Going over this week’s readings, I experienced many of the same reactions as during last week’s readings, namely a “should this even be an issue? Of course there should be a conversation between the two disciplines.” Things, however, turned out not to be so simple. Right away, I would like to state my agreement with Gammarino in that composition classes should include at least one assignment of creative writing “just as they would any other composition assignment—for the goal finally is not to carve a special place for creative writing so much as a natural one.” The simple justification for this is that if composition classes should teach students how to write, then we should by all means also teach them to write imaginatively. Still, I think one of the many reasons for all the tension surrounding this issue is each scholar’s conception of composition. I think Hesse did a wonderful job of problematizing the issue (and he wrote a beautiful essay, too). I particularly appreciated his distinction between being “about” writing/composition (i.e. interpretation and analysis of texts) and “for” writing/composition (focusing on the production of texts). This is the kind of distinction that I did not find in Bishop’s essay, and although I was quite taken with many of her arguments, I found myself reacting strongly against some others. Her emphasis on creativity, writing against the norms, and experimentation seemed a bit excessive. Of course, I champion creativity, but I do not believe it is exclusive to writing—creativity concerns us all at all times, and, thus, I find the belief that writing is the ultimate mode of creativity somewhat pretentious.
In the end, I think the discussion should focus on the distinction that Hesse pointed out between analysis (or critique) and the more traditional conception of creative writing. That is, if I take a class on Charles Dickens, I will most likely be expected to write one or more papers analyzing, critiquing, and/or reacting against, etc. one or more of his works. Of course, in said analysis I might explore the ways in which his creative writing serves as a vehicle for social, political, or philosophical issues, but that does not mean that my writing has to be creative in the way that Dickens’s is. Were I to write a short story in a Dickensian style, I think the more appropriate context would be a creative writing workshop (for theoretical, but mostly for practical purposes). But maybe not! I am aware of how complicated the issue is; I know the lines between the two disciplines are blurred (one need only think of Samuel Johnson or Walter Benjamin or George Eliot), and I hope that we can discuss this in class, because I really am very interested.