So I hear some former and current graduate students of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop are enraged by the university’s plan to digitalize MFA theses. So I hear some former and current graduate students of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop are mad about the university’s plan to digitalize MFA theses. These texts, improperly named “theses” since they are creative works like novels and poetry collections, would be force-published on the university library’s website; they would then become abvailable to all of us through Google and other search engines. The writers, now up in arms, argue this is unfair and should not be implemented since it will lower the commercial value of their creative writing.
Really, is there anything wrong with having one novel (thesis) posted online by an instution like the Iowa Worshop? Isn’t it a way of credibly displaying one’s work? Oh, but the writers are saying the work might be embarrassing, and others think that’s publication without consent.
There has been an increasing trend of authors turning to the internet either to give previews of their works, or to blog their work into existence. I use the latter for my poetry. But the writers have the control of the length of time they want their work to appear online. Some will woe readers, then remove the work and let the readers beg for it to be published in print format. In short, why the digital age might be construed to devalue the art, some authors have found ways to gain value through effective use of the internet.
The Iowa Digital Library displays, however, would be a permanent record of the author’s early, or sometimes immature, hence embarrassing work. Or if the work is marketable, the authors argue that no publisher would be willing to publish it as long as it stays displayed on the Iowa website.
Perhaps Iowa should modify its open access policy by adding that the work will remain displayed until such a time when a publisher is interested in it; then it will be removed to raise its marketability value.