Critic’s Response

Tom Lutz has an essay in Salon about the recent crop of books by novelists on what and how to read, which he sees as the by-product of a rift between writers and critics:

Over the past 15 years, I taught an average of a semester a year at the University of Iowa, the home of the famous Writers’ Workshop. When I started the writers were on the fourth floor and the critics on the third. I often had a Workshop student or two in my graduate courses, and I would bring the creative writing faculty in to meet my undergrads. By the time I left two years ago, that had long ceased. A durable and unbreachable wall had been erected between the writers and the scholars. They looked at each other not as allies in a common project, but as enemies. Now the Workshop has moved across campus and the divorce is final.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me say I have since gone over to the other side myself and teach in a creative writing program. But I still don’t understand, frankly, why people hate literary scholars for having a professional vocabulary while remaining perfectly content with economists’ using “devaluation” or philosophers’ using “existentialist,” or physicists’ talking about a “projective Hilbert space endowed with the Fubini-Study metric.”

You can read the piece in full here. (You’ll likely have to watch an ad to access the piece, unfortunately.)