Division of Interdisciplinary Inquiry: Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
Professional Title: M.F.A. Creative Writing Faculty
Areas of Academic Focus and Expertise: Nonfiction
Representative List of Recent Courses Taught: Distance-Learning Courses:• Creative Writing I-IV • Craft and Reflection I-III• Graduating Seminar Preparation• Creative ThesisResidency Seminars:• Escape from Chronology! Narrative Structures in Nonfiction
Education: B.A., Brown University, Independent Honors Concentration in Writing and Illustration; M.A., “The World and the Visual Imagination” (English Department) at the University of Wales; Sweet Briar Junior Year Abroad Program at Université de Paris, (I, IV) and the Ecole du Louvre, France; Courses in French Language and Literature and Art History
Representative List of Recent Publications / Exhibitions: Books: The Slow Breath of Old Stone: A Romanesque Love Story (2011)Sitting up with the Dead: A Storied Journey through the American South (2012) Travels in an Old Tongue (1998)Guest Blogger, Visit Wales, March-June, 2011. 14-part weekly series of posts called “Hiraeth for Beginners”
Teaching Philosophy: I view the mentoring relationship as a dialogue rather than a traditional, hierarchal teaching experience. I often learn as much from my students as they do from me. Because I see non-fiction as the great Renaissance-person's field - it incorporates all fields of knowledge, spans everything from memoir to science writing to biography, and uses craft techniques available to writers across genres - I encourage my students to experiment. If they've been writing memoir, I might ask them to look at their subject matter as if they're writing a travel piece or a personal profile. And I encourage them to think in a global sense when it comes to their writing; we create genres in order to tidy the teaching experience, but the imagination is far less tidy. Inspiration may begin as poetry and wind up as narrative non-fiction, which is why I encourage students to experiment, read widely across genres, and always view literary expression as a sliding scale.
As I'm also a visual artist, I have a special interest in graphic novels/memoirs and word-and-image pairings (my MA is in Word and Image Studies). I also speak Welsh and often write about Wales and Welsh literature, and have a background in travel writing.
Awards: Bedford Pace Award for Writing on Britain; Black Rock Arts Fellow; Artist in Residence at the Grand Canyon.
Current Affiliations: Smith College; Ty Newydd, the National Writer's Center for Wales.Past Affiliations: Brown University Learning Community; New York Public Library.
Pamela Petro is also a visual artist who creates environmental installations of "petrographs" (silver gelatin images printed on stone).
MFA in Creative Writing
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