Department of English
City University of Hong Kong
In January 2010, City University of Hong Kong will begin accepting applications for the first, low-residency Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing in Asia. This 45-credit, two-year degree will specialize in Asian writing in English for creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry, and will accept a limited number of students each year. Based in the English Department, this innovative new program was designed to match international standards for the MFA. The Hong Kong native author Xu Xi assisted in its development and will join the department next March as their first writer-in-residence to help oversee the program.
"We anticipate the majority of applicants to be from Asia," Xu says, "but many writers in the West, both of Asian and non-Asian ethnicity, are increasingly drawn to Asia, especially China. They're not always best served by MFA programs in the West where there's little focus on either a contemporary or historical Asian perspective or Asian literature." The faculty will all be writers who "know Asia, live Asia, read Asia, write Asia" as their launch ad reads. The program's mission is to produce the best writers of Asian prose and poetry, and the top criteria for admittance will be the quality of creative work.
This initiative is part of an overall strategy to develop the creative curriculum at the university. Professor Kingsley Bolton, head of English at City University says, "Our English Department is a very young one, but probably one of the most dynamic and innovative departments of its kind in Asia. In the next few years, we are aiming to make the English Department here a leading centre for creative writing, drama, and cultural studies, not only for Hong Kong but also for the whole of the Asian region." The MFA is generally considered a professional degree, qualifying students to work in professions where good writing skills are required, as well as providing the groundwork for an international writing and publishing career.
The low-residency graduate degree model is relatively new in Asia. A long-established pedagogical model in the U.S., such programs are especially suited for the creative arts. In particular, this program is ideally suited for working professionals who cannot afford to spend two years as full-time graduate students in a traditional writing program. Structured for individualized learning, students work via distance learning with writing mentors on a one-on-one basis during the semesters, and attend brief "residencies" at the university two to three times a year. The low faculty-to-student ratio allows for intensive feedback on the student's work and approximates the professional editor-writer relationship.
The first residency is scheduled for summer 2010. The internationally renowned novelist Timothy Mo will be visiting writer and the faculty writers for the 2010 class features an international cast from Hong Kong, India, the U.K, Canada and the U.S., with connections and roots in China, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and elsewhere. The writers include Tina Chang, Marilyn Chin, Luis Francia, Robin Hemley, Justin Hill, Sharmistha Mohanty, James Scudamore, Ravi Shankar, Jess Row and Madeleine Thien. For further information, please visit http://www.english.cityu.edu.hk/MFA or email firstname.lastname@example.org.