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Literary rebels: A history of creative writers in Anglo-American universities

posted on 2022-10-20, 11:21 authored by Lise JaillantLise Jaillant

The first transatlantic history of creative writing programmes in universities, from the 1930s onwards. How many times have you heard that creative writing programmes are factories that produce the same kind of writers, isolated from real life? Only by escaping academia can writers be completely free. Universities are profoundly conservative places, designed to favour a certain way of writing—preferably informed by literary theory. Those who reject the creative/critical discourse of academia are the true rebels, condemned to live (or survive) in a tough literary marketplace. Conformity is on the side of academia, the story goes, and rebellion is on the other side. This book argues against the notion that creative writing programmes are driven by conformity. Instead, it shows that these programmes in the United States and Britain were founded and developed by literary outsiders, who left an enduring mark on their discipline. To this day, creative writing occupies a marginal position in Anglo-American universities. The multiplication of new programmes, accompanied by rising student enrolments, has done nothing to change that positioning. As a discipline, creative writing thrives on opposition to the mainstream university, while benefiting from what the university has to offer. Even when creative writing is located within literature departments, relationships with scholars remain uneasy. Creative writers and scholars are not, and have never been, natural bedfellows.



  • Social Sciences and Humanities


  • English


Oxford University Press


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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© Lise Jaillant

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Copyright date



9780192855305; 9780191945434


  • en


Dr Lise Jaillant. Deposit date: 13 June 2021

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