Program in the Written ArtsBard College

Written Arts

Program Overview

The Program in Written Arts is one of three programs within the Division of Languages and Literature. (The three programs are: Literature; Foreign Languages, Cultures, and Literature; and Written Arts.)

Moderating into the Written Arts Program (that is, majoring in it) is Moderating into the Division of Languages & Literature as well. However, each program within the Division of Languages & Literature has its own specific Moderation requirements—see Moderation for information relating specifically to the Program in Written Arts.

The purpose of the Program in Written Arts is to permit and encourage students to experiment with their own writing in a context sensitive to intellectual, historical, and social realities, and the past and current literary landscapes. Writing so pursued then becomes part of a humanist education, in which the private effort of the writer addresses and becomes part of the world's discourse. We expect that our writers are also passionate readers.

The Program is staffed exclusively by distinguished writers of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction who emphasize both innovative, experimental work and work that foregrounds the conventions of writing. Intellectual stress is placed on literary theory and literary history, making students aware of conscious and unconscious influences on their writing, and of the reception their work is likely to find in the world.

Writing is conceived of as a practice, an energetic private enactment of public language. Self-expression is not part of the job description—any self one happens to have will inevitably come to expression whether it's summoned or not.
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Workshops

Written Arts Workshops:
Overview
How and when to apply
Workshop acceptances and rejections
Applying to or taking more than one workshop in a semester
Taking workshops in various genres
Workshop grading

AN OVERVIEW OF WRITTEN ARTS WORKSHOPS

Written Arts workshops are offered in the genres of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction (the last of which may at times intersect with journalism or reportage). The workshops offered in a given semester may be found in the online course catalog.

While the paradigm of the workshop is a communal experience in which all participants produce work for critique by the group, the particular contours of each pedagogical approach will vary widely depending on the instructor and the class. Thus, one Written Arts workshop might involve an extensive syllabus of outside readings; another might integrate collaborative and prompt-based work; a third might require participants to produce independent creative work as well as written critiques.

The vast majority of Written Arts workshops require portfolio submission for admission.

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HOW AND WHEN TO APPLY

Those workshops requiring portfolio submissions are identified as such in the course catalog. These portfolios generally must be submitted to the workshop instructor(s) approximately ten days before registration begins. Registration occurs toward the end of each semester (or, for first-year students entering their first semester at Bard, at the end of L&T, following a mandatory informational session for all interested first-years). You will receive a campuswide email from the Registrar announcing the deadline for submitting Written Arts portfolios. The deadline will apply to all workshops for the upcoming semester.

Portfolios must be in hard copy and stapled. They must have a cover page with the writer's complete name, email address, phone number, and expected graduation date. If you are applying to more than one workshop within a given semester, you must list those workshops on the cover page of each portfolio submission and state your first choice. Portfolios must be delivered by hand during business hours to the designated boxes in the downstairs lounge of Shafer House.

Portfolio submissions for workshops in all genres should be no fewer than five and no more than twenty pages in length. For fiction and nonfiction, the manuscript must be double spaced. The writing in the portfolio should be in the genre of the workshop to which you are applying. In other words, for a fiction workshop, submit a portfolio of fiction. The quality of the work you submit is far more important than the length of the portfolio.

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WORKSHOP ACCEPTANCES AND REJECTIONS

All applicants will be notified whether or not they have been accepted to the workshops for which they applied (or whether, in certain cases, they may have been waitlisted) via email, to the email address provided on the cover page of the portfolio submission. The email notifications will be sent the night prior to the opening of campuswide registration, at the latest. Lists of accepted students will also be posted in Shafer House.

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APPLYING TO / TAKING MORE THAN ONE WORKSHOP IN A SEMESTER

You are permitted to apply simultaneously for multiple workshops of any level and/or genre within a given semester. However, if you place into more than one workshop, you or the instructor must choose among them. The Program does not allow students to take two or more workshops concurrently. We think workshops are exceedingly valuable and most of our Written Arts students have taken several by the time they graduate, either in a single genre or multiple genres; but we firmly believe that the content of one's creative work must draw from the entire palette of liberal-arts education. We do not wish to cultivate "workshop junkies."

