New Creative Writing “Classroom”: The Proliferation of Online Workshops and Low Residency Programs

New Creative Writing “Classroom”: The Proliferation of Online Workshops and Low Residency Programs

Tamara Girardi (Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6555-2.ch001
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The field of creative writing studies includes commonly regarded forms of distance education such as online courses, but there is an impressive diversity regarding the opportunities available to creative writers. To illustrate this, the chapter discusses the two tracks available to writers. The first features the university environment, where students enroll in undergraduate and graduate creative writing degree programs. These programs could be full-residency, low-residency, or online. However, not all writers are able or willing to enroll in such programs. For these writers, there are non-academic options that are driven not by colleges and universities but by the publishing community. Non-degree writers might enroll in online workshops or communities. Finally, non-degree seeking writers might work independently through MOOCs, extension classes, iTunesU courses, and how-to texts. This chapter discusses the history of distance education as it is evolving and the potentially overwhelming number of options available to aspiring writers.
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The history of creative writing is not as celebrated nor discussed as that of other English department disciplines. In fact, Wendy Bishop (1990) wrote “it often seems that creative writers have moved into the mainstream of English departments without understanding or reviewing their own history” (p. xi). In one of the few texts discussing the history of creative writing, The Elephants Teach, author D.G. Myers (1996) summarized the rise of creative writing programs.

[C]reative writing emerged over the last decades of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth as a means for unifying the [then] two main functions of English departments – the teaching of writing and the teaching of literature. (p. xii)

While the main functions of English departments have since been refigured, contested, and theorized by several scholars, creative writing, on the other hand, is in the midst of refiguring, contesting, and theorizing.

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