Raman has also slipped in a couple of eloquent sound-off pieces. He takes issue with the term "creative writing" and talks about how creative writing courses are invariably rip-offs creating unreal expectations for those who just want easy fixes, while the charlatans who teach such course just run away with the money, I suppose.
The article by Sam Sacks that Raman refers to is well worth a read. It highlights the dangers of formulaic teaching of creative writing "rules", resulting in a homogeneity of style which can undoubtedly be seen in much recent American writing. (Golden's Memoir's of a Geisha is wonderfully formulaic, for example, and he was a product of such a course.)
The UEA course on the other hand has continued to turn out distinctive writers, Rattawat Lapcharoensap, Tash Aw, Diana Evans, Tracy Chevalier, Andrew Miller, and Toby Litt. My favourite new writer of last year, Marina Lewycka did the creative writing MA at Sheffield Hallam University. (Not Union Jack-waving here but.)
As Tash said on that occasion at Silverfish :
No-one's ever going to teach you how to write. The (UEA) course makes you look at your own work and develop critical skills very quickly.And that really is the heart of the matter. Rule bound formulaic teaching vs. providing the opportunity for writers to discover what works for them, and what doesn't, in a relatively unstressful environment.
There are courses and there are courses, then. Teachers worth their salt need to constantly reevalaute their methodology and ask themself the toughest of questions - what kind of writers are we producing? The UEA course is clearly doing something right: the Iowa Writers workshop perhaps not.
I could argue much further but won't. Raman's piece is well worth a read, and you might also like to look at some of my previous posts about creative writing courses.
Raman's other rant is against the term post-colonial literature. And here, I agree with him entirely. I guess it's just that those who spend time in the academic pursuit of Literature (with a big L) need lots of funny expressions that make the rest us mere readers feel like ignorant yoiks.