Thursday 11 September 2014

The Rise of Rhizomatism

Darryl Whetter fires a blistering broadside against English departments and their "colonial ownership" of creative writing:
I have taught writing for more than a decade at four Canadian universities and am worried that—with English professors predominantly calling the shots—few Canadian programs teach or even entertain core writerly skills such as social-emotional intelligence; revealing, engaged and accurate dialogue; dramatic tension; comedy; and, most notably, plot. The current practices of our writing programs and funding agencies generally ask writers to be scholars who simply drop the footnotes, while graduate creative writing education in the United States, the United Kingdom and equally post-colonial Australia values the unique fusion of personal and cultural truth available to the creative writer and his or her reader.
And more:
One can hear the trendy phrase “rhizomatic poetics”—a term, popularized by Deleuzians, that signifies the connection between two points without the burden of beginnings or endings—in any Canadian university English department (including those that offer creative writing); one rarely hears the word “empathy” or, in the context of empathy, the excitement that attends to rhizomatism. We adore the fragmentary but disparage feelings. In Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ, Daniel Goleman rightly called social-emotional intelligence “a meta-ability, determining how well we can use whatever other skills we have, including raw intellect.” In a land of methodology, thesis defences, bibliographies and Kenneth Goldsmith’s institutionally celebrated “uncreative writing,” the crucial meta-­ability of emotional intelligence fostered by literature is not meeting its maximum audience. Who would decree that engineers should never actually build a bridge? Canadian English professors.

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