‘Writing and the Problem of Will: The Creative Writing Workshop and the Stanley Milgram Paradigm.’ In New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing 6:1 (2009), 57-66.
But my plea to my students to authorise themselves draws painfully from my own situation, for in terms of the empowerment explored by [Colin] Evans I have more in common with them than with my colleagues: I do not have an office or computer or phone, I am not given the resources I need to research, and I am insecure in the very literal sense that my contract allows me to be replaced without cause. And I am concerned that a growing number of creative writing specialists, qualified to the same level as their critical colleagues, and with comparable records of publication, may be remaining on untenured contracts well into their careers, enduring economic uncertainty and poverty and subjected to the worst behaviour of which academics are capable.
For such people, as Evans comments, writing itself might address this power imbalance, for creative ability is not related to academic status. Beyond that, their alternatives are to remain in their posts for as long as they can, and hope that their employers will learn the lessons in humanity that Milgram’s paradigm offers to teach, or to quit, and take their abilities elsewhere. If they remain, I suppose at least they will be well placed to explore the relationships among teachers’, students’ and institutions’ authority. If they leave, their years of untenured service will have given them plenty to write about.