Today, we're talking to Janelle Adsit
about her book, Toward an Inclusive Creative Writing
(Bloomsbury, 2017). In it, Adsit takes a hard look at the way American colleges and universities teach creative writing. What do students who enter creative-writing classrooms encounter as these young people hope to discover who they are and can be as writers? Does the teaching they receive help or hinder them? As Adsit’s title suggests, one of the problems she’s found with writing instruction in our institutions is that it’s too exclusive, too centered on limited and limiting ideas of what counts as good writing and, by extension, who can be good writers. Too often, in writing classrooms across the country, students encounter models that are predominately male and predominately white. How, Adsit asks, can we foster the writing of students who don’t identify with these models? How can we guide our students to write from and give voice to their own diversity? At stake in these questions is not merely the experience of students in the classroom, but, in the long run, the future of American literature, for in these classrooms are our authors-to-be, those writers who will go on to write the books we’ll read in the coming decades. Adsit hopes to lead us forward into a brighter literary future, one in which our literature is as rich and diverse as the Americans who read it.
Eric LeMay is on the creative writing faculty at Ohio University. His work ranges from food writing to electronic literature. He is the author of three books, most recently In Praise of Nothing: Essay, Memoir, and Experiments (Emergency Press, 2014). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.