The two-year Master of Arts in Creative Writing and Storytelling program is for anyone interested to:
- Learn how stories influence the way we think, feel, act, and behave
- Explore the creative process and their own creativity
- Understand the power and application of narrative storytelling
- Become part of a motivated and close-knit learning community
- Meld self-directed learning with invigorating classroom learning
- Publish or otherwise bring their stories to life
Meeting for only 1-2 weekends a month (Friday 5-9 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), students in this groundbreaking program work with best-selling authors, award-winning oral storytellers, poets, editors, essayists, literary critics, and renowned scholars to examine the historical, cultural, sociological, anthropological, psychological and mythological foundations of story-creation. Beginning with the origins of language and society's evolution from an oral to a written culture, students study how stories—both from the ancient past and modern day—help humanity to connect, survive, understand, and ultimately transform themselves, their communities, and, on rare occasion, the world.
Rigorous cohort-based explorations of fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry and other forms of writing allow students to discover, explore, and expand their knowledge and writing experience while writing within multiple genres. The Creative Writing and Storytelling Mentorship and Independent Study enable students to immerse themselves in a specific genre, refining their writer’s voice. Recognizing successful writers need both an independent creative space as well as a welcoming, supportive environment, the program provides a carefully monitored balance of autonomy and community, with each student's creative goals honored throughout our time together. At The Graduate Institute, we respect and celebrate each writer’s unique voice and worldview.
Mentored through each stage of their creative journey, students are encouraged to develop their own individual narrative style, while observing the impact a captivating story can have on both author and audience. Students are guided through each stage of their creative and revision process including the experience—from conception to publication—of a cohort-created book.
Whether a student’s goal is to become a confident engaging oral storyteller, to enhance the curricula in their classroom, or to write a book or screenplay, the MA in Creative Writing and Storytelling program provides successfully proven methods for bringing stories to life through the spoken and written word.
As the brilliant and beloved writer Maya Angelou wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Our goal is to enable every student to release their unique story and, through words on the breath and on the page, give their story life.
ACADEMIC DIRECTOR AND PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Lisa Worth Huber, Ph.D., is a peacebuilder, consultant, facilitator, storyteller, and writer dedicated to creating compassionate communities and imagining new futures. A peace educator and participatory action researcher, Lisa focuses on narrative and storytelling as vital tools for empathy development. She works with a variety of organizations, and teaches in universities, K-12 classrooms, homeless shelters, safe houses, and with vulnerable communities, incorporating the arts as a means to give voice to the silenced, address injustice, foster understanding, and nurture compassion. Lisa blends story in its myriad forms—theatre, poetry, prose, storytelling, comic books, and graphic novels—with social justice and environmental concerns to inspire the development of creative activism and ecological stewardship. Currently, Lisa serves as Chair for the Board of Directors of the National Peace Academy and on the Advisory Council for the Connecticut Center for Nonviolence. She is a specialist in community peacebuilding practices from Bohmian Dialogue to restorative justice to Kingian Nonviolence. Her doctorate is in Peace and Conflict Transformation from Lancaster University in the U.K. She is honored to be the first recipient of the Frank McCourt Prize for Excellence in Teaching.
Kerri Arsenault, MFA, serves on the National Book Critics Circle Board and her writings have appeared in Freeman’s, Kirkus Reviews, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Oprah.com, among other publications. She is also a columnist at Lithub.com and Book Editor for Journal of the North Atlantic and Arctic. Her forthcoming book, What Remains (Picador), about a small paper mill town in Western Maine, focuses on social and environmental justice and the working class of America. Kerri received her MFA in Creative Writing Nonfiction from The New School and previously studied in the Master programme in Communication for Development, Malmö University, Sweden, an interdisciplinary program analyzing the interplay between politics, media, information and communication technology, international development, diversity, conflict resolution, and theories of social change within the context of globalization.
Professor and Chairman of English at Manhattanville College, Director of Manhattanville's Undergraduate Creative Writing Program and a Professor of graduate creative writing, Jeff Bens is the author of the novel “Albert, Himself” (Delphinium Books) and director of the award-winning documentary film “Fatman's.” His short fiction and essays are published widely. Jeff was a founding faculty member of the School of Filmmaking at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and has served on film festival juries around the world.
Connie Rockman is a children's literature consultant and adjunct professor of literature for children and young adults at the University of Bridgeport, Scared Heart University, and Manhattanville College. She is the editor of the 8th, 9th, and 10th books in the H. W. Wilson Junior Authors and Illustrators series.
