Teaching Critical Literary Citizenship

Robert McGill and André Babyn | February 2019

Teaching Critical Literary Citizenship by Robert McGill and André Babyn, February 2019


The reciprocal feeling and relationship that must have existed when Chaucer referred to “moral Gower” in Troilus and Criseyde, and Gower to Chaucer as his “disciple and poet” in the Confessio Amantis, speak to the ways in which literary citizenship—that is, the act of promoting literature, literary community, and literary culture—has been a crucial aspect of the writing life for centuries.1 Engaging generously with the work of other writers, participating in readings and interviews, writing reviews, editing magazines and anthologies, and mentoring other writers are common ways in which writers have contributed to their literary communities. Through such contributions, writers not only support others socially, culturally, and professionally; they often similarly benefit themselves. But the scope of literary citizenship, as well as how it might best be performed, are subjects for consideration and debate.

These matters have been crucial to a senior seminar in Literary Citizenship that Robert teaches at the University of Toronto and for which André served as a teaching assistant in 2017. Drawing on our experiences in the course, we wish to address what it means to teach literary citizenship critically. A goal of our course has been to get students thinking not only about what opportunities exist for them as literary citizens but also about what it means to participate in literary citizenship in the first place, and about the material and ideological conditions that inform the shape that literary citizenship takes. Another goal has been for students to investigate the work of literary organizations, not least to help the students imagine creating initiatives of their own or participating meaningfully in organizations that already exist. Achieving these goals has entailed class discussions regarding the connotations and implications of the term “literary citizenship” itself, as well as conversations with guest speakers that have reckoned with the complexities of literary citizenship and assignments designed to engage students in literary citizenship in a critical, reflective manner.


The Case for Critical Literary Citizenship

Commentators on literary citizenship such as Cathy Day and Lori A. May have emphasized the need for writers to be generous in their community involvements, especially given that literary culture often depends on labor that is either voluntary or so poorly remunerated as to be effectively voluntary. But the same financial considerations that make acts of literary citizenship important can make them prohibitive for those who aren’t affluent. Literary citizenship usually pays poorly, and it can be expensive: there are books and magazines to buy, event attendance fees, website hosting fees, membership fees, classes, and workshops. Meanwhile, changes in the publishing industry have meant, as Becky Tuch puts it, “more work, no pay” as authors publish and promote their writing, making it harder for them to take on additional, altruistic activities.2 With broad-based participation crucial to the success of any literary community, these changes pose challenges to the communities’ health.

Some kinds of participation in literary citizenship are more valuable than others. Not considering carefully how one’s acts of literary citizenship might, for instance, serve corporate interests or rehearse exclusionary social practices could have harmful consequences.

But even if large, active literary communities could be ensured, that wouldn’t be enough to guarantee their flourishing. Participants need to think critically about the roles they play in communities and the experiences they seek to foster. As Roxane Gay writes, being a good literary citizen isn’t about simple boosterism; it shouldn’t involve “being disingenuous, uncritical, or falsely affirming about everything you read and every writer you encounter.”3 Some kinds of participation in literary citizenship are more valuable than others. Not considering carefully how one’s acts of literary citizenship might, for instance, serve corporate interests or rehearse exclusionary social practices could have harmful consequences.

For that reason, there’s a place in the university not just for courses in literary citizenship—courses of the sort that Day and Donna Steiner have pioneered at Ball State University and SUNY Oswego, respectively, and that are beginning to proliferate at other institutions4—but for courses that foster critical literary citizenship. Courses in literary citizenship often approach it as something to be learned experientially. For Creative Writing students whose workshops largely stick to matters of craft, such literary citizenship courses provide a fuller picture of the writer’s life, casting light on the work that goes on, beyond the act of writing, to produce and promote literature. Moreover, the courses teach students about the organizations and communities that make writing and publishing possible, and they connect students to these collectivities. Such experiential learning can be invaluable, but it is crucial that such learning be accompanied by critical thinking about the assumptions, values, and practices of literary citizenship.

