For the third seminar in our "The Uses of Literature" series, we're delighted to welcome Dr Andrew Crumey, award-winning novelist and lecturer in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. He originally trained as a theoretical physicist and is a former literary editor of Scotland on Sunday. His most recent novel Sputnik Caledonia (Picador) was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize and Scottish Book of the Year Award.
What is the knowledge-content of fiction? We could consider this as an institutional question, asking what makes the creative component of a Creative Writing PhD a “contribution to knowledge”. More generally, we could seek a conceptualisation of knowledge applicable to literature or art in general.
By taking the institutional model first, we address the problem in a practical way, raising fundamental questions of creative writing pedagogy (e.g. can writing be taught?). This will motivate an approach to the more general theoretical question, raising a contrast between the (relative) stability of empirical scientific knowledge and the evident instability of artistic taste. Given that the object of taste is often considered to be “form” rather than “content”, an issue is to ask how “knowledge-content” can be distinguished from “informational content”.
The emphasis is thus on a practice-led approach: this paper will draw on the author’s practical experience as novelist and creative writing teacher, rather than on any formal theoretical apparatus, with the aim of extracting insights applicable beyond personal artistic practice.
For more information about Andrew, please visit his website here:
An interview with Andrew in The Independent:
And his page from the Newcastle Centre for Literary Arts: