Monday, May 12, 2008

Is It True?

Is it true that there are vast differences throughout the literary establishment; that some who inhabit it are more in touch with what's happening in this country that others? That a writing instructor in Virginia will have little in common with a Vanity Fair editor in New York?

Well, yes and no. This weekend I sent off some e-mail spam to creative writing instructors in Virginia, to the renowned writing program at the university there. Many of the e-mails were returned instantly with polite messages saying the person was on vacation for the summer, and would check messages "infrequently," or when he or she got back in the fall. One, from an Elizabeth Denton, spoke humorously of a "Semester at Sea," "sailing around the world."

Can we surmise that these folks are not part of this nation's bottom half, those now under economic siege? Is that an unfair leap? Might they have much in common with their literary brethren in New York after all?


Anonymous said...

Just FYI, for a lot of creative writing instructors "on vacation for the summer" means only that they're not going to get paid for three months.

King Wenclas said...

My broader point is that elite writing programs like the one at Virginia can be consider extensions of literary empire. I note that Ms. Denton is a graduate of Columbia, and the writing faculty contains such establishment luminaries as Ann Beattie and Deborah Eisenberg.
Might we consider it a colonial outpost of New York?
I'd guess the literary mental outlook in both places is identical.