Published Winter/Spring 2009
Paul Engle and the Iowa Writers' Workshop
by Loren Glass | ns 71-72
In May 1959, Paul Engle, in collaboration with Arnold Gingrich and Esquire magazine, brought Dwight Macdonald, Ralph Ellison, Mark Harris, and Norman Mailer to the University of Iowa to participate in a symposium on "The Writer in Mass Culture." In an account of the event, "Eggheads in the Tall Corn," Newsweek magazine labeled these figures "four of the nation's most unyielding highbrows," and on the whole they lived up to their elitist reputation (65). Harris started out with the standard refrain: "most Americans would rather eat than read. They are what we call our 'mass audience.'" He continued unequivocally:
let us no longer quibble over the question of whether our countrymen can receive or appreciate literature of the first rank. The fact is that they cannot. Art and mass distribution are simply incompatible. The writer has no business reaching for a mass audience and the serious reader has no business distracting the writer by discussing with him possible methods of bridging the gulf between the writer and the mass—it cannot be bridged. (3)
Macdonald backed him up by stating baldly, "Good writing has always been done for an elite audience and never for everyone" (8). And Mailer, as always, reached for the most misogynist metaphor he could muster, illogically considering his relation to mass culture "as if I were living with a cancerous wife and each day I have to see her all the time and she gives me a bit of her cancer" (15).
Mailer didn't much like Iowa City either, intoning that "the architecture in Iowa is the most dreadful, in this particular city, that I've seen in a long time," and he offered the local airport as an example of how dreadfully "square" the city was:
Take a look at your little airport. When you come off the plane, there is a little square building in kind of a peculiar light orange, brown, yellow color that is all square. It's the most magnificent mounting of squares I've ever seen. It's overhung by a straight roof that weighs down on a square structure. It is sort of doubly square. It's impressive in a kind of a powerful, cold way, for a small building. It's a bad building because it doesn't do your eyes any good. Your eyes don't light up. What I am working toward here is the nature of totalitarianism. (30)
Indeed, much of Mailer's contribution to the symposium consisted of diatribes and jeremiads about American totalitarianism, of which the local airport was only one of many examples. Little did Mailer know that his host at that very moment was planning, as he wrote to Virgil Hancher, president of the University of Iowa during the decades when Engle built up the Writers' Workshop from an obscure local experiment to an internationally famous literary center, to "run the future of American literature, and a great deal of European and Asian, through" that square little airport, thereby providing an institutional site which would insulate the writer from mass culture and ensure the maintenance of a literary elite for the rest of the century and beyond. And this institutional site would become the model, and initially the key personnel resource, for the remarkably rapid proliferation of writing programs across the country in the fifties and sixties. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a reputable postwar novelist, and nigh impossible to come up with a respected postwar poet, who did not spend some time, if not an entire career, affiliated with an MFA program, usually one started by an Iowa graduate; and, of course, a visit to Iowa City has become a standard line on the CV of any writer of any literary standing anywhere in the world.
Mark McGurl has recently designated this period "The Program Era." In McGurl's recounting, Engle plays only a bit part, but his story has been told before, most notably in Stephen Wilbers' rarely read The Iowa Writers' Workshop and in D. G. Myers' recently reprinted The Elephants Teach: Creative Writing Since 1880, on whose cover Engle's photo appears. Essentially, these scholars follow Engle's own interpretation of his achievements as part of an effort to establish the American university as a patron of the arts. Thus Wilbers concludes his study by affirming that creative writing programs have become "an important form of patronage" (134), while Myers opens with the claim that "creative writing seems to give every appearance of being an interlocking coast-to-coast system of patronage" (5). Useful as both of these histories are, they don't provide a sociological account of what Paul Engle achieved, beyond his own shorthand. Here I offer a broader sociological frame within which to understand his remarkable achievement.
Paul Engle's literary career received its auspicious inauguration on the front page of the New York Times Book Review on July 29, 1934, with a review of his unabashedly patriotic poetry collection American Song. Conceding that first books of poetry are rarely granted such prominent placement, J. Donald Adams proclaims that "if American Song does not prove in the long run to become something of a literary landmark, this review may be set down as an unfortunate venture in prophecy" (1). Adams' prophetic venture was indeed unfortunate—"American Song" figures in no one's literary history of the thirties—but, in one of those lovely ironies of history, it would be as a prophet, not as a poet, that Engle would establish himself. And Engle's vision was less poetic than it was bureaucratic.
