Publication Details

Lobb, J. M. (2009). Deferring the ''main'' point: Teaching ''narrative desire'' as an alternative creative practice. In D. Brien & M. Freiman (Eds.), The Margins and Mainstreams Papers: the refereed proceedings of the 14th conference of the Australian Association of Writing Programs (pp. 1-11). Guyra, Australia: AAWP Press.


This paper examines the place of twentieth-century literary theory in Creative Writing pedagogy. It suggests that literary theory has become embedded in Creative Writing programs, despite the fact that many theories seem opposed to the concept of the author or to writing practice. It proposes that if we are to use these theories productively, we need to adapt both the theories themselves and our teaching practices. The paper outlines the ways in which I—in my teaching in the School of Journalism and Creative Writing, University of Wollongong—have approached the teaching of two post-structuralist psychoanalytic concepts: Brooks’ notion of ‘narrative desire’ and Barthes’ concept of the ‘dilatory space’. ‘Narrative Desire’ is a reading practice that values deferral and displacement over fixed structure; to focus on the ‘dilatory space’ is to value the middle rather than the end of a narrative, to emphasize delays, digressions and deferrals rather than resolutions. I argue that these theories can be productive for writers as well as readers. The paper offers ways to apply the theories to creative practice, using ‘enminding’, an authentic learning approach: to harness what Clayton calls ‘desire as a creative force’ (Clayton 1989, 35).