Denver – Responding to the explosive growth of Iowa's Hispanic population, the state Board of Regents authorized the University of Iowa to create a Master of Fine Arts program in Spanish Creative Writing.
The program will attract native speakers of Spanish who want to pursue a creative writing degree in their first language, the university, which is already home to an acclaimed Writer's Workshop, said in an announcement.
While Latinos currently make up just 5 percent of the state's 3 million residents, the number of Hispanics has grown by 52 percent in the last decade and is on course to surge an additional 200 percent within the next 30 years, according to the Iowa Office of Latino Affairs.
Spanish is no longer a foreign language. It's a national language and this program will help many bilingual writers to express themselves creatively in English and in Spanish.
- Mercedes Niño-Murcia, professor and Chair in the UI Department of Spanish & Portuguese
Latinos will likely represent a third of the U.S. population by 2050, UI said, citing projections by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan think-tank based in Washington.
"Spanish is no longer a foreign language. It's a national language and this program will help many bilingual writers to express themselves creatively in English and in Spanish," said Mercedes Niño-Murcia, professor and Chair in the UI Department of Spanish & Portuguese.
The Spanish Creative Writing MFA initiative will be the first of its kind in Iowa and only the third in the entire country, joining programs at New York University and the University of Texas at El Paso.
UI's two-year program will offer classes in literary theory, the novel, the short story, poetry and writing for the stage and screen, among other topics.
Besides their academic activities, MFA students will take part in local events with Hispanic adults and children.
Those who successfully complete the program will be ready to teach creative writing in community colleges and universities, UI said.
Directing the program will be Ana Merino, an associate professor of Spanish at UI who is known for her poetry and her analysis on Spanish-language comics.
"We believe the writer is an important part of society," she said.