If you are applying to more than one workshop within a given semester, you must list those workshops on the cover page of each portfolio submission and state your first choice.

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TAKING WORKSHOPS IN VARIOUS GENRES

The Written Arts Program encourages students to practice their creative work in as many genres as they feel inspired to sample, given that a fiction writer is enriched by close study of poetry and vice versa, etc. However, a Written Arts student should be mindful that permission to embark on a creative Senior Project will be dependent upon demonstrated proficiency in the genre of the intended Project. In addition, we encourage you to work with your adviser in determining the collegewide requirements when you are contemplating taking a workshop.
 
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WORKSHOP GRADING

In general, workshop attendees are graded through a Pass/Fail/Honors system, with Honors being the rare grade awarded to those who have excelled in every aspect of the workshop.

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Moderation

Written Arts Moderation:
Overview
Required Moderation materials
Pre-Moderation coursework
Moderation request form

AN OVERVIEW OF MODERATION REQUIREMENTS

The information below relates specifically to Moderating into the Written Arts Program. For a full overview of Moderation at Bard, please see http://www.bard.edu/undergraduate/curriculum/moderation/ and http://literature.bard.edu/moderation/.

Approximately midway through the spring semester of your Sophomore year, the Registrar will email you with a deadline for submitting the two short reflective essays that are required for Moderation. Only those two reflective essays should be submitted to the Registrar.

The other required Moderation materials, a creative portfolio and an analytic paper, have later submission deadlines and do not go to the Registrar. Copies of those should be submitted directly to each individual member of your board along with additional copies of the two short reflective essays. (See Moderation Materials.)

Around the same time that you receive the Registrar's email with the deadline for submission of the short reflective essays, you will also receive an email from the Written Arts Program or the Division of Languages and Literature letting you know the deadline for submitting the online Moderation request form and providing you with a link to that form. Your Moderation board will then be centrally scheduled by the Program and Division.

On the online Moderation request form you may name up to three faculty members you would like to have on your Moderation board, and the Program will attempt to accommodate one or more of those requests. Once your board members have been assigned and the time and date of your board are scheduled, you will be notified via email.

At the conclusion of your Moderation board, you will be told whether you have passed, failed, or been deferred. In the latter case, you may attempt to remoderate into Written Arts at a later time with the same board members if you have a substantially improved portfolio. Even after Moderating successfully, however, all Written Arts majors will need to take the additional step of applying for permission to do a creative Senior Project. This permission procedure occurs at the end of Junior year. Students who have not fulfilled the promise shown at Moderation may be denied permission to do a Written Arts Senior Project.

Students often have intersecting interests in Literature and Written Arts; for this reason, the two programs are closely allied within the Division of Languages & Literature. Those who wish to pursue a PhD after graduation or whose own creative work would most benefit from immersion in a wide range of reading, close analysis, and critical theory may choose to do a Senior Project in Literature instead. Your adviser, professors, and Moderation board will guide you toward evaluating the best path.

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MODERATION MATERIALS

Students Moderating into Written Arts must submit a creative portfolio, two reflective essays, and an analytic essay to each of their Moderation board members.

I. CREATIVE PORTFOLIO
You will submit a portfolio of approximately ten pages, but no more than twenty pages, of original writing in your chosen genre.

For poetry, this may be one long poem or a collection of shorter poems.

For fiction, this may be a single story, an excerpt from a longer work, or several smaller, self-contained pieces.

For creative nonfiction, you should not submit an analytic essay. Please also note that memoir is discouraged. As above, the creative nonfiction may be a single piece, an excerpt, or a portfolio of shorter writings.

Whatever form your portfolio takes, it should represent your most mature, skilled, imaginative writing: your most accomplished creative work to date. The content of your portfolio can be something you produced in a Written Arts workshop; however, we strongly advise you to revise it in the spirit of leading with your best writing.

You may also choose to submit hybrid work that blends or complicates genres; students who follow this path should discuss the Moderation sample with their advisers or contact the Program Coordinator.

II. TWO SHORT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS
You will submit the two short essays outlined in the college-wide Moderation requirements, reflecting on your past and future at Bard and beyond.

