Creative Writing and the New Humanities

By Paul Dawson | Go to book overview

Introduction

Building a garret in the ivory tower

Once seen as a peculiarly American phenomenon, Creative Writing has developed an increasingly international presence in the last decade. Writing programmes are now entrenched and growing in Australian and British universities, have a strong presence in countries such as Canada and New Zealand, and are also developing in Asia-Pacific countries. Owing to its immense popularity with students, and a growing sense of professional awareness amongst teachers, Creative Writing has increasingly and inevitably become the subject of research interest, as academics draw upon current literary and cultural theory to develop new pedagogical methods, and to examine the role of Creative Writing in the contemporary humanities. Despite this popularity and interest, perceptions of Creative Writing both within and outside the academy continue to be framed by an outmoded scepticism. Since the inception of writing programmes the most prominent discussions about Creative Writing have been concerned with its legitimacy as an academic discipline. These discussions have tended to revolve around a simplistic polemic, manifested in the perennial question, can writing be taught?and its corollary, should it be taught? As a result much that has been written about writing workshops assumes the form of either a denunciation or an apologia.

The question of whether writing can be taught not only manifests a concern about the limits of education, but continues the debate about the relative merits of native talent and acquired skill which has occupied commentators on literature since antiquity. Today's version of this ancient debate is played out entirely in regard to writing work-shops, acquiring a hitherto unheard of institutional context. This raises the question of whether writing should be taught, a question which betrays an anxiety about the location of attempts to teach writing: the university. The debates which revolve around these questions rest upon a conception of Creative Writing as a formal institutionalised

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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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