Reading to write, writing to be read

Creative Writing, Creative-critical crossover

Brief Description

The ‘Reading to Write’ project evaluates the ways in which a ‘critical-creative crossover’ can develop where literature and creative courses are offered together and suggests strategies for promoting this crossover through the use of a discussion based web resource.

Background

The ‘Reading to Write’ project drew on the experience of the English department at the University of Wales, Bangor in offering Creative Writing courses alongside a traditional Literature modules. The ‘Collabra’ e-discussion forum provided an opportunity for staff to pay close attention to the ways in which students were making sense of the relationships between critical and creative practice as they pursued their undergraduate careers. The project drew on views from students at all stages of their undergraduate programmes.

Project design

The project operated through the ‘Collabra’ e-discussion forum but also made use of printed questionnaires and interviews in order to gather in-depth information about how students make links between their critical and creative work.

Key findings

The report suggests that students of Creative Writing feel strongly that their creative work impacts positively on their ability to operate as literary critics. Students also identified the positive role that critical approaches provide in helping them to evaluate and improve their creative writing. The report findings help to undermine negative stereotypes about the relationship between literature and creative writing courses.

Learning outcomes

The project found that undergraduates were comfortable about making connections between critical and creative work. They were much less likely to identify links between creative writing courses and the study of grammar and syntax. Creative Writing courses then were not being constructed as ‘composition’ courses but were instead being interpreted as opportunities for creative and critical reflections on literature. While Creative Writing and Literature programmes are often understood to have different ideas about ‘literature’ and to have a problematic working relationship, undergraduates it seems are much more likely to view them as related and fundamentally supportive fields of endeavour. The report recommends that further work should be done to ensure that the two subjects communicate their teaching and learning strategies and research outlooks with a view to positive collaboration and development.

Report

Project leader

Dr Graeme Harper
UK Centre for Creative Writing Research Through Practice
Director
Centre for Creative and Performing Arts
University of Wales
Bangor LL57 2DG

Research period

January 2002 – July 2003