Creative Writing in Higher Education: Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Public Benefit and Income Generation

Corinne Fowler, Centre for New Writing at the University of Leicester

Creative writing is a relative newcomer to academia in the UK. Moreover, its relationship with English Literature is uneasy. As Nicholas Royle puts it, having creative writing in English departments is ‘rather like welcoming Heathcliff into the family’ (Royle 2013). This unease has another significant cause: creative writing attracts students and its rapid expansion is linked to the marketization of Higher Education (Royle 2013). Notwithstanding the subject’s business value to institutional managers, creative writing provides many opportunities, both to serve the wider writing community and to design innovative research projects with colleagues from other disciplines. Archaeologists, archivists, historians, geographers and medical researchers are awakening to the power of creativity and beginning to understand its potential for delivering considerable public benefits. Creative writing can also attract new audiences for academic research. To illustrate these benefits, the panel will talk about the activities of the Centre for New Writing, based at the University of Leicester.

As the Centre has evolved, its members have deliberated about precisely what universities can uniquely offer regions, like the Midlands, which already have a wealth of literary networks and specialist writing organizations. Some of the Centre’s recent projects – Affective Digital Histories, Life Cycles, Making Nature Pay and Creative Interventions – have provided a clear answer to this question: universities give talented writers access to high-quality research. Panel members will discuss the Centre’s progressively interdisciplinary approach to grant capture. These projects have culminated in a new seminar series – Writing and Research – which demonstrates the intrinsic and strategic benefits of combining academic rigour with artistic flair.

Thursday 6th July, 3.30