International Dialogues / Canadian Dialogue
This issue of TEXT features four articles from Canada - a survey of writing in Canadian universities, and three teaching-oriented discussions. Thanks to Emeritus Professor Kevin Roberts for Guest Editorship of the feature, and the Department of Creative Writing at Malaspina University-College, British Columbia, for their generous contributions.
Surrounding the Canada feature was a discussion related to comparisons between employment in Canadian universities as opposed to Australian universities. This included: the positioning of creative writing in larger departments; the numbers, quality and career outcomes of students; the way writing lecturers see themselves (as writers, or as academics); and the way lecturers' careers are furthered by their own creative writing publications. Professor Lynne Bowen, Rogers Communications Co-Chair of Creative Non-fiction Writing at University of British Columbia, wrote
Generally speaking, the idea of contributing to TEXT was seen by Canadian creative writing faculty as an "intellectual/academic" exercise, something outside the scope of their usual interests and focus. Mary di Michele, of Concordia University, a well-known, award-winning writer, said of the "academic" publishing issue:
Canadian writing programs are clearly putting greatest effort into publishing outcomes and creative industry careers - for staff as well as their students (see Professor Stephen Guppy's article in this issue). Australian academics have become differently oriented.
What has happened over the years is that a particular discipline has been growing in Australia. It has taken the forming and growth of the AAWP, the ongoing debates in TEXT and the rise of research higher degrees in creative and professional writing, with the ongoing and helpful discourse over aspects of the exegesis, to achieve this. It is interesting to note that in 1999 there were 8 PhDs in creative and professional writing offered around Australia; in 2003 the updated Guide shows there are 17 such PhDs on offer plus 5 DCAs and D.Comms. The advent of so many creative writing doctorates will attract further interest through international examination, and will add to the fact that Australian universities are forging a significant research path in this field. Alongside the rise in research postgraduate courses, many non-research degrees have also flourished.
What underlies this growth, and we see it all the time in submissions to TEXT, is a comfort with the idea that a writer in the university context can embrace scholarship even in its most traditional forms. The creative does not exclude the academic; the academic does not extinguish the creative. We are a broad church here, for some there is talk of different hats, the creative and the scholarly, for others the move is seamless, as if the baseball cap can be worn successfully under, or with, or instead of the mortar board or the bonnet. Creativity and scholarship combining in a new kind of academic fashion statement!
This is becoming known as theory of praxis: the way in which we combine the practical and the theoretical in our understanding of (our growing epistemology), and our teaching of (our growing pedagogy), creative and professional writing.
Most of us welcome and explore the ways in which creativity and scholarship can support and enhance each other. We know that the one can (and does) exist without the other, but our task is in the exploration of the terrain which encompasses both. This is the international contribution of TEXT and those writer-scholars contributing to the discourse.
But things were not always this way. There was a time - go back and look at the early issues of TEXT - where we lined up, taking sides, defending our positions as if they were vital bridges in a chain of defence. But most of us have moved on, preferring to explore the new territory, the higher ground. At the frontiers even the old dogma is questioned. Notice how Paul Dawson slashes through the truism of show don't tell in this issue.
In this environment, an advertisement appeared on the web earlier this year promising yet another international journal concerned with writing in the tertiary sector - New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing - edited by Graeme Harper (University of Wales, Bangor) and Richard Kerridge (Bath Spa University College). Details can be found at http://www.multilingual-matters.com/. Their journal will be published in 2004 on paper, not electronically.
TEXT welcomes this new arrival. There is scope for many options, and TEXT already receives almost twice as many submissions as it can publish. We have a backlog of articles awaiting publication and others at various stages of development. We are excited by the possibilities of many voices and wish the editors of New Writing every success. Their journal is at the ideas stage and once an issue is released we look forward to reviewing it.
Meanwhile, the new-look front page for TEXT now provides a better international interface, consistent with the fact that a large proportion of our readers and contributors come from overseas. The US is the largest represented on our address list, with its huge number of writing schools, but alongside Australian subscribers we have readers and contributors in New Zealand, Asia, the UK and Canada.
Regarding Lawson's pen, we are pleased to be able to make use of the excellent library of images housed in the National Library of Australia. We acknowledge the Library's generous assistance.
New reviews editor
Patrick West is now the Reviews Editor for TEXT. Proposals for reviews of books or other media relevant to the interests of the AAWP can be submitted to him at Patrick.West@griffith.edu.au
TEXT will obtain the title from the publisher on behalf of the reviewer and send it on. AAWP members can of course submit their own publications for review. The reviewer will be selected for you.
TEXT is especially interested in reviews that comment on a grouping of texts in order to generate an argument about the production and/or teaching of creative writing, or to draw attention to new publication trends in the discipline. Submissions of this type might qualify for consideration as refereed review-essays. Usually a single-book review will be 1,000 to 1,500 words long, and a multiple-book review longer.
The review genre is an excellent means for starting to build a curriculum vitae of publications. Postgraduate students are particularly encouraged to forward proposals. It is intended that the TEXT reviews section will play a key role in furthering discussion about writing issues in Australia and overseas, with contributions from reviewers across a range of post-secondary institutions.
Vol 7 No 1 April 2003
Editors: Nigel Krauth & Tess Brady