The Institutionalized Artist

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2 June 2009

Louis Menand’s New Yorker article about university-based creative writing programs, “Show or Tell,” is sure to generate much echo-chamber discussion amongst literary writers. The article also covers a new book by Mark McGurl on writing programs and American fiction, The Program Era.

Here’s an intriguing snipet from Menand’s article:

Academic creative-writing programs are, as McGurl puts it, examples of “the institutionalization of anti-institutionality.” That’s why institutions love them. They are the outside contained on the inside.

I’m working on my own lengthy response-essay to this.  Having traversed from the institutionalized to the free-form creative life, from top-down to bottom-up (or maybe outside-in to inside-out?); and always considering the pros and cons of each;  this article makes me think. And thinking, of course, makes me write.

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