• Creative writing: mapping the subject

      Belas, Oliver (The English Association, 2018-03-06)
      [From the introduction] My aim is to stitch together a three-part patchwork, to piece together some thoughts on: (i) Creative Writing as an academic discipline; (ii) the textual dynamics and contradictory cultural logic of the map; and (iii) knowledge, particularly the talk of ‘knowledge-based’ education that has driven recent reform in secondary education. Under the influence of Michel de Certeau and in light of an examination of the work of the map and of mapping, i will argue that Creative Writing, while it exemplifies a very real mode of knowing, is not and cannot be recognized as a site or space of knowledge by England’s current secondary-educational politics.
    • Subject English as citizenship education

      Belas, Oliver; Hopkins, Neil; University of Bedfordshire (Wiley, 2019-01-04)
      This article is equal parts educational history and political philosophy. We aim to remind readers that subject English (SE) and indeed state education emerge from the contradictory impulses of classical liberalism, and that, more than simply resembling citizenship education, SE emerges in the first instance as a form of highly normativising citizenship education. We further argue that, following England's recent educational reforms initiated by former Education Secretary Michael Gove, SE continues to be framed in moral terms consistent with citizenship education—again, of a highly normativising sort. England's current educational policy generally, and specifically the framing of SE, employs the language of liberal possibility, while ultimately espousing an invidious exclusionary and assimilationist politics. The framing of SE, moreover, is one that misrepresents the supposedly ‘rich and varied literary heritage’ it is supposed to exemplify and promote. The current political landscape in which the study of literature takes place is one where a crisis of liberalism is manifest (in terms of populism, radicalisation or apathy). However, we do not believe the answer is to retreat into a sealed, hermetic canon that excludes the reality that England and English literature are fundamentally multicultural and polyethnic. SE will be the poorer for not fully acknowledging and embodying this, for not enabling students to imaginatively and critically engage with characters and experiences that reflect both the present and long‐standing diversity of English society, as well as its present and long‐standing inequalities.