NPR on MFA vs. NYC

On this blog I’ve been following the current debate about Masters in Fine Art (MFA) programs in writing because I see relevance with the rise of jazz programs.  The scene at 821 Sixth Avenue may not have existed if jazz were allowed in schools in the 1950s and early 1960s.  My two blog entries were based on Elif Batuman’s London Review of Books article , and on Chad Harbach’s N+1 article.  Harbach notes that today there are 850 writing programs while not long ago there were only 80.  Jazz won’t have the same numbers but the graph might look similar.

Two weeks ago NPR’s All Things Considered joined the fray with a piece based on Harbach’s piece.  You can hear it HERE.

What continues to be overlooked in this discussion, as far as I can tell, are the roles played by race and shame that Batuman stressed in her piece.  It reminds me a little bit of the discussion that, I’ve learned, surrounds the jazz cooperative Tarbaby who issued my favorite jazz CD of 2010.  The more you fight the tar baby the more you become entangled by it.  Here’s an article about Tarbaby that hints at some of this discussion, and another one here.  I’d like to moderate a conversation on some of these issues with Batuman, Harbach, and the members of Tarbaby.

-Sam Stephenson

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