Creative-Writing Advocates Take Up the Cause of Reading

Jennifer Howard (Chronicle)

The guidelines recommend 12 methods for achieving those goals. “Extensive and diverse reading requirements” leads the list. Instructors should also make sure their students study literary terminology and critical approaches, and that they practice critical reading as well as doing their own creative and critical writing.

“Close reading of literary works and student manuscripts is the central mechanism in creative writing courses,” the guidelines say, and that skill should enable students “to learn craft strategies, discern authorial intentions, and deepen the pleasure they take in the work.”

A bit more surprising is the next recommendation: memorization. “For the study of poetry,” the AWP says, “memorization is the ultimate close reading.”

The remaining recommendations cover familiar writing-program territory and include workshopping, revising, and the importance of written feedback from instructors. Grades “should be given for most assignments,” the guidelines recommend. Students also should have a chance to experiment with new-media technologies.

The guidelines will be posted on the AWP’s Web site sometime in February.

I’d love to link to the full guidelines directly, but it looks like we’ll need to wait until they go online.

Yesterday, I beefed up an old handout as part of my effort to introduce “Close Reading” to my “Intro to Literary Study” class.