writing actually as works of art

The Modern Language Association conference was held in Philadelphia last December ('06) and, as usual, the local newspaper feels obliged to cover it. Usually such stories devote most of the space to mockery at arcane, whacky paper topics and seem inevitably to have a jokey, anti-PC, anti-academic tone: how silly, all this. But this year the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a piece that catches nicely, I think, the sense of what we’re doing through the Writers House and CPCW, with the whole nexus of a university’s writing programs brought together, devoted to the art and practice of “contemporary writing” rather than splitting off modern and contemporary literature from composition from creative writing from a center for the writing arts (KWH). Add PENNsound to the mix and you've got what Charles Bernstein in the article is quoted as saying: an "interest[...] in these works as works of art," as made things. "People are interested in literature," says Marjorie Perloff, and "many of them are also writers." "We're in a phase right now where students was to study literature and to write. We're in a very literary moment," said Rosemary Feal, MLA's executive director, and "there is more emphasis on what writers do, reading what writers write, and if you want to be a writer, learning how to write." The full text of the article is here.