How the University Workshop Hinders New Writers from Engaging with Ideas (and what to do about it)

Publisher:
Miami University
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Segue (Middletown), 2007, 6.29.07 pp. 1 - 13
Issue Date:
2007-01
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When Vladimir Nabokov was suggested for a chair in literature at Harvard, Professor Roman Jakobson (qtd. in Grudin 1996: 529-30) famously objected. What s next? he asked. Shall we appoint elephants to teach zoology? A similar view was expressed a few years ago at a conference of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature. Asked why no Australian writers had been invited to speak, an organiser quipped, would you invite the sheep to a wool growers conference? (Adams 1995). Being a fiction writer and a teacher of writing is a lot like that we re the relatives you d prefer not to invite to the wedding, the awkward school friend you ve outgrown, the sheep that belong on the farm. University creative writing programs employ us to facilitate writing workshops because, whilst we have doctorates and the gravitas such a qualification confers as writing practitioners we are also trade. We speak from our experiences about ideas and inspiration, research, discipline, editing, publishers and agents. We pass on what we understand about writing, says Australian writer, Glenda Adams (1995).
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