More on the study of literature with this interesting piece in The Australian over the weekend by Rosemary Neill about the rise of University ‘Creative Writing’ courses versus the decline in students studying Literature.
In 2006 33 of the 38 Australian Universities offered Creative Writing courses or modules and their popularity was in direct contrast to falling enrolments in Literature. Whilst many academic circles view this with concern, what is clear is that though we may not think that we want to read as much (the Under 25 age group has often been accused of being a generation of ‘reluctant readers’), we do want to write, and even be published.
And of course a good writer also needs to be a good reader. Any published author will tell you that one of the most important things in managing your career is to read, read widely and read often. As Neill asks in her article, ‘Do creative writing courses lead students to literature, or prove a distraction from it?’ The answer seems to be that students will read, will have to read, literature of relevance to their own writing, they need to know the context and history. And it may even be that the new courses are attracting people to ‘Literature’ who previously would have run a mile.