Much of the writing on literary citizenship has been characterized by the articulation of precepts regarding how to be good literary citizens. For instance, Day’s essay “Principles of Literary Citizenship” does not, in fact, explicitly spell out much in the way of principles; instead, it offers a list of imperatives to engage in activities: e.g., “Interview writers” and “Write ‘charming notes’ to writers.”5 Likewise, Charlotte Morganti’s article “Celebrating Literary Citizens” is largely devoted to listing acts that literary citizens might undertake.6 In our Literary Citizenship course, the focus is less on the imperative form than on the interrogative, as we invite students to consider such matters as the economics and demographics of the publishing industry, the roles of social media in literary culture, the uses of literature in promoting social justice, and the relationship between literary citizenship and other forms of citizenship. We ask questions such as: Who is most able to participate in literary citizenship, and why? Who benefits from various kinds of literary citizenship? Who gets excluded? What challenges are there in establishing literary journals, presses, reading series, and writing groups? How can such ventures be successful? Just as importantly, what should the criteria for success be? By considering these questions, students are liable to gain a better understanding of what it means to participate in literary communities, and they’re better positioned to serve as valuable, even transformative members of them.


What’s in a Name? Considering “Literary Citizenship”

At the outset of our course, we address why the term “literary citizenship” has recently come into prominence. Why speak of literary citizenship instead of, say, literary service, volunteerism, stewardship,7 or—in line with Becky Tuch’s arguments—labor? Discussing Lori A. May’s book The Write Crowd: Literary Citizenship and the Writing Life, we consider one implicit answer that May offers to that question, as she observes that although “[v]olunteering one’s time is certainly the standard for offering something to the greater community,” there are writers “making a living after having cultivated an area of need and developing their efforts into money-making businesses.”8 In other words, some acts of literary citizenship blur the line between volunteerism and entrepreneurship. Indeed, the relationship between self-interest and self-sacrifice in literary citizenship can be complicated. On the one hand, several authors have written about the importance of approaching literary citizenship altruistically. As David Ebenbach claims: “a shift to literary citizenship means a shift to asking something like the old JFK question: Not What can this author do for me, but What can I do for this author, or books generally, or my really talented friends in particular?9 On the other hand, people have recognized that acts of literary citizenship almost inevitably accrue benefits for the person doing them. As May puts it, “In helping others, we help ourselves.”10

Such a situation bespeaks mutualism: an arrangement whereby people contribute reciprocally to each other’s wellbeing. Donna Steiner has emphasized the importance of such reciprocity in literary citizenship, arguing for “giving your time and expertise in return for what that community has given to you.”11 May’s own references to “paying it forward,” in which one acts generously toward others with the understanding that one has benefitted from others’ similar generosity, indicate that she, too, thinks of literary citizenship in mutualist terms.12 In our course, we discuss the implications of a mutualist understanding of literary citizenship: not least, the advantages of emphasizing reciprocity when advocating for participation in literary citizenship, as well as the complications of doing so. For example, we ask whether the celebration of reciprocity encourages people to expect a “return” on their labor, perhaps even to focus their attentions on “high-value” opportunities promising to net the greatest returns. If that’s the case, what sorts of explicit or implicit transactions are normalized by such expectations? And how might people who set out in marginalized positions due to their class, gender, sexuality, nationality, and/or racialized identity be disadvantaged from the beginning by such a transactional economy?

We also consider the connotations of the word “citizenship.” Students are quick to recognize that the term evokes the notion of being a “good citizen”—someone who acts with a sense of civic responsibility, often at the local level. Insofar as the term “literary citizenship” nods to that notion of citizenship, it suggests that members of a literary community have both an investment in the community’s directions and obligations to it. Students are also liable to observe that the term “citizenship” evokes national citizenship, which—at least in the West, outside of wartime—is often associated with rights and privileges more than with responsibilities. Moreover, the echo of national citizenship in the term “literary citizenship” may help to confirm a status quo in which many aspects of literary culture are bounded by the borders of nation-states. With this possibility in mind, we consider the fact that the appendix in The Write Crowd lists community organizations that almost entirely operate only in the United States, and we discuss whether the term “literary citizenship” helps to naturalize a situation in which many parts of literary culture—from publishing houses, distributors, and awards to funding bodies and literary organizations—are bounded by the nation-state, thus implicitly deferring to and normalizing the enforcement of national borders.

