Craft criticism, composition theory, and the future(s) of English studies

Timothy Robert Mayers, University of Rhode Island


This dissertation is intended as a contribution to the ongoing scholarly debate about "refiguring" the discipline of English studies. Its primary purpose is to compare and contrast two strands of English studies--composition and creative writing--which are rarely considered in relation to each other. The first chapter illustrates the divisions within English studies and reviews the work of scholars who attempt to understand or reconcile these divisions. In most of this scholarship, English studies is posited as a field divided in half, between literature and composition; in those rare cases when creative writing is considered, it is compared and contrasted to literature rather than to composition. The second chapter defines "craft criticism" as an emergent practice in which creative writers (particularly poets) challenge many of the prevailing ideas about creative writing and creative writers, and attempt to situate creative writing within broad social, political, and institutional contexts. The third chapter draws parallels between the writings of several craft critics and several composition theorists, particularly with regard to the ways in which they draw upon the theories of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger. The fourth and final chapter explores the possibilities and limits of an alliance between creative writers and compositionists, and speculates about how such an alliance might help to transform the discipline of English studies as it moves into the next century. ^

Subject Area

Education, Language and Literature|Language, Rhetoric and Composition|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Timothy Robert Mayers, "Craft criticism, composition theory, and the future(s) of English studies" (1998). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI9902571.