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Academia in Fact and Fiction

Edited By Ludmiła Gruszewska-Blaim and Merritt Moseley

«Academia in Fact and Fiction» comprises twenty-eight essays on the relationship(s) between the university and the practice of belles lettres. The collection includes studies of the teaching of fiction by university professors; the fit – or misfit – between the creative writer and the academy; the depiction of the university, its staff and atmosphere, in literature, cinema and new media; and the varieties of academic fiction ranging from the ludic and satirical to the tragic. Most of the works addressed in the volume are British or American, modern or contemporary, but the historical range extends to Victorian and Shakespearian works, and the geographical range includes novels and poems from Russia, New Zealand, and Nigeria. Among the genres discussed are, in addition to the «literary novel», plays, detective fiction, fanfiction, utopias, mysteries and alternative history. The contributors are international and cosmopolitan.

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Novelists in the University – Good for the Academy? Good for the Novel? (Merritt Moseley (University of North Carolina at Asheville))


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Merritt Moseley

Novelists in the University – Good for the Academy? Good for the Novel?

Synopsis: The ongoing controversy about the presence, function, and acceptability of creative writers on the university campus, particularly when they are also professors of English, revolves around their fitness for their duties, their responsibility (or lack of it) to their employers, and their experience. This essay offers some judgments on the desirability of novelists in university employment, focusing on the effects on the novelists; on the universities where they work; and finally, on literature itself.

American novelist John Barth, in the preface to his 1966 novel Giles Goat-Boy, writes, “like most writers these days, I support myself by preaching what I practice” (McGurl 37).1 In other words, he was a teacher in a university. He was then on the faculty at Pennsylvania State University and went on, moving from one university to another until retiring after 42 years as a professor – a period which included the writing of the best-known and most admired of his seventeen books of fiction.

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