III. ANALYTIC ESSAY
As is the case with all Moderations in the Languages and Literature Division, you must include a strong ten-page analytic essay you have written for one of your literature sequence courses. If you do not have a sufficiently strong essay from one of these courses, you may, if granted the consent of your adviser, submit an essay from another literature course. As with your creative portfolio, it is very much in your interest to revise this paper fully before submitting it for Moderation.

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PRE-MODERATION COURSEWORK

In order to Moderate into Written Arts, you must have fulfilled course requirements in literature, writing workshops, and a foreign language.

I. REQUIRED COURSEWORK IN LITERATURE

Five courses in the Division of Languages and Literature are required to Moderate. Some of these courses may be taken during the semester of Moderation, though it is advisable to spread them out over the first two years at the college.

Of these five courses, one must be an Interpretation of Literature course (LIT 103) and one must be from one of the three Literature sequences (English Literature I, II, and III; U.S. Literature I, II, III, and IV; or Comparative Literature A, I, II, and III).

All courses in the Division of Languages and Literature, including those in foreign languages and writing, may be used to meet the five-course requirement.  For Written Arts Moderation, a maximum of two workshops may be so counted.

II. REQUIRED WORKSHOP

Succesful completion of a writing workshop—not merely a passing grade, but truly outstanding work—is required in order to Moderate into Written Arts.

Even if you do not get into a workshop as a first-year student; your first workshop experience could come as late as sophomore year; and, with all other academic factors working for you, you could still be recommended for Moderation into the Written Arts Program. However, most aspirants to a Written Arts major do attempt to place into a workshop during their first year. If you are repeatedly denied entry into workshops, this may be an indication that you are not ideally suited for this major.

III. FOREIGN-LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT

In order to fulfill the Moderation language requirement in the most traditional method, you must have taken or currently be enrolled in one college-level course in the language. This means that you can study the language at an accredited site other than Bard, or that you can use your Advanced Placement study as a substitute.

The second, less common possibility requires that you pass an exam in which you demonstrate reading and/or speaking competence in a foreign language. (Utter fluency is not required; the wish of the Program is to ensure is that all our majors have the ability to think outside the box of English.) In order to take the proficiency exam, you must contact the Written Arts Program Coordinator.

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MODERATION REQUEST FORM

The online request form for Written Arts Moderation, on which you may name up to three faculty members you would ideally like to have on your Moderation board, will be available here approximately midway through each spring semester.

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Senior Projects

The information below relates specifically to Senior Projects in the Written Arts Program. For a full overview of the Senior Project at Bard, please see http://www.bard.edu/undergraduate/curriculum/seniorproject/.

Senior Projects in Written Arts normally take the form of a novella, a collection of short stories, essays, a book of poems, translations, or the like – typically seventy to two hundred pages.

The Senior Project must be composed entirely during the Project year. It may not comprise any work composed during a workshop or any previous course. (We understand fully that the artistic process involves the gestation of work over a long period of time; therefore, students who wish to substantially revise and expand writing from a workshop may seek special permission to do so in their Senior Projects from their Project advisers.)

At the end of Junior year, those students who have Moderated into Written Arts and who do still wish to pursue a Senior Project in Written Arts must apply to, and receive explicit permission from, the writing faculty.

The first step in this permission process will be an email sent to all Moderated students, prompting them to submit a written proposal for the Project and their top choices for a Project adviser. Permission for the Project will be granted by a committee comprised of members of the Written Arts faculty.

The committee will strive to match you with the appropriate Senior Project adviser, taking into account your preferences; and will notify you of your Project adviser via email prior to the start of the first semester of your Senior year.

Passing Moderation does not guarantee permission to do a creative Senior Project. Some Moderated students may be asked to submit a writing sample for final Senior Project approval in the second semester of Junior year.

Senior Projects are due three weeks prior to the last day of classes. This deadline is strictly enforced. Copies must be submitted to the college and individually to each faculty member assigned to your Senior Project Board. You will receive reminders from the college and the Program regarding the deadline, Project submission procedures, and Project formatting and binding.

