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Re-encountering Christina Stead : Why read ‘Workshop in the novel’?

Version 2 2024-06-03, 18:05
Version 1 2015-03-23, 13:56
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-03, 18:05 authored by Alison BurnsAlison Burns, RA Goodrich
Despite waves of interest in the work of Christina Stead, one aspect of her writing life has been largely neglected. From September 1943, she taught three series of extended writing workshops in New York and in the process left more than three hundred pages documenting her teaching. The question motivating this paper is: Why should we, as writers and teachers of writing, read her writing workshop notebooks nowadays? This paper will place Stead’s workshop in the context of the development of institutional teaching of novel writing and her emergence as a major writer. It will briefly examine how the notebooks have previously been understood and offer a closer analysis than has been made to date of the notebooks and their content and of the key issues raised by them. In particular, we shall explore her pedagogic focus upon workshop participants developing a rigorous, analytical approach to crafting novels and her extensive use of Georges Polti’s Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations to achieve this. That, in turn, will enable us to assess what the notebooks independently reveal about her beliefs regarding the novel and its purpose.

History

Journal

Text

Volume

18

Pagination

1-11

Location

Nathan, Qld.

ISSN

1327-9556

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2014, Australian Association of Writing Programs

Issue

1

Publisher

Australian Association of Writing Programs