Bureaucrats tend to play minor roles in cultural history. One reason for the critical neglect of Engle has been captured by James English, in The Economy of Prestige, who notes how little attention has been paid to "the strictly functional middle space between acts of inspired creation on the one hand and acts of brilliantly discerning consumption on the other" (13). Engle prided himself on being of the middle—the Middle West, the middle class, the middlebrow. Indeed, it was with this combination of regional and social sensibility that he entitled his anthology of Workshop literature Midland, the introduction to which would open with the triumphant sentence "This book is the result of a vision." A crucial part of this vision was that "there must be an alternative between Hollywood and New York, between these places psychically as well as geographically" (xxi, xxv).
Engle can be situated in the middle in a broader historical sense as a "vanishing mediator," who, in Fredric Jameson's terms, "serves as a bearer of change and social transformation, only to be forgotten once that change has ratified the reality of institutions" (26). Jameson uses this term to explain Max Weber's theory of the "routinization of charisma," that process whereby the initially revolutionary charismatic message of the prophetic leader "becomes part of the established social structure" (Weber 1139). Weber's key examples are the originators of institutionalized religions. For Jameson, the theory provides a way of narrating the process of institutionalization, whereby pre-modern forms of mystical communion and spiritual practice become integrated into modern bureaucratic life. It explains how Martin Luther and John Calvin, the great prophets of Protestantism, indeed Protestantism itself, served "as a kind of mediation between the traditional medieval world from which it emerged and the modern secularized one that it in its turn prepared" (Jameson 23).
Engle's story suggests a certain Protestant sensibility. According to his CV, he "had intended studying for the ministry (Methodist), preached at Stumptown church on edge of town. Heard no call." Engle would sublimate his Protestant sensibilities into poetry, not only in terms of the nigh evangelical patriotism of much of his poetic output but also more explicitly in Poems in Praise (1959), Golden Child: A Christmas Opera (1960), and An Old Fashioned Christmas (1964). But Engle's piety was a key reason his poetry didn't jibe with the more austere and cheerless aesthetic of his modernist contemporaries. His calling would be less in poetry than in bureaucracy, as he positioned himself as a visionary vanguard for the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Weber borrows the concept of charisma "from the vocabulary of early Christianity" (216), and he defines it as "a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is considered extraordinary and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities" (241). That Engle was a charismatic individual is affirmed by the reports of his friends and enemies alike, but his unique gift, it would seem, was his ability to recognize the giftedness of others. Indeed, Weber's definition of charisma is remarkably similar to Engle's definition of "talent," that quality whereby applicants to the Writers' Workshop were and are selected. As Engle writes in his preface to Midland: "We do not pretend to have produced the writers included in this book. Their talent was inevitably shaped by the genes rattling in ancestral closets. We did give them a community in which to try out the quality of their gift" (xxx). The prevailing and paradoxical assumption of the writing workshop remains that writing cannot be taught, but talent can be nurtured, as, according to Weber, "charisma can only be 'awakened' and 'tested,' but it cannot be 'learned' or 'taught'" (249).
Weber further claims that "an organized group subject to charismatic authority will be called a charismatic community" (243). And many of the qualities that Weber designates as particular to the charismatic community apply to the Writers' Workshop in the early years of Engle's leadership, before it was fully integrated into the University system. When Weber specifies that "the followers share in the use of those goods which the authoritarian leader receives as donation, booty or endowment and which he distributes among them without accounting or contractual fixation" (119), we see with almost uncanny accuracy the manner whereby Engle ran the early Workshop out of his back pocket, leveraging donations from local corporate sponsors such as Quaker Oats and Amana Refrigeration into scholarships which he distributed purely on his own authority. As W. D. Snodgrass, the first Workshop graduate to win a Pulitzer Prize for poetry, reminisces in his essay for Robert Dana's memorial anthology, A Community of Writers: Paul Engle and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Engle "held the purse strings for graduate students" and it "was normal to be invited to his country house, a rundown estate in Stone city, for a party—then be asked to cut down some small trees on the grounds, to mow the lawn, to do other menial tasks" (123).
