Creative Writing On Change

To test whether this was the case, we used a method called topic modeling that examines themes instead of individual words.And while MFA novels do tend to slightly favor certain themes like “family” or “home,” overall there’s no predictable way these topics appear with any regularity in novels written by creative writing graduates more than other people who write novels. The world was black and white and the Bible was a prescription for whatever ailed you. Writing was the imperfect medicine for my broken soul. In other ways it didn’t, but writing helped me heal.

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What if this debate, furious as it is, is just a distraction from more important questions surrounding creative writing, like problems of diversity within publishing or financial exploitation on the part of universities?

We’re two professors of language and literature who regularly use computation to test common assumptions about culture.

But there’s an underlying assumption that the MFA But what if there’s no change to speak of?

Is it really possible to tell the difference between novels that have been through the meat-grinder of the MFA and those that haven’t?

Using a variety of tools from the field of computational text analysis, we studied how similar authors were across a range of literary aspects, including diction, style, theme, setting, and even how writers use characters.

novel, what makes, say, Junot Diaz sound like Junot Diaz, is of course mostly immeasurable.

Whether you valorize the Romantic ideal of the lonely, humble artist or the neo-liberal belief that education can solve any problem, the MFA has become a kind of Rorschach test for how writers and critics feel about creativity, where it comes from, and how best to nurture it.

Until now, no one has used much evidence beyond the anecdotal to test whether or not the MFA has actually influenced the contemporary novel.

But these features remain the fundamental building blocks of any novel, so if MFA writing were in aggregate to have some essential difference from books written by authors without MFAs, it should be perceptible at the very least at this genetic level of prose.

There has to be , writes, creative writing programs “obviously” teach writers how to become a specific “creative type.” Or as Chad Harbach has argued more recently in his popular essay “MFA vs.

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