The Growing Importance of Formal Education

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Every living author in our study that has published a novel since 1980 has completed a college degree of some sort. Prior to 1980, it was less likely that authors of major African American novels published had attended college. Notably, over half of the novelists who published books after 1980 received advanced graduate degrees.
Percival Everett, author of Erasure (2001) received a B.A. from the University of Miami and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Brown University in 1982. Tayari Jones, author of Leaving Atlanta (2002) received a B.A. from Spelman College and an MFA from Arizona State University in 2000. And, Paul Beatty, author of The White Boy Shuffle (1996) received a B.A. from Boston University and an MFA from Brooklyn College in 1989.
Out of 63 authors:
– 63%, or 40 have a college degree;
– 11% or 7 have an MFA;
– 27% or 17 hold a graduate degree of some sort

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