And the attacks keep coming, not that they have slowed applications.
Some 20,000 aspiring writers apply to MFA programs every year, and the numbers continue to rise.
Writers love to hate creative writing programs, graduates of them most of all.
In 2009, literature scholar Mark Mc Gurl published , in which he declared the rise of creative writing “the most important event in postwar American literary history.” For an academic book full of graphs and terms like “technomodernism,” it reached a wide audience, prompting reviews and editorials from publications like .
The range of writers who come out of graduate programs in creative writing make it difficult to argue that the MFA has somehow flattened literature, that T. Boyle, Sandra Cisneros, and Denis Johnson all write with something called “Iowa style.” The world of creative writing isn’t homogeneous, and for a lot of writers it offers time rather than instruction, two years to complete a book-in-progress rather than two years to mimic their advisor’s prose or verse.
But creative writing also didn’t come out of nowhere.
Although Lewis later denied that he had based the character on Irving Babbitt, the Harvard professor had the misfortune of seeing his surname enter dictionaries as a new word for bourgeois conformism.
More introduced Babbitt’s ideas to a wider public through his prolific writings for , which he named for his writing retreat in Shelburne, New Hampshire.
The future of civilization, Babbitt believed, depended on the restoration of the “truths of the inner life” above the “progress of humanity” as the first principle of modern life.
When the Swedish Academy awarded Lewis the Nobel Prize in Literature, they singled out his 1922 novel , a satirical novel about a small-minded conservative businessman named George Babbitt.