Monday, September 22, 2008

Considering Teaching?

For all those MFA applicants who are facing the prospect of teaching, either as part of their funding options or as a writing-enabling future career, this Sunday's New York Times magazine -- the "College" issue -- has an interesting article from UNC-Wilmington professor David Gessner. You can read it here.

Even if you are not considering teaching, the essay provides some insight into what may be going through minds of your future professors.

9 comments:

Eli said...

Thanks for the link, Nancy, I enjoyed reading it. A well-balanced article, and good food for thought.

julianna said...

Gessner is fantastic. I respect deeply respect him as a writer and a teacher. And this article is brilliant and stunningly anguished.

UNC-Wilmington is lucky to have him on board. (Check out their program if you haven't already.)

And for you Creative Nonfiction writers, take a special look at Gessner's SICK OF NATURE.

All my best,

Julianna Baggott, Asst. Director, CRW, Florida State

RiverNavigation said...

An interesting article by Francine Prose on the teaching - or impossibility of teaching - creative writing. From yesterday's Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/23/AR2008092303475.html?sub=AR&sid=ST2008092401512&s_pos=

Vince said...

this is very interesting. my friend from my LC undergraduate days is now an adjunct professor with a Phd in English from Chapel Hill. he didn't know anything about the CWMFA or the fact that the AWP lends it strong academic credibility. i told him that CW MFA professors are writers who teach their craft.

Nancy Rawlinson said...

Eli - you are welcome. I also thought the article was balanced, and good food for thought.

A couple of other blogs that have linked to the essay seem to think that it reflects badly on Gessner as a teacher. I had the opposite reaction -- I'd want to take a class with someone who has such insights, and who understands all the nuances and complexities of his position. Never mind that he expresses it all so well. So I agree with Julianna -- Wilmington is lucky to have him.

Rivernavigation, thanks for the link to the Francine Prose article. I just looked at it. I disagree with the whole "writing can't be taught" line of thinking, yet still respect Prose immensely, and agree with her insights into the reading experience.

Emily said...

Great article. Thanks for posting the link, Nancy, and I agree with you that I felt the article reflected well on Gessner as a teacher. He states more than once that he enjoys teaching, and he is certainly honest and insightful about the whole process.

Mark said...

I don't agree with the idea that the choices for a writer are either teach or work at dairy queen. Obviously this is an over-simplification of the issue, but still...

William Carlos Williams was a doctor, Wallace Stevens was a CEO, Philip Larkin was a librarian. These are all poets, but I just don't think you have to be either a teacher or working minimum wage to be a writer.

It's always going to be hard, impossible even, to find as much time to write as we'd like, but I choose to believe that having one foot in the real world -- through teaching or any other profession -- can make our writing more valuable.

David E. Grim said...

Mark, I agree. As the article states, it's more about our temperments and level of self-discipline that dictate how much "time" we have to write. I find myself thinking, "oh, if only I could be in an MFA program, then I would have all the time I need to write," or "if only I didn't have to work at this tedious and mind-numbing job all day, I'd have the energy to write," but the fact is that I've never written my best stuff in ideal circumstances.

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