Meanwhile, we discuss whether the term “literary citizenship” might have an ideological function in suggesting that there’s a certain equality of rights and privileges among members of literary communities, insofar as the members are all identified as “citizens,” when, in fact, there are great inequalities in literary communities. Such communities include both bestselling authors and unpublished ones, the wealthy and the poor, the privileged and the victimized. Indeed, some activities placed in the category of “literary citizenship” might be more illuminatingly described using other terms that would draw attention to such inequalities. For example, some activities might be more precisely called “literary philanthropy,” given that they involve people with significant capital donating resources to those without it. Identifying those activities by that name would underscore barriers to participation in a way that the term “literary citizenship” doesn’t.

… the ambiguity with respect to what counts as “literary” can be a prompt for students to consider the value of reading and writing per se, especially in a so-called “post-literate” society. Such considerations serve as a basis for students to articulate the values and goals they wish to privilege in acts of literary citizenship.

We discuss the word “literary” in “literary citizenship,” too, given that it means different things to different people. Sometimes in writing about literary citizenship, writers are implicitly treated as literary citizens par excellence, but as Steiner notes, “readers, librarians, booksellers, agents, editors, and publishers” can also be literary citizens.13 Considering these different kinds of literary citizens, we discuss whether they might have different kinds of obligations to literary culture. Moreover, Steiner identifies literary citizens broadly as people interconnected “by a love of writing and reading.”14 This characterization entails an inclusive view of the “literary,” while others use the word to denote writing of particular merit. Drawing students’ attention to this ambiguity in the word “literary” can productively engender discussion about their own assumptions regarding the value of literature in a world where the printed word is losing cultural ground to other media. Likewise, the ambiguity with respect to what counts as “literary” can be a prompt for students to consider the value of reading and writing per se, especially in a so-called “post-literate” society. Such considerations serve as a basis for students to articulate the values and goals they wish to privilege in acts of literary citizenship.

Examining the term “literary citizenship” also leads us to think about the relationship between literary citizenship and the classroom. In this regard, another question we consider is: how might the growing prevalence of “literary citizenship” as a term and a course topic be connected to changes in the university? One answer, offered by Randy Martin, is that as public institutions are increasingly the site where artists receive their training, it is not surprising that artists there should find themselves increasingly encouraged to reflect on their public roles and responsibilities.15 Moreover, in a neoliberal climate in which universities are celebrated for their contributions to the economy and criticized for insufficiently preparing students for the job market, even while universities celebrate their role in producing good citizens and promoting cultural excellence, not just useful workers, the popularity of “literary citizenship” as a term can be linked to the fact that it occupies an ideological middle ground, sounding neither as crassly business-oriented as, say, “literary entrepreneurship” nor as divorced from market imperatives as “literary altruism.” In the same way, activity-based courses in literary citizenship can claim both to introduce students to potential employers and to engage students in community-minded service. As Chris Green noted in 2001, “Creative writing programs… are under pressure to show their pragmatic utility. Community involvement rather than corporate professionalism answers this demand.”16 Recognizing how courses in literary citizenship fit the various, sometimes not entirely congruent demands of the modern university is important if students are to reckon with the complex ways in which literary culture, postsecondary education, and a capitalist economy are interconnected.


Engaging with Texts and Speakers

In contrast with a service-learning approach to literary citizenship, our course is classroom-based, with each week of class devoted to a particular related topic. Each topic is explored via a consideration of published texts, including ones relating to an organization that serves as a case study. Discussion of the texts allows the students to put their training as literary critics to use, considering the texts’ investments in certain values, their silences around certain issues, and their employment of certain language in framing issues. Each week also features a guest speaker from the organization in question who is able to shed light on matters that the published materials fail to address. Questions we ask the guests include: what challenges have they faced, what values drive their organization’s mission, and what new initiatives is the organization pursuing? Once a guest departs, we discuss issues that were raised during the visit, and we connect them to the week’s readings.

One of the course’s topics is “placemaking”: that is, work that seeks to build a sense of community and belonging with respect to specific locales. A guest speaker has been Lindsay Zier-Vogel, founder of The Love Lettering Project, an arts-education initiative that invites people to write anonymous love letters to the place where they live and then to hide them in that place for others to find. While Zier-Vogel’s visit has allowed us to examine the role that the written word can have in creating attachments to place, she has also drawn our attention to the community partnerships and grant applications necessary to make initiatives such as hers financially viable. Meanwhile, readings have included an excerpt from J. Edward Chamberlin’s book If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories? encouraging us to think about the politics of place attachment, especially in the context of North America’s history of colonization and the displacement of Indigenous peoples.17

Another week, we discuss book reviewing. We consider what makes for a good review, taking on board the arguments made by Lori A. May in The Write Crowd and by Gail Pool in her book Faint Praise: The Plight of Book Reviewing in America.18 We talk about the need for justifying praise and criticism alike, as well as the importance of avoiding clichés of the genre. Pool also casts light on the economic and technical challenges of book reviewing: not least, its limited remuneration, as well as the tight time constraints and word limits often involved. We go on to revisit a debate in print in 2012 between the poets Jan Zwicky and Michael Lista about the ethics of publishing negative reviews.19 Undertaking a mock-debate that both reconsiders and supplements Zwicky’s and Lista’s points, the students are encouraged to think about how a book review can have disparate roles for different audiences: the author of the book being reviewed, potential readers of the book, people who have already read it, and even people who will certainly never read it. Moreover, author André Alexis has visited the class and spoken to us about the experience—recounted in his essay “Of a Smallness in the Soul”—of being disappointed by the failure of reviewers to condemn fellow writer David Gilmour’s use of racist stereotypes in constructing a caricature of Alexis in Gilmour’s novel The Perfect Order of Things after Alexis wrote a negative review of one of Gilmour’s earlier novels. In Alexis’s essay, he worries about how book reviews’ conventional focus on “aesthetic concerns” might “allow bigotry to pass,” but he also recognizes that at a time “when book reviewers are routinely given less and less space,” no reviewer “can hope to address all the issues brought up in any reasonably complex work of literature.”20 The incident dramatically illustrates the psychological and social investments of book reviewing, as well as the ways in which its conventional format can be limiting.

Other topics of the course include literary journals and literary presses. In these weeks, we discuss the labor and resources required to run them, as well as the ways in which new media continue to reshape the field. We have also taken a field trip to Coach House Books, a Toronto press that is both a publisher and a printing house, which allows students to witness the physical process of making a book. An on-site interview with Coach House’s editorial director, Alana Wilcox, helps students to appreciate the hardscrabble economics of independent publishing, as well as the ingenuity and industry involved in book marketing. At the same time, Wilcox’s very willingness to take time from her schedule and lead us on the tour to teach and enthuse a new generation of literary citizens serves as compelling evidence that a dedication to literary citizenship is in small presses’ DNA.

In a week on youth programming, we examine the work done by organizations such as 826 National and, in Toronto, Story Planet in helping children to write. The document “826 National Theory of Change” provides the foundation for a consideration of creative writing’s value for children,21 while an article by Helen Cahill, “Resisting Risk and Rescue as the Raison d’être for Arts Interventions,” provides insights regarding the challenges in developing programs for so-called “at-risk youth.”22 Meanwhile, a visit from the director of Story Planet, Liz Haines, has introduced us to aspects of the organization’s work that aren’t documented on Story Planet’s website: for instance, the need to train volunteer teachers in dealing with situations such as the use of oppressive stereotypes and graphic violence in the stories that the children tell.

Focusing on equity also affords us the opportunity to think about how gender might inflect literary citizenship itself…

A week devoted to the matter of equity spotlights the work done by organizations such as VIDA, Cave Canem, and CWILA (Canadian Women in the Literary Arts) to expose and rectify racism, sexism, and marginalization in literary culture. CWILA board members Erin Wunker and Jacqueline Valencia have spoken with the class about their organization’s annual tabulation of the gender breakdown in the country’s book reviewing, and they have addressed the challenges involved when an organization featuring hundreds of members seeks to speak with a unified voice about controversial, sometimes divisive issues. Focusing on equity also affords us the opportunity to think about how gender might inflect literary citizenship itself: considering Carol Gilligan’s influential argument that women are habituated into an “ethics of responsibility,” students are encouraged to reflect on the fact that most commentators on literary citizenship have been female and to consider the ramifications of that fact.23

