Teaching Creative Writing

Seminar Room 2

The Creative Writing workshop: ‘Empowerment through poetry’ (Joanna Reardon and Elizabeth Ford)

This paper shares the ways in which using techniques of literary analysis can be a transformative experience for participants of Creative Writing workshops. Interrogating and reflecting on the writing process through reading as a writer is a key threshold concept for students in Creative Writing which often feels contradictory to the creative process.

Students of Creative Writing in academic institutions might expect this as part of their study but what of the participants in Creative Writing workshops outside the academic context? We will show how academic approaches from the critical analysis of prose, poetry and dramatic texts, can inform and enable creative writers to develop their own writing skills.

We will present a case study taken from experimental workshops using poetic form for local women in Lancashire ranging from 30 to 75, who have either left the workplace, retired or been ‘left behind’ by education, but who still want to express themselves through a variety of writing genres. Our approach to teaching Creative Writing through the analysis of texts by canonical writers has broadened and developed significantly the students’ experience and creative output. The results are surprising and, in some cases, ground-breaking for students with little or no prior experience of reading or writing poetry or prose.

Teaching Creative Writing in a Tailspinning World (Kevan Manwaring)

How do we continue to teach creative writing when faced with multiple challenges and crises on a personal, institutional, community, national, and international level? Geopolitical turmoil; a corrupt and broken political system; media bias; the Climate Emergency; austerity, casualization, and precarity; the rise of the Far Right … From an ontological perspective, this paper then adopts a more grounded approach, and considers motivation, morale, and pedagogical strategies when dealing with daily existential challenges, as well as practical ones: student mental health and well-being; the pressure of REF, league tables, and the oppositional paradigms of Higher Education (monetization versus the inherent value of a liberal arts education, etc). An honest discussion is encouraged as we ask the tough questions, collectively consider the answers, and conduct a self-audit of our motives and approaches.

Literature Beyond the Domain of Words: Can the visualisation of literary texts help creative reading? (Rumiko Oyama-Mercer)

It is taken for granted that reading literature means reading words on a page, but reading is a mix of highly complicated activities when the message is processed and interpreted. It is well established that literature can be transformed into other textual forms such as visual art, films, dance, and music. The current paper proposes that visualisation of literary texts by readers can enrich and enhance the interpretation of literary texts.

I demonstrate several examples of visualisations (e.g. drawings) of English short stories created by literature-major undergraduates. The paper argues that the rationale on the part of the reader, as to what is visualised and how in relation to what aspect of the verbal narrative in the story, reveals the process of reading as act. Making the process of reading ‘visible’ in the form of, for example, drawings benefits the reader in that they can re-examine how language in the text works and be encouraged to pay closer attention to the narrative.

By involving different modes of communication, therefore, I hope to demonstrate that reading becomes more profound and encourages the reader to engage more proactively in words. By involving visual images into the act of reading, the emphasis of reading will shift from what you understand as a product to how you reached your own interpretation of the story; the process of the reading. It follows that literature (literary texts) can provide a rich source of creativity that goes beyond words only. The interface between words and visual images should also be explored in relation to meaning making processes when/while/after given literary texts are read. When the linearity in written narrative is translated into one of simultaneousness of visual representation, socio-cultural conditioning of the reader might also emerge as issues to be considered.

Fri 12:30 pm - 1:45 pm