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Dr. Gillian Turnbull is the first full-time Director of Writing & Publishing at the University of King’s College. The position was created following the recent approval of the university’s new MFA in Fiction program and the reorganization of the School of Journalism into the School of Journalism, Writing & Publishing. Under the new structure, each program has its own director. Dr. Turnbull will head up the school’s MFA programs in Creative Nonfiction and Fiction; Professor Fred Vallance-Jones will continue to oversee the school’s undergraduate and graduate degrees in Journalism.
Dr. Turnbull has deep connections to King’s. She graduated from the MFA in Creative Nonfiction program in 2017 and has served as a mentor for students in the program since 2019.
“I don’t think it is an understatement to say the King’s MFA program changed my life,” Dr. Turnbull says. “Until I joined as a student in 2015, I was on a standard academic trajectory; that is, I was teaching, researching, and publishing in my chosen field of music. The MFA in Creative Nonfiction not only offered me a chance to write about music for a broader audience, it also revealed a community fundamental to my growth as a writer.”
King’s President William Lahey says that Dr. Turnbull’s multidisciplinary background is ideally suited to lead the university’s growth in writing and publishing education. “As we prepare to welcome the first cohort to the MFA in Fiction, Dr. Turnbull’s multidisciplinary profile is ideal to developing writing and publishing programs that combine King’s deep industry expertise with innovative and expansive thinking. I’m thrilled to welcome Gillian as inaugural Director of Writing & Publishing.”
Dr. Turnbull is the author of Sonic Booms: Making Music in an Oil Town, an examination of underground music making in the fossil fuel-based economy of Calgary, and co-editor of the forthcoming Bad Artist: Essays on Unconventional Creativity. She is currently working on I’m Not Your Identity Crisis, a creative nonfiction book that is a snapshot of women working in the modern-day music industry. She is also revising a manuscript of speculative short stories based on the violence women experience in the music industry and developing a trilogy of short nonfiction books looking at debt, higher education, and grocery work in Canada.
She has a PhD in ethnomusicology from York University and has been teaching in the Department of Philosophy and Music at Toronto Metropolitan University.
Dr. Turnbull began her new position on January 3, 2023.
As part of the reorganization within the School of Journalism, Writing & Publishing, Kim Pittaway has been named Cohort Director in the MFA in Creative Nonfiction program, one of two limited-residency Master of Fine Arts degree programs offered at King’s. Pittaway joins longstanding MFA Cohort Directors Dean Jobb and Stephen Kimber, with Kimber shifting to the Fiction program. Pittaway’s new role will allow the widely respected journalist, educator and publishing professional to bring her 36 years of publishing and teaching experience to bear on a new set of challenges. Cohort Directors work closely with program mentors and Pittaway’s experience will be invaluable to Creative Nonfiction mentors as they support students toward a degree that often entails significant personal and professional exploration.
The MFA in Creative Nonfiction welcomed its first students in 2013. Graduates of the program have since published close to 50 books with top Canadian, U.S. and international publishers and garnered awards and accolades in Canada and beyond.
The MFA in Fiction will welcome its first students in June 2023.
Applications are currently open for both programs.