James Berlin, in his book Rhetoric and Reality, points out that our disparate epistemologies lead to inevitable classroom practices, which mean that different epistemologies impact our pedagogical approach and enforce certain views about the role and function of writing in classrooms. This thesis highlights the impact of Romantic beliefs about writing on creative writing pedagogy, as well as exploring how those beliefs hamper the critical function of the workshop. Romantic beliefs have enforced the idea that talent and genius is most important in creative writing, and that writing is spontaneous, organic, original, and expressive. Because of this, many creative writing teachers have come to believe that a structured pedagogical approach hampers creative writing, but this creates problems in workshop where the need for collaborative criticism conflicts with Romantic beliefs. The result is that students, who are assumed to know how to offer effective criticism, struggle to negotiate expressive ideals as opposed to critical response. This thesis therefore explores the problems of Romantic beliefs in detail. This thesis proposes the classical rhetorical curriculum, supported by appropriate rhetorical theory, as a solution to the problems created by Romantic beliefs. This curriculum provides a detailed, structured approach to teaching writing, which is best highlighted by the way it combined stylistic analysis together with production; therefore, helping students use criticism as a way to develop their writing. In doing so, I look at a rhetorical approach to style as detailed by Richard Lanham and Winston Weathers who emphasize helping students with stylistic analysis by helping students understand the function of style. Also, because I recognize that creative writers are often resistant to any discussion of the links between creative writing and rhetoric, this thesis emphasizes the critical links between creative writing and rhetoric, thereby showing that the view of rhetoric held by creative writers is a substantially reduced view of a more dynamic discipline. The truth is the two disciplines share a fundamental critical purpose aimed at assisting student in the production of new texts, and therefore, because the two disciplines have a great deal in common, there is a viable opportunity to build on their theoretical links in order to enhance pedagogy in both disciplines. Therefore, this thesis looks at some specific ways that the classical rhetorical curriculum can be applied within the constraints of the contemporary creative writing classroom.



College and Department

Humanities; English



Date Submitted


Document Type





Rhetoric, creative writing, pedagogy, creative writing pedagogy, style