Creative Writing Department: 1998

The archives has a collection of Oral Histories from 1998 featuring the Creative Writing Department and faculty. Here are some notable excerpts from the interviews. You can read more of each Oral History by clicking on the name of the interviewee. Check out the rest of our collection here.


Tony Del Valle 1998, Alumnus (1978) & Writing/English Department faculty

“I think that in a way I was a typical Columbia student at the time in that I was involved in a lot of things. You know, the students are still doing that. They’re still holding down full-time jobs, they’re pursuing their majors, they’re pursuing many other things, areas of interest, which makes them very interesting, actually, as people.”

“At the turn of the century, colleges were really English departments. (They) were about teaching literature to an elite small group of students who were interested in it. And the bastard child was the Writing Department faculty.”

Randy Albers 1998, Chair, Fiction Writing Department

“You know, we have a whole series of wonderful awards… last week Hair Trigger won a silver crown award, the latest in a whole series of awards from Columbia University’s Scholastic Press Association. It is one of the top journals in the country, you know, Hair Trigger has won first place awards from three different organizations. There have been a lot of individual winners of awards, writers in the program, all of which we’re very proud of, and in some ways I feel like things are just kind of starting to break for a lot of our writers and that we’re really going to have a period where- where I hope, anyway, we are- breaking out of the national scene here more.”

Sheila Baldwin 1998, Alumna (1977) & Writing Department faculty

On the split of the Writing Department: “There’s too much division here and we, if it continues like professional and other, you know, it’s just not a good deal, not a good deal.”


John Schultz 1998, Professor Emeritus, Fiction Writing Department

“(In the late 60s) I had just developed a wholly new way of teaching writing called story workshop approach, and started using this approach with classes.”

(The workshop method was introduced to Columbia in 1966)

Betty Shiflett 1998, Alumna (1976) & Faculty, Writing Department

“In fact, most of what (John Schultz) had put together for Story Workshop was in revolt against the way writing is taught in academia.”


About Calley Nelson

Calley Nelson is a freelancer based in Chicago who enjoys collecting records, going to rock shows, and writing fiction. She is currently Director of Communications at Lpdeezign and the editor of I AM FEMINISM MAGAZINE. Follow her @calleynlsn
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