Teaching Creative Writing in Special Collections

Alison Fraser


While enrollments are in a downward trend in humanities departments across the board and in English departments in particular, creative writing has emerged as an area of explosive growth: creative writing enrollments and majors are up, and undergraduate and graduate student demand is high. The impact of this shift on English departments from the traditional focus on literature to creative writing has significant ramifications for university professors and librarians. According to a recent report by the Association of Departments of English (ADE), “The structural visibility of creative writing suggests its considerable importance for the English major—and the growth potential of creative writing does not appear to be exhausted.” The ADE recommends “that departments give continued attention to building enrollments in creative writing and to its fruitful connections and contributions to students’ education in literary and writing studies.” Special collections librarians involved in integrated course instruction with English departments should take note of the ADE report and its recommendation that English departments across the country continue to direct their pedagogical resources to creative writing. What are we doing to serve this growing population of students and how are we adapting our outreach to reflect changing English department enrollments and instruction needs? With David Pavelich, I am in agreement that “For special collections to remain a vibrant and visible presence on university and college campuses, special collections librarians need to reach out to developing user groups” like creative writing students.

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