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08 October 2010 @ 03:16 pm
Do I sound like a jackass? :D :D :D  
I got an email from the English program saying:

You're receiving this e-mail because you were enrolled in a 200-level creative writing class in spring or summer, or you are enrolled in one now, during autumn quarter.

We are planning for future 300- and 400-level creative writing course offerings, as well as for admission to the Creative Writing Option in the English major, and we'd like to ask for your help.  We are hoping to create enough space at the 300 level for as many of you as possible who plan to continue on with your studies in creative writing!

Could you please assist us by taking about one minute to fill out a brief questionnaire about your plans for taking additional creative writing courses and/or plans to apply to the Creative Writing option?


So I filled out their survey (basically, which classes have you taken and what are you planning on taking), and then I saw the little "Additional Comments" box.

And I went off on a long tangent that was TOTALLY IRRELEVANT (but true).

I would like to mention that I find the Creative Writing program's stance on genre fiction to be disappointingly narrow-minded. The claim that "writing genre fiction does not teach you how to write good literary fiction" (as stated in Burroway's "Writing Fiction," quoted on the Creative Writing program's application) is thoroughly unconvincing; I don't believe that writing fiction that is considered "genre fiction" requires skills that are any different from those necessary to write "mainstream" literature. More importantly, the idea that "dealing in the conventions and hackneyed phrases of [genre fiction]...can operate as a form of personal denial, using writing as a means of avoiding rather than uncovering your real concerns" completely disregards the potential that is contained within genre fiction. For example, Ursula K. Le Guin's fantasy and science fiction writing is often primarily focused on the anthropological possibilities of imaginary worlds, inviting examination of our own culture by demonstrating functional societies that, while different from reality, are nonetheless believable as alternate paths to our history. Her book "The Left Hand of Darkness," to provide a specific example, takes this idea a step further by describing a genderless alien race that allows the book to question of human conceptions of gender roles and sexuality in a form that is largely unavailable "mainstream" literature.

I won't deny that the majority of genre fiction is, in fact, hackneyed and trivial literature; for example, I would not argue for a second that "Twilight" has any literary or artistic merit whatsoever. However, the Creative Writing program's current stance on genre fiction ignores the fact that this academic dismissal of works outside of the "mainstream" only contributes to the triviality of genre fiction by refusing to consider intellectual discussion of the topic in the academic world. Writers who are drawn to genre fiction are forced to learn about the art form on their own, and the only available teachers are the books that are considered "genre fiction" themselves - teachers whose abilities tend to be rather hit-or-miss - and so they learn to produce the same sort of works that already exist. Meanwhile, being taught that there is no room in the academic world for their literary and artistic interests distances them from scholarly discussion, making it immeasurably more difficult for them to take in the lessons that writing mainstream fiction could otherwise teach them.

I hope that this does not appear to be an attack on the Creative Writing program, because that is not my attention. However, I very strongly feel that a number of worthy works of fiction are disregarded by the academic community, and a greater number of subpar pieces of writing are created as a result.



...That survey may or may not have been anonymous. I'm not entirely sure. Possibly this just makes me look like a jackass to the program that I'm trying to get into, but :D