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Southampton College of Long Island University introducesi nnovative M.F.A. program in Writing

Jules Feiffer, Kurt Vonnegut, Shana Alexander, Peter Matthiessen, Norman Lear,
Robert Hughes, Dava Sobel, Bruce Jay Friedman, Molly Haskell, Paul Goldberger
and other notable authors to join Roger Rosenblatt in inventive new approach


Paola Curcio-Kleinman,Associate Vice President Marketing & Public Relations
University Center,
Long Island University

Southampton, NY, August 28 -Southampton College of Long Island University will expand its innovative undergraduate writing program to include a Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing that is more realistic and comprehensive than similar programs across the country, University President David Steinberg announced today.

"We will cherish our poets and novelists and will be equally responsive to our memo writers, our city planners, our television critics and our computer programmers," Steinberg said.

He added: "The University is today making an intellectual declaration that writing remains the essential tool for communication, but that it must encompass the realities of our contemporary society. Our new program will offer undergraduate and graduate students something unique in American education."

The M.F.A. program will offer courses in business and science writing as well as in fiction, poetry, biography, script writing and literary journalism.The degree may be earned in regular semesters or by attending only during summers. Classes will begin in the summer of 1998.

Steinberg noted that the program already has enlisted a galaxy of star writers, many of them full- or part-time residents of Long Island's East End, who have been chosen to match the range of interests and talents expected of the program's students.

The author, essayist and television commentator Roger Rosenblatt joined the Southampton College faculty last year as Parsons Family University Professor in Writing, and will teach in the new program while continuing to teach undergraduates.

In its first semesters, the M.F.A. program also will offer courses by Shana Alexander, the author and former "60 Minutes" Point/Counterpoint debater whose books include "Very Much a Lady"; Jules Feiffer,the celebrated cartoonist for the Village Voice and award-winning scriptwriter who recently began contributing to the Op-Ed page of The New York Times; fiction writer Kaylie Jones, whose novel, "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries," currently is being made into a movie by the Merchant/Ivory team; and John Leo, the iconoclastic essayist for U.S. News & World Report who often appears on Fox News.

Lectures and workshops will be given by Kurt Vonnegut, author of "Slaughterhouse Five," "Cat's Cradle," "Breakfast of Champions," "Harrison Bergeron," "God Bless You,Mr. Rosewater," the forthcoming "Timequake" and numerous other works of fiction that have made him one of America's most celebrated writers; critic Robert Hughes, whose recent study of art in America,"American Vision," became the basis for this year's acclaimed PBS special on the subject; the novelist and screenwriter Bruce Jay Friedman("The Lonely Guy's Book of Life," "Splash"); Dava Sobel, the former science writer for The New York Times whose "Longitude"became a surprise bestseller last year; the novelist and environmentalist Peter Matthiessen ("The Snow Leopard"; "At Play in the Fields of the Lord," which also was adapted as a motion picture);the novelist and screen writer Richard Price ("The Color of Money," "Clockers"); the producer and television writer Norman Lear, who originated "All in the Family" and is the founder of the civil liberties advocacy group People for the American Way; the architectural critic and former New York Times commentator Paul Goldberger, now a contributing editor of The New Yorker, whose works include "The Skyscraper"; Carl Spielvogel, the advertising pioneer (and former New York Times advertising columnist) who helped form the Interpublic Group of advertising agencies and the Backer and Spielvogel agency; Michael Arlen, television critic and essayist for The New Yorker; the film critic and memoirist ("Love and Other Infectious Diseases")Molly Haskell; and the communications writer Alan Weinblatt,who has a special interest in writing and technology and has served as a consultant to the Diebold Group, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and PhilipMorris.

In addition to Rosenblatt, the poet William Hathaway and the novelist Indira Ganesan have been hired to teach full-time in the undergraduate English major and in the new M.F.A. program in Writing.Hathaway, the author of six books of poetry, is a 1969 graduate of the M.F.A.program in writing at the University of Iowa who is listed in "The Dictionary of Literary Biography" as "one of the most skilled,serious and independent of living American poets." Ganesan is the author of two novels published by Alfred A. Knopf, "The Journey" and"Inheritance, "which will be published next spring.

To attract the best students from across the country, the College is offering full and partial scholarships to a number of students who demonstrate merit and promise in any form of writing. Teaching assistantships also will be available to qualified students.

Rosenblatt noted that the new program is both traditional and original."Our society is increasingly dependent on the intelligent use of language.Even cyberspace is defined by words on a screen. We want to train writers who will use their talents not only in fiction and poetry but in any area where ability with words helps us better understand everything, ourselves included."

In its unusual undergraduate curriculum, the College requires students to take three English courses and five courses that feature writing as a central component. Before graduating, all students must pass a proficiency test in English which is graded by two instructors other than the student's principal English teacher.

This year Southampton College produced its 28th Fulbright scholarship winner, an English major, adding to the 27 winners over the last 22 years in marine and environmental sciences. Its summer Writers Conference has nurtured successful writers for over 25 years.

The residential college of liberal arts and sciences is part of the eighth-largest private university in the country, with over 20,000 students. The College is the location of WPBX-FM 88.3, keystone of the Long Island Public Radio Network, and is home to the Friends World Program of global education for social change and the National Center for Women and Retirement Research.

Posted 08/01/1997

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