Professor Kevin Brophy teaches creative writing in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. He is the author of 14 books of fiction, essays and poetry. His latest books are Walking: New and selected poems and This Is What Gives Us Time. In 2015 he was poet in residence at the Australia Council BR Whiting Library in Rome. This research was supported under Australian Research Council's Discovery Projects funding scheme (project number DP130100402).

On Recognising Collaboration


The proposition of this paper is that collaboration in artistic production is both a norm and an uncannily mysterious phenomenon. It is a norm that can be obscured from our awareness by a common belief in artistic individuality: the persistent insistence on recognition of individual authorship. Despite the pathologising narratives of genius provided by Freud, and the efforts of Barthes and Foucault in the late 1960s (which I do not intend to reprise here) to diffuse responsibility for art out into an unfinished historical and societal project, and more lately scepticism over essentialist thinking offered by post-modernism and deconstructive approaches (with Mary Orr’s Intertextuality perhaps a summary work in this vein), the individual artist is still championed in criticism, publishing, journalism and marketing. This paper is constructed as a series of reflections and observations (taking inspiration from Michael Frayn’s provocative 1974 work, Constructions, which itself owes a debt to Wittgenstein). The paper aims to define collaboration as a socio-political dynamic, one imbued with the ideals that Habermas identifies as enlightened. It offers a range of examples of collaboration in art and literature that might seem at first to have little to do with collaboration but aim to reveal the shifting, surprising nature of many collaborations. 


From Program Era to Programming Era

Creative Writing in the New Academy

This paper responds to some of the major questions Mark McGurl raises about the ‘program era’ of creative writing in his recent major study of the postwar history of creative writing in American higher education. My aim is to bring this history up against the new wave of changes in the contemporary academy signalled by the presence and prevalence of digital media, information technology and virtual environments. A discussion of the future, the shape, and the experience of creative writing in the academy is approached tentatively here through a number of the central antinomies of the discipline. I argue that literary fiction, and modernist aesthetics, are only one, and possibly no longer a central aspect of what ‘creative writing’ might mean. As a consequence, the questions McGurl raises are less meaningful and less urgent than they once were.