Category Archives: Flannery O’Connor

Everywhere I Go I’m Asked If I Think Universities Stifle Writers. I Think They Don’t Stifle Enough of Them

Flannery O’Connor? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Flannery O’Connor, the novelist and famous crafter of short stories, was once asked whether she believed that college courses discouraged or stifled budding writers. She gave an answer I found found acerbically entertaining. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1960 “The Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution” published an interview with Flannery O’Connor. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

“Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think universities stifle writers,” she said. “I think they don’t stifle enough of them. The kind of writing that can be taught is the kind you then have to teach people not to read. . . .”

Yet, O’Connor’s criticism of teaching was not universal. She felt her own academic training was worthwhile:

She explained that what she had at the University of Iowa was valuable, “but it wasn’t training to write as such; it was training to read with critical attention–my own work and other people’s.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 1960 May 20, The Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution, Visit to Flannery O’Connor Proves a Novel Experience by Margaret Turner, Quote Page 2G, Column 2, Atlanta, Georgia. (ProQuest)