ABOUT THE MASTER OF ARTS IN WRITING AND THE GRADUATE CERTIFICATE IN NARRATIVE MEDICINE
LR’s Master of Arts in Writing is designed to prepare students for careers in creative writing, professional writing, the teaching of writing, and/or the development of advanced writing skills as a powerful tool within one’s chosen profession. In addition to fundamental courses in rhetorical theory, editing, and publishing, students participate in a journey of discovery –exploring the evolution of a literary genre through reading select works. Students engage scholarship in literature, narrative theory, and creative process development to prepare to be the storytellers and story interpreters in professional and cultural environments.
LR’s Writing program is offered through the Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative on its Asheville campus. It offers graduate-level courses in narrative training across disciplines in Thomas Wolfe’s hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. Drawing on the creative, social, historical, and intellectual legacy of Thomas Wolfe, the Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative upholds the practices of positive aesthetics--exploration, eloquence, and attention in developing expansive and insightful narrative. Students at the Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative write boldly and much, seeking the shape of story that emerges organically from deep engagement with topic and with close consideration of the multiple forces at work within all stories, including social dynamic and geographical history.
Coursework includes Explorations in the Evolutions of Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, as well as Workshops in these genres and others. Students also engage Special Topics such as Screenplay and Children's Literature. All students complete self-designed Internships and present a Portfolio of completed work upon degree completion. This is a program for writers from all backgrounds, regardless of undergraduate majors, because Narrative applies to all fields of work and to being human.
All faculty in the LR Writing program are appropriately credentialed. In addition to established writers, a variety of community professionals employed in various relevant settings provide instruction and guidance. The program is flexible enough to fit the schedule of anyone, whether entering directly from an undergraduate program, in mid-career, or considering a career change. Courses are held in the evenings for the convenience of working students. The length of time to complete this program varies based on class load and the scheduling of classes. The program can be completed on average in two years or can be taken at a pace conducive to the student’s schedule. Often, distance options are available for courses to best accommodate real life.
LR’s Writing program furnishes students two options of study: the MA in Writing and a Graduate Certificate in Narrative Medicine.
The 36-hour Master of Arts in Writing degree includes coursework and/or workshops in poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction; Evolution of Genre courses in poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction; Foundations in Rhetorical Theory and Research; Practica in Publishing and Editing throughout all courses; Special Topics Electives such as Screenplay, Journalism, Environmental Writing, Transformative Writing; and more.
Students in the program apply narratology to creative writing, engaging the construction of meaning while exploring the process of creation. Workshops and Genre courses utilize close reading to support understanding of how narrative devices in all genres strengthen work; this sets the conversation free of the often ungrounded commentary that can cloud collaboration and learning. Students develop a language for increasing meaning in writing, and this supports a helpful, positive environment and community free of the “tearing down” that comes in absence of this language.
The 12-hour Narrative Medicine Certificate within the MA in Writing offers narrative competency training to physicians, nurses, social workers, mental health professionals, chaplains, social workers, academics, and all those interested in the intersection between narrative and care. Lenoir-Rhyne University seeks to develop the narrative future of medicine, a field that proposes that effective care requires increased human engagement. Narrative training builds empathy, a skill required for effective care. The Narrative Medicine program aligns itself closely with the goals and practices of its parent program, the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University School for Physicians and Surgeons. Lenoir-Rhyne University is proud to join a network of medical and nursing programs around the world offering Narrative Medicine.
The Narrative Medicine student takes four courses to develop facilitation skills that will enable them to carry Narrative Medicine into their workplaces and beyond. In listening to patient and client histories and stories, students cultivate a more profound attention to the meaning of illness and struggle, beyond the diagnosis of it, and build a lexicon for opening these stories. Those who complete the Narrative Medicine track to supplement licensure and professional degrees will be prepared to expand the narrative culture within healthcare through program development, research, writing, supervision, and training of colleagues and students. Coursework includes reading novels, poetry, and memoirs as well as Aesthetics, Philosophy, and articles from medical journals. Students write reflectively and engage in witnessing and close reading as they develop their ability to affiliate with others whose lives may be far removed from their own. An ongoing practice rather than a fact-based study, Narrative Medicine helps all who serve in positions of care a path to developing greater meaning and improved care in clinical work.
In both programs, students at the Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative create work always in small groups defined by mutual respect and supportive listening. They engage one another’s work from a perspective of deep inquiry, searching together for what a work wants to be and presents in its draft form. Course participants are readers first rather than critics. Once colleagues have collaboratively explored a classmate’s draft, they entertain questions and possibilities, drawing on what is already on the page rather than venturing into remote hypotheticals. This way, the learning community keeps respect for the draft and for its author and recognizes how it operates as a unique entity in the world, with its own story.
To support this process, students develop strong close-reading skills through regular and rigorous community practice. While themes drive story, techniques deliver their power to the reader. Through coursework in genre evolution and workshop, students develop material for a final portfolio. Students have created novels, memoirs, collections of poetry, and screenplays. They have multiple opportunities through their tenure in the program to develop this project, accruing skill and content in every class and participating in revision sessions either independently or with a group.
Because developing one’s voice and producing a manuscript are only a part of becoming a writer, students in The Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative participate in publishing and editing workshops so they can graduate knowing how to send work to journals and also how to build a successful platform. Also, because Lenoir-Rhyne University recognizes the value of students’ investment in the Center it returns that investment by offering publication of student work when it is ready.
The Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative recognizes that students need to be able to support themselves as writers after graduation. To this end, students participate in professional and creative internships. Some students have interned at magazines and worked as grant-writers and PR-firm publicists; others have administered creative-writing programs at schools and apprenticed to luminaries in their field. Faculty listen closely to student visions and reach into the community to help each student find a positive pathway.