How critical is Creative Writing? Malcolm Bradbury and the ‘serious’ writer

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Recent reappraisals of the origins of the MA in Creative Writing at UEA by Kathryn Holeywell (2009) and Lise Jaillant (2016) have brought Malcolm Bradbury’s contribution into question. This article identifies that contribution as a greater emphasis on literary criticism and theory, which Bradbury maintained from the beginning of the MA until his retirement from teaching. Despite the arch treatment of poststructuralism in his fictional works – most overtly in The History Man (1975) and the academic parody Mensonge (1987) – Bradbury’s definition of the ‘serious’ writer emphasised an awareness of, and engagement with, the developments of literary and cultural theory. Looking at archived teaching notes from the 1989 module ‘Fiction and the Creative Process’, we see how Bradbury sought in his teaching to bring criticism and creation into closer proximity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-269
Number of pages9
JournalNew Writing
Issue number3
Early online date29 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • Malcolm Bradbury
  • University of East Anglia
  • creative writing in literature courses
  • literary criticism
  • pedagogy

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