The Program Era

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Of particular interest to me was McGurl's discussion of Carverian minimalism and its eventual equilibrating counterpart maximalism about which discussion Ercolino seems totally ignorant in The Maximalist Novel. I think McGurl's section on this topic is more helpful than Ercolino's whole book, actually. McGurl, of course, can't write about every MFA-holding author, so while I selfishly wanted to read his thoughts about Wallace and his Wallace's combative relation to pomo lit.

Salinger, Hunter Thompson , I understand their absence. Still and all, this is a must read for any scholar who, after the inevitable dissatisfaction with the Norton's half-baked story, wants to understand post American lit. Jul 31, Jeff rated it really liked it Shelves: As a critic, McGurl widens and narrows, for he is an inveterate psychologizer, a modulator our sense of the context for fifty to a hundred American fictive texts, none of which is he trying to rank. As a scholar, he travels amid the discursive formations these widely-ranging fictions have attracted, and offers a map of the field that emboldens me to read further in it.

As a theorist, his maps are lovingly dialectical, they keep synthesizing and re-emerging in their differences, in their capaci As a critic, McGurl widens and narrows, for he is an inveterate psychologizer, a modulator our sense of the context for fifty to a hundred American fictive texts, none of which is he trying to rank. As a theorist, his maps are lovingly dialectical, they keep synthesizing and re-emerging in their differences, in their capacity to read more , and to see in American writing abundance.

As a literary history the narrative is not quite satisfying, of course, but then the difficulty of the historian's task precisely results in the scarcity of endeavor, which lures us into regarding McGurl as a historian at all.

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He'll make no friends among the cosmopolitan anti-pastoralists, for his is a defense of the workshop system. Apparently if you are Elif Batuman then twenty-three year olds should be as well read as you are. That is, she criticizes as a social formation authors whose work emerges from a set of texts she considers to be the wrong texts, wrong because a-canonical.


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Nov 18, Anne rated it really liked it. NOT 1 the "influence" paradig very thought-provoking. Butler alluded to once or twice? Inquiring minds want to know Is narrative so narrow is doesn't notice even other literary genres? Jul 23, Jim O'Loughlin rated it it was amazing. The is a brilliant book that will change the way I teach about contemporary American fiction.

It is a welcome corrective to the all-too-common knee jerk condemnation of all work related to creative writing programs.


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This book tries to take seriously what it means when academic experience comes to dominate literary fiction. This book is authoritative and wide ranging though the cost of that is a book that's longer than is necessary. What I liked most about it were the many moments when McGurl o The is a brilliant book that will change the way I teach about contemporary American fiction. What I liked most about it were the many moments when McGurl offered readings that teased out the impact of academic experience on unlikely works like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Beloved.

Recommended to anyone teaching contemporary literature and to creative writers interested in literary criticism. Jul 21, Geoff Wyss rated it liked it. I wanted this one to be better. When McGurl is actually performing readings of novels and stories, he's good. He 'reads' some of the major 20th Century American writers, and thus their work, as products of the workshop system.

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The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing

But too much of the book reads like a repurposed dissertation: Larded down with critical scaffolding that is, by turns, irrelevant, show-offy, unreadably gnarled, and repetitive. The theory makes McGurl timid; its hair-splitting teaches him that the thing to be most fear I wanted this one to be better. The theory makes McGurl timid; its hair-splitting teaches him that the thing to be most feared is a judgment.

For writers who might want to read it, I suggest skipping right to those chunks where he digs into specific works. Nov 26, Douglas Penick rated it really liked it. This book is far more favorable than many might be to the results of the uniform application of fairly standardized teaching methods to literature. McGurl makes clear how the writing program approach has come to dominate writing, editing and general literary standards in the US. For instance, readers may find it illuminating to discover that the trinity of nostrums: Th This book is far more favorable than many might be to the results of the uniform application of fairly standardized teaching methods to literature.

Those who admire Karl Popper's admonition that any proposition whose contradictory is meaningless is itself meaningless as happens when framing the opposite of the above 3.

The Program Era

Apr 04, Lee added it. This is a big and important and, fortunately, very well written book about the influence of creative writing instruction on postwar literary production. It's frankly a scandal that this book wasn't written long ago -- there have been histories of creative writing, like D. Myer's The Elephants Teach, but not as far as I know a literature-focused history that systematically studies how creative writing pedagogy shapes literature -- but we're lucky to have such a surefooted guide through this t This is a big and important and, fortunately, very well written book about the influence of creative writing instruction on postwar literary production.

Myer's The Elephants Teach, but not as far as I know a literature-focused history that systematically studies how creative writing pedagogy shapes literature -- but we're lucky to have such a surefooted guide through this territory. May 06, sheila rated it it was amazing. Most, interesting, though, is his sensitive exploration of the interplay between individual writers and the Creative Writing programs He delivers a cornucopia of exciting new ideas and insights in a work which will be indispensable reading for teachers and students of creative writing, and for anyone interested in modern fiction Jul 28, Sean rated it it was amazing.

I will be interested to talk to some people who have read a lot of the scholarship on post-war american fiction and see what they think about it. Mar 10, Eric rated it really liked it. A compelling argument that places the creative writing program at the center of postwar fiction. It's a premise that makes so much sense and an argument so persuasive that in retrospect I can't believe someone hasn't carried out this analysis already.

It's also extremely readable. My only major complaint is that the book doesn't need to be as long as it is. Jun 04, Wm rated it it was amazing Shelves: Much more literary analysis and theory and much less history than I expected. McGurl achieves what one should in the post-po-mo domain of literary studies and does it with clarity and flair.

Jun 23, Zach rated it really liked it. Stuff on Cuckoo's Nest and Ken Kesey is great. A bit too "scholarly" for my taste. Took me almost five years to read the whole thing. Jan 17, Mills College Library added it. Joseph rated it really liked it Feb 03, Kevin Dawe rated it liked it Nov 03, Joy rated it it was ok Jan 24, Angie rated it liked it Jul 14, Lisa Kaufmann rated it really liked it Aug 15, Keith rated it liked it Apr 17, Jessica Schulte rated it really liked it Sep 23, Kristina rated it it was ok Mar 16, McGurl has a remarkable gift probably honed during his days writing for The New York Times at moving between many small narratives while keeping the reader conscious of his overarching themes and argument.

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And scholars and readers of that era need to start thinking about it: How might it be brought to bear on a reading of the literature itself? Identity is, in addition to other things, a form of research, as is evident particularly in those cases of writers who do real archival research to re-tell or revive actual historical narratives, as Morrison did in Beloved.

The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing by Mark McGurl

CR is dedicated to thoughtful, in-depth criticism without regard to what's commercially appealing. Taken together, the essays in After the Program Era seek to answer and explore many of these questions and continue the conversations McGurl only began. Title Page, Copyright pp. The Creative Calling - Marija Reiff pp.

From Vagabond to Visiting Poet: A Genre - Simon During pp. From Modernism to Metamodernism: