Jose Carillo's Forum


This section features links to interesting, instructive, or thought-provoking readings about the English language and related disciplines. The selections could be anywhere from light and humorous to serious and scholarly, and they range widely from the reading, writing, listening, and speaking disciplines to the teaching and learning of English.

Rise of creative writing in universities ruffles professors' feathers

In “Composition and decomposition,” an article that came out in the March 28, 2013 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education (UK), English novelist and creative writing senior lecturer Nicolas Royle writes about the terrible unease—nay, the antagonism—of professors and teachers towards the rise of creative writing in universities. He observes: “They believe, for very good reasons, that it is not compatible with the study of literary texts: works of literature demand rigorous critical attention, a strong understanding of the workings of the English language, a good grasp of historical context, an abiding respect and love for tradition… and an impartial aesthetic and intellectual curiosity about the great artistic accomplishments of others… They certainly would not be willing to teach a course with any creative writing component and, secretly, quite possibly wish their creative writing colleagues would die horrible deaths, with the senior management in their universities deciding not to advertise for replacements.”

Creative Writing

Royle says that creative writing is a contentious, divisive aspect of literary studies that appears to be quietly eating the heart out of English as a university subject, and that its recent and remarkable expansion is closely bound up with the marketization of higher education, especially in the US and the UK. He explains: “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.”

Read Nicolas Royle’s “Composition and decomposition” in The Chronicle of Higher Education (UK) now!

In “Voices Inside Their Heads,” an essay that he wrote for the April 11, 2013 issue of The New York Times, Pico Iyer, writer and distinguished presidential fellow at Chapman University, says that teachers of writing still urge students to find their own voice, and that publishers are, as always, notoriously eager to discover any new writer with a truly engaging and exceptional a voice. And how does a writer find and establish that voice? “At its core, writing is about cutting beneath every social expectation to get to the voice you have when no one is listening,” Iyer explains. “It’s about finding something true, the voice that lies beneath all words. But the paradox of writing is that everyone at her desk finds that the stunning passage written in the morning seems flat three hours later, and by the time it’s rewritten, the original version will look dazzling again. Our moods, our beings are as changeable as the sky (long hours at any writing project teach us), so we can no longer trust any one voice as definitive or lasting.”

Read Pico Iyer’s “Voices Inside Their Heads” in The New York Times now!

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