Monday, January 27, 2014

The Critical Thesis Journey Begins

I'm working on my MFA through Pine Manor College, and the focus of my current semester is a critical thesis between 30 and 35 pages in length.  I'm not too worried about generating pages.  I'm fairly wordy.  I think I'll probably end up with a forty page paper that has to be trimmed down and polished until it falls within the parameters.  The goal of this project is to help students/writers really examine things that they either struggle with or want to know more about as a means to improve their creative writing.

I had several wonderful topics selected last semester and even ran them by my second semester mentor, but in the end, the thing that I'm most interested in right now - and that I need the most help with, it seems - is Dystopian World Building.  My first semester mentor, Steve Huff, ran a workshop this past residency and he introduced the idea to me.  At first I thought 'isn't it a cop out to do a critical thesis on something so directly related to what you're currently writing?' and I also thought, 'but that sounds like too much fun, how can that possibly be a critical thesis?'  But then I realized that the critical thesis should deal with your creative work and it should  be fun!   Thank you, Steve!

In preparation for this essay I'm reading many wonderful Dystopian novels.  I just recently finished Feed by M.T. Anderson and am working on Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, and I'm also revisiting A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and Battle Royale by Koushun Takami.  I have several craft books that I'm looking at as well.  My goal is to get the thing done in the next two months so that I can keep working on my creative work before hitting the final semester.  Wish me luck!

Amanda LaFantasie (c) January 2014

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