Writing to kill

Gory stories are a staple in college creative writing classes. What should an instructor do if she suspects a student might act on his fantasies? From Salon:

Creative writing teachers have long wrestled with what they should do with students who turn in gruesome stories, as many colleges do not have formal policies about how teachers should respond. Further, there are no set rules for determining whether a story is the product of a febrile artistic imagination or a potentially violent criminal. Or both.

“Lots of great literary works are deep and dark and disturbing — that would be Kafka,” says Deborah Landau, director of the creative writing program at New York University, who plans to discuss university protocol with her staff in the wake of Monday’s massacre. Yet teachers increasingly are being expected to distinguish between students’ pushing their creative boundaries or showing frightening warning signs. That’s a tall task, especially when students routinely hand in twisted texts dripping with bloodshed, cruelty, perversion and extreme sex scenes, say teachers.

Most of these horror writers aren’t Kafka. But very few are would-be killers either.

I majored in creative writing in the early ’70s. I don’t recall this phenomenon at all. No violence, no explicit sex. Of course, my memory’s going.

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