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On the Teaching of Creative Writing: Responses to a Series of Questions Paperback – January 15, 1989


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This tiny little volume evolved from a series of discussions with Wallace Stegner during his two-month residency at Dartmouth College in the summer of 1980. Stegner (author of Angle of Repose and The Spectator Bird) was among the first students in the U.S. to receive a master's degree in creative writing; he also founded and directed for 25 years Stanford University's creative writing program. Thus, he is unusually qualified to address the issue of teaching writing. Stegner calls to task those instructors who use their classrooms to create a coterie of copiers, as well as those indulgent professors who rhapsodize about their students' work without warrant. "Young writers should be encouraged to write," he says, "and discouraged from thinking they are writers," as the process of becoming a writer is a "long, long apprenticeship." Instead, a writing instructor need have "sympathy, empathy, [and] a capacity to enter into another mind without dominating it." Finally, he says, it is by way of the Socratic method that writers should be educated. "Talent can't be taught, but it can be awakened.... All a teacher can do is set high goals for students--or get them to set them for themselves--and, then, try to help them reach those goals." --Jane Steinberg

From the Publisher

4 3/4 x 6 3/4 trim. Frontis. LC 89-117864
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Montgomery Endowment, Dartmouth; 1st edition (January 15, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874518431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874518436
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.8 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,467,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Susamoo on December 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book served as supplementary reading material for a beginning-creative-writing course at the university level. Anyone who is looking for a how-to guide should beware; though this book was written by one of the giants in the field, it is not standard textbook material. Still it is a worthy addition to your collection for its elegant prose alone. Those who disagree with Stegner's assertion that creative writing cannot be taught will find much else with which to agree.
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Format: Paperback
Wallace Stegner is an underappreciated master novelist, despite having won both the Pulitzer and a National Book Award. Perhaps more impressive than his writings are the students he taught, mentored, and inspired as he fathered the creative writing program at Stanford University.

This small book is inspiring for teachers of creative writing, as well as for creative writers, themselves. As the earlier reviewer said, this is NOT a textbook--it's only 72 pages--but the pages are packed with thoughts and assertions from someone who was both a great novelist and the greatest teacher of novelists in the 20th century.

If you care about the art and the craft of writing, and especially if you care about the teaching of it, you'll find much to take away from this little book.
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