Saturday, September 18, 2010

Get a Real Degree

A history of the rise of creative writing programs in American universities and their influence on postwar American literary output. For example, consider how both the plantation in Beloved and the mental ward in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest work as metaphors for incarceration (albeit voluntary) in program or workshop.

LRB Cover

Recently reviewed in the London Review of Books (LRB), literary historian McGurl's "study of Planet MFA conducted from Planet PhD" classifies "programme fiction" into three main categories: technomodernism (John Barth, Thomas Pynchon), high cultural pluralism (Toni Morrison, Sandra Cisneros), and lower-middle-class modernism (Toni Morrison, Sandra Cisneros). He even provides Venn diagrams to illustrate overlap.

Both reviewer and historian continually refer back to Don Quixote. I don't know about them, but I come away thinking maybe not that much about the novel has been bettered since Don Q and his most illustrious questing successors (Pickwick, Emma Bovary, Prince Mishkin, etc) - and far more interested in re-reading their adventures than most of the contemporary authors under discussion.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...