Goucher College MFA in Nonfiction

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With its unique focus on a single genre and its strong professional emphasis on publishing, Goucher's MFA in Nonfiction has gained a reputation as the best in its field. The program is committed to preparing students for writing careers. We bring editors and agents to the summer residencies and lead discussions on such practical matters as writer finances. We also sponsor annual trips to New York, where second-year students meet with some of publishing's top editors and agents.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 55
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    Heading Home
    (2024) Ursin, Cheryl; Noble, Randon Billings; Hughes, Evan; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
    Heading Home, is a collection of ten personal essays about life: childhood, parenthood, names, driving and the fear of driving, houses and belongings, reading and libraries, anxiety, memories, growing old, and the end of life.
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    The Dead Parent Club: A Murder and a Memoir
    (2024-01-07) Shannon Tsonis; Toumani Meline; Orange Michelle; Rubinkowski Leslie; Nonfiction MFA; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
    In 1989, Terry Schmansky was violently murdered in her Baltimore apartment. When the case went cold her three young daughters were sent back to live with the main suspect in the case, their father. Over 25 years later, Terry's middle daughter Shannon, is giving birth to her own daughter, when she sees her mother's ghost walking down the hospital hallway. This event ignites an unshakable obsession with solving her mother's murder. Convinced of their father's guilt, the three sisters work tirelessly to build the case against him and jumpstart the investigation: tumultuous meetings with detectives, chilling interviews, heartbreaking evidence testing, and renegade strategies that reveal family secrets and a second suspect. In an uncompromising true-crime memoir, Shannon revisits her complicated childhood, and the judicial deficiencies as they relate to domestic violence and class. During her hunt for a murderer, Shannon learns the delicate balance of living in the past and present, while coming into her own and finding closure when traditional justice isn't an option.
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    If You Lived Here You'd Be Home By Now: A Memoir
    (2023-12-30) Rachel Michelle Leibrock; Toumani, Meline; Hughes, Evan; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
    In September 1996, haunted by a dream I’d had, I boarded a plane from Sacramento, bound for Dallas. Nearly a quarter-century earlier, my biological mother, Pamala, had left me in a daycare and flown to the Bahamas to be with her new boyfriend while her husband— my father—still fought in Vietnam. I was two-and-a-half years old at the time and hadn’t seen my mother since. Then, I dreamed that she died before I had the chance to meet her—before I had the opportunity to ask her about the events and choices that led her to leave me behind. After Pamala left me, my parents divorced, and my father remarried. His new wife, Barbara, adopted me. We instantly bonded, setting forth a life-long relationship that withstood my parents’ divorce and my father’s ensuing absence, but turned fragile, first during my troubled adolescence and later as I entered an abusive relationship. If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home by Now is a memoir of fragmented mother-daughter relationships and generational reckonings—a portrait of reluctant motherhood, ambition, and the pitfall of domesticity is told through the lens of riot grrrl, feminist politics, and pop culture. At its core, this book asks a central question: By examining my mothers’ lives, choices, and mistakes, can I face my own and survive?
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    Milkshake: Abundance and Loss in America's Dairyland
    (2023-12-01) Wedde Sally; Hughes Evan; Toumani Meline; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
    The MFA thesis documents and examines the impact of Wisconsin losing half its dairy farms from 2005 through 2020. Dairy farming is a cultural tradition and touchstone in Wisconsin with the state producing 14 percent of the milk in the United States in 2020, second to California. The author traveled the state personally interviewing with farmers and other professionals. In addition she included data analyzing the dairy industry from print, electronic, and video reports and archives. Concepts explored include farmer suicide, immigrant farm labor, responsibility to ancestors, use of technology in historical perspective, and the environmental impact and regulatory challenge of the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. The resulting thesis elucidates the culture of hard work and family-based abundance that forms an emotional heart of America between the coasts. Part of the rural culture is disdain for people they believe are not for hard work, don’t do hard work, and do not even define it correctly. Manure is a renewable energy source making the dairy industry a potential problem-solver on the world’s climate—if regulation and enforcement prove to be able to keep up with the pace of technological discovery. Current federal and state agencies that regulate food are less nimble in funding, staffing, and operation than the enlarged private companies they have to monitor.
