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Creative-academic writing

Baratta, Alex (2008) Creative-academic writing. Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

To some, the genres of academic and creative writing might be regarded as opposites, the ‘yin’ and the ‘yang’ of the writing world, as it were. Such a belief might be based on the fact that creative writing in any manifestation (e.g., poetry, fiction) generally has more rhetorical freedom with which to fulfil its primary purpose of telling a story and entertaining the reader, which often involves the use of non-standard English, slang and even taboo words. Such conventions would largely fly in the face of the conventions of academic writing, however, which is largely produced to inform one’s reader, demonstrate appropriate knowledge in a field of study and pass a course, and not to entertain per se. If we accept such broad differences between the two genres of writing, then it might seem that creative writing is a questionable choice as a means to improve students’ academic writing style. However, within the classroom, analysis of literary texts is suggested to be a way in which students can develop their academic writing style and in doing so, come to realise that academic writing can still be creative. Therefore, this paper advocates a stylistics-based approach to the teaching of academic writing, using analysis of literary texts as a means with which to help students understand the rhetorical devices that can be used within their essay writing. While previous studies of stylistics, such as Ryder (1999) and Toolan (2000) focus on the linguistic devices used within texts (e.g. semantic roles and lexical choices), notably Ryder’s focus on the climax of a Barbara Cartland novel, few studies go one step further, which this paper seeks to do: to discuss how the knowledge gleaned from a linguistic analysis of literature can be applied to students’ own academic essay writing.

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