Postcolonial Responses to the Globalized Discipline of Creative Writing

deadline for submissions: 
September 23, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
James Shea & Janelle Adsit / ACLA 2017 (Utrecht, July 6-9)
contact email: 

In light of recent scholarship on the cultural history of American creative writing programs, such as Mark McGurl's The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing (2011) and Eric Bennett's Workshops of Empire: Stegner, Engle, and American Creative Writing during the Cold War (2015), we invite papers on postcolonial responses to creative writing as a globalized discipline. Perspectives from a wide variety of fields are welcome, including comparative literature, cultural studies, empire studies, new media, pedagogy, postcolonialism, and transnationalism. We are especially interested in regionally-specific perspectives on the development of creative writing programs as they relate to cultural history, ideology, and imperialism.

Some key questions include: How is the disciplinary identity of creative writing tied to colonial histories? What alternative histories of literary production and instruction have been obfuscated in constructions of the discipline of creative writing and its history? How is creative writing as a field freighted ideologically today? What has been the impact of programs like the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the University of Iowa's International Writing Program on the development of writers and creative writing programs around the world? What is at stake in narrating Iowa as a central site of creative writing, to the exclusion of other loci that have shaped artistic production?  Which modes of teaching creative writing internationally depart from the conventional understandings of the “Iowa-model?” To what extent does the institutionalization of creative writing as an academic field lead to the homogenization of aesthetics and influence the notion of "world literature?" What is the role of creative writing pedagogy within the wider sphere of the "creative economy" today? How does the emerging field of "creative writing studies" offer new perspectives into cultural history beyond pedagogical inquiries?

Ultimately, this seminar examines the complex values behind the globalized field of creative writing, exploring how creative writing pedagogy is contingent upon culturally specific and historical forces that have remained largely unexamined. By historicizing international writing programs, this seminar offers an overdue discussion of the intersection of empire and the rise of creative writing as a discipline.