Workshops of Empire
Stegner, Engle, and American Creative Writing during the Cold War
"...a persuasive reminder that certain seemingly timeless criteria of good writing are actually the product of historically bound political agendas...especially useful to anyone seeking to expand the repertoire of stylistic strategies taught within creative-writing programs...the academy would be better off if more of its members could attend to concrete particulars with the precision and wit that Bennett brings to his subject."
Timothy Aubry, New York Times
"...confirms for me a lot of nagging suspicions I’ve held about American MFA programs in writing...Bennett...uncovers the reason behind the rhyme. And he has the facts on his side...postwar academia domesticated American poets and novelists, de-fanged modernism, and sucked up to the Rockefeller Foundation (and at least once, the CIA) among other institutions, funneling creativity into the fight against communism.”
James Hannaham, BuzzFeed
"...energetic and engaging...important, original, archive-based institutional history..."
Greg Barnhisel, Diplomatic History
"...the value of Bennett's book is that it shows us that many of the ideas about what makes writing (and writers) "good" can be - should be - historicized. Such ideas aren't timeless, and they didn't come from nowhere."
Matthew Cheney, The Mumpsimus