We have devoted further weeks to freedom of expression and to writers’ solidarity—interconnected issues foregrounding the importance of political advocacy and collective action. We have examined the controversial decision by PEN America to award its 2015 Freedom of Expression Courage Award to the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had been subject to a terrorist attack after publishing images of the prophet Muhammad. We’ve discussed the positions of writers who spoke out for and against the award, not least as we’ve considered published correspondence between PEN Executive Director Suzanne Nossel and the writer Deborah Eisenberg.24 In our week on solidarity, we’ve examined the fallout from a controversial, much-commented-upon editorial by Hal Niedzviecki in a 2017 issue of the magazine Write that urged white authors to engage in “cultural appropriation” by exploring the lives of non-white characters.25 As the students have considered published responses to the editorial, they have reckoned with the difficulties of solidarity regarding hot-button topics, as well as with the question of how best to be a good literary citizen when it involves engaging in highly contentious public debates.26



Assigning Literary Citizenship

While our course’s classroom focus is often on critical thinking about others’ acts of literary citizenship, the course assignments include ones that give students practice undertaking that work themselves. An early assignment involves the students writing book reviews. They also write blog-style essays for the course’s Blackboard site. These essays, each of which considers one of the course’s topics, encourage the students to engage actively and critically with the readings and topics in advance of class. Moreover, the essays are excellent in sparking class conversation.

Other assignments for the course are designed to prompt students to think about how best they might participate in literary citizenship. In particular, the course’s major assignment is a critical report on a literary organization of each student’s choice that is operative in Toronto. The report has five parts: a description of the organization’s history and activities; an analysis of the ways in which the activities constitute literary citizenship; an assessment of the organization’s strengths and limitations in carrying out its mandate; a comparison of the organization with one of the organizations we’ve examined in class; and a proposal for how the organization might enhance or expand its activities.

The report is especially valuable for students in allowing them to consider types of organizations that, due to the constraints of a twelve-week term, we’re unable to examine extensively in class: for instance, governmental institutions, literary festivals, reading series, book stores, book clubs, and online platforms such as Wattpad and Goodreads. Students are also encouraged to establish a connection with the organization they’re investigating by interviewing a representative. To aid them in doing so—and to help ensure that the interviews are positive experiences for everyone—we spend time in class on interviewing etiquette and best practices.  Throughout the course, the question periods with guest speakers model those best practices, so that by the time students conduct their own interviews, they’re well acquainted with what a successful interview involves.

To permit students to share the results of their investigations, the course finishes with two days of presentations on what they’ve learned. The presentations include the distribution of handouts detailing how people can learn more about and get involved in the profiled organizations. Meanwhile, we’ve created a website, literarycitizenshiptoronto.com, through which the students are able to publicly share the information they’ve gathered.27 As the website grows with each edition of the course, it will become increasingly useful as a resource for those, inside and outside of the course, who are looking to engage in literary citizenship.


Bridging Fields, Asking Questions

Students’ evaluations of our course have been extremely positive, and several students have expressed their desire for courses on literary citizenship to become an English Department staple. Robert, for his part, hopes to make the course a two-term affair in which each student is placed with an organization in the second term. Such service learning, following a term of classroom-based critical thinking about literary citizenship, will not only give students experience as literary citizens; it will also maximize the possibility that they will be engaged, knowledgeable, valuable contributors to the organizations. As Kristin E. Norris et al. observe, critical reflection in service learning “generates, deepens, and documents learning across the full range of learning goals and improves the quality of service and partnerships.”28

In the meantime, it is evident from the students’ evaluations that for many of them, our course has been meaningful in bridging the gap between English and Creative Writing. Our course draws attention to communities and organizations that are highly populated by people with English and Creative Writing degrees but that those people’s postsecondary education frequently more or less ignores. Likewise, it is in the gap between English and Creative Writing that much of the work of literary citizenship—work such as book reviewing and interviewing—frequently occurs. Often enough, neither English nor Creative Writing courses train students for such work. As Carey E. Smitherman and Stephanie Vanderslice observe, “a disconnect often exists between the writing projects students are assigned in college and the actual writing students most likely do postgraduation.”29 While a classroom-based course in literary citizenship is an ideal venue for such training, it is also an ideal place for students to think about the conventions and limitations of various kinds of literary citizenship. And it is a forum in which students can imagine the possibilities and opportunities that those same kinds of literary citizenship might offer, as well as a launch-pad for envisioning how the students themselves might engage in literary citizenship in innovative ways.

