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Students often express trepidation about finding something to write about, confiding concerns that their life, as a basis for crafting creative nonfiction, is not “interesting enough.” It is possible that these students are measuring their lives-as-subject against story creation in fiction. Crafting tension and drama might use similar techniques in fiction and nonfiction, but tension in these two forms of writing doesn’t have to be similar by necessity. The goal is to help students find strategies to arrange, contextualize, and express their unique life experiences in a way that is engaging and provocative for readers. Click here to continue reading.
Ars Poetica, Ars Medica, Ars COVID-19:
Creative Writing Pedagogy in the Medical Classroom
While the integration of literary studies and its ancillary set of techniques—close reading, textual analysis, imagery—with medical programs and courses in both pre-med and medical schools has become de rigeur, to this date the pedagogical model seems stuck on this idea that doctors should simply read, and not write, literature. However, if the foundational argument for this teaching innovation is that reading literature engenders empathy and thus improves doctor-patient communication, why would the same not be true for residents, interns, and pre-med students writing, and not just reading. Can’t we at least presume that writing would have an equivalent, if not perhaps superior, empathy-generation function as reading? My answer to these questions is a resounding yes. Click here to continue reading.
Let’s talk about the genre of fan letters in general, for a minute. Fan letters usually include accolades related to creative accomplishments. They often explain why the fan is a fan. Fan letters are self-aware. This is true for any epistolary writing; after all, there’s a signature at the end. Lia Purpura writes of the letter as “a space for communion…” (4). In a letter, the writer/narrator is present, not omniscient. There may be a sense of awe in a fan letter, though fan letters are often honest in their criticism. Fan letters tend to be earnest, not cynical. Fan letters are set in the present; the fan is saying, I wanted to let you know what I’m thinking about right now. Click here to continue reading.
Teaching and Writing True Stories Through
Feminist, Womanist and Black Feminist Epistemologies
The pyramidal shape of the “creative writing industrial complex” at the start of the twentieth century may make this shift difficult, as institutional change frequently requires investment from those with the power to make systemic change. Though there are already educators of creative writing who have found a place for feminism, critical race theory, postcolonial theory, and Queer, disability and Crip theories within the workshop (or other styles of creative writing classroom), many MFA programs across the U.S. continue to lack engagement in cultural studies. An epistemological shift is likely to require a shift in aesthetics, and such a shift is tied to the continued growth of creative writing programs and their effect on how readers and scholars define creative nonfiction as “true stories, well told” (Gutkind). Click here to keep reading.
"Inspiration in the Drop of Ink":
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Observations in
Introduction to Creative Writing
Wendy Bishop claimed that “…generation is the first requirement of a writing process” (62). Yet for many novices, learning that writers do something other than pull lucky lightning bolts down from the sky first requires a paradigm shift. Luckily for writing teachers, identifying such points where our students need to shift their understanding—the threshold concepts of our disciplines—helps us to design powerful learning activities. In the following, I report on a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning project (SoTL) conducted in Introduction to Creative Writing at a two-year college in which I gathered and analyzed evidence of an activity—keeping a collaborative journal of observations—designed to help students unlearn myths of inspiration and shift attitudes about the writing process. The results show that students do indeed enter Creative Writing with powerful prior beliefs about the role of inspiration in the writing process; further, transfer of knowledge from first-year composition and creative nonfiction writing assignments aid them in their learning about generation. Click here to continue reading.