David Lodge

Creative Writing in Universities

There are two distinct ways of teaching creative writing at the tertiary level of education, though various compromises between them are possible. One type of course (let us call it type “A”) is designed for students with a serious personal commitment to imaginative writing and perhaps aspirations to be professional writers. It is usually run as a “workshop”: a small group of students meets regularly with their teacher, who is often a recognised author, employed by the institution exclusively for this purpose, to present and discuss their ‘own work, giving and taking criticism. The second kind of course (type “B”) is less selective in its intake, less vocational in orientation, and more formalised in method. It combines the reading and analysis of literary texts with exercises in composition in various forms and genres, and may embrace discursive as well as imaginative writing. The aim of such courses is to increase the students’ verbal skills and enhance their understanding of how literary texts are constructed by putting them in the position of producers rather than consumers.

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