The Writer as Citizen: Creative Writing, Social Action, and Political Responsibility

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Writers often seem to be motivated by two apparently contradictory impulses. The first, the aesthetic impulse, impels us to write very well – to find the right narrative shape, the resonant poetic line, the script that will capture performers and audiences. The second is the ethical drive – to fulfil a sense of responsibility to our community, culture, context. Oscar Wilde pithily sums up the mood of some writers to this conundrum, asserting: “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.” For Milan Kundera, “Knowledge is the novel’s only morality.” For many writers, this is the response of the privileged; ecowriting, intersectional voices, prose and poetry that might motivate political change, personal wellbeing or social resilience are what matters. This chapter examines some of the key moves and techniques that writers can draw on in learning how to deploy what philosophers call axiology – ethics+aesthetics – and to produce creative writing that avoids the didactic impulse, and captures its audiences while illuminating a something that needs to be addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Scholarship of Creative Writing Practice
Subtitle of host publicationBeyond Craft, Pedagogy, and the Academy
EditorsMarshall Moore, Sam Meekings
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781350291010
ISBN (Print)9781350290990
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2024


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