Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Scholarship Offer: The Search for Asia’s Next Top Writer in English

The Department of English at City University of Hong Kong is pleased to announce a one-year full Tuition Scholarship, to be awarded to a 2010 candidate for our new, international, low-residency Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. The winner will be the applicant who submits the sample of creative writing that demonstrates the greatest potential for success as a professional literary author. Applicants in any genre are eligible, as long as they meet the acceptance criteria for this postgraduate degree. There is no restriction as to country of residence, age or nationality.

At City University, we seek to develop Asia's future writers, and this scholarship is offered to attract the most talented writers to our programme. This summer, we begin our first class of writers for the MFA in Creative Writing specialising in Asian Writing in English, the first programme in the world to offer this specialty. Based in the English department, the innovative 45-credit, two-year programme will accept a limited number of students in creative non-fiction, fiction and poetry. The degree is benchmarked to international standards for the MFA. The Hong Kong native author Xu Xi assisted in its development and joined the Department as their first Writer-in-Residence on March 1.

"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 programmes 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 the programme’s advertising says. The top criterion for admission 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 programmes are especially suited for the creative arts. In particular, this programme is ideal for working professionals who cannot afford to spend two years as full-time graduate students in a traditional writing programme. Structured for individualised 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 applications, please visit http://www.english.cityu.edu.hk/MFA. For further information, please email mfawriting@cityu.edu.hk or call Xu Xi at ++852.3442.8732.

March 11, 2010

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