Creative Writing and the Study of Politics
by Susan Williams, Pomona College
Creative writing is not part of professional training in political science. But scholars in other fields testify to the benefits of creative writing assignments, and my experiences teaching an undergraduate course on “Politics and Literature” suggest that there may be value in adding creative writing into certain political science courses. As with other forms of non-academic writing that political scientists identify as enriching, creative writing allows students to consider politics from multiple perspectives and expands their communicative powers. Working at the craft of storytelling (as opposed to abstract argumentation) can help students to think through key claims in contemporary political thought. Moreover, in this age of “alternative facts,” doing creative writing in a politics course may help students hone a critical skill of citizenship: thinking about the news in terms of narrative. In this essay, I consider the advantages and challenges of bringing creative writing into the study of politics.