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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Creative writing practice and pedagogy : a Jungian approach Sonik, Madeline


In conventional Creative Writing post-secondary classes, the focus of student training is technique, to the neglect of the unconscious in the learning process. Some educators, in fact, suggest that the role and workings of the unconscious are dangerous areas for Creative Writing educators to explore. This thesis, drawing on the work of Carl Jung, as well as of Jungians and post-Jungians, advocates that the unconscious, in fact, needs to be valued and worked with purposefully in the Creative Writing classroom. The notion of archetype, with particular reference to the "archetypal feminine," is explored in this context. At the outset it is argued that the primary elements of what has collectively been considered "great literature" consist of far more than their mere technical components. The transformational qualities of great literature arise through a flux of the living experience of universal human themes. These "archetypes," as Jung called them, cannot be reduced to merely technical tools intended to assist the writer’s ego: they are autonomous energies that demand the ego’s engagement if they are to be integrated and expressed. Jung used the term "individuation" to signify the evolution of ego consciousness in an individual. This thesis introduces the concept of a "literary individuation," in which student writers can find personal growth and maturation by engaging with the unconscious in the writing processes. By defining and then applying many of Jung’s conceptualizations to Creative Writing practice and pedagogy, the generative importance of the ignored unconscious and the "archetypal feminine" begins to emerge. Student writers can use Jungian constructs to better understand their characters, their writing, their own personalities, and their lives, while educators might consider making constructive curricular modifications that acknowledge and reinstate the importance of the unconscious.

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