Have you taken editing classes at UChicago's Graham School?
April 2, 2012 7:54 AM   Subscribe

Do you know anything about UChicago's Graham School, particularly its Editing curriculum?

The Editing curriculum offers several classes that seem interesting/useful, and if I took one or two classes and enjoyed them, then I might consider finishing the certificate. I live in Boston so these would be three-day intensive classes.

If you have any experience with the Graham School's program, I would really appreciate hearing as much detail as you're willing to share.
  • What are the workload and classroom dynamics like?
  • What are the students' backgrounds?
  • How are the three-day classes laid out?
  • Have you found the experience helpful outside a professional editor's role?
  • Would you recommend the program to others, and under what circumstances?
I'm hoping for anecdotal data more than general advice from people unfamiliar with the Graham School. I am not pursuing a career in editing. I took a similar editing class at Harvard some years ago and it really helped my writing. I am looking at UChicago with similar expectations, as well as just for fun.

Thanks in advance!
posted by cribcage to Education (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I took the first Beginning Manuscript Editing class, not on the three-day set-up but on the six (seven?) weeknight setting. To your points:

Workload: usually a couple of hours per class session--get familiar with a chapter of the Manual of Style, do some worksheets relating to that. The dynamic in my class was low-key and informational: we'd go over the homework and the new material and the teacher would answer questions. No putting people on the spot and no grandstanding/hogging of the spotlight by students.

Backgrounds: most worked in publishing and needed some editing knowledge as part of that. A few were looking to get into editing as a career.

Was it helpful? Yes. I do a lot of editing in my day job (in marketing at the University of Chicago Press), and while I knew grammar and usage rules already, this gave me the knowledge I needed to be able to mark up edited materials in the right way.

Would I recommend it? If you need to know the Chicago Manual of Style or need the sort of brush-up and additional technical knowledge that I mentioned needing, definitely it would be helpful.
posted by Levi Stahl at 8:22 AM on April 2, 2012

Response by poster: [Nine months later...]

I did take the Basic Manuscript Editing class in June after posting this question. I figured I might as well post about my experience, in case somebody else finds this thread wondering about the same questions I had when I posted it.

Basic Info: The class spans three days, Thursday through Saturday, and runs from 9 am to 4:30 pm. The classroom is located in the basement of the Gleacher Center, which you can find on Google Maps. The street address is 450 North Cityfront Plaza Drive. Every morning the classroom was stocked with bagels and juice, and every day around noon we broke for an hour's lunch (on our own). The whole thing passed relatively quickly. I had worried it might drag, but it didn't.

Instructor: Our teacher was fantastic. It was obvious that she really enjoys talking about things like capitalization and commas, which is exactly who you need as a teacher if you're going to spend three days doing that. She kept us laughing. But she also controlled the class well. She didn't let discussions drift too far or too long; we had material to cover, and we covered all of it neatly and without cramming.

Material: Most of the material centered on chapters 6–15 of the Chicago Manual of Style. Our teacher lectured some, but we spent most of the class time as a group analyzing and correcting text, working hands-on with those chapters. We discussed both copyediting (edits limited to the "mechanics of text presentation") and substantive editing. Copyediting was our nominal primary focus, but I felt like we spent a lot of time on both. Toward the end our teacher introduced some additional contexts like working with tables and reading proof.

Homework: We received our first assignment via email about two weeks before class. It consisted of three exercises on four pages and was due via email on the Monday before class. During the class we took two quizzes that were collected and corrected by the teacher, and we had homework both nights. The homework wasn't burdensome, and it wasn't graded; we went over it together in class. After the class ended, we took home a five-page assignment with a three-week deadline.

Credit: Our class ended June 9, the final assignment was due June 30, and on August 20 the school mailed me a letter notifying me that I received credit. That seemed like a long delay. If you need to submit proof of completion to your employer, then you should know this and either warn your employer or else make arrangements with the Graham School for faster turnaround.

Students: In my class, there were twenty-three students. I was the only male, and I was the only student not pursuing a career in publishing. Maybe one-third of the students already worked in some facet of publishing, and nearly everyone in the room worked in a job involving some type of editing. Some were attending on their employers' dimes, others were angling for promotions, and a few wanted to begin working as freelance editors. Approximately half of the students lived around Chicago.

In hindsight, I enjoyed the class. I think it's useful for professional writers, just occasionally, to stop and really consider decisions like capitalization and commas. My job involves presenting text to people who don't have time to read it, so it's valuable for me to have an awareness about details that can help the eye scan more smoothly. If you are looking to get into copyediting, I can tell you that after taking this class I would definitely have felt confident taking an editing test.
posted by cribcage at 1:44 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Final update from the OP:
Since posting this question, I completed the Editing certificate.

The Graham School is now introducing an online version of the curriculum. If an online option had been available instead of traveling to Chicago five times, I probably would have saved the travel expense—but I'm glad it wasn't. Setting aside the pros and cons of distance education generally, part of the value of this curriculum is spending fifteen intensive days in a classroom deconstructing and debating grammar and diction and commas, and seeing how widely people differ. I don't think you can replicate that experience online. Being in that room was educational.

If anyone finds this thread and has any questions about the program, I'm happy to answer. (I'm on Gmail, same username.) I would definitely recommend it, depending what you're looking to get. The demographic was mostly female, primarily but not overwhelmingly local residents, and split maybe two-thirds recent college graduates and one-third older folks. I commuted from Boston and stayed at hotels, so I can't speak to logistics like parking, although I will say the lunch hour gives you exactly enough time to walk to Xoco and get a takeout sandwich to eat in the student lounge. That discovery was a highlight for me, especially after Fox & Obel closed. Other culinary highlights included Moto, Doughnut Vault, Little Goat Diner, the trendy-but-worth-it RPM Italian, and the trust-me-on-this-one sautéed frog legs at Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House.

The best description of the editing curriculum came from my first class, and it's the phrase I quoted in my previous follow-up: this program is about "the mechanics of text presentation." If you find that subject interesting or important, or if you think it's training that could help you professionally, then go for it. My own experience was great, and I'm glad it's on my resume.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:36 PM on October 18, 2014

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