of this class came to me, in part, from reading American studies scholar Cathy Davidson's 36 Views of Mount Fuji: On Finding Myself in Japan , a memoir that offers sixteen short essays about different facets of her life as a visiting professor in that island nation.
17 The first of five brief essays my students will prepare for the class is what I'm calling a "Moscow Mountain descriptive essay," building upon the small descriptive journal entries they've written recently. In this case, though, I am asking the students to describe the shapes and colors of the Moscow Mountain ridge, while also telling a brief story or two about their observations of the mountain, either by visiting the mountain itself to take a walk or a bike ride or by explaining how they glimpse portions of the darkly forested ridge in the distance while walking around the University of Idaho campus or doing things in town. In preparation for the Moscow Mountain essays, we read several essays or book chapters that emphasize "organizing principles" in writing, often the use of particular landscape features, such as trees or mountains, as a literary focal point. For instance, in David Gessner's "Soaring with Castro," from his 2007 book Soaring with Fidel: An Osprey Odyssey from Cape Cod to Cuba and Beyond , he not only refers to La Gran Piedra (a small mountain in southeastern Cuba) as a narrative focal point, but to the osprey, or fish eagle, itself and its migratory journey as an organizing principle for his literary project (203). Likewise, in his essay "I Climb a Tree and Become Dissatisfied with My Lot," Chicago author Leonard Dubkin writes about his decision, as a newly fired journalist, to climb up a tree in Chicago's Lincoln Park to observe and listen to the birds that gather in the green branches in the evening, despite the fact that most adults would consider this a strange and inappropriate activity. We also looked at several of Hokusai's woodblock prints and analyzed these together in class, trying to determine how the mountain served as an organizing principle for each print or whether there were other key features of the prints—clouds, ocean waves, hats and pieces of paper floating in the wind, humans bent over in labor—that dominate the images, with Fuji looking on in the distance.
18 I asked my students to think of Hokusai's representations of Mt. Fuji as aesthetic models, or metaphors, for what they might try to do in their brief (2-3 pages) literary essays about Moscow Mountain. What I soon discovered was that many of my students, even students who have spent their entire lives in Moscow, either were not aware of Moscow Mountain at all or had never actually set foot on the mountain. So we spent half an hour during one class session, walking to a vantage point on the university campus, where I could point out where the mountain is and we could discuss how one might begin to write about such a landscape feature in a literary essay. Although I had thought of the essay describing the mountain as a way of encouraging the students to think about a familiar landscape as an orienting device, I quickly learned that this will be a rather challenging exercise for many of the students, as it will force them to think about an object or a place that is easily visible during their ordinary lives, but that they typically ignore. Paying attention to the mountain, the ridge, will compel them to reorient themselves in this city and think about a background landscape feature that they've been taking for granted until now. I think of this as an act of disorientation or being lost—a process of rethinking their own presence in this town that has a nearby mountain that most of them seldom think about. I believe Thoreau would consider this a good, healthy experience, a way of being present anew in a familiar place.
36 Views—Or, When You Invert Your Head
19 Another key aspect of Hokusai's visual project and Thoreau's literary project is the idea of changing perspective. One can view Mt. Fuji from 36 different points of views, or from thousands of different perspectives, and it is never quite the same place—every perspective is original, fresh, mind-expanding. The impulse to shift perspective in pursuit of mindfulness is also ever-present in Thoreau's work, particularly in his personal journal and in Walden . This idea is particularly evident, to me, in the chapter of Walden titled "The Ponds," where he writes:
Standing on the smooth sandy beach at the east end of the pond, in a calm September afternoon, when a slight haze makes the opposite shore line indistinct, I have seen whence came the expression, "the glassy surface of a lake." When you invert your head, it looks like a thread of finest gossamer stretched across the valley, and gleaming against the distinct pine woods, separating one stratum of the atmosphere from another. (186)
20 Elsewhere in the chapter, Thoreau describes the view of the pond from the top of nearby hills and the shapes and colors of pebbles in the water when viewed from close up. He chances physical perspective again and again throughout the chapter, but it is in the act of looking upside down, actually suggesting that one might invert one's head, that he most vividly conveys the idea of looking at the world in different ways in order to be lost and awakened, just as the traveler to a distant land might feel lost and invigorated by such exposure to an unknown place.
