Workshops of Empire: Stegner, Engle, and American Creative Writing during the Cold War

Workshops of Empire Stegner Engle and American Creative Writing during the Cold War During and just after World War II an influential group of American writers and intellectuals projected a vision for literature that would save the free world Novels stories plays and poems they

  • Title: Workshops of Empire: Stegner, Engle, and American Creative Writing during the Cold War
  • Author: EricBennett
  • ISBN: 9781609383718
  • Page: 258
  • Format: Paperback
  • During and just after World War II, an influential group of American writers and intellectuals projected a vision for literature that would save the free world Novels, stories, plays, and poems, they believed, could inoculate weak minds against simplistic totalitarian ideologies, heal the spiritual wounds of global catastrophe, and just maybe prevent the like from happeniDuring and just after World War II, an influential group of American writers and intellectuals projected a vision for literature that would save the free world Novels, stories, plays, and poems, they believed, could inoculate weak minds against simplistic totalitarian ideologies, heal the spiritual wounds of global catastrophe, and just maybe prevent the like from happening again As the Cold War began, high minded and well intentioned scholars, critics, and writers from across the political spectrum argued that human values remained crucial to civilization and that such values stood in dire need of formulation and affirmation They believed that the complexity of literature of ideas bound to concrete images, of ideologies leavened with experiences enshrined such values as no other medium could Creative writing emerged as a graduate discipline in the United States amid this astonishing swirl of grand conceptions The early workshops were formed not only at the time of, but in the image of, and under the tremendous urgency of, the postwar imperatives for the humanities Vivid renderings of personal experience would preserve the liberal democratic soul a soul menaced by the gathering leftwing totalitarianism of the USSR and the memory of fascism in Italy and Germany.Workshops of Empire explores this history via the careers of Paul Engle at the University of Iowa and Wallace Stegner at Stanford In the story of these founding fathers of the discipline, Eric Bennett discovers the cultural, political, literary, intellectual, and institutional underpinnings of creative writing programs within the university He shows how the model of literary technique championed by the first writing programs a model that values the interior and private life of the individual, whose experiences are not determined by any community, ideology, or political system was born out of this Cold War context and continues to influence the way creative writing is taught, studied, read, and written into the twenty first century.

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    One thought on “Workshops of Empire: Stegner, Engle, and American Creative Writing during the Cold War

    1. Workshops of Empire Stegner, Engle, and American Creative Writing during the Cold War by Eric Bennett is a look at the expansion of American creative writing Bennett is an associate professor of English at Providence College in Rhode Island He is the author of A Big Enough Lie, and his writing has appeared in A Public Space, New Writing, Modern Fiction Studies, Blackwell Wiley s Companion to Creative Writing, The Chronicle of Higher Education, VQR, MFA vs NYC, and Africana.The Cold War was a cha [...]


    2. ensuingchapters 2015 10 25As a survivor of an MFA program, there are a lot of ways I would describe writing workshops, but until reading this book I never imagined a connection to the Cold War Leave it to the University of Iowa Press, the publishing wing of the school that invented the Platonic form of the modern workshop, to offer this rich, counterintuitive history of the MFA.These days, there s nothing very revolutionary about a creative writing program In fact, I still refer to mine as a con [...]


    3. A really interesting look at the connections between the birth of the American creative writing workshop and the Cold War i.e the workshop as a crucible for American read non communist values, which was how Paul Engle, founder of the Iowa workshop, sold his program to the foundations that helped fund its early years The chapter on Stegner suggests the extent to which Stanford s MFA program was likewise a figuring forth of its founder s personality Much readable than McGurl s The Program Era, th [...]


    4. im going to take the concluding page as a positive affirmation of the urgent necessity of stalinist fiction for the modern age.


    5. At first, I thought this a very unique story, and then I thought it a very sad one But then I realized it is neither it s simply a new take on the very old relationships among power, art, and money It provides a revealing look at how something akin to the old patronage systems that produced much of literature and other art throughout history are still at work in the 20th century, albeit in different costumes and, oddly, perhaps in a manner much less self aware than they have been in previous era [...]


    6. I loved this study While it is in conversation with McGurl, it is not a companion piece The book is extremely well researched and offers a great explanation for why new criticism still has a strong stranglehold, as well as offering a fascinating history which was new to me I would heartily recommend it to anyone interested in American lit, especially 20th century.


    7. Bennett explores how the influx of GI Bill bearing veterans to creative writing programs reinvented the form and shifted the center of cultural gravity to Stanford and Iowa from New York and Chicago, as post war Americans sought explanations for the horrors of WWII and the Cold War government underwrote journals and magazines featuring this new work.


    8. I found this history of MFA programs incredibly interesting as both a writer and a reader The Cold War had a profound effect on fiction one that we should think about critically Yet most of us don t even know about it


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