Brighton's new course strives to prove the value of teaching good writing practice.
13 Mar 2014
This year Brighton launches its Creative Writing MA, developed by Dr Jess Moriarty. The course promises not only advanced writing skills and awareness of writing as craft but also helps readers and writers to understand themselves and connect with the world beyond the classroom.
Jess has unrivalled experience of what it can mean to teach writing well. Her Work Write Live initiative has helped hundreds of individuals improve their writing practice for a range of uses including communication and self-understanding as well as publication for entertaining or informing others. Her students have ranged from those creating memoirs to give to grandchildren, open-mic performers, school children writing on murder-mystery away days and academics seeking new modes of expression.
Many of her students have also won creative writing prizes, but a writing course is valuable for many reasons, not just as a hopeful step towards publication or literary stardom.
The Guardian published an article on creative writing courses in March 2014 highlighting the opinions of Hanif Kureshi and raising again the long-standing debate around writing courses, which some see as preying on dreams of literary success.
Jess sees this as an outmoded way of thinking about writing courses. "Isn’t it time to put to bed the rhetoric of the past when UEA made creative writing courses popular, producing Ian McEwans and Rose Tremains on a yearly basis? This supposed golden age of the 1960s is long gone and yet writing courses remain popular.
"The new Creative Writing MA and undergraduate modules here at Brighton don’t claim that students will go on to become published authors (although some have been successful) rather that creative writing courses produce skilled writers, creative and critical thinkers, people who can contribute effectively to group work and collaborate on projects whilst also being self-motivated and independent in their approaches to study and career."
As a course running from the University of Brighton's Faculty of Arts, the Creative Writing MA is among dozens of courses that teach creative practice. While some students achieve stardom in their chosen field there are hundreds more whose work on the course improves the way they think, understand and deal with the world. For most people this is the principal value of their studies whatever their longer-term aims and ambitions. Creative Writing is no different.
"We study art and creative practice so we may enrich the creative industries," says Jess. "They have the largest growth rate of any of Britain’s economies, enhance our own creativity, develop ideas and processes, acquire skills, learn, think, discuss. This is the very essence of why a degree or MA in the arts and humanities matters. To ignore this is not merely short sighted, it is old fashioned and this is a time for reinvention and inspiration in HE.
"Creative Writing MAs can produce students whose innovation, communication and creativity will revive and recover an ailing economy and nourish our cultural landscape too. It is time to look toward a more expansive and socially engaged future, where writing courses are valued for how they may enrich our culture, our communities, our world - and produce students who feel confident about themselves as writers but also much, much more besides."
Dr Jess Moriarity's Creative Writing MA launches for September 2014. Among its wide range of opportunities it offers a diverse writer in residence programme that will enable students to develop advanced writing skills and an enhanced sense of themselves as creative practitioners. Students will apply their writing to a variety of creative projects in order to release their entrepreneurial skills and develop a diverse and rich creative process that will enable them to produce and share original stories in a variety of genres.
Modules on the Creative Writing MA will include: