The Oxford/Bath Spa Residency: FAQs Answered!

Bath Spa Residency is BACK! Originally developed to offer students the opportunity to explore the literature and culture of England while broadening their understanding of our two separate cultural approaches to writing for young readers, the Oxford/Bath Spa Residency is a popular residency option open to 17 students and alumnx each summer. Packed with excursions to natural, artistic, and historic destinations, this residency option includes meetings, lectures, and readings within the VCFA group and with faculty and students from Bath Spa University.
The Oxford/Bath Spa residency is a full residency experience, complete with its own faculty – Martine Leavitt and Linda Urban this time – along with the residency Coordinator Ginger Johnson. The dates for the UK residency are July 12 – 19, 2023 with flexible arrival and departure options. The VCFA group will be housed at Wolfson College in Oxford   which will serve as home base as they take their meals, tours, and free time, exploring the literary wonders of Oxford. Today we have Ginger Johnson, our Program Coordinator, to answer some of the pressing questions.
     Wild Things:  So how does the Bath Spa residency abroad work?
      Ginger: It works just like a regular residency with workshops, lectures, and readings, but it‘s in England, so it comes with a British accent and a side of magic. 🙂 There are two faculty members and 17 students and alumnx. Last year, attendees were divided into two generative workshop groups led by our faculty. Two days were spent with our colleagues at Corsham Court, the location of the Bath Spa University program. And amongst all that, there is writing, general revelry, and delightful shenanigans.
     Wild Things: In addition to this, two full days of academic programming will be with counterparts in Bath Spa University’s MA in Writing for Young People. Graduating students do their graduate lectures and graduate readings live at the UK residency. And though shenanigans are to be expected, it is a true academic residency, in which all lectures, workshops, and scheduled group activities are mandatory.
    Wild Things: Do you get the same credit for attending that you would get for a normal residency?
     Ginger: Yes, indeed! It is meant to be as rigorous as a normal residency, but instead of laundry day, we have high tea. I must admit, I prefer high tea to laundry day. I think you would too, if you were offered a tower of tiny sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, jam, with a fresh mint infusion out on the patio of a centuries-old building with flowering vines climbing up its stone walls. I‘m swooning again just thinking of it.
Wild Things: What often surprises people about this residency program?
Ginger: Though I can’t speak for other people, what surprised me was how very VCFA it felt—that even though we were far from College Hall, it was still residency. I may be a bit biased, but it was residency with a magical twist. Did I mention yet that it‘s magical?
Wild Things: What are the accommodations like?
Ginger: We were in modern single dorms with our own bathrooms en suite. All the mod cons, as they say.
Wild Things: Can you leave campus during this residency?
Ginger: Yes and no. The cities of Oxford and Bath are our campus, and who would want to leave that? But all events are required, as it is a bit more condensed than a regular residency. There is free time scheduled though, so folks do have the opportunity to do some exploring on their own.
Wild Things: What are some offerings you can get only at the Bath Spa residency?
Ginger: I daresay you won‘t have the opportunity to see Philip Pullman‘s ponytail in any other residency

. Some of the delights include a children‘s literature walking tour, a visit to the Bodleian library, punting in the Cherwell, and dining at a traditional pub. Aside from the regular tourist sights (and more importantly), you have the opportunity to infuse your writer‘s soul in a setting unlike any other. Immersing yourself in another culture can be transformative both personally as well as in your writing.

Wild Things: What is learning with our faculty members in a new setting like? Does it still feel like VCFA?
Ginger: Yes. It still feels very much like VCFA, but with the benefit of some cross-cultural conversation with our colleagues at Bath Spa University, who are just as passionate about children‘s literature as we are.
Wild Things: What are some Dos and Don’ts of the Bath Spa residency?
Ginger: There is really only one Do: Dive in and submerge yourself with an open mind and an open heart. It is a unique opportunity to explore the literature and culture of England and let that sift its way into your own writing.
Wild Things: Do you have any recommendations for things students shouldn’t miss at Bath Spa?
Ginger: I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in the Christchurch cathedral—each night for Evensong (free) and once for a concert (not free, but not too expensive). I also recommend getting lost by yourself in the Botanical Gardens with a notebook, a pen, and some strawberries.
Wild Things: Why is this something students and alumnx should apply for?
Ginger: Have I mentioned yet that it‘s magical? It‘s magical.
For those of you with additional questions, there will be a Zoom Information Session on Wednesday, March 29th at 8pm ET/5pm PT:
Meeting ID: 990 5852 9894
Passcode: 361201
(Yes, we will record it, but please come if you can!)