Mentorships | Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA

Chatham University

Creative Writing Mentorships

Chatham University Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing

MENTORSHIPS I (first year mentorships)

Over the course of a four month mentor-based semester, a student will do creative and critical work equivalent to the following:

  • read 8-10 books, or their equivalent
  • produce craft-based analytical writing in each packet
  • draft and revise 3 to 5 short stories, or a novella, or equivalent sections of a novel; or 15 to 20 poems; or 3 to 5 short nonfiction works, or equivalent sections of a book
  • draft and revise a 15-20 page critical paper based on the readings

A typical packet from the student will include:

  • new and/or revised creative work
  • a bibliography of the reading the student has completed
  • critical analysis of the reading
  • responses to directions and questions posed by the mentor in the previous exchange of packets

A typical packet from the mentor will include:

  • a holistic critique of the student’s creative work with suggestions for new and substantially revised work
  • a return of the student’s manuscripts with marginalia and line-specific suggestions
  • comments on the student’s critical analyses of reading assignments
  • suggestions for related reading, especially books that provide models of craft pertinent to the student’s particular ambitions and style of learning
  • individualized instruction about specific aspects of craft

MENTORSHIPS II (second year mentorships, including thesis)

After students have completed 21-24 credits of coursework, they enroll in Mentorship II and work with the Program Director to be matched with an appropriate Mentorship II instructor. The instructor for Mentorship II takes on the role of the student’s thesis director, and the assignments change in order to facilitate the student’s preparation of a creative thesis. In the final semester of Mentorship II the assignments change in order to facilitate the students’ preparations of an introduction to the thesis project. This work necessarily displaces some of the reading and writing assignments quantified above.

A typical packet from the mentor will include:

  • a holistic critique of the student’s creative work and suggestions for new and substantially revised work
  • a return of the student's manuscripts with marginalia and line-specific suggestions comments on the student’s critical analysis of reading assignments
  • suggestions for related reading, especially books that provide models of craft pertinent to the student’s particular ambitions and style of writing
  • individualized instruction about specific aspects of craft

FREQUENT EXCHANGE OF PACKETS

Packets should be exchanged between student and mentor approximately every three weeks. For a mentorship period roughly equivalent to four months, students should receive feedback from their mentors a minimum of four times.

ATTENTIVENESS TO REVISION

In addition to frequent reading and writing, mentors require frequent revision of student work, and provide suggestions for improving the work.