The MFA Residency
For eight days at the Goddard residency, students and faculty come together to form a rousing literary kinship where writing and the word reign supreme. At both of Goddard’s campuses—a converted “gentleman’s farm” with gardens and manor house in rural Vermont, or Fort Worden State Park, in the picturesque Victorian seaport village of Port Townsend, Washington—the residency weeks offer seminars, readings, workshops, panels, a keynote event, presentations by visiting writers, and formal and informal social gatherings.
On the first day of a residency, students receive a schedule listing dozens of classes in all genres throughout the week, open to all Goddard students. Master classes in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, playwriting, and screenwriting zero in on the craft of those creative forms. Small seminar groups discuss individual texts, authors, forms, and theories. Students themselves can offer workshops in virtually any subject related to creative writing.
On day two of the residency, first-semester students are carefully matched with faculty advisors by the program director. The primary advisor is the faculty member with whom students will work all semester in “packets” submitted through the mail. (After the first semester, students can request particular advisors.) Students and their advisers will meet one-on-one twice during the residency week to devise a study plan for the semester—that is, a bibliography of texts to study, a calendar of deadlines, and a clear direction for the student’s creative manuscript. Additionally, each advisor will meet with all his or her advisees at once in four “advising group sessions” where these groups of five to seven students can work together throughout the week.
The residency weeks offer both considerable freedom—an open schedule of classes; a diverse community of writers; an open call for students to read from their work—and an intense focus on the craft of writing. Students in their first semester may find their heads spinning from the quantity of ideas on exchange at a Goddard residency. These single inspiring weeks provide the wellspring for a semester’s worth of creative work.
Those looking for fellowship will find it—in classes, in the common rooms, in the cafeteria where coffee and tea are available 24 hours a day, and even in evening “salons.” Those who want to be alone with their thoughts can do that too; the tranquility of a woodland trail is never more than two minutes’ walk away.