Every student who undertakes a Senior Project in Written Arts will be required to attend the weekly Written Arts Senior Colloquium. The purpose of Colloquium is to give students the tools to complete a creative Project successfully, to provide the collaborative experience of a workshop and of exchange with their peers, and to help prepare students for life after Bard through visits from outside speakers—writers, editors, alumni/ae, etc.—as well as Program faculty.
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Faculty

PROGRAM DIRECTORS

Mary Caponegro
Robert Kelly

CORE FACULTY

Benjamin Hale

Michael Ives
Ann Lauterbach
Joseph O'Neill
Susan Fox Rogers
Mona Simpson
Porochista Khakpour

AFFILIATED FACULTY

Celia Bland
Ian Buruma
Anne Carson
Teju Cole
Neil Gaiman
Jeff Katz
Verlyn Klinkenborg
Norman Manea
Wyatt Mason
Daniel Mendelsohn
Chiori Miyagawa
Bradford Morrow
Francine Prose
Luc Sante
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FAQs

Written Arts FAQ:
The Written Arts aesthetic
Transferring to Bard from another institution
Double majors
Postgraduate life


The Written Arts aesthetic:
What kind of writing does Bard Written Arts encourage?


We expect that students who pursue a Written Arts major at Bard will continually challenge their own proclivities and levels of comfort with regard to the form, style, content, and language of their work: that they will take risks and will not be wedded to the habitual. One of the distinctions of our Program is that a number of our faculty tend to prioritize innovation in their own work.

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Transferring to Bard from another institution:
As a transfer, what do I need to know about the Written Arts major and workshops?


If you intend to transfer to Bard and hope to place into a workshop the first semester you are here, you will be required to submit a sample of your creative work in whatever genre you intend to explore. This submission portfolio should be included with your admission materials to the Admissions Office. Workshop submissions are generally collected ten days to two weeks prior to the opening of online registration toward the end of each semester. Placement is not guaranteed; a transfer student should not assume immediate entry into a workshop.

Students who transfer to Bard and hope to major in Written Arts are responsible for fulfilling all the standard Moderation requirements. In rare cases, courses taken at your prior institution may be permitted to substitute for these. However, it is unlikely that workshops taken elsewhere will be counted as official substitutes. Given that a transfer student must follow an accelerated track toward the Senior Project, the quality of your creative work must already be demonstrably high at the time of your acceptance to Bard if you wish to pursue a Written Arts major.

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Double major:
Can I major in Written Arts and some subject other than Literature?


Because Bard demands that students draw widely from all disciplines, it is perfectly reasonable that in certain cases students may elect to concentrate in more than one field. However, since Bard requires every student to complete a Senior Project, the demands of carrying a double major are more strenuous than at other institutions. We strongly encourage students to take the Senior Project as an opportunity to go deeply into one idea, one medium, one field of reference. Sometimes doing two Senior Projects may result in a diluted version of each.On the other hand, there are exceptions: Certain highly motivated and high-achieving students have successfully undertaken two separate Projects—but be advised that this would entail a senior year devoted to almost exclusively independent work.

Even if you are not a Written Arts major, you can still take as many workshops as you can place into; conversely, many other programs also allow unofficial concentrations.

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Post-graduate life:
What kind of job can I get after I graduate with a degree in Written Arts?


Our graduates have found themselves in the following fields: publishing (editorial work, literary agencies, etc.), journalism, the nonprofit sector, education, marketing, library sciences, business administration, the law, and so on. Many go on to study writing at the graduate level (for example, by pursuing an MFA).

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Location & Contact Information

The Written Arts Program is located in Shafer House on south campus, at the Annandale Triangle just west of the 9G/Kelly Road light.



Most but not all Written Arts faculty members have their offices in Shafer House. To contact Written Arts faculty, you may search the Bard Phonebook or consult our faculty links.

For current and prospective students with questions about the Written Arts Program, we strongly recommend that you review the information on this website as the first step in seeking information. All questions not answered here may be addressed to the Written Arts Program Coordinator, Micaela Morrissette, at bard.writtenarts@gmail.com or (845) 758-7054.
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Events

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Reading by Joseph O'Neill

Joseph O'Neill, Bard's Distinguished Visiting Professor of Written Arts and the author of the PEN/Faulkner Award–winning Netherland, reads from his new novel, The Dog.

