Hierdie is die LitNet-argief (2006–2012)
Besoek die aktiewe LitNet-platform by www.litnet.co.za

This is the LitNet archive (2006–2012)
Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za


 
Kennisgewings | Notices

MA in Creative Writing at Rhodes University


2011-11-02

Rhodes University's MA programme in Creative Writing, offered in the Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA), is one of only two such programmes in the country accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority, SAQA.

The programme runs over a minimum one year for full-time students based in Grahamstown and a minimum of two years for part-time students living elsewhere.

Full-time students meet a different writing teacher each week, all of them practising writers of fiction, non-fiction, drama or poetry. Teachers include Joan Metelerkamp, Mxolisi Nyezwa, Brian Walter, Paul Wessels, Silke Heiss, Anton Krueger, Ingrid Winterbach, Rian Malan, Godfrey Meintjes, Russell Kaschula, Hazel Crampton, Paul Mason, Mzi Mahola and Robert Berold. 

Teaching input is intensive. Full time students have approximately more than four contact hours a week with writer-teachers in the first semester, and a weekly one-to-one meeting with either their artistic supervisor or the programme coordinator throughout the year. There are additional voluntary modules, such as international 20th century poetry, science fiction, narrative theory, and Xhosa literature.

Part-time students cover the same curriculum, but over a two year period.  They receive their coursework assignments electronically, and get regular feedback and supervision by email. They attend two separate week-long sessions at Rhodes in each of the two years, and may join other contact sessions at Rhodes when possible.

About a third of the way into the course students choose a supervisor from one of the teachers, and begin work on their extended project ‘thesis’ – a book-length creative work. The programme allows thesis supervision in Afrikaans, English and isiXhosa, and in all genres: novels, non-fiction, playscripts, short story collections, and poetry collections.

In the second semester compulsory coursework falls away, and the writers work on their extended project full time.

Admission requirements

Students need an Honours degree in any discipline or the equivalent (e.g. a 4-year B. Journ degree). 

If a candidate has extensive experience as a writer, or is judged to have considerable potential but lacks the formal qualifications required, admission as an ad eundem gradum candidate may be possible.

The programme is taught and administered in English, but the extended project [details below] can be written and supervised in Afrikaans, English or Xhosa.

A range of other university support programmes is available to students, including personal counselling, and assistance with using electronic collections in the Library.

Application and costs

Application should be made on the standard MA application form downloadable from the Rhodes University website. Applications should be accompanied by a 20-page portfolio of creative work, and an electronic version of this portfolio should be sent to the course administrator. Candidates may be required to attend an interview. Closing date is 18 November 2011.

The basic cost of the course in 2012 is expected to be roughly R13 000 for the full time course and R 9 400 per year (about R 19 400 for the two years) for the part time course. (These fees will be confirmed as soon as the university completes its 2012 budget process.)

If a student drops out or fails to fulfill programme requirements, fees are not refundable.

Full time course structure

The full time course is divided into two semesters or four terms. In the first term the emphasis is on students finding their own style, embarking on directed ‘creative reading’, and finding a writing discipline and rhythm that works for them. In the second term students choose the coursework stream for their preferred genre, while beginning to identify and work on their extended writing projects.

In the second semester students continue their extended writing projects without coursework but with weekly supervisor meetings. The extended project should be minimum of 30 000 words for a prose project, 35+ pages for a poetry project, or 10 finished scenes or episodes for a playscript or screenplay. No project may exceed 80 000 words.

Students will be required to record and reflect on their ongoing experience as writers in a reflective journal, to be submitted regularly to supervisors as part of their dialogue. In the reflective journal, students draw upon their experience, upon their reading, and on theories of writing, to understand their own gifts and challenges as writers.

At the beginning of the course students are given modular reading lists of fiction, poetry and non-fiction, adapted to their needs, and will write creative reviews of six books during the year, also to be incorporated into their reflective journal.  As part of the reading component students will be required to research and respond to contemporary South African writing and writers, using the unique resources of the National English Literary Museum.

Students will be encouraged to send work for publication during the course and to learn how to deal with editor responses. The course includes opportunities to give readings at schools and other public venues, with guidance on performance.

