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Mark McGurl Wins Truman Capote Award

A letter to The New Yorker in 2009 does a fine job defending the value of reading very good literature very closely in order to become a better writer. It also helps define at least two things a “creative writing” course can do.

The letter is a response to a review of Mark McGurl’s The Program Era, which has just received the prestigious Truman Capote Prize for literary criticism.

McGurl’s book explains the rise of creative writing programs, such as the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, in the post-war era. If you are interested in teaching writing and the political and philosophical roots of how it is done today, this book looks very promising. If you want to teach writing today without evaluating why it is done the way it is done, don’t bother with it.

Congratulations to Dr. McGurl.

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