In Inside Higher Ed today comes “When Student Writing Could be a Red Flag,” which discusses guidelines from the Virginia Tech creative writing program in light of the shootings that happened there last spring. I wrote about the shootings and the second guessing about “we should have known through his writing” arguments last spring in some detail here.
“Disturbing writing” is certainly not unique to fiction writing classes, and I guess I have some mixed feelings about the guidelines presented here. On the one hand, I am always nervous about guidance/advice to writing teachers about how to make judgments about the psychological state of their students since few of us (certainly not me) are adequately trained to make such judgments. I just don’t think that writing teachers should be practicing amateur analysis. On the other hand, as the new school year begins and I recall my experiences of last year when I was the Interim WPA, new college instructors probably could use the kind of calm and official advice offered in the Virginia Tech policy. BTW, you can get to that policy from a link in the IHE story.