A combination of teaching modes is used to ensure creative production and guidance:

  • Weekly seminars followed by assignments based on the seminar content
  • Small weekly peer feedback groups reading and commenting on assignments
  • Personal one-on-one supervision
  • Focused reading tailored to the needs of the individual and covering various genres
  • Interaction with practising writers in different genres
  • Learning opportunities within the Institute and University, such as research seminars
  • Various excursions and writing expeditions

Each writer-teacher’s seminar develops from the teacher’s own creative interests and expertise.  The weekly cycle starts with a seminar, followed by a creative assignment, and at the end of the week, a peer feedback session with students and the teacher.  The student has the weekend to re-write the piece in response to the feedback, and hand it in.

The first term (8 weeks – note that the MA course terms do not coincide with the Rhodes University terms) aims to get students writing spontaneously, in a sustained and disciplined manner, in the voice most natural to them, and to expose them to a variety of genres. They will be encouraged to draw on their senses, insights, interests and imagination, to become immersed in the enjoyment of writing and, at the same time, the enjoyment of reading. Students are expected to spend 2-3 hours a day on writing, and the same amount of time on reading.

In the second term (8 weeks) students will select a genre stream – poetry, fiction, or non-fiction, with options for scriptwriting, novel writing and short story. At same time, students will begin to work on their extended writing project. Weekly seminars and assignments will continue, but feed into the extended writing project. The coursework portfolio will be handed in at the end of the second term.

In the second semester there is no coursework. Students work on their extended writing project, which must be submitted as a full first draft in mid-September, and in its final form in mid-November.

Full time course dates for 2012

Monday 6 - Saturday 11 February   
First week of orientation shared with part time students

First MA term ends Saturday 28 March and is followed by a two week break
in the first two weeks of April.

Second term begins on Monday 16 April and continues to Saturday 9 June. 

There is no further teaching from 9 June.
Coursework portfolio should be handed in by 23 June.  

There will be a break until 9 July, the second weekend of the National Arts Festival. 
The week Monday 9 – Saturday 14 July will focus on student inputs about the extended writing project and will be shared with part time students.

First draft of extended writing project submitted 15 September.
Final (examination) version submitted 15 November.

Part time course structure

The part time course will follow the same curriculum as the full time course, split into four semesters as follows:

Year 1 first semester - coursework will follow the 8 seminars of the full time first term which cover all genres.  It will be conducted over 16 weeks – that is, a seminar and assignment every two weeks.  The seminar will be a written version of the seminar presented to the full time students, combined with some short interactive components.    The assignment will be completed within ten days, and the peer feedback groups will be conducted via blog-type interactions in small groups.

Year 1 second semester – the students will start on their extended writing project under supervision, with a deadline in November for approx. one third of the project to be completed and handed in.

Year 2  first semester – coursework will cover the same coursework content as the second term of the full time course – that is, the student will choose a genre stream and the two week seminar-assignment cycle continues, but with an eye to feeding into the extended project work.

Year 2 second semester – the students complete their extended writing project to meet the November final deadline.

Part time attendance in Grahamstown

Part time students are required to spend two separate weeks in Grahamstown.  Besides meeting teachers and potential supervisors, they will meet the full time students and each other. They will also attend some ‘live’ writing and feedback sessions and take part in some writing excursions.

The Grahamstown attendance weeks for 2012 are:

  • Monday 6 - Saturday 11 February : Week of orientation shared with full time students
  • Monday 9 – Saturday 14 July : A week shared with full time students focusing on finding direction on the extended writing project

Note:  The MA course fees do not include accommodation.  

Assessment

Candidates will be formally assessed on their assignments, book reviews, reflective journals, and participation [all of which comprises the ‘coursework portfolio’], and on their extended writing project.

The weighting of the assessment will be 25% for the coursework portfolio and 75% for the extended writing project. The MA final mark is awarded in three categories:  pass, fail, or pass with distinction.

