Creative Writing in the Composition Classroom

full name / name of organization: 
Brooke Comer, Chair, NeMLA
contact email: 

41st Anniversary Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 7-11, 2010
Montreal, Quebec - Hilton Bonaventure

Creative Writing in the Composition Classroom

Alvin D. Alley, in "Guiding Principles for the Teaching of Rhetoric," claims, "all significant writing is creative writing." Yet composition writing and creative writing are qualitatively different. Composition writing asks the writer to adhere to pre-established meaning to analyze text, while creative writing asks students to create original text, and in so doing, invent and transform meaning. Composition writing is a recognized discipline; creative writing is arguably not, having long been regarded as an instinctive process that cannot be taught. But if the goal is to create rather than simply communicate meaning, then creative exercises surely offer an intimate proximity to language that can only inspire better composition writing.

This panel invites abstracts that analyze the value of creative writing exercises, including fiction, creative nonfiction, drama, poetry and children's literature, and to assess how creativity serves composition course learning outcomes. Proposals may include but are not limited to the following issues:

--Describe how specific creative exercises are successful in teaching argumentative writing, analytic writing, or research writing?

- The notion of composition writing as a dialogical versus monological process creates an inherent "other;" What kind of creative exercises enable students to understand their voice in relation to audience?

--How can creative exercises be used in class-related projects, such as community based learning, to enhance the value of both the service work and composition writing?

--How are learning outcomes for this creative process measured? What kind of analysis could provide a more specific means of assessment?

This topic is highly significant today, as relatively few theoretical publications are devoted to analyzing the value creative writing in composition courses. Accepted submissions will be invited to participate in a prospective book project.

Submit 300-500 word abstracts to Brooke Comer at

Deadline: September 30, 2009

Please include with your abstract:

Name and Affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
A/V requirements (if any; $10 handling fee)

The 41st Annual Convention will feature approximately 350 sessions, as well as dynamic speakers and cultural events. Details and the complete Call for Papers for the 2010 Convention will be posted in June:

Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.

Travel to Canada now requires a passport for U.S. citizens. Please get your passport application in early.