Disciplining the muse : evaluating creative writing studies’ effort to establish itself as an academic discipline
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Disciplinarity in the humanities has long been neglected by writing-in-the-disciplines (WID) scholars in favor of science and business writing. Disciplining the Muse argues that there is much for WID scholars to learn by investigating non-traditional fields that make claims for disciplinarity; additionally, emerging and contested disciplines offer insight into the nature of disciplinarity itself. My work bridges WID issues of disciplinary definition and development by looking at one extreme case within English Studies: creative writing studies (CWS). CWS rhetorically disidentifies with literature, composition and traditional creative writing while inspiring cohesion within their own field. Complicating this project, long-held ambivalence towards disciplinarity within creative writing creates a riff between the vanguard and many practitioners. The CWS vanguard declares disciplinary criteria of research, pedagogy and institutional sanction in order to bolster their claims. Instead of using outsider definitions of disciplinarity, in this dissertation I employ qualitative and quantitative research methods to evaluate the gap between the vanguard’s disciplinary claims and practices. The material and cultural implications of being a discipline can be high, and WID scholars should seek for the insider view for new disciplines—how well developing disciplines live up to their own stated standards and aspirations.