Rather than presenting students with straightforward direction as to how they should engage in literary citizenship, the course invites them to come up with their own answers.

In this respect, a crucial element of our course is its critical component. Rather than presenting students with straightforward direction as to how they should engage in literary citizenship, the course invites them to come up with their own answers. Anton Chekhov famously identified the role of the author as being not to answer questions but to go about “formulating them correctly.”30 In shifting from the imperative mode to the interrogative regarding literary citizenship, a course on the subject can enrich the same culture it studies, fostering literary citizens who are not just enthusiastic, generous community members but also careful thinkers about the forms their enthusiasms and generosity take; who question assumptions and clichés; who challenge and change the discourse around them; and who are keen to engage in insightful, productive debate—good literary citizens whose work, in other words, closely resembles the work of good writers.


Robert McGill is the author of two novels, The Mysteries and Once We Had a Country, as well as two nonfiction books: War Is Here, which examines the Vietnam War’s influence on Canadian literature, and The Treacherous Imagination, about the ethics of authors writing fiction based on their loved ones’ lives. His writing on creative writing pedagogy has appeared in New Writing and Pedagogy and is forthcoming in Journal of Creative Writing Studies. He is the director of the Creative Writing MA program at the University of Toronto.

André Babyn is a PhD student in the Department of English at the University of Toronto. His work has appeared in Maisonneuve, The Fanzine, Hobart, Grain, Pank, and elsewhere. He is a previous recipient of the Adam Penn Gilders Scholarship in Creative Writing and the Norma Epstein Award for Creative Writing.



