The CIA, Ideology, and American Literature

“In a lengthy piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education, writing professor Eric Bennett makes a case that the Iowa program, arguably the most influential force in modern American literature, was profoundly shaped by a CIA-backed effort to promote a brand of literature that trumpeted American individualism and materialism over airy socialistic ideals.”

“The Iowa Writers’ Workshop emerged in the 1930s and powerfully influenced the creative-writing programs that followed,” Bennet writes. “More than half of the second-wave programs, about 50 of which appeared by 1970, were founded by Iowa graduates. Third- and fourth- and fifth-wave programs, also Iowa scions, have kept coming ever since. So the conventional wisdom that Iowa kicked off the boom in MFA programs is true enough.”

…”it’s just a reminder that we need to be wary of the sandboxes we’re building our castles in, of the institutions that define our creative thought so wholly that we often forget (or never bother to ask) how and why they were established in the first place. The MFA factory first farmed out postwar American lit according to a specific ideological rubric, it turns out.”  

From: http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/how-the-cia-turned-american-literature-into-a-content-farm

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