Masters in Creative Sexytimes
August 31, 2011 5:35 PM   Subscribe

Which grad schools in the Bay Area are open to interdisciplinary approaches, especially with regards to creativity & sexuality?

So I'm leaving San Francisco today after my epic summer adventure (boo). I'd like to come back, and quite a few people have suggested grad school. Usually it would have never been an option given that I find ivory-tower-academia a painful bore at best, but I have met a few people who are either studying or teaching grad programs that are very creative, practical, hands-on - not just dry theory dissertations. They've suggested that my approach to writing and research is quite close to grad-school level anyway so I should be OK, and I'm starting to consider the notion.

I'm interested in exploring intersections of culture and sexuality. Earlier this year I did an academic presentation on the clash between not enough representations of certain cultures in sex performance vs the reluctance of people from that culture to participate because it brings on ostracization, blackmail, backlash, etc, and I'd like to expand on that if possible. I'm open to other ideas too, particularly if they allow for social activism, creative expression, or community outreach.

I have a Bachelors of Creative Industries (Interdisciplinary) from QUT in Australia, with my majors being creative writing and arts management. People tend to go "bwuh?" at my degree. People have suggested looking at a non-fiction writing program or Cultural Studies, though I've also looked at Human Sexuality programs such as the one in SFSU. I've heard UC Berkeley is awesome, though it doesn't seem to have a space for someone like me. UC Santa Barbara has a faculty member that actually deals with very similar issues, and I've befriended a sex-positive queer performance artist who teaches at UC Santa Cruz. If there was an equivalent of Gallatin in the Bay Area I'd likely go for that.

I'm mainly after a Masters, about one or two years of work. I don't think I could do part-time as an international student but if there is such an option that'd be cool. I'm not worried about employability; I've got bigger issues for that.

(I also have an off-the-wall idea of going to library school; from what the other librarians I know tell me, it fits in well with some of my other interests - reading, research, organising information, finding out about things - and I got really interested in my partner's Information Management class the one time he did one for his IT degree. I also know that the queer/sex-pos world are currently working on archiving their resources so there is a need. I'm not sure if there are MLIS programs or similar in the Bay though.)

Any recommendations or ideas? Maybe the answer isn't grad school exactly but something that will provide something similar?
posted by divabat to Education (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Its not a Top Tier School, but SFSU (San Francisco State) has a pretty robust Human Sexuality department which offers an MA. It seems to fit the bill.
posted by bitdamaged at 5:47 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was going to say SFSU, as well. This is very much not my subject, though I know someone who's happy in the Women and Gender Studies MA at SFSU. That person was an undergrad in Gender and Women's Studies at Berkeley. There's no graduate program in GWS at Berkeley--there's a 'designated emphasis' that one can do as a part of another PhD program. Have you looked at rhetoric at Berkeley? It may be too theoretical for your taste, though.
posted by hoyland at 6:04 PM on August 31, 2011

Maybe something at California Institute for Integral Studies?
posted by reverend cuttle at 6:10 PM on August 31, 2011

Look into the History of Consciousness program at UC Santa Cruz.
posted by effluvia at 6:23 PM on August 31, 2011

Response by poster: It doesn't have to be Top Tier, and I did mention SFSU (though that is a sea of information up there!).

I forgot CIIS! I met some people from there last year at a conference and they seem amazing. Thanks for the reminder.

I'll look up the rhetoric & consciousness programs, thanks. Personal experiences would be great if you have them.
posted by divabat at 7:10 PM on August 31, 2011

UCSB (Santa Barbara) isn't in the Bay Area. It's not that far from Los Angeles, after all. UCSB is a perfectly fine school, but if you're looking for the Bay Area aesthetic and attitudes toward sexuality, I argue that you won't find it at UCSB. It's got a lot of frat boys and partiers; obviously grad school is a much different environment than undergrad, but you'll still be stuck in the middle of the Isla Vista milieu at the end of the day.

I would suggest you still keep it in mind on the basis of the fact that grad school is supposed to be about following a faculty member/department and not necessarily a school, but wanted to sort of flesh out UCSB for you if you're not familiar. There are definitely other users on this site who attended UCSB for grad school who can give you a better perspective than I can, though.

Also, I hesitate to recommend library school for oh so many reasons but since you asked I should mention that San Jose State (definitely in the Bay Area) has a very large MLIS program. I come from the other major library program in California and I really loathe SJSU's program because it seems to produce librarians who don't have a strong depth of knowledge or theoretical background. Given that SJSU is moving toward 100% distance classes, I'm not surprised. Library school is very hard to convey over distance classes.

Archives, which seems to be what you're describing in your parenthetical, are very difficult to get into. The hiring market for archivists is even tighter than the one for librarians. If, once you think about it, you really feel like archives are where your heart lies, let me know. I can put you in touch with a top international archivist who directed my program. Here, for illustration's sake, is SJSU's Master of Archives and Records Management degree info page.

I seem to be offering options to steer away from more than options to venture toward, but I hope that you'll still find this information helpful.
posted by librarylis at 10:11 PM on August 31, 2011

You mentioned non-fiction, but fwiw, I know someone who did an MFA in poetry at SFSU who seemed to like it quite a bit.
posted by salvia at 11:27 PM on August 31, 2011

Potentially any humanities department at any major university in the area could serve your needs. If you want to live in SF, then definitely look at Berkeley. I'm not sure what you mean about them not having room for someone like you--it's a huge university with a lot of programs and a very active humanities and gender studies scene.

In terms of specific advice: well, from from my limited experience I would suggest you check out anthropology departments at Stanford, UC Santa Cruz, Berkeley--although master's degrees in anthro might not involve much fieldwork, which is where your desire for hands-on knowledge would be met. Your brief description of your existing research sounds like it could fit within anthro.

Also Rhetoric at Berkeley (Butler and performativity--surely something that might matter to you, even if you don't like dry, impenetrable theory), Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford, History of Consciousness at UCSC--all inter/multi disciplinary programs, although the former two are probably more strictly academic than you might want. I'm not sure how easy it is to get master's degrees from these programs, though.

Maybe look at MFAs in art, theatre/drama or film studies? Many of these have a performance studies element, and I've run into people from area drama departments who are doing queer studies/performance sort of work, some with a mix of actual performance and research.
posted by col_pogo at 2:34 AM on September 1, 2011

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