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Translingual Creative Writing: A Non-Anglophone Way for Creative Writing Education

  • Author / Creator
    Quist, Jennifer Lynn
  • It is now acknowledged in Creative Writing research that the traditional writing
    workshop as developed in United States universities during the 20th century was initially
    propagated across the globe as part of a project to secure American soft power, and it remains
    ideologically slanted toward Euro-American interests and perspectives. In the twenty-first
    century, calls to rework the structures, methods, and metaphors of the workshop have argued for
    more collaborative, collective, equitable, diverse, and inclusive programs. Student needs are
    complex and intersectional, and to advance reform within the writing workshop monolingual
    English must be addressed as an aspect of the cultural hegemony which tends to accompany
    what Asao B. Inoue has called the “white racial habitus” of the writing classroom.
    Creative Writing that is translingual rather than monolingual is defined broadly as
    unfolding where translation and writing become enmeshed, highlighting the inscription of one
    language upon another within single texts. It is visible in recent creative turns in Translation
    Studies, and in translational turns in Creative Writing. Through translingual Creative Writing,
    multilingualism is cultivated as an asset rather than an impediment to expression and creativity.
    To this effect, in this study translingual Creative Writing strategies are 1) theorized 2) identified
    from existing research and from published fiction and poetry by multilingual writers Xiaolu Guo,
    Ha Jin, Stan Lai, and Yoko Tawada, among others, and 3) adapted for classroom use. This is
    undertaken in response to Xu Xi’s call for writing workshops to foster excellence and
    authenticity in non-Anglophone students’ writing, disrupting rather than equivocating Englishlanguage hegemony.
    Following the origins of exemplary translingual writers, the unfolding history of
    postsecondary Creative Writing education in China is derived from research and texts not
    currently available in English. Rather than uncritically accepting the traditions and ideologies of US Creative Writing, Chinese scholars received them as an opportunity for cross-cultural
    knowledge production. In the same spirit, this study experiments with tempering traditional
    workshop metaphors with those of discursive Daoism, suggesting theory and practices to
    challenge the Anglocentrism of Creative Writing pedagogies. Not a religion or strictly a classical
    philosophical system, discursive Daoism is an analytical framework used with an awareness of
    its oversimplification and decontextualization and by which Daoism’s concepts, canon, and
    vocabulary may be applied outside its traditional purviews, just as Euro-American philosophies
    are routinely extended beyond their original contexts. As drawn primarily from the Zhuangzi, a
    discursive Daoism is applied here to exemplary translingual texts and to the writing workshop,
    connecting Daoism’s metalanguage for ephemeral concepts such as inspiration, uncertainty, nonknowing, spontaneity, unity, forgetting the self, and the imperfection of language to translingual
    Creative Writing.
    This analysis yields writing strategies based in collaboration, receptive to technologies of
    composition and transcription, and facilitated by instructors who are guides rather than
    “masters.” Writing strategies include the superimposition of interlingual metaphors, practices of
    what Chantal Wright has called “fictitious ethnography,” homophonic surface translations,
    “microscopic” reading of scripts, and question-to-question composition games. What these
    strategies share is a defamiliarizing of language followed by its refamiliarization. Through these
    processes, the fluidity of language established in Daoism comes to the fore, disclosing to student
    writers the possibilities of linguistic transcendence as practiced by exemplary professional
    translingual writers.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2023
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-9d61-8r16
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.