Tags: College App Essay TopicsInformation Technology Business Continuity Plan TemplateEvolutionary Theory Attachment EssayHaiti Earthquake ThesisPersuasive Essay Against Cell Phones In SchoolWhere To Put Page Numbers In A Research PaperDissertation SujetWriting Character Analysis EssaysEssay Requirements
New humanism is the philosophy of creative writing.It is a philosophy of disciplined individualism, of crafted authenticity.Babbitt died in 1933, and the Depression made his bootstrapping individualism a hard sell. In 1930, the new humanist philosopher Norman Foerster, who studied under Babbitt at Harvard, moved to Iowa City to direct the new School of Letters at the University of Iowa.
Writers love to hate creative writing programs, graduates of them most of all.
In 2009, literature scholar Mark Mc Gurl published , in which he declared the rise of creative writing “the most important event in postwar American literary history.” For an academic book full of graphs and terms like “technomodernism,” it reached a wide audience, prompting reviews and editorials from publications like .
Most Americans, he told his European audience, “are still afraid of any literature which is not a glorification of everything American, a glorification of our faults as well as our virtues.” He railed against the jingoism and anti-intellectualism of American universities and colleges, lamenting that they excluded creative writers from their lecterns because professors liked their literature “cold and pure and very dead.” Lewis saved his harshest words for new humanism, a philosophical movement that promoted a restoration of moral teaching in the liberal arts and opposed deterministic theories of human nature, which he mocked as an “astonishing circus” and a “nebulous cult.” Elitist, moralizing, nostalgic for an imagined past — new humanism, he argued, epitomized the worst of American culture.
Lewis, the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, titled his lecture “The American Fear of Literature.” He received a standing ovation in Stockholm and severe criticism in the United States. Not 10 years later, universities began hiring novelists and poets as professors not of literature but of the new discipline of creative writing, first at the University of Iowa and then at Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and Denver.
The liberal arts should serve the perfection of the individual, and Babbitt and More, a literature professor and a book critic, insisted that literature should help the individual achieve that perfection through self-knowledge and self-discipline.
The new humanist movement peaked in 1930, the year Lewis condemned it in Stockholm, and all but disappeared a few years later.It emerged from a long-since-forgotten philosophical movement that instituted creative writing as a discipline for learning about yourself rather than the wider world.New humanism arose in the first decade of the 20th century as a response to the progressive education movement. Babbitt and More, in their mid-30s at the turn of the century, announced themselves as that rare thing universities have a knack for producing: young curmudgeons. Babbitt and More resented all forms of collectivism, all philosophies that put the group or the nation before the individual.No two people did more to establish the discipline of creative writing than Engle and Stegner, and they followed the model set by their new humanist graduate advisor, who gave them and gave creative writing a philosophy that has endured ever since. In 1894, Irving Babbitt, 29 years old and ambitious, took his first teaching position at Harvard.Charles Eliot, the university’s longest serving president and an educational reformer, had transformed Harvard by the time Babbitt arrived on campus by putting a premium on scientific research and broadening the curriculum through the introduction of electives.While Mc Gurl steered clear of either celebrating or condemning the creative writing program — seeking “historical interpretation,” not valuation, he emphasized — his reviewers did not.Charles Mc Grath, the former editor of the , suggested that the MFA program had transformed books from things to be bought and read into mere “credentials” for professors of creative writing.The range of writers who come out of graduate programs in creative writing make it difficult to argue that the MFA has somehow flattened literature, that T. Boyle, Sandra Cisneros, and Denis Johnson all write with something called “Iowa style.” The world of creative writing isn’t homogeneous, and for a lot of writers it offers time rather than instruction, two years to complete a book-in-progress rather than two years to mimic their advisor’s prose or verse.But creative writing also didn’t come out of nowhere.A wave of program-building followed the passage of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, or the GI Bill, and another came after the Higher Education Act of 1965.Professionals of all kinds found a place on the postwar campus, including, as Lewis hoped, professional writers, who moved in down the hall from the practitioners of the cold and pure and very dead.