At Mills we offer a wide range of opportunities both in and out of the classroom that allow our graduate English students to gain valuable experience in teaching, publishing, performance, presentation of critical work, and professional art practice. We maintain an active listserv where calls for work, conference announcements, and other professional opportunities for students are posted. Faculty also regularly alert students to professional opportunities suited to their specific needs and talents.
Graduate students in our program pursue teaching experience across multiple contexts. Course work offered in pedagogy includes:
Theories and Strategies of Teaching Writing
Theories of Creativity and the Teaching of Creative Writing
Teaching English as a Second Language
Community Teaching: Literary Arts Education, Theory and Pedagogy
Many of these classes include a required teaching practicum, and students get direct experience through internships at local community colleges and volunteer teaching in community centers throughout Oakland.
Students may also apply for partial-tuition graduate assistantships offered through the English Department. Classroom assistantships at Mills are unique in their focus on mentorship and collaboration, rather than grading papers or making photocopies. Students awarded graduate assistantships in the composition program, undergraduate senior thesis classes, and book art studio classes work closely with faculty and directly with other students. We do not ask graduate students to teach multiple sections, believing instead that your graduate education should allow you to apprentice as a teacher while focusing on your own development as a writer and scholar.
Students may also work with faculty to complete unpaid practicum as teaching assistants in undergraduate literature or creative writing classes at Mills. This option allows students to get academic credit for on-campus teaching internships while working with a master teacher in a course of their choice.
Publishing and Conferences
In and out of the classroom, you will find our highly knowledgeable faculty generous in conversation about publishing in various contexts, from small press poetry to agented fiction.
Each year The Place for Writers produces a series of talks on publishing, along with the chance to pitch your project to a literary agent. Other Place for Writers programs include a community dinner cooked by Mills MFA poets alongside writers from the wider San Francisco Bay Area literary community, and a series of lunchtime talks featuting local editors and publishers.
Those interested in learning more about the process of editing a literary journal are invited to work as editorial staff for our journal 580 Split. Graduate English students also regularly complete internships at local independent publishers to gain experience in the field.
Our literature professors encourage students to send proposals to conferences in relevant fields, and our graduate students present papers at scholarly conferences in the Bay Area, nationally, and internationally. Conference exposure brings students more academic contacts, and can often lead to the publication of an article. In 2011 Mills graduate students organized a scholarly conference Economies of Desire which was held on campus and engaged students from the College and other local graduate programs.
Readings and Talks
Students in our master's programs have several opportunities to present their creative and critical writing. Works in Progress events include a Tuesday reading series of new creative writing by students and faculty, and lunchtime talks where students and faculty present new scholarly research and writing.
Additionally, The Place for Writers hosts an annual open mic event, along with interdisciplinary workshops and readings. Our graduate English students represent Mills across the San Francisco Bay Area at annual Litquake events, and at Poetry Center San Jose, Small Press Traffic, and other local literary venues.
PhD Application Support
The English Department is proud of the work we do to mentor students through the PhD application process. Along with offering workshops on applying to demanding PhD programs, our faculty work with individual students on writing samples and personal statements. Our excellent record in PhD placement speaks for itself.
Graduate students in the MFA in Book Art and Creative Writing Program have the opportunity to work with a diverse group of visiting artists, writers, and scholars through residencies and workshops. Our students have collaborated on a book with Katarzyna Bazarnik and Zenon Fajfer of the Polish movement “Liberature”. They have made paper with Drew Cameron of Combat Paper. In 2012 poet and artist Jen Bervin will be in residence, and internationally known printmaker Tom Killion will offer an intensive workshop.
Students in book art classes are encouraged to submit work to local, national, and international exhibitions; in 2012 students had one-person exhibitions in San Francisco, had work accepted at an international exhibition in France, and showed work at galleries from Chicago to Denver.
At Mills, the Book Art Pocket Gallery, a campus space dedicated to student work, showcases graduate student work twice a year. Students act as curators for exhibitions in the F. W. Olin Library, often collaborating with scholars from other institutions, and create public art projects through their classes. The graduate thesis exhibition takes place in a professional gallery in Oakland where our students work is on view to the public. Mills graduate English students in their nonresident semester are supported in seeking space and residencies in order to continue their work and prepare for their exhibition.