Amato and Fleisher ask “Is the creative writing classroom a place simply for fortifying the mysteries of creativity, or can something more concrete, more palpable, more critical, more urgent therein be attended to?” (“Prelude,” authors’ emphasis). They go on to write that “current compartmentalizations of English Studies…can only produce narrowly self-identified writers, writers likely to acknowledge only an attentuated range of writing practice” (“Prelude”).
I think this concern echoes Berlin’s critiques of cognitive rhetoric in composition studies – essentially, if we are teaching students to “literary” standards, then we are providing them a template for “success” within the scope of academic writing. Anis Shivani has described a “program fiction” (maybe better known as the “workshop style”) that emerges from the tight writing groups of the MFA: “homogenized, over-workshopped writing void of literary tradition and overly influenced by the mostly upper- and middle-class values and experiences of its students” (Cecilia Capuzzi Simon – NYTimes). Does the notion of reform pedagogy provide a way to overcome what ___Junot Diaz___ describes as essentially the “overwhelming whiteness” of graduate programs?