Is Writing Theory Useful?

March 4, 2010 in On Writing, Study by pacejmiller

Yesterday I attended my third and final class of the week, in writing theory.

It’s the subject I had been looking forward to least, but I had no choice because it’s a core (ie mandatory) subject.

Our lecturer explained the need to have this subject by saying that if you take a university writing course, there has to be some “academic” or “scholarly” element to it.  In other words, it can’t all be fun and games.  We need to come away with something that we can show off to the outside world, something that will allow us to say “hey, we learned some theory and history”.

As expected, it was pretty brutal.  The lecturer seemed like a nice enough guy, but perhaps a little eager to prove his credentials as he reeled off his impressive list of achievements and publications like a well-rehearsed speech.

As of now, I still don’t know what exactly we’re going to be learning in this class.  There was talk of realism (eg Madame Bovary), modernism (eg Ulysses) and post-modernism (eg American Psycho), but none of that really means anything to me.

The lecturer said that learning theory will help you in practice.  I hope he’s right, though I don’t quite see that connection just yet.

To top things off we watched this YouTube video of Go West by the Pet Shop Boys, which is supposedly an excellent example of a modernist music video.