The title of my undergraduate research project is “Exploring the Academic/Creative Writing Binary.” The purpose of this study is to investigate faculty and undergraduate students’ perceptions of “academic writing” and “creative writing” in the context of an English Department. Historically, English departments have been divided among experts who produce creative writing and those who produce academic writing (Mayers). However, recent work by scholars across English studies has challenged the academic/creative binary (Gere et al; Goldblatt; Hesse; Mayers). In conducting this research, my thesis advisor and I hope to redefine and illustrate potential overlaps between these categories (academic and creative writing) or to propose new (perhaps more fluid or capacious) ways of labeling and conveying the kind of writing students and faculty produce. Specifically, Professor Brewer and I are going to explore whether these are terms or categories that either groups use, or whether faculty and students’ perceptions of academic and creative writing challenge these categories.
We intend to explore these concepts through a qualitative study. After obtaining IRB approval, we would devote one class of Meaghan Brewer’s English 302 to a workshop where students in the class bring in samples of their own writing and then put them into categories and create labels. Students would fill out a form giving a rationale for how they labeled different kinds of writing before we opened up to a class discussion. We would repeat the same activity in a composition faculty meeting in the English department. These activities are modeled on activities described in research by composition scholar Anne Ruggles Gere.
We have already consulted with the Director of Composition, Dr. Kristen di Gennaro, on using one of the composition faculty meetings to collect data. With the help of Professor Brewer, I have also started to collect and read existing articles on my topic in order to start forming the foundation of my literary criticism portion of this study. Additionally, I have started to fill out the IRB application and intend to have it submitted within the next two weeks.