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(Re)Writing Craft

(Re)Writing Craft: Composition, Creative Writing, and the Future of English Studies

Tim Mayers
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  • Book Info
    (Re)Writing Craft
    Book Description:

    (Re)Writing Craftfocuses on the gap that exists in many English departments between creative writers and compositionists on one hand, and literary scholars on the other, in an effort to radically transform the way English studies are organized and practiced today. In proposing a new form of writing he calls "craft criticism," Mayers, himself a compositionist and creative writer, explores the connections between creative writing and composition studies programs, which currently exist as separate fields within the larger and more amorphous field of English studies. If creative writing and composition studies are brought together in productive dialogue, they can, in his view, succeed in inverting the common hierarchy in English departments that privileges interpretation of literature over the teaching of writing.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7328-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Education

Table of Contents

  1. 1 Composition, Creative Writing, and the Shifting Boundaries of English Studies
    (pp. 1-28)

    Aspiring professionals in any academic discipline must learn that discipline’s boundaries; they must work toward a clear understanding of the discipline’s object or objects of study, its accepted research methods, its guiding questions and modes of inquiry. In many cases also, newcomers to an academic discipline need to learn the history of their chosen discipline—the trajectory the discipline’s inquiry has followed; the theories that have been developed and then either kept or discarded; and the current methodological, ideological, or interpretive disputes (if any) in the discipline. This is rarely an easy process. It is, after all, more than simply...

  2. 2 ʺCraft Criticismʺ and the Possibility of Theoretical Scholarship in Creative Writing
    (pp. 29-64)

    The poet Theodore Weiss, in an interview published in 2001, says: “Language, it’s true, is the closest we come to others. And closest to the self that’s our own. But, beyond the personal, there’s a self in language itself. It arises in those rare moments when, anonymously for us, the language utters itself. The poet, suddenly in the middle of the language, is content to be little more than its medium:” Interviewer Reginald Gibbons—himself a poet, critic, and editor—marvels, “When the critics told us [things like that] ... that was to diminish the role of the author, but...

  3. 3 Writing, Reading, Thinking, and the Question Concerning Craft
    (pp. 65-96)

    “Craft” is probably one of the central concepts—if notthecentral concept—within the professional discourses of creative writing. Yet “craft” is rarely ever explicitly defined and probably serves to connote a broad realm or, to borrow a phrase from Raymond Williams, a “structure of feeling.” Much of what enables and drives craft criticism is the sense that the available and commonplace uses of the wordcraftare inadequate. In other words, craft criticism is based upon not only a concept of craft but also an interrogation of the prevailing definitions of craft. And perhaps no thinker offers stronger...

  4. 4 Terms of an Alliance
    (pp. 97-128)

    Clearly, there are theoretical concerns that might bring compositionists and creative writers together. Such theoretical concerns, however, are often not enough (at least by themselves) to effect widespread change within institutional structures. More specifically, the convergence between composition and creative writing may turn out to matter little if composition and creative writing continue to be marked off as separate territories within most English departments. At the end of chapter 1, I ask if an alliance between composition and creative writing might be possible and if it might be desirable. I think the answer to both questions is yes. However, I...

  5. 5 Starting Somewhere
    (pp. 129-168)

    Throughout this book, one of my central claims—both implicit and explicit—is that theoretical change in English studies, however radical and interesting it may seem at any given moment, will never realize its potential without accompanying structural change. The greatest danger in theoretical reform proposals, in other words, is not that they will radically transform English studies, but that by themselves theycannottransform English studies, except in fleeting and illusory ways. Structural change, however, cannot take place by itself. It must always have a theoretical, self-reflective component. Thus, theoretical explorations—in this book the mapping out of potential...