Creative writing: the frequently asked question

Brayfield, C (2009) 'Creative writing: the frequently asked question.' New Writing, 6 (3). pp. 175-186. ISSN 1479-0726

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With Creative Writing there is only one Frequently Asked Question and it is a loaded question, in Latin a num question, in Street a wy no question, a question that persists in defiance of the reality of arts education – can you teach writing? In universities in Britain, the subject is stigmatised as the curriculum innovation du jour, the Media Studies of the Noughties, too sexy for its student numbers. This paper explores more than two thousand years of education in the arts, the mechanisms that marginalised the practise of writing as higher education developed and the status of the subject now, when a cultural economy worth over £70 billion per annum employs almost six million people. Celia Brayfield also co-edited, with Professor Graeme Harper and Dr Andrew Green, this special edition of New Writing.

Item Type: Article

The FAQ of the title is scarcely an original question – can you teach creative writing? While creative writing graduates dominate award shortlists and every one of the writers from whom this year’s Costa First Novel award were chosen has tutored at The Arvon Foundation, a number of vocal writers and industry professionals continue to maintain that the discipline is virtually fraudulent. This paper argues the case for creative writing teaching from the perspective of education in other artistic fields, citing the studio system of Renaissance Italy and the conservatoire model of music teaching as examples of established, mainstream arts educational systems. Additionally the paper cites the examples collaborative associations of writers such as The Inklings or the group including Byron, Shelley and Mary Shelley and demonstrates that these groups functioned as writing workshops before the term was coined.

The paper incorporates findings from the most recent research into Creative Writing at university, considering student experience and employment destinations as well as the processes of creative education.

Keywords: creative writing, arts education, arts teaching, conservatoire, apprenticeship, writing, workshop, fiction, popular fiction, poetry, Vasari, Mary Shelly, Inklings, Tolkien, Malcolm Bradbury, Ian McEwan, Kasuo Ishiguro, Raymond Carver, Jay McInerny, JK Rowling, Brunel, creative industries, cultural industries, creative economy
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
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Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2013 13:50
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2022 17:03
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