  1. Geoffrey Chaucer, “Troilus and Criseyde,” The Riverside Chaucer (Princeton, NJ: Houghton Mifflin, 1987), p. 585; John Gower, “Confessio Amantis: Volume 1,” TEAMS Middle English Texts, 2006. http://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/publication/peck-confessio-amantis-volume-1.
  2. Becky Tuch, “More Work, No Pay: Why I Detest ‘Literary Citizenship,’” Salon, April 23, 2014. https://www.salon.com/2014/04/23/more_work_no_pay_why_i_detest_literary_citizenship/.
  3. Roxane Gay, “The Eight Questions Writers Should Ask Themselves,” Awpwriter.org, Nov. 2015. https://www.awpwriter.org/magazine_media/writers_notebook_view/5.
  4. In 2016–17, instance, the College of New Rochelle offered a course in Literary Citizenship, and in 2018, the University of Chicago Graham School offered the course Stepping up to Literary Citizenship. Carey E. Smitherman and Stephanie Vanderslice have identified several other such courses, including ones at Arizona State University, California Institute of the Arts, and the University of Central Arkansas. See Carey E. Smitherman and Stephanie Vanderslice, “Service Learning, Literary Citizenship, and the Creative Writing Classroom,” Creative Writing Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century, ed. Alexandria Peary and Tom C. Hunley (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 2015), pp. 153-68.
  5. Cathy Day, “Cathy Day’s Principles of Literary Citizenship,” Literarycitizenship.com, Sept. 24, 2012. https://literarycitizenship.com/2012/09/24/cathy-days-principles/.
  6. Charlotte Morganti, “Celebrating Literary Citizens,” My Two Cents, Aug. 15, 2013. http://www.charlottemorganti.com/blog/2013/08/15/celebrating-literary-citizens/.
  7. Katey Schultz, for one, has argued that we should think not about “literary citizenship” but about “literary stewardship,” a term that she sees as better placing an emphasis on “contributing and collaborating, not taking and capitalizing.” See Katey Schultz, “Literary Citizenship: Point and Counterpoint,” Kateyschultz.com, n. d., http://www.kateyschultz.com/2017/10/literary-citizenship/.
  8. Lori A. May, The Write Crowd: Literary Citizenship and the Writing Life (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), p. 8.
  9. David Ebenbach, “Literary Citizenship Does Not Mean ‘Gimme,’” Medium, April 28, 2014. https://medium.com/human-parts/literary-citizenship-does-not-mean-gimme-e7ac3f97b140.
  10. May, p. xii.
  11. Donna Steiner, “Literary Citizenship: How You Can Contribute to the Literary Community and Why You Should,” Studying Creative Writing Successfully, ed. Stephanie Vanderslice (Newmarket, UK: Creative Writing Studies, 2016), p. 132.
  12. May, pp. 6, 8.
  13. Steiner, 133.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Randy Martin, “Artistic Citizenship: Introduction,” Artistic Citizenship: A Public Voice for the Arts, ed. Mary Schmidt Campbell and Randy Martin (New York: Routledge, 2006), p. 1.
  16. Chris Green, “Materializing the Sublime Reader: Cultural Studies, Reader Response, and Community Service in the Creative Writing Workshop,” College English 64.2 (2001), p. 172n2.
  17. J. Edward Chamberlin, If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?: Finding Common Ground (Toronto: Knopf, 2003), pp. 1–4.
  18. Gail Pool, Faint Praise: The Plight of Book Reviewing in America (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2007).
  19. The catalyzing article is Jan Zwicky, “The Ethics of the Negative Review,” Cwila.com, May 18, 2012. https://cwila.com/ethics-negative-review-jan-zwicky/. For Lista’s first response, see Michael Lista, “On Poetry: The Good in Bad Reviews,” National Post, June 29, 2012. http://nationalpost.com/afterword/michael-lista-on-poetry-the-good-in-bad-reviews.
  20. André Alexis, “Of a Smallness in the Soul,” Canadian Notes & Queries, Feb. 2, 2016. http://notesandqueries.ca/essays/andre-alexis-of-a-smallness-in-the-soul/.
  21. “826 National Theory of Change,” 826 National, n. d. https://826national.org/img/826N_TOC_final.pdf.
  22. Helen Cahill, “Resisting Risk and Rescue as the Raison d’être for Arts Interventions,” The Arts and Youth At Risk: Global and Local Challenges, ed. Angela O’Brien and Kate Donelan (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2008), pp. 13–31.
  23. Carol Gillian, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development (London: Harvard University Press, 1993), p. 57.
  24. See Glenn Greenwald et al., “Read the Letters and Comments of PEN Writers Protesting the Charlie Hebdo Award,” The Intercept, April 27, 2015. https://theintercept.com/2015/04/27/read-letters-comments-pen-writers-protesting-charlie-hebdo-award/.
  25. Hal Niedzviecki, “Winning the Appropriation Prize,” Write 45.1 (2017), p. 8.
  26. In the case of Niedzviecki’s editorial, we have considered commentary on it and on cultural appropriation by Alicia Elliott, Robert Jago, and Jonathan Kay. See Alicia Elliott, “On Seeing and Being Seen: Writing with Empathy,” Write 45.1 (2017), pp. 22–23; Robert Jago, “On Cultural Appropriation, Canadians Are Hypocrites,” The Walrus, May 18, 2017. https://thewalrus.ca/on-cultural-appropriation-canadians-are-hypocrites/; Jonathan Kay, “Cultural Appropriation Should Be Debated. Too Bad Canada's Writers Union Instead Chose to Debase Itself,” National Post, May 12, 2017. http://nationalpost.com/opinion/jonathan-kay-cultural-appropriation-should-be-debated-too-bad-canadas-writers-union-instead-chose-to-debase-itself.
  27. The bulk of the work in building the website was completed by Max Karpinski, the teaching assistant for the course in 2016.
  28. Kristin E. Norris et al., “Critical Reflection and Civic Mindedness,” The Cambridge Handbook of Service Learning and Community Engagement, ed. Corey Dolgon, Tania D. Mitchell, and Timothy K. Eatman (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2017), p. 168.
  29. Smitherman and Vanderslice, p. 154.
  30. Anton Chekhov, “To Alexei Suvorin,” Oct. 27, 1888, Letters of Anton Chekhov, trans. Michael Henry Heim and Simon Karlinsky, ed. Simon Karlinsky (New York: Harper, 1973), p. 117.


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