Creative Writing and the New Humanities

By Paul Dawson | Go to book overview

3

Workshop poetics

For the sake of proceeding let us define instruction in creative writing as the performance of practical criticism, by an instructor and members of a class, upon original poems and stories submitted by members of the class. All who participate in this instruction are, therefore, literary critics.

(Dave Smith 1985:218)

What distinguishes the Creative Writing workshop from the class in Literary Studies? The obvious answer is that students in the former produce 'creative' or literary works for assessment, while students in the latter produce essays in literary theory or criticism. Hence a distinction can be made between the writing and reading of literature. This leads, however, to an unconvincing division between supposedly original and primary creative writing and the mere secondary commentary of critical writing (which is only a form of reading). If we examine what actually goes on in a writing workshop we quickly realise that, like the class in Literary Studies, it is a discussion of texts. Some practical exercises in form or observation or automatic writing may be conducted in the workshop, but the actual work which will be submitted for assessment is written outside class and read inside class. Because of the emphasis on workshopping one might even claim that there is more actual reading in a Creative Writing class than in a Literary Studies class. The objects of discussion in the latter tend to be works of literature and their critical commentaries, as well as general theoretical works. In Creative Writing the objects of discussion may include general accounts of the creative process, handbooks of writing, perhaps even some critical commentaries, but tend to be either exemplary texts (by which I mean published works of literature deemed to be worthy of analysis

-87-

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Creative Writing and the New Humanities
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - From Imagination to Creativity 21
  • 2 - Disciplinary Origins 48
  • 3 - Workshop Poetics 87
  • 4 - Creative Writing in Australia 121
  • 5 - Negotiating Theory 158
  • 6 - What is a Literary Intellectual? 180
  • Conclusion 205
  • Notes 215
  • Bibliography 218
  • Index 245
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