A live event, a life event: The workshop that works

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In certain recent critiques, the term ‘workshop’ has been used to describe almost every aspect of our discipline’s pedagogy. The various models might be arranged along a horizontal axis that has as one pole the wholly taught, exercise-based class for beginners and at the other the wholly discursive workshop for advanced students, with a vertical axis that begins with recreational or high-school classes and ascends through the BA to the MA and MFA, and then on to the elite MA and MFA programmes exemplified by the likes of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Alternative axes might calibrate the extent to which a programme is publication- or research-oriented, or to which the pedagogy is premised on a formalist or a ‘sociological’ poetics. This paper attempts a defence of the peer-review workshop by first distinguishing it from other forms of Creative Writing pedagogy, and concludes by offering an understanding of the workshop as an advanced and necessarily formalist pedagogy whose encounter with the work-in-progress requires an openness to its ‘singularity’ and a resistance both to instrumental readings and to prescriptive instruction.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012

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