I will attend the Phd in English and Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee, in Knoxville

Dear friends,

I have great news that I can finally share. At the end of last year, I applied to nine universities. This spring, four rejected me outright, two put me on a waiting list, one offered me a place without funding, and two offered me a place with (very generous) funding. All of these were good places to study. When I began the process, the University of Tennessee was one of my top choices, and so when they made me a really good offer, I was happy to accept. It’s a great end to a very long process. Sooner or later, I may write a post detailing the story of how it all went, but all in all, it was much more complicated than I expected, and was more like playing a six-month long hand of poker than anticipated.

At Knoxville, I have received a combined funding package, which includes a first-year fellowship, a four to five-year teaching assistantship (I teach two classes a semester in return for free tuition, a salary, and health insurance), and, additionally, a chancellor’s stipend for the first four years. There are also a lot of scholarships to apply for once in the department: among others, there is money available to travel to conferences, to take summer courses, and there is the chance to teach one less class in a semester in return for helping a professor with his or her research.

I feel pretty great about this.

The programme at Tennessee has highly experienced fiction faculty, teachers who seem dedicated to teaching the kind of fiction I want to write. The writing students I spoke to there sounded very happy. Knoxville is a small city with a lot going on, and an interesting mix of conservative and liberal tendencies. The city is thirty minutes from the Smoky Mountains.

It’s possible to take a bus to Nashville, a longer bus to D.C., drive to the hip mountain town of Asheville, visit whisky refineries, and eat very healthy food.

When I first got the offers from colleges, my parents danced around the living room. Now that I have accepted one, the three of us are a touch sad, as we know this nice period of me living at home is coming to an end.

Tomorrow I’m going to speak to the department further, and ask a lot of questions. I have a lot of writing I want to do, a lot of reading, and I’m going to make a lot of new friends. I’m also going to be living in the American south for the first time.

I hope you will keep reading as the adventure continues.

Best wishes,


11 thoughts on “I will attend the Phd in English and Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee, in Knoxville

  1. Daniel, congratulations! Your passion for writing, for reading, for deep study, and for sharing your knowledge and interests are all very apparent just from reading this blog. You deserve this wonderful opportunity; best of luck, enjoy the South, and keep posting.


  2. This seems to be a wonderful opportunity for you and I hope it is as fulfilling as U anticipate. I had hoped U could go to the west coast, California, esp the Stanford U area in Palo Alto which is suburban San Francisco. Please keep us informed about how it is to live in the Deep South vs Philadelphia.


  3. Hey Daniel,

    That’s great. Congratulations! I went to grad school at UT & worked there for a while, living for a total of 5 years in Knoxville. It’s a great place. The university library is awesome. I always heard good things about the English dept. You’re going to really enjoy it. I’ve been away from there for many years but it’s one of those places that doesn’t change very much over the years. Feel free to contact me with any questions about life in Knoxville or UT.

    Oh, and even if you’re not a fan of American football, you absolutely will find game day in Knoxville a fascinating & bizarre experience as 100,000 orange-clad Tennesseans descend on the campus.

    Good luck with your studies & have fun!


  4. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for saying hello. I actually know a story about you. It’s not a very interesting or long story. But I know it, and will share when we meet 🙂


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