This Thing Called Writing
by Larry Gaffney
WITHOUT A HINT OF ARROGANCE, and with quiet conviction, Gary Fincke, director of Susquehanna’s creative writing program, recently told a visitor, “I truly believe that we have one of the finest undergraduate creative writing programs in the country.”
It’s a lofty claim, something a program director should believe. In this case, others have said the same thing about Susquehanna’s program. And it’s clearly a claim made by directors of other creative writing programs.
The fact is that creative writing programs are proliferating, and Susquehanna is among a growing number of colleges, including Brown, Johns Hopkins, Oberlin and Carnegie Mellon, that are achieving national recognition for their undergraduate creative writing programs and the students they turn out.
If one takes the long view, creative writing programs are a relatively new phenomenon. Although they often take different approaches to teaching the skill of writing, they share the conviction that writing can be taught. One way these programs do that is by teaching students how to talk about their own work and how to critique the work of others, including their fellow students.