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The cover-letter as manifesto.

By DANIEL BOSCH [3am Magazine] — Writers who are truly honest about art and pedagogy admit that most of the time both end in failure. At the Bauhaus this fact was bedrock, not pillow-talk: the curriculum was designed around honest play with materials.

I believe a Bauhaus-type approach might help lead to needed reform in the teaching of creative writing. So in a cover letter I submitted in application for the directorship of an MFA program, I proposed a play-based curriculum focused on fundamental “materials”, mandatory cross-genre study, eschewal of contemporary readings, avoidance of cults of personality, use of the full range of grades, unplugging of the phrase “terminal” degree, and more…

THE BAUHAUS CURRICULUM demanded three years of intense coursework under different artist-teachers in such areas as presentation and design; color, composition & space; and “nature study,” (in literary training, these might be courses in Book & E-Book; Space on Stage and in Story; Prologues; Lines; Low Comedy; Images; and Writing from Life) each segment of which was conceived as necessary preliminary training and thus the basis for later workshop courses in the distinct practices associated with materials such as Glass, Metal, Wood, Stone, etc. (In a literary curriculum on this model, the penultimate inner ring might consist of seminars or workshops in specific sub-genres such as Personal Essay, Three-Act Play, Realistic Prose Narrative, Verse Monologue.) At the heart and center of this diagram, as in a literary curriculum modeled upon it, is one or two years of focused execution of minor and major projects, a hard-earned chance for the artist-in-training to use their skills and to “Build” with the full support of the arrayed cohort of instructors and fellow “journeymen.” In a literary training program, I would hope, this final and most-demanding portion of the curriculum would lead to something distinct from what is currently called a “thesis.” A better term might be borrowed from medieval and renaissance guilds — the “Meisterstuck” — with the understanding that any built object which satisfied the requirement for a “masterpiece” admitted its maker to an adult role in the family of makers. Certification following completion of such a curriculum should not be called a “terminal” degree, because everybody in the family of makers knows that to be an artist is to be humbled nearly every day with regard to one’s skill and lack of skill and the recalcitrance of one’s materials…

Continued at 3am Magazine | More Chronicle & Notices.

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