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Patrick D

- Research Program Mentor

MFA Master of Fine Arts


Literature; Creative Writing; Religious Studies; Philosophy; Theology; German Language

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Creative Writing - Storytelling and Poetry

Maybe you love to read, but you don’t know how to go about writing stories or poetry of your own? Or maybe you’ve written creatively and you’re looking to “level-up” your writing? Whether you are interested in “being a writer” or you simply want to explore poetry or story-telling or poetry “from within,” there is a great deal to be learned by doing it yourself! The goal: we will work together to bring one or more pieces of creative writing (stories, poetry, autobiography, theatre plays, personal essays, or anything else you can think of) into a finished form, something you can be proud of. I will share knowledge I’ve gained through my own writing and researching, as well as lessons I’ve learned from various established writers in programs I’ve attended—the Clarion Writer’s Workshop and NYU’s MFA. We will also look at your favorite stories or poems and “reverse-engineer” them to see how they achieve their effects and why they resonate. In other words, we will look for lessons and techniques we can “steal” for your own work!

Reading the Classics

How should a person live? What is wisdom? Why do we not feel at home in the world? Let’s explore these questions, and others, by going to the deepest thinkers we can find. This is a chance to study a text, or a couple texts, of substantial insight and to grapple with it through a research project, a conference paper, an oral presentation, or even through a piece of creative writing. Some ideas: literary classics like Milton’s Paradise Lost or Shakespeare’s plays; spiritual classics like Augustine’s Confessions, the Bhagavad Gita, or Pascal’s Pensees, of the writings of the Zen master Dōgen. Philosophical texts are also fair game: e.g. Plato’s Apology or Kierkegaard’s Sickness Unto Death. Let’s dive into the Big Questions.

Literature Deep-Dive

Is there an author, or a book, you’ve wanted to read but haven’t had a chance? Let’s design a study course together around it. We’ll talk about writing technique, literary theory, historical criticism, and more. A final project might include a research project, a conference paper, or an oral presentation. Critical and analytical thinking will be the goal.

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