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Spalding’s Approach to Low Residency

Low-residency is inherently more flexible than traditional, campus-based MFA programs. Only low-residency can offer both the lively camaraderie of a peer group and intense one-on-one mentoring with expert faculty, allowing you to write and receive feedback on far more pages than you would in a traditional program.

Spalding residencies instruct and inspire through lively faculty-led workshops, lectures, readings, book-in-common discussions and cultural events. Friendships form over conversation. Collaborations begin after hours in the hotel lounge. Writing becomes a less solitary pursuit.

Spring and fall residencies begin in May and mid-November, respectively. They take place in Louisville, where students stay at the historic, four-star Brown Hotel, engage in our city’s thriving downtown arts scene, and study on our green and growing campus.

During optional summer residencies abroad, we take our rich curriculum overseas to a different locale each year, adding an element of global cultural and literary exploration to our curriculum.

Spring and summer residencies are timed to be convenient for students who teach. Need to sit out a semester? That’s not a problem. Talk with us—we’ll help you work out a plan that fits your life.

Here’s what to expect during your first residency.


Fall 2018: November 9 – 18, in Louisville

Spring 2019: May 24 – June 2, in Louisville

Summer 2019: July 8-18, in Santiago, Chile for our summer residency

Fall 2019: November 15-24, in Louisville

The Primary Focus: Your Concentration

At residency, you’ll participate in a faculty-led workshop and attend faculty lectures in your area of concentration. You’ll read a faculty book or script in your area, then hear the author discuss its path to publication or production. Once every five residencies, your area will receive special focus as we feature a program book-in-common and Distinguished Visiting Writer from your area. Recent visiting writers include Kwame Alexander, Natasha Trethewey, Ann Patchett, Doug Wright, John Patrick Shanley, Barry Lopez and Jacqueline Woodson.

Cross-genre Exploration

Even in small doses, cross-genre reading and exercises will make you a better writer. Maybe you never intend to write poetry—you’ll still discover how to add texture to your work through the use of compressed language. Even if you’re not a screenwriter, you’ll gain an understanding of structure that can strengthen your own work. And, if you plan to teach, whether in or outside of the academy, you’ll need to be comfortable with the language and special considerations of many genres, not just your own.

Plenary lectures at each residency examine universal questions of subject, structure, and style. At each residency you’ll get to know another genre in a rotating series as you write outside your area in a brief cross-genre exercise, read work by a distinguished visiting writer, hear the writer speak, and chat with them during a private Q&A. We’re not expecting you to become a multidisciplinary writer if that’s not your goal. But we’re committed to preparing you with the knowledge and experience you’ll need, both in your own writing and when you teach.

Special Seminars

Beyond workshops within each genre, we offer specialized options. Our teaching seminar lets you gain skills you’ll use when teaching undergraduate creative writing courses. Our book-length manuscript workshop in prose or poetry gives you faculty and peer critique on an entire novel, story collection, memoir, book of essays, or full-length poetry collection.

We also offer special-topic workshops such as musical theatre, adaptation, place-based writing and more. All students have the option simply to hop over to a different genre one residency and workshop in a new area. The things you learn there will give you a new perspective and inform your writing for years to come.

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