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    The Bloomsday Project
    (2023-08-11) Leiman, Erin; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
    If your mother is an obsessive reader with a guarded inner life and you want to understand her and her family history, first you must lure her with literature. The result is The Bloomsday Project, a reported memoir about how a reticent mother and her anxious-to-connect middle-aged daughter travel together through June 16, 1904, the single fictional day of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. For six months, the women meet weekly—sometimes in person, sometimes virtually, but always in the shared dream-realm of fiction—to navigate Ulysses chapter by chapter. Spilling over the novel’s borders, their discussion flows into a multi-year conversation about regret and loss, religion and ethnicity, loyalty and betrayal, and the reading and writing of literature. Their guide is Joyce’s quasi-Jewish protagonist Leopold Bloom: wandering ad salesman, son of a Hungarian Jew turned Protestant convert, born-and-bred Dubliner, and a stranger in his home city. The idiosyncratic Bloom becomes a conduit for the daughter’s investigations into her family’s seldom-discussed history in the Hungarian Holocaust, her mother’s post-war Bronx childhood in an Orthodox-Jewish family of refugees, survivors, and immigrants, and her own identity as a secular, childless Jew several generations removed from genocide.
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    (2021) Fletcher, Kenneth "Marty"; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
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    (2021-06-28) Fletcher, Kenneth "Marty"; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
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    Funeral for a Whale
    (2023) Cohen, Michael Todd; Orange, Michelle; Burke, Porscha; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
    At ten, queer adoptee Michael Todd Cohen witnessed the bloody burial of a thirty-foot whale on a New England beach near his home. Five years later, in the last months and days of his adoptive father’s battle with terminal cancer, Cohen sees it as a metaphor for the life-altering secret buried between them. Then, widowed at thirty-two, when his husband is lost in a high-rise fire, Cohen struggles to make sense of a world that takes more than it gives. This lyric field journal from the fraught borderlands of sexuality, home, family, grief, and faith asks: in the land of capitalism, who determines our worth? What precisely is the value of grief? And how do we invest in each other when futures are uncertain?
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    Waterbaby: A Memoir
    (2022-12-03) Simmons, Kozbi; Orange, Michelle; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
    “Waterbaby: A Memoir” is a creative nonfiction narrative about the writer’s trauma, neglect, and mental illness. This is a story of the pain and survival that entered the water with her, the truths she fought through, and the hope she’s been journeying toward since. The memoir is told in three parts—"Alone,” “In the Water,” “Being Seen.” Alone begins with the sexual abuse the writer suffered when she was five- and six-years-old. Part one continues through her adolescent years with a father obsessing over the female body and instilling in her a low self-worth; the writer’s struggle to identify and find treatment for her bi-polar and obsessive-compulsive disorders; and, finally, up to 2020, a year that would become a perfect storm of environmental, professional, and personal chaos. Part two, “In the Water,” takes readers along on the writer’s 15-hours-long suicide attempt, beginning with planning and then execution. On July 13, 2020, the writer chained a cinderblock to her waist and walked into the Chesapeake Bay. When, as she began to drown, the block slipped to the Bay bottom, the writer swam through the night, hoping her body would eventually give out. Finally, she chooses life and details her return for readers. In “Being Seen,” part three, readers experience the frustration of a week in the psychiatric ward, a supposedly healing place. The writer, though, begs for release because of what she sees as a lack of productive treatment and overwhelming empathy.
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    Interrogating the Talismans
    (2022-06-20) MacSeóin, Bridgid Kathleen; Toumani, Meline; Messitt, Margaret; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
    Interrogating the Talismans is a collection of short essays, flash nonfiction, and experimental prose and image pieces that examine family stories, photographs, and talisman-like objects. Against the constantly shifting, impermanent landscapes of my childhood, the talismans become portals that offer glimpses into the often troubling worlds of the US military and the Catholic church. A close interrogation of the talismans through writing leads to a process of image-making, of interacting with these objects on the screen, creating a call and response between words and images as themes of belonging, loyalty, complicity, gender, and violence emerge.
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    The Impatient
    (2022-06-18) Levy, Lisa; Burke, Porscha; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
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    Inside the Gate
    (2022-05-29) Richmond, Emily; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
    A close look at the early history of integration of the Department of Defense's K-12 schools, as well as analysis of current challenges facing the system's students, families, and campus communities.
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    (2022-05-27) Torregiani, Seth; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
    A medical memoir of my career in osteopathic medicine, the choice I made to become a doctor, anecdotes from my training, and coping with burnout.
