Times Higher Education – “Creative Writing”

The Core presents an interesting feature from Times Higher Education, in which they offer their insight on what the causes, and possible consequences, of the rise of “creative writing” may be. Here is a sample:

Despite the speed and apparent smoothness with which creative writing has become incorporated into English departments, or (especially in the US) as a separate department alongside English, its institutionalisation is complex and deceptive. It is obvious, however, that its recent and remarkable expansion is closely bound up with the marketisation of higher education, especially in the US and the UK. Once you start thinking of “the student” as “the customer”, and once the customer’s own preferences are “prioritised” (to echo the business-speak that has come to prevail), it is inevitable that you should expect to see more courses in creative writing than in, say, medieval English prose or 18th-century pastoral verse.

In important (if insufficiently acknow-ledged) respects, the recent expansion of creative writing testifies to a peculiar restoration of a conception of writing as personal self-expression. As scholar and consultant Robert Rowland Smith comments in On Modern Poetry: From Theory to Total Criticism (2012): “We’re at a point where more poetry is being written than published, let alone read, mainly because poetry has come to be considered so much as an outlet for personal feelings – the poem as the stylized mode of the journal entry. Even among poems that do get published – and there is a parallel with recent art – the emphasis on the recording of subjective experience is overwhelming.”

Leave all your worries about otherness – the unconscious, death, not to mention poverty and injustice, the environment, etc – behind. Come and join the world of self-affirming, self-expressive creative writing. In all of this it would be easy to concur with American literary critic Mark McGurl’s characterisation of the rise of creative writing. As he shows in The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing (2009), writing has become overwhelmingly “the product of a system”.

But this is only one way of construing the rise of creative writing.

To read the full feature, visit bit.ly/Yb4EYW.

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