Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Topic: Creative Writing at the College Level

10-second review: Finds that the current creative writing pedagogy is not productive. Offers alternatives.

Title: “Voice of Authority: Theorizing Creative Writing Pedagogy.” RM Kearns. College Composition and Communication (June 2009), 790-807. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Quote: “The typical creative writing curriculum centers on the workshop, in which peers and professors critique students’ work-in-progress. Some enjoy this format and benefit from it. Other writers, however, have described the workshop process as counter productive and alienating.” p. 790.

Quote: “The most basic features of the conventional workshop are as follows: 1) the author is prohibited from speaking during discussion of her or his work (the ‘gag’ rule); 2) discussion focuses (sometimes exclusively) on purported ‘flaws’ in the work….” p. 792.

Inevitable Focus on Flaws

Even when workshop members are required to say what is good about a piece or read a paragraph they like, the discussion almost immediately turns to flaws.

Quote: “The normative workshop discussion focuses on ‘problems’ with a story rather than its strengths.” p. 795.

Alternative Approaches

The author suggests some alternatives to the typical creative writing workshop: view the work as a work in progress; what can be learned from analyzing published works; the author discusses the process used when writing it, including revisions already thought of.

Comment: The same problems and alternatives might be useful for peer response in writing instruction. RayS.

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