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    For the Love of a Neighbor
    (2022-02-14) Willoughby, Laura Jane; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
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    The Five-Star: Pandemic, Postponement, and Perseverance in the Horse World
    (2021-12-30) Charles, Ann; Lessard, Suzannah; Toumani, Meline; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
    The Five-Star: Pandemic, Postponement, and Perseverance in the Horse World, a long-form work of literary journalism, ventures into the little-known sport of equestrian eventing, spotlighting a robust community of riders and organizers as they navigate the strange time of COVID-19. In the spring of 2020, the spread of the novel coronavirus impacted life throughout the United States in many ways for many people; for the equestrian community, it meant the complete suspension of the competition season and the postponement of premier events like the Tokyo Olympics and the inaugural Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill, along with scores of other complications and interruptions. The Five-Star: Pandemic, Postponement, and Perseverance in the Horse World follows Olympians and elite riders as the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic test their resilience – not only by disrupting their competition schedules but also by threatening the small business operations through which they support themselves. This nonfiction manuscript also shines a spotlight on experienced competition organizers as they battle the uncertainty of the pandemic to deliver a new Five-Star competition at Fair Hill, Maryland, a picturesque and history-filled venue set within the horse-loving Mid-Atlantic region.
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    Eighty-One Percent Acting
    (2021-12-17) Fuchs, Michael; Orange, Michelle; Lessard, Suzannah; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
    Eighty-One Percent Acting is a collection of narrative essays that explore subjects like immigration, the subtext of business, fatherhood, septuagenarian sex, mortality and more. Each essay represents a particular facet of identity, with evocative titles like “Father,” “Actor,” “Mortal,” Businessman,” “Atheist” and “Jew.” Each is a portal for exploring ideas and emotions: the Statue of Liberty once meant something; big business is all mind games played for money; how far should a father go to help his slacker son; once your body betrays you, it can never be trusted again. The author is an atypical sensibility—former managing director at international banks, working professional actor, Cuban Jew immigrant who went from Brooklyn’s tenements to some of the world’s top universities—and the essays employ the life to illuminate the topics.
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    The Way of My Healing ... And Other Tales From A Trauma Hospital Chaplain's Life
    (2021-07-07) Enterline, Teresa; Burke, Porscha; Lessard, Suzannah; Levenson, Jacob; Orange, Michelle; Rubinkowski, Leslie; Welch Center for Graduate & Professional Studies; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
    This thesis constitutes the story of my time as a hospital chaplain trainee; it is Part One of my planned memoir. In my thesis I describe the calling I felt to become a hospital chaplain. At greater length, I share the experiential foundation—stories of the most consequential trauma cases I was involved in, the patients involved, their families, and my family—upon which the whole of my memoir (including my lapse into PTSD, my crisis of faith, and my journey toward healing) will stand.
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    The Heart is a Muscle
    (2021-05-21) Reilley, Megan; Messitt, Maggie; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
    In her creative nonfiction thesis, “The Heart is a Muscle,” Megan Reilley examines how her identity as a motherless daughter informs her navigation of difficult circumstances as a mother of four, including supporting a child through a gender transition. In this memoir, Reilley explores mothering and the body, and our expectations of both. Further, she seeks to understand the ways in which trauma, grief, and motherhood intersect.
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    Far From the Tree
    (2021-04-14) Conway, Dominque; Burke, Porscha; Orange, Michelle; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
    This project focuses on how race and space are experienced in the United States by drawing on my family history and my own experiences as a person of mixed racial heritage. Here, I incorporate genealogy, personal narrative, self-reflection, examination of historical documents and patterns of family migration, as well as oral histories from family members to analyze and document these experiences. Using autoethnographic and other research methods, I have attempted to construct the collective voice of ancestors in order to recreate memory. This journey has exposed me to a historical narrative that has long sat in the shadows of United States history. Even though some aspects of the lives of several of my ancestors have been documented, this information was mostly unknown, especially to the descendants. This project became a process of filling in the blanks, and constructing a fuller historical view of my ancestors and the places where they lived and died as well as broadening my own understanding of United States history. Fall Far from the Tree increases the understanding of the human experience by telling the stories of a people and places that have gone mostly untold.
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    Exposure: Confronting Anxiety
    (2021-06-08) Brandt, Amanda; MFA in Creative Nonfiction
    Anxiety disorders, like many invisible illnesses, can ravage the internal lives of people who seem “normal,” who appear to function well in their lives and in society. In “Exposure: Confronting Anxiety,” Amanda G. Brandt dives beneath the surface of normal to explore what it means to have a life ruled by anxiety in a society that measures success in wins and the appearance of perfection. Through conversations with anxiety sufferers and mental health professionals, Brandt explores the roles of the individual, therapists, and society in understanding anxiety and what it means to be normal. In her own quest to free herself from the restrictions of anxiety, Brandt undertakes a series of exposures. Perhaps confronting her anxieties can reshape her relationships with her brain and with the world around her.