21 After asking students to write their first essay about Moscow Mountain, I give them four additional short essays to write, each two to four pages long. We read short examples of place-based essays, some of them explicitly related to travel, and then the students work on their own essays on similar topics. The second short essay is about food—I call this the "Moscow Meal" essay. We read the final chapter of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma (2006), "The Perfect Meal," and Anthony Bourdain's chapter "Where Cooks Come From" in the book A Cook's Tour (2001) are two of the works we study in preparation for the food essay. The three remaining short essays including a "Moscow People" essay (exploring local characters are important facets of the place), a more philosophical essay about "the concept of Moscow," and a final "Moscow Encounter" essay that tells the story of a dramatic moment of interaction with a person, an animal, a memorable thing to eat or drink, a sunset, or something else. Along the way, we read the work of Wendell Berry, Joan Didion, Barbara Kingsolver, Kim Stafford, Paul Theroux, and other authors. Before each small essay is due, we spend a class session holding small-group workshops, allowing the students to discuss their essays-in-progress with each other and share portions of their manuscripts. The idea is that they will learn about writing even by talking with each other about their essays. In addition to writing about Moscow from various angles, they will learn about additional points of view by considering the angles of insight developed by their fellow students. All of this is the writerly equivalent of "inverting [their] heads."
Beneath the Smooth Skin of Place
22 Aside from Thoreau's writing and Hokusai's images, perhaps the most important writer to provide inspiration for this class is Indiana-based essayist Scott Russell Sanders. Shortly after introducing the students to Thoreau's key ideas in Walden and to the richness of his descriptive writing in the journal, I ask them to read his essay "Buckeye," which first appeared in Sanders's Writing from the Center (1995). "Buckeye" demonstrates the elegant braiding together of descriptive, narrative, and expository/reflective prose, and it also offers a strong argument about the importance of creating literature and art about place—what he refers to as "shared lore" (5)—as a way of articulating the meaning of a place and potentially saving places that would otherwise be exploited for resources, flooded behind dams, or otherwise neglected or damaged. The essay uses many of the essential literary devices, ranging from dialogue to narrative scenes, that I hope my students will practice in their own essays, while also offering a vivid argument in support of the kind of place-based writing the students are working on.
23 Another vital aspect of our work together in this class is the effort to capture the wonderful idiosyncrasies of this place, akin to the idiosyncrasies of any place that we examine closely enough to reveal its unique personality. Sanders's essay "Beneath the Smooth Skin of America," which we study together in Week 9 of the course, addresses this topic poignantly. The author challenges readers to learn the "durable realities" of the places where they live, the details of "watershed, biome, habitat, food-chain, climate, topography, ecosystem and the areas defined by these natural features they call bioregions" (17). "The earth," he writes, "needs fewer tourists and more inhabitants" (16). By Week 9 of the semester, the students have written about Moscow Mountain, about local food, and about local characters, and they are ready at this point to reflect on some of the more philosophical dimensions of living in a small academic village surrounded by farmland and beyond that surrounded by the Cascade mountain range to the West and the Rockies to the East. "We need a richer vocabulary of place" (18), urges Sanders. By this point in the semester, by reading various examples of place-based writing and by practicing their own powers of observation and expression, my students will, I hope, have developed a somewhat richer vocabulary to describe their own experiences in this specific place, a place they've been trying to explore with "open minds and notebooks." Sanders argues that
if we pay attention, we begin to notice patterns in the local landscape. Perceiving those patterns, acquiring names and theories and stories for them, we cease to be tourists and become inhabitants. The bioregional consciousness I am talking about means bearing your place in mind, keeping track of its condition and needs, committing yourself to its care. (18)
24 Many of my students will spend only four or five years in Moscow, long enough to earn a degree before moving back to their hometowns or journeying out into the world in pursuit of jobs or further education. Moscow will be a waystation for some of these student writers, not a permanent home. Yet I am hoping that this semester-long experiment in Thoreauvian attentiveness and place-based writing will infect these young people with both the bioregional consciousness Sanders describes and a broader fascination with place, including the cultural (yes, the human ) dimensions of this and any other place. I feel such a mindfulness will enrich the lives of my students, whether they remain here or move to any other location on the planet or many such locations in succession.
