Liminal space: Postgraduate creative writing in Australian universities

McKenzie, V. (2007). Liminal space: Postgraduate creative writing in Australian universities. Limina Journal of Historical and Cultural Studies, Special Edition.

Creative writing as a postgraduate discourse occupies a liminal space in Australian universities. A poor relation of a poor relation, it is marginal in the university environment as a whole and there are internal tensions regarding creative writing’s disciplinary place within humanities/English departments. Further, there is no consensus on what constitutes a postgraduate creative writing exegesis, which comprises up to half the award. In the absence of adequate definition a space opens up that can be used to probe the grey areas of our discipline. Postgraduate writers are uniquely placed to influence the terms of future discussions on creative writing pedagogy by using the space of the creative writing exegesis to question its necessity and function, and to explore more general questions of creativity and assessment. But at the same time as postgraduates have this opportunity, it is important to realise that the terms of higher degree assessment influence the nature of the writing produced within them. The two assessable parts are in dialogue not just with each other but also with our interpretation of our obligations as postgraduates. Therefore, there is the need for a co-operative, imaginative approach to postgraduate discourse, where the possibilities and potentials of the exegesis are encouraged to unfold, particularly using the in-between status that defines the discipline’s liminality.