Courses and Descriptions (36 Credits)
Throughout history, oral tradition has been the primary method for communicating information and transferring knowledge between individuals, across generations, and throughout cultures. This course introduces the emerging field of oral tradition and provides an examination of representative oral literature. Students assess the impact of oral traditions on the development of complex syntax and grammar structures and the emergence of written literature. Special attention is paid to the relationship between oral traditions and contemporary thought.
This course examines the influence of mythology on the evolution of culture. Students examine the mythical origins that have impacted the development and trajectory of diverse religious and scientific approaches, as well as their impact on evolving psychological and sociological frameworks. Students examine Greek, Roman, Norse, European, Native American, African, and Asian mythology in order to gain insight into the nature of human experience and the relationship between humankind and the forces that drive the universe. The mythologies of both past and present societies are explored.
In this course, students examine folktales as comparative literature. They analyze examples of various folktale forms, including fables, legends, fairy tales, allegories, and stories that are transmitted through sermons, ballads, and song. Throughout their analyses and interpretations of the works, students pay special attention to the function of the folktale within the culture and investigate its relationship to the customs and ceremonies of the time.
Oral traditions not only promote the large-scale evolution of language and culture, they also influence the linguistic and social development of individual members of society – from birth through adolescence and adulthood. In this course, students explore the history and evolution of children’s literature from the 19th to 21st centuries. Recited rhymes, popular tales, and written texts are examined, with an emphasis on stories that support the development of individual identity and communication skills. Contemporary literature for children and young adults is also examined from the perspective of the writer’s art and craft.
How we envision and interpret the unfolding narrative of our lives has a tremendous impact on our personal sense of well-being and our relationship to society at large. This course investigates the therapeutic applications of writing and oral traditions – from the management of physical and psychological health, to the resolution of conflict in professional and social relationships, to the alleviation of discord within whole societies. Students learn to harness the power of the spoken and written word through affirmative, expressive, and transformative language, metaphors, and imagery.
The rich culture and heritage of ethnic communities are reflected in the scope and diversity of world literature and oral traditions. In this course, students are encouraged to use writing and oral tradition as mechanisms for cross-cultural understanding. The oral traditions of various African, Asian, European, Hispanic, Jewish and Native American groups are explored, with a focus on the significance of such traditions in an emerging multicultural society. Students are introduced to oral traditions that have been used to preserve cultural knowledge, subvert dominant or oppressive groups, and cultivate intercultural problem-solving.
The value of mentorship in the field of writing and oral tradition cannot be overemphasized – whether students are interested in developing specific skills and techniques in understanding the power of language and narrative, or in exploring another area of this vast field. The mentorship must fall within a pre-selected area of interest and need, and should demonstrate professional development and personal growth through disciplined inquiry. The mentorship is conducted with a leader in the field of writing and oral traditions, and requires a minimum of 90 hours of contact time. Systematic journal writing, a comprehensive written report, and an oral presentation are required to document the experience and provide an assessment of new learning derived as a result of the mentorship experience.
This course provides an opportunity for personal, hands-on examination of contemporary applications of writing and the oral traditions and the issues surrounding the field. Through research, students learn to balance tradition and innovation in applied storytelling, and they discover the many ways that “performance arenas” function in everyday situations. An analytical research paper is required in which program participants describe the purpose of the research, delineate an extensive literature review, conduct an appropriate methodological procedure, collect and analyze data, and report all findings.
This course explores the rich phenomenon of voice for its myriad functions in establishing point of view, revealing tone and theme, reflecting character, propelling narrative trajectory, and creating the overarching medium through which story is conveyed. By examining narrative voice in oral poetry and story, students will uncover many of the foundational structures and techniques that establish voice in its written context. The courses also focuses on the connection between narrative voice and the spoken word, with particular focus on oral processes for stimulating ideas as well as critique feedback. Emphasis is placed on processes that support revision and the strengthening of a written work through the construct of narrative voice.
Varied applications of narrative structure in written form are explored in-depth in this course. From poetry, non-fiction, screenwriting, playwriting, short story, the novel, and more, students study the function and form of narrative structure in diverse genres. Narrative is examined as an art, technique, and process that connects from the spoken to written word. Students are encouraged to engage in the construction of narrative in a wide variety of genres while simultaneously developing and structuring ideas in a specific genre of interest.
Writing and publishing technologies are examined for their role in transforming humankind’s relationship with language and the transmission of ideas and culture. The history and progress of writing and publishing are explored, with emphasis on their emergence from a tradition of the spoken word. The culture of writing and publishing are assessed as an industry, as well as a cultural phenomenon reflecting the changing mores, ideologies, and priorities of an evolving world. Both digital and traditional print media are also examined as vehicles for contracting, publishing, and distributing books.