25 Toward the end of "Beneath the Smooth Skin of America," Sanders tells the story of encountering a father with two young daughters near a city park in Bloomington, Indiana, where he lives. Sanders is "grazing" on wild mulberries from a neighborhood tree, and the girls are keen to join him in savoring the local fruit. But their father pulls them away, stating, "Thank you very much, but we never eat anything that grows wild. Never ever." To this Sanders responds: "If you hold by that rule, you will not get sick from eating poison berries, but neither will you be nourished from eating sweet ones. Why not learn to distinguish one from the other? Why feed belly and mind only from packages?" (19-20). By looking at Moscow Mountain—and at Moscow, Idaho, more broadly—from numerous points of view, my students, I hope, will nourish their own bellies and minds with the wild fruit and ideas of this place. I say this while chewing a tart, juicy, and, yes, slightly sweet plum that I pulled from a feral tree in my own Moscow neighborhood yesterday, an emblem of engagement, of being here.
BUELL, Lawrence, The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture , Harvard University Press, 1995.
DAVIDSON, Cathy, 36 Views of Mount Fuji: On Finding Myself in Japan , Duke University Press, 2006.
DUBKIN, Leonard, "I Climb a Tree and Become Dissatisfied with My Lot." Enchanted Streets: The Unlikely Adventures of an Urban Nature Lover , Little, Brown and Company, 1947, 34-42.
GESSNER, David, Soaring with Fidel: An Osprey Odyssey from Cape Cod to Cuba and Beyond , Beacon, 2007.
ISAKSON, Elizabeth, "Journals." Assignment for 36 Views of Moscow Mountain (English 208), University of Idaho, Fall 2018.
SANDERS, Scott Russell, "Buckeye" and "Beneath the Smooth Skin of America." Writing from the Center , Indiana University Press, 1995, pp. 1-8, 9-21.
SLOVIC, Scott, "Teaching with Wolves", Western American Literature 52.3 (Fall 2017): 323-31.
THOREAU, Henry David, "October 1-20, 1853", Being in the World: An Environmental Reader for Writers , edited by Scott H. Slovic and Terrell F. Dixon, Macmillan, 1993, 371-75.
THOREAU, Henry David, Walden . 1854. Princeton University Press, 1971.
Scott Slovic , “ 36 Views of Moscow Mountain: Teaching Travel Writing and Mindfulness in the Tradition of Hokusai and Thoreau ” , Caliban , 59 | 2018, 41-54.
Scott Slovic , “ 36 Views of Moscow Mountain: Teaching Travel Writing and Mindfulness in the Tradition of Hokusai and Thoreau ” , Caliban [Online], 59 | 2018, Online since 01 June 2018 , connection on 26 November 2023 . URL : http://journals.openedition.org/caliban/3688; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/caliban.3688
About the author
University of Idaho Scott Slovic is University Distinguished Professor of Environmental Humanities at the University of Idaho, USA. The author and editor of many books and articles, he edited the journal ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment from 1995 to 2020. His latest coedited book is The Routledge Handbook of Ecocriticism and Environmental Communication (2019).
By this author
- Introduction (version en français) [Full text] Introduction [Full text | translation | en] Published in Caliban , 64 | 2020
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- Foreword: Thinking of “Earth Island” on Earth Day 2016 [Full text] Published in Caliban , 55 | 2016
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A Literary Tour of Moscow
It’s hard to count the exact number of great Russian writers who showed their love for Moscow. The city has attracted and prompted stories for a long time now, inspiring many to express their writing talent. Thus, Moscow’s literary sights are fully deserving of our attention, and this guide gladly presents you six of them, from museums to apartments.
View all trips, nikolay gogol museum.
The State Museum of Mayakovsky
Turgenev's Family House
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Cemetery, Monastery, Museum
The Apartment of Dostoevsky
Building, Memorial, Museum
The Mikhail Bulgakov Museum
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
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What do you love about your job, it's the personal contact, the personal experiences. i love meeting people from all over the world... i really like getting to know everyone and feeling like i'm traveling with a group of friends., what destination is on your travel bucket-list, i have so many places on my list, but i would really lobe to go to africa. i consider myself an “adventure girl” and africa feels like the ultimate adventure.
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.
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