Based on my observation, Creative Writing degree programs seem to be heavily focused on learning a few timeless principles of storytelling followed by the production of a massive portfolio of stories (short stories, novels, poems, plays, etc.) demonstrating mastery of these principles.

Once someone has a degree in Creative Writing, or especially has become a professor of Creative Writing or aspires to be such, what sort of academic publications are expected or typical? My instinct would be to say that they simply write more (and hopefully better!) stories and publish them, but then that would imply that there is a difference between fiction intended for the academic community that is subject to rigorous peer review by fellow Creative Writing academics and fiction intended for a mass-market audience that is selected based on what the editor thinks will sell the most copies - does such a distinction actually exist? E.g. perhaps there is some writer today thinking "Hey, I think this story I wrote about wizards getting revenge on a king on Halloween is one of the best of its class in the past few hundred years, I'm going to submit it to the peer-reviewed Trans-Celtic Journal for the Advancement of Bardic Storytelling rather than Spooky Tales Quarterly. Tenure here I come!" Do separate peer-reviewed venues for publishing "academic-grade" creative writing not exist as such, and academics publish wherever they want (fanzines, pulp mags, blogs, Cosmo, wherever) and let their stories stand on their own?

Am I wrong on this? Do professors of Creative Writing actually concentrate on publishing research articles on the effectiveness of various writing techniques, tropes, themes, plot devices, etc. (e.g. "I did this study where half of my readers/subjects read my story [Appendix A] with the side love scene and half without, and the ones who read the story without it rated it higher [Graph B]. Conclusion: Don't include side love scenes.")? Do Creative Writing professors write literary analysis like Literature professors in the Liberal Arts?

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    One thought would be to go to various universities' websites and look at the CV of creative writing professors. Aug 13, 2018 at 18:19
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    This varies by institution but it is quite common for tenure and promotion policies to consider "creative works" in awarding tuition to professors in fields like theater, creative writing, fine arts, and music. It's also common for those professors to have a terminal master's degree such as a Master's in Fine Arts rather than a doctoral degree. Aug 13, 2018 at 18:36
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    Another thing that leads me to believe that peer-reviewed creative writing does not really exist: I am, and have many friends who are, avid readers, and I've never heard someone say, "Hey, if you're tired of all the crappy Harry Potter wannabe stories that are flooding the market, just subscribe to the Advanced Journal of Applied 21st Century Best Practices in Young Wizard Creative Writing. It costs $50 an issue because it is written at a 35th grade reading level and so hardly anyone reads it but professors, but the stories are so amazing!" Aug 13, 2018 at 19:06
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    @RobertColumbia: There are lots of peer-reviewed literary magazines. kenyonreview.org is an example. Perhaps it just isn't the type of writing that appeals to your friends? Aug 13, 2018 at 19:19
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    +1 to @AustinHenley's suggestion of looking at CVs of people in the field. I kind of feel like this would answer your question in less time than it took to ask it. Aug 13, 2018 at 19:26

1 Answer 1


There are plenty of scholarly essays that can be written about creative writing.

Here's a CV from one professor who teaches creative writing extensively. It lists, as well as books, short fiction, and poems she has published, a long series of scholarly essays that seem like your "literary analysis" category (titles like "Reed-Kellogg Diagramming and Vernacular Speech: ‘Telling It Slant’ in the Introductory Classroom", “Robert Penn Warren and Psychological Pastoralism,” “Agency in All the Kings’ Men: The Issue of Anne Stanton,”).

She also has a series of essays on writing which are probably what you're talking about with your "articles on the effectiveness of various writing techniques, tropes, themes, plot devices" such as “Don’t Be Afraid to Write Badly,” The American Scholar, January 2017 and “Writing ‘Bush,’” Fourth Genre, Summer 2011.

Here's another CV from an "Assistant Professor of Poetry & Creative Nonfiction" who has a section for "Selected Prose (Creative & Critical)" that includes what looks like both literary analysis and essays on the "effectiveness of various writing techniques" (Writers on Writing, “Why to Kill Your Paradise").

So yes, it seems that there are publications that take a scholarly attitude toward creative writing, and at least some professors of creative writing do publish in them.

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