Books will be available for sale and author signing via Oblong Books & Music. To purchase or preorder a copy, visit http://www.oblongbooks.com/event/reading-joseph-oneill-bard-college.
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“Pitch-perfect prose . . . Clever, witty, and profoundly insightful, this is a beautifully crafted narrative about a man undone by a soulless society.” —Publishers Weekly starred review

“Shades of Kafka and Conrad permeate O’Neill’s thoughtful modern fable of exile, a sad story that comments darkly on the human condition and refuses bravely to trade on the success of Netherland.” —Kirkus Reviews starred review


Monday, September 22, 2014

Lindsay Hill '77 Reads from Critically Acclaimed Novel, Sea of Hooks

The Bard College Office of Alumni/ae Affairs presents a reading by Lindsay Hill ’77 on September 22, 2014. Hill will read from his critically acclaimed novel, Sea of Hooks.

Praise for Sea of Hooks:

“A remarkable and multifaceted novel—philosophical, poignant and puzzling.”
-Kirkus Reviews

“Nearly every paragraph astonishes, every moment rich with magic and daring.”
-Publishers Weekly

The community is invited to attend a pre-reading reception at the Anne Cox Chambers Alumni/ae Center, 4604 Route 9G, Annandale-on-Hudson. The reception will start at 6:00pm, with the reading to follow at 6:30pm in the Seena and Arnold Davis ’44 Living Room.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Innovative Contemporary Fiction Reading Series Presents a Reading by Julia Elliott

Julia Elliott, author of the fiction collection The Wilds (Tin House Books), reads from her work. Introduced by Bradford Morrow, the reading will be followed by Q&A. Free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations required.

At an obscure South Carolina nursing home, a lost world reemerges as a disabled elderly woman undergoes newfangled brain-restoration procedures and begins to explore her environment with the assistance of strap-on robot legs. At a deluxe medical spa on a nameless Caribbean island, a middle-aged woman hopes to revitalize her fading youth with grotesque rejuvenating therapies that combine cutting-edge medical technologies with holistic approaches and the pseudo-religious dogma of Zen-infused self-help. And in a rinky-dink mill town, an adolescent girl is unexpectedly inspired by the ravings and miraculous levitation of her fundamentalist friend’s weird grandmother. These are only a few of the scenarios readers encounter in Julia Elliott’s debut collection, The Wilds. In these genre-bending stories, teetering between the ridiculous and the sublime, Elliott’s language-driven fiction uses outlandish tropes to capture poignant moments in her humble characters’ lives. Without abandoning the tenets of classic storytelling, Elliott revels in lush lyricism, dark humor, and experimental play.


Monday, November 10, 2014

The Innovative Contemporary Fiction Reading Series Presents a Reading by Steven Millhauser

Steven Millhauser, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel Martin Dressler and such celebrated books as Edwin Mullhouse, In the Penny Arcade, The Knife Thrower, and, most recently, We Others, reads from his work. Introduced by Bradford Morrow, the reading will be followed by Q&A. Free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations required.

“[We Others is] powerful . . . A book of astonishingly beautiful and moving stories by one of America’s finest and most original writers. . . . Millhauser has a fascination with moments in our lives when something inexplicable happens, when our reality collides with some other reality, while the world we had taken for granted up to that moment turns strange, and even familiar things cease to be themselves, stripping us in the process of our identities, and leaving in their place something that has no name. . . . The shock of the real, along with the shock of something that transcends it, is what he wants us to experience. Millhauser is one of the most imaginative writers we have, capable of pure invention. . . . Sublime.” —Charles Simic, The New York Review of Books


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Alumni/ae and Student Poetry Reading

Established poets who studied at Bard return to campus to read with the up and coming stars of the Written Arts department. The event is open to the public, and all are welcome.

Part of a series of poetry events on campus sponsored by Written Arts and the Office of Alumni/ae Affairs.