Vol 13 No 1 (2021)

Voice Matters: Critical Theoretical Approaches to the Creative Writing Workshop

Cara Violini
Athabasca University
Volume 13 Issue 1 Cover
Published February 11, 2021


The Black Lives Matter (BLM) and #MeToo movements instigated cultural upheavals through the sharing of testimonies. This move from silence to story by marginalized voices influenced institutions to reexamine policy for systems of implicit bias. The creative writing workshop deserves a similar scrutiny, particularly with its practice of the gag-rule where the writer must sit in silence while the cohort discusses their work. For writers who are already silenced by society, this creates a pedagogical and artistic concern. This essay looks at the creative writing workshop through a critical theoretical lens considering the impacts of silence on writers of colour and women writers. Critical race theory and feminist theory are two ways to consider the implications of silence on marginalized writers in the workshop and how problematic this invisibility is. These theories disrupt the traditional workshop through its criticism of practice, which gives space for alternative pedagogies that promote voice and artistic agency for writers in the margins.


Key words: critical theory, critical race theory, feminist theory, creative writing workshop, creative writing pedagogy, silence