Monday, November 29, 2010

MFA vs. NYC. Which side are you on?

There's an interesting piece by Chad Harbach on Slate right now that argues that there are two distinct cultures in American writing right now. The first school is the MFA, the university-sponsored writing culture that is spread across the nation in college towns . The second is the New York culture; people like Philip Roth, Jonathan Safran Foer, Nicole Krauss, etc.

The article makes a lot of intriguing points about how each culture produces different writing. The MFA writer focuses on the short story form more than the New York writer. The MFA writer is also better-funded than the New York writer. If you teach writing, you don't have to make money from it. On the other hand, the MFA writer is pressured to publish frequently to beef up job credentials.

What camp do you fall into? And what about the people who aren't in either camp. If I'm neither a New Yorker, nor an MFA, do I even have a chance?

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