MFA Program Hosts Winter Residency and Inaugural Commencement

The MFA in Writing & Contemporary Media program held its winter residency December 9 through December 15, 2018. Twice a year MFA students meet on the Santa Barbara campus for a 7-day residency where they participate in seminars, panels, and Q & As taught by faculty members and guest presenters. Students also attend meetings and mentor-related events throughout the residency.

A sampling of residency seminars included Scene Building Tactics with Tananarive Due, Arts, Culture and Society II: Handling Writer Rejection with Andrea Tate, Inside STORY with Erik HansenBeginnings-Middles-Endings with Ross Brown, Creating Iconic Characters with Julie Sayres, A Peek Inside the Sausage Factory: Demythologizing the Screenplay with Steve De Jarnatt, Acting for Writers with Colette Freedman, From Fact to Fiction: Distilling the Story with Yvonne Georgina Puig, and more.

The MFA program hosted a special public evening with guest artist and acclaimed screenwriter and playwright Jane Anderson. A three-time Emmy Award Winner, Anderson was interviewed by KCRW Morning Edition host Jonathan Bastian. Anderson wrote The Wife (2017) starring Glenn Close and won an Emmy Award for writing the screenplay for the miniseries Olive Kitteridge (2014). Anderson also taught a Master Class in Writing for the Screen. 

Members of the Anacapa graduating cohort presented their original work which included staged screenplay readings, a documentary screening, and readings from novels, memoirs, and short stories.

“One of the high points of the residency was seeing the graduating students present a portion of their capstone writing project to a room full of fellow students, faculty, friends, and family,” said Program Director Ross Brown. “The presentations were all so impressive that one of the new MFA students came to me and said, ‘Those were fantastic…and kind of intimidating.’ And that’s exactly the response you want – one that says I know those were outstanding, but I also know I have a long way to go and a lot of hard work ahead of me to get to that level as a writer. That’s what we do in the MFA – help our students grow toward being the best writers they can be.”

The residency culminated with a commencement ceremony for the graduates, families, and friends on the evening of December 15th.

“I know that my colleagues the ‘Anacapa Eight’ and I would like to first thank our leader, Ross Brown, and all the amazing faculty and staff that helped us, the inaugural AUSB class of the MFA in Writing & Contemporary Media program, to get over the hump,” said graduate Colin Mitchell. “It was a great commencement and the presentations were spectacular. I’d personally like to send much love and respect to my cohorts and hope the writing winds are at their back and their literary horizons are clear.”

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