Staff

Programme Coordinator: Robert Berold
Student advisor for part time students: Paul Wessels
Student advisors for full time students:  Paul Mason and Hazel Crampton
Course administrator: Carol Leff
ISEA Secretary: Nomangesi Kelemi
Enquiries: Carol Leff  isea@ru.ac.za   Tel 046 603 8565

Poetry:

Joan Metelerkamp, Mxolisi Nyezwa, Brian Walter, Mzi Mahola, Robert Berold

Fiction:

Ingrid Winterbach, Paul Wessels, Godfrey Meintjes, Silke Heiss, Anton Krueger, Paul Mason

Non-fiction:

Rian Malan, Hazel Crampton, Robert Berold

Scriptwriting:

Anton Krueger, Paul Mason

Teacher-supervisors for Xhosa specialists:

Mzi Mahola, Russell Kaschula, Mxolisi Nyezwa

Teacher-supervisors for Afrikaans specialists:

Godfrey Meintjies, Ingrid Winterbach


Questions and Answers about the Rhodes MA in Creative Writing
  • Where can I find an application form?
  • When will I know whether or not my application was successful?
    • You will be informed by email or phone by the first week of December 2011.

  • For the November deadline, do you accept emailed applications?
    • No, hard copies of your application must be received by the Rhodes admission office by 18 November, together with your writing portfolio and certified copies of your academic certificates (as well as a copy of your marriage certificate if your maiden name was different).

  • Can my portfolio be a combination of different genres, say prose and poetry? Is there a minimum or maximum length?
    • Yes, it can be a combination.  Minimum length 20 pages and maximum 25 pages.

  • For the 20 page portfolio, is there a preferred style (font and spacing)?
    • No. Try using a 12 point font and 1.5 spacing. Preferably, start each piece of writing on a new page.   Besides the printed portfolio sent with your application, remember to send an electronic copy of your portfolio to the course administrator.

  • I have written a 20 page short story? Can I send this as my full portfolio?
    • Yes, but it would be preferable to offer some variety, even if you send excerpts from other pieces.

  • Can I send in writing in different languages?
    • Yes, in English or Xhosa or Afrikaans.

  • Is the course in English, for writing in English only?
    • The introductory course material is taught in English, but the  independent extended creative project work can be submitted in either English, Afrikaans or Xhosa and will be supervised in that language.

  • I have not done any “creative writing”, but would my journalistic writing be eligible for the portfolio?
    • Creative non-fiction or narrative journalism is considered creative, i.e. writing which incorporates the techniques of fiction such as character, dialogue, description, narrative, etc. 

  • What does ‘full time’ actually mean? Would I be able to do the course if I lived in Pretoria?
    • No, full time means full time. You would have contact with teachers/supervisors twice a week during the first semester, and you would be expected to put in 3-6 hours each day on writing and reading. 

  • What does ‘part-time’ actually mean?
    • Part time students complete the programme over two years, working mainly from home. They attend two week-long contact sessions in Grahamstown each year [for 2012 these are  Monday 6 – Saturday 11 February and Monday 9 – Saturday 14 July]. Their course assignments are submitted electronically, they maintain a reflective journal, and they receive feedback and supervision on their work via email.

  •  If I am a part-time student, what happens if I cannot attend the contact sessions in Grahamstown on those dates.
    • You will still be required to attend contact sessions in Grahamstown, but you will not get the benefit of the special teaching sessions planned for the part timers. Instead, you will join the full time student sessions plus receive some extra tuition.

  • If I am a part-time student, will the course organise my accommodation for the contact sessions in Grahamstown?
    • No. We will help you find accommodation but you will have to organise and pay for it yourself.

  • The course outline says that full-time students "meet with their supervisor individually or in groups for 1½ to 2 hours at least once a fortnight". Is this in addition to seminars? If so can you give me any indication of how often seminars will be? Are they only in the first (coursework) semester?
    • The first semester coursework involves a weekly cycle of seminars, assignments and feedback in small groups, 3-4 hours of teacher-student contact per week. Students meet the programme coordinator every second week. Once their extended writing projects are under way, they present work to their artistic supervisor every fortnight. The same pattern is maintained electronically for part-time students, except that the coursework is on a two-weekly cycle rather than a weekly cycle.

  • Is there anywhere I can see the work that the 2011 students have been doing?
    • Yes! Buy a copy of our 200-page magazine Tyhini, which features work from the first writers. Only R60 (price includes postage).