English professor Alexis Easley (left) and student Shannon Kelly converse during a staged scene in the John Roach Center November 2, 2015. Taken to promote English department mentor programs.

English Department Adds Creative Writing and Publishing Master's Program

The University of St. Thomas English Department has a new master’s program, Creative Writing and Publishing.

Fresh off the unveiling of a new Professional Writing Emphasis track in its undergraduate major, the department is adding its new master’s degree with the goal of fulfilling creative writers’ need to be trained in publishing. The program also will look to leverage the Twin Cities’ robust publishing infrastructure, which Publishing Trendsetter called “the publishing capital of the Midwest.”

“Everybody is excited by this growth and development. It’s always empowering when you can take your vision for the future and make it manifest,” said Associate Professor Matthew Batt, who helped guide the program’s development over the past five years. “It’s an exciting time for all the programs in the graduate English Department.”

The MA program in Creative Writing and Publishing is focused on intensive practice in the craft of creative writing, as well as training in the theory and practice of publishing. In addition to participating in poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction workshops, students have the opportunity to take courses in literature, pedagogy and cultural studies. Classes are capped at 14 students, which should allow for lively classroom engagement and personalized attention.

Students also will tap into the area’s publishing scene, building on faculty members’ relationships to some of the region’s best publishers.

“A lot of people are realizing this is the golden age for small, independent presses. … We’re hoping to cultivate a relationship with them and work with some of the best presses in America that just happen to be in the Twin Cities,” Batt said.

In emphasizing publishing to support creative writing master’s students, St. Thomas is filling a major void in the Midwest.

“There are fewer than five programs nationwide that focus directly on publishing,” Batt said. “Ours is intended to be a degree for creative writers who want to study publishing along the way.”

Enrollment is open for students looking to begin in the fall, and a summer publishing institute will begin this year and be a cornerstone of the program in the future.

“We’re hoping to engage current students, prospective students and community members nationwide,” Batt said. “We want to do something that isn’t really being done in the Midwest, despite the fact we have this powerhouse of publishing forces in the Twin Cities.”