Mark McGurl


On his book The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing

Cover Interview of September 07, 2009


It’s so easy to hate institutions.  The very word has come to stand for something depressing and bad.  But institutions are the medium of collective human endeavor, and need to be protected from the corrosive myths of radical individualism that would tear them down.

I confess that I love the kind of institutions called schools, and want them to thrive.  And it bothers me when they are understood merely as tools of oppression and standardization.  Schools can certainly be that, but shuttering or defunding them is no solution to the problems they try to solve.  Better is to ask ourselves how schools can be made more responsive to our needs, including our need for creativity.

If my book can help us reach a more complex and sympathetic understanding of how schools have tried to enlist themselves in support of that ultimate form of individualism—creative writing—it will have done something worthwhile.

© 2009 Mark McGurl