At the Spalding low residency MFA in Writing Program, we help students develop high-quality literary fiction distinguished by complex characterization, psychological depth, stylistic richness, thematic resonance, a distinctive sense of time and place, and an original approach to form and structure. Students are exposed to and encouraged to work with many different forms of fiction: sudden fiction, short story, novella, short story cycle, and the novel. In lectures, workshops, and independent study, we emphasize the development of craft, and we pride ourselves on nurturing each individual talent. There is no unified artistic “school” among the faculty other than our devotion to high literary standards. While our low residency model prizes the mentor/student relationship, our goal is not to shape students in the image of their mentors. Instead, we help students understand what is unique about their voices, instill in them the confidence and discipline necessary to tell their stories, and suggest aesthetic concepts and practical strategies for honing and deepening their narrative vision.

Our alums include a Flannery O’Connor Award winner in short fiction—one of the most prestigious prizes in all of literature. Alums have had novels and short story collections published by Random House, St. Martin’s Press, Algonquin, Macadam/Cage, and University of Georgia Press, among many others. Their short fiction has appeared in top-tier literary journals. Their work has appeared on The New York Times bestseller list and on best-book and Top 10 lists from Publishers Weekly, BookSense, and more. They have landed full-time teaching positions at major universities.

Past visiting fiction writers include some of the most eminent authors living: National Book Award winner Tim O’Brien (The Things They Carried), Ernest J. Gaines (A Lesson Before Dying), Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient), Ann Patchett (Bel Canto), Lee Smith (Fair and Tender Ladies), and Susan Vreeland (Girl in Hyacinth Blue). Our program’s founder is Sena Jeter Naslund, bestselling author of Ahab’s Wife. Sena delivers plenary lectures to the entire student body at every residency.

All Spalding MFA students have the option to spend a residency or an entire semester studying a second area of concentration as a way to enrich and expand their craft and understanding of aesthetics.