MFA Creative Writing Program

Inter disciplinary Options

MFA Creative Writing Program students have three unique and exciting options for interdisciplinary study at CalArts.  

I. Concentrations

The MFA Creative Writing Program Concentrations are designed to help carve a pathway through the Institute for students wishing to broaden their perspectives on writing through elective courses in other areas.  
To obtain a concentration, students must successfully complete at least four (4) of the courses listed under that concentration, with at least one anchored in the MFA Creative Writing Program.  

NOTE:Concentrations are entirely voluntary, and not a requirement of the Program.


Image + Text

This concentration is suitable for students who seek to develop their writing in the context of the image: This includes understanding writing as image form, or as a process of imaging, as well as how text can be used as a means to compliment and work with pictorial images in cultural and media form. Courses include writing as image, text and the imagination, as well critical writing on the image, ekphrastic writing and creative arts criticism.

Faculty Advisors: Matias Viegener, Jon Wagner, Christine Wertheim

Writing and Performativity

This concentration offers students an array of courses focused on critical investigations and creative practices of performative writing.  This includes the study and implementation of: performative tropes—embodiment, presence, erasure, scripting, kinaesthetics, musicality, display, rhythm, reenactment, haunting, etc.—as tools of textual production; writing texts whose forms embody, or perform, their contents; performative tropes as analytics of cultural phenomena (gender as masquerade, the magic of the nation state, advertising as puppeteering, time as carnival, unspoken scripts that engender social conflicts); oral forms—sermons, eulogies, confessions, gossip, manifestos, testimonies, jokes, etc.—and their relationship to literacies and as literacies; writing for performance and playwriting.

Faculty Advisors: Tisa Bryant and Mady Schutzman

Writing and Its Publics

This concentration deals with the public face of writing, be it publising or writing for various art audiences. It is suitable for students who seek to develop their work in public contexts, including socially engaged writing practices as well as students seeking to explore new and independent and more standard institutional forms of publishing.  Courses may include publishing internships, graphic design and integrated media seminars, and courses in writing about art, film, theater, etc.

Faculty Advisors: Janet Sarbanes

Documentary Strategies

Taking on the key themes within documentary non-fiction, courses in this concentration include the demarcation (or blurring) of the lines between fact and fiction and the nature of the “pact”—autobiographical or otherwise—that nonfiction proposes to its audience, as well as discussion and work on the relation between data/research and aesthetic form; the complex ethical and artistic concerns that arise from truth claims; the invention of history; and, writing in the context of the digital “information” age.

Faculty Advisor: Maggie Nelson

II. Integrated Media

The Center for Integrated Media is a supplemental concentration offered by many MFA programs at CalArts. IM is designed specifically for advanced students whose creative use of technology—in particular digital media—goes beyond their primary areas of study, or métiers, in art, dance, film/video, music, theater and writing. The Center for Integrated Media supports all IM students across CalArts, enabling them to apply new technologies and integrate multiple media and disciplines into new forms of expression.

The Center for Integrated Media is conceived as an interdisciplinary laboratory where students can combine art, science and technology. It offers specialized IM classes, workshops and seminars, and supports a wide range of projects involving performative and environmental installations, video, sound, music, robotics, gaming, programming, interactivity, computer graphics and the Internet

Writing students who choose Integrated Media (IM) are enrolled as and must complete the same requirements as the MFA Writing Program except as noted in the following chart of minimum requirements. Additional requirements—including IM seminars and critiques, specified Critical Studies courses, and electives from throughout the Institute—are set on an individual basis in consultation with the Office of Integrated Media.

III. Interschool MFA

Interschool Writing students enroll in both the Writing Program and an MFA program offered by another school of the Institute—Art, Dance, Film/Video, Music or Theater. Applicants must apply separately to each school. Requirements for the other métier are set on an individual basis or according to that school’s requirements. The following list of requirements refers only to the Critical Studies component of the Interschool degree.

To receive the MFA degree in Interschool Writing, students are required to:

  1. Maintain two years of residence (minimum)
  2. The residence requirement may be extended for students specializing in writing for mixed media or interactive media formats depending on technical skills. It may also be extended for students whose Interschool requirements exceed a two-year residence (for example, the School of Film/Video).
  3. Complete the same requirements as for the MFA Writing Program, except as noted in the following chart of minimum requirements.

Interschool & IM MFA Writing Program, Minimum Requirements (29 Critical Studies)

Year One
Semester One

Core MFA (3)
Writing Now (3)

Semester Two
Core MFA (3)
Core MFA or Elective (3)
Writing Now II (1)

Year Two
Semester Three

Core MFA or Thesis Workshop (3)
Core MFA or Graduate Teaching Practicum (3)
Getting It Out There: Professional Development for Writers (3)

Semester Four

Core MFA (3)
Independent Study with Mentor (3)
Writing Now II (1)

Last edited by sblake on Feb 23, 2016
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