Technology in the Composition Classroom

4250 Words17 Pages
At fist glance, there appears to be something drastically incongruous about creative writing and computers. Though many of us compose on word-processors and have been for years, creative writing instructors and professional writers alike share a lingering wariness when it comes to technological innovations. Fiction writer Richard Ford’s recent lament over the loss of "the now" in our technology-driven contemporary life captured what, for many creative writers at the close of the millennium, remains a poignant feeling (sec. 4: 9). Our "palpable fear," Ford writes, "is that in this high velocity atmosphere we’ll suffer vital qualities of our character to become obsolete: our capacity to deliberate, to be patient, to forgive, to remain, to observe, to empathize, to gauge cause and effect, to ignore death in respect for life; in sum, to recognize good in all its complicated, unexpected forms" (sec. 4: 9). Ford concluded the editorial with the confession of a technological heretic: "I don’t have E-mail. I’m not on the Internet. I don’t have cell-phone or call waiting or even a beeper" (sec. 4: 9). While most creative writer instructors—indeed, many successful authors—cannot afford the luxury of Ford’s ultra-Ludditism, many of us may identify with his disdain for the technology’s mounting intrusions into our lives. If instructors of creative writing have been slow to embrace the pedagogical role of computers, their reluctance conforms to a long-standing trend among teachers in the humanities. The tendency to resist the introduction of computers in the classroom, however, grows out of an antiquated conception of the relationship between academia and society at large. "Teachers in the humanities," Fred Kemp maintains, "have all too often blithely assumed that what they have to teach is protected from societal pressures, relying perhaps on the medieval perception of scholarship as purely defensive, something to protect behind monastery walls" (147-48). As LeBlanc and others have argued, electronic illiteracy is no longer a permissible indulgence in the humanities (5). In the face of the prevailing anxiety among instructors in the humanities, I want to suggest that the use of computers in the creative writing classroom is not only unavoidable, but theoretically and practically beneficial to creative writing students and teachers alike.
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