a new learning path into creative writing… #creativewriting

My course starts this week. Really feel like a proper student again. I have been accepted on the MA in Creative Writing Innovation and experiment at the University of Salford after submitting a portfolio of work with children’s stories and an interview with the programme leader. I managed to register and even look into the VLE on the weekend. New login details, different online spaces, another email account to look after.

I am very excited about joining this programme as I will be able to connect back to my time as a translator of literary works and also further develop as an academic developer, my day job for now, and particularly through the use of story.

some of the books I translated with their originals, many are children’s literature

As a good student 😉 I downloaded the programme handbook to get a better flavour of the course but also to see how the assessment will work. Very interesting that I ended up thinking quite a lot about the assessment and how I can get organised.. already…

I was pleased that the modules were all 30 credits with a larger project module at the end. It really helps, a simple structure like this. You might work hard for 30 credits but you are actually getting something significant for it. In this case a 30 credit module is 50% of my PgCert. I have to say that I was a bit surprised when I saw the length of the assignments… and that some of the assignments were essays. … with all that debate around essays it will be interesting to see how this goes and what kind of essay this will be and how I will feel writing it or them… Have a look at Prof. Phil Race’s recent article about essays…

So about 7000 words (is this or equivalent?) for each 30 credit module but split in all modules in two parts. The course has in its title experiment and innovation. I hope to be able to do this also in the assessment and experiment with the form and mold the essay perhaps into something that would work for me? Will I be able to experiment or do I have to play it safe to pass? As my work and the area I want to develop further links the written language very much with the visual language, I hope to collaborate with colleagues and students in Art and Design but also further develop my own visual skills and capabilities.

I could not find the handbook for the first module yet to see further details but after a quick Google search I found some interesting resources to complement my studies from Yale. My first module is about literary theory. And while I have done bits about literature before during my undergraduate studies (in Greek, German and English) and later when I embarked on that doctoral research in translation with a focus on children’s literature, I feel that I have a lot to learn.

What I found is a series of lectures made available freely and openly. I didn’t have to create an account or do anything else, I can jump straight into watching the lectures. And they are lectures, by the charismatic and extremely knowledgeable Professor Paul H. Fry.

So far I watched one whole lecture and a bit. What I noticed is that I looked first at the overall length. It felt long, far too long to keep my attention. However, the lecture I watched was extremely valuable but I did struggle to watch for such a long time. I suspect I would have enjoyed reading about it as I would be able to make notes easier. The lecture didn’t reveal any interaction between the lecturer and the students. I felt being one of them. The only difference is that the students there had been given materials to read in advance. They would have been useful to me as well. I had loads of questions. I wanted more explanations, more examples that I would understand. I was also missing the interaction with peers. Did I start watching the clip as a developer and forgot that I was a student? I think I was both simultaneously.

Literary theory is a new area for me, literary criticism too. Really start feeling like our colleagues who we ask to engage with Learning Theories when they do their PgCert with us… Our first module on the MA in Creative Writing seems to be about theory. We often start courses from that angle but I am wondering if this is also a reason why students often feel lost. How about starting from our experiences and building theory. I hope this module will link the two and help me digest the theory and discover how it all links to my writing practice.

I want and need to do some reading around the theories, Marx, Nietzsche and Foucault (I think) as well as Darwin who were mentioned in that first Yale lecture I watched. What I do remember is that literary theory is the study of writing, focuses on the process of writing, the aesthetics of it from different angles perhaps, while literary criticism is the evaluation of literary work. Did I get this right? Not sure now about literary theory and will check this again, but there seems to be a clear distinction between writing (literary theory relates to this) and critiquing writing (literary criticism). I have ordered a few books, which I hope will arrive in the next few days.

I want to understand and identify how these theories relate to my work and how I can use them to grow as a writer. Can somebody write well without knowing anything about literary theory? This made me think about my work as well as an academic developer… Can somebody teach effectively without knowing anything about learning theories? This is often a dilemma we have and an expectation that colleagues academics do need to engage with learning theories to make informed changes to their practice. But what if they don’t? Does it mean they are not effective in what they do? How about the writer who does not know a lot or anything about literary theory? What is the role of experiential learning in both situations? These questions just popped into my head right now.

There is the author and the writer. I have a feeling that authors prefer to call themselves writers? Why is that? The second clip from Yale talks about the author so I am looking forward to watching it but in bits as I really struggle to follow for so long…

In the VLE I also looked for my peers. Couldn’t find anybody there yet.

Really looking forward to seeing everybody this Thursday and learning together.

Very excited! I am ready to start.

Chrissi
ps. I have also started adding useful links to my Diigo collection under ‘creative writing’
pps. Is there a course hashtag we can use on Twitter? I guess we will find out soon 😉

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