Creative writing is budding

Updated: 2014-11-19 15:12

(China Daily USA)

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Creative writing programs, which teach the craft of writing novels, poetry and other literary forms, originated in the United States in the 1930s. More universities in China have adopted them in recent years - most recently Peking University and Beijing Normal University. Tongji University has announced plans to start a similar program next year.

In the past five years, about a dozen universities and colleges have begun to offer creative writing degree programs or introduce similar units into traditional Chinese literature programs.

One of the reasons for the emergence of creative writing in China is the country's booming cultural industry, which has grown at an average annual rate of above 15 percent in the past decade. The proliferation of Internet literature websites, the budding of Chinese cartoons and animation, and the lucrative domestic film and television industry have created a huge demand for creative people who can deliver their ideas in writing.

"Graduates from traditional Chinese literature departments face grim prospects in securing a job," says Ge Hongbing, director, Center for Creative Writing, Shanghai University.

"The traditional program of Chinese literature emphasizes the study of literary forms and texts, but doesn't pay enough attention to cultivating students' ability to write creatively."

In 2011, the Center for Creative Writing at Shanghai University, founded in 2009, started recruiting prospective master's students with a focus on literary creation for movie and television. Ge says the first graduates were very popular among film companies and video-production studios.

The first independent creative writing program in China was established by Fudan University in 2010. It is a two-year graduate program that originated from a specialization under the modern literature program in 2007. The required coursework includes submitting a novel or essay with more than 30,000 words and a 5,000-word dissertation.

Since 2011, China Renmin University Press has promoted the teaching of creative writing in China by publishing a series of books, mostly translations from English, including Immediate Fiction: A Complete Writing Course by Jerry Cleaver, the legendary creator of the Writer's Loft in Chicago, and Now Write!, a collection of personal writing exercises and commentary from some of today's best novelists and short-story writers.

(China Daily USA 11/19/2014 page7)