by Dr Nicole King
Creative Writing home page
The past twelve years have seen a rapid rise in the popularity of Creative Writing as a subject area. In addition to Masters level Creative Writing courses, which have a long history in British higher education, students now have a wide range of courses to choose from at the undergraduate level and several at the PhD level too.
Why are students flocking to Creative Writing courses and degrees? What’s it like to be on one? What do students expect to gain from them? Steve May investigates the student experience of Creative Writing to get answers in this Subject Centre project.
The English Subject Centre works to promote active debate about the teaching and learning of Creative Writing. We organised a number of events on teaching Creative Writing and funded a series of research projects investigating issues related to the teaching of Creative Writing.
The English Subject Centre has also been able to draw substantially on the existing debates and expertise about teaching and learning issues in Creative Writing. If you are curious about the basic aspects of a Creative Writing degree, and what you can expect to do and learn either as an undergraduate or a postgraduate student, a great place to start your research is by reading the Creative Writing Subject Benchmark Statement. The Benchmark statement was published in 2008 by Higher Education Committee of the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) and has been welcomed and widely adopted across the UK. There is also an impressive archive of articles about Creative Writing in HE is available in the 'Writing at University' pages on NAWE's website. If you want more information about the range of Creative Writing courses in the UK the NAWE site also contains a database which lists most of the courses currently available in Creative Writing in HE and NAWE arranges regular conferences for Creative Writers in HE. The HE network of NAWE operates on behalf of universities, their staff and students in part, to 'raise the profile of the excellent teaching and research in Creative Writing taking place throughout the UK.'
Sharing Ideas about teaching and learning
Innovative pedagogy exists alongside the traditional workshop of Creative Writing seminars, as lecturers and students take advantage of the year on year growth of the subject. Creative Writing: Teaching, Theory and Practice is a web-based resource and online journal for teachers of Creative Writing and people who are training to become teachers of Creative Writing. This growing resource began as a subject centre project led by Nigel McLoughlin at the University of Gloucestershire. The journal is now in its second volume accepts submissions on a rolling basis.
At the University of Hertfordshire, Creative Writing lecturer Jennifer Young, along with her students, combined creative writing, technology and employability to great effect. They have used the virtual world environment of Second Life to create the Orb literary magazine and festival arena for UK student writers. Orb's student editorial collective gain a wide range of skills as they are in charge of advertising, commissioning work, liasing with authors, and overall project management. Orb began as an English Subject Centre mini-project in 2006.
The following pages and links from this area of the website house resources, case studies and recommended external websites dedicated to Creative Writing in higher education. An example of sharing good practice is Peter Howarth's (University of Nottingham) case study about assessing a portfolio of Creative Writing.
Careers and Employability
Creative Writing is keen to address issues of employability and careers for students and the high number of part-time lecturers who are recruited to teach the growing numbers of courses. These issues and others pertinent to Creative Writing have been addressed at various subject centre events such as Teaching Digital Writing (April 2010), The Creative Writing MA and the Market (February 2010) and Creative Writing and Part-Time Teaching (January 2009). You can catch up on all subject centre events concerned with Creative Writing in our event archive.
Starting Creative Writing Departments and programmes
The challenges for Departments wanting to offer Creative Writing courses are various and wide ranging. Anxieties about staff expertise (or possible lack of it), how to assess work, the `fit’ with other parts of the curriculum, encouraging students to be both writers and critics are just are some of the most common. Just how these might start to be resolved has formed the starting point for the Subject Centre’s Creative Writing: A Good Practice Guide. The Guide brings together some of the most commonly requested information alongside contributions from a range of senior practitioners in the field.
The Guide can also be read alongside the findings of several recent projects funded by the Subject Centre. Colleagues charged with introducing Creative Writing at their university might, for example, wish to look at Steve May’s 2003 survey of UK institutions Teaching Creative Writing at undergraduate Level: Why, how and does it work? In 2007 Steve (who is based at Bath Spa University) also investigated why students are signing up for Creative Writing degrees and what they expect to gain from it in English and Creative Writing: Coherence, progression and fitness for purpose - student perspectives.
Write for us!
If you have developed a Creative Writing teaching resource or completed a project with your students and think others might learn from it, please consider writing a case study for this website (for which we pay £150) or writing a 2000 word article for WordPlay magazine (published online as well as in print) or sending in an entry for our interactive resource of simple teaching ideas, T3 - Teaching, Topics and Texts.