Weber notes that "in its pure form charismatic authority may be said to exist only in statu nascendi. It cannot remain stable, but becomes either traditionalized or rationalized, or a combination of both" (246). It must, in other words, become routinized if it is to last beyond the lifetime of the charismatic leader. I would offer the remarkable proliferation of writing programs in the postwar United States as the routinization of Paul Engle's initial charismatic leadership of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. However, as I hope to show, the continuing investment of creative writing in the idea of charismatic authority is the primary reason for its perennially unstable and frequently fractious relation to English departments.
Engle's own poetry was resolutely middlebrow, and he achieved little recognition for his advocacy of the study of modern literature, but his sense of the literary vocation was resolutely modernist. He was a member the generation of poet-scholars—from T. S. Eliot to Robert Penn Warren—who helped inaugurate the New Criticism as the critical methodology accommodating their poetic innovations to academic study. In fact, Engle complained about Wilbers' failure to credit him with this other curricular innovation. Defensively, he asked the University of Iowa Press editorial board to insert the following into Wilbers' text: "He introduced, and himself taught—the first course in Contemporary Literature on the campus; the first Seminars in such major individual writers as James Joyce, W. B. Yeats, Proust etc." Engle's passionate endorsement of the Workshop is related to his insistence on the academic study of modern literary innovators.
One of these was Charles Baudelaire, whose role in Engle's prophetic vision can be seen as the magician "whose personal prestige amounts to a claim to a purely individual revelation" (Jameson 15). In Jameson's reading of Weber, the prophet is responsible for institutionalizing the charisma of the solitary magician. Two years before he convened the symposium on "The Writer in Mass Culture," Engle organized a one-day centennial celebration of the publication of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal, the proceedings of which were published as a supplement to the first issue of The Texas Quarterly. The volume features a foreword by Henri Peyre, Sterling Professor of French at Yale University, who opens with a ringing note of American Century triumphalism: "More and more in this second half of our century, American culture is becoming the worthiest inheritor of what is undying in the thought and the art of Europe" (ix). He further affirms that this inheritance is principally due to the massive expansion of the postwar American university, claiming with satisfaction that "it is fitting that those critical essays should appear in print in a new journal, under the auspices of one of the most vigorous universities in the country" (x). And he favorably quotes Baudelaire's definition of art as "a suggestive magic, containing at one and the same time the object and the subject, the world exterior to the artist and the artist himself" (x). Engle's opening essay also cites Baudelaire's equation of art and magic, producing in facsimile the poet's dedication page of Les Fleurs du Mal, which addresses Theophile Gautier as "the perfect magician" (10). As a species of modern magic, poetry refuses to accept the disenchantment of the world; as a modern magician, the lyric poet would become the charismatic figure who offered a visionary alternative to enlightenment rationalism. Baudelaire's role in literary history is like the magician's role in religious history, a figure whose creative power resists institutional power.
Engle concludes his introduction with a recreation of Baudelaire's ill-attended funeral, noting that the "Societé of Gens de Lettres sent no representative" (10). In other words, Engle emphasizes the modern tragedy of unrecognized talent while offering his own celebration of Baudelaire as the charismatic leader of the community of modern artists as redressing it. It would be Engle's audacity to transport this community to Iowa City. As he affirms in the introduction to the commemorative volume of poetry that he issued in conjunction with the celebration, Homage to Baudelaire: On the Centennial of Les Fleurs du Mal From the Poets at the State University of Iowa, "harassed by scared critics, by frantic landladies and by the government of France itself, Baudelaire never had a community where he felt at home. It is right that a community of poets in the middle of America, finding their vision in the long landscape between New York and Hollywood, should praise that great and melancholy man" (5). Engle's own contribution to the anthology was entitled "The Burial of Baudelaire," in which he again notes that the "Societe des Gens des Lettres/Sent no dry member for that wet/Funeral, to mitigate/Respectability's scared hate."
Malcolm Bradbury has called the creative writing program "a campus version of bohemia" (7). Insofar as Baudelaire embodied the countercultural charisma of the modern artist, Engle's appropriation of him supports this equation. As the flaneur, the proto-bohemian who is in but not of the urban crowd, Baudelaire's charisma would inform the many cult-like avant-garde communities who opposed the triumphant bourgeoisie. Baudelaire was a model for the literary leaders of these communities from Stephane Mallarmé to André Breton to Phillippe Sollers, as well as the manic-depressive and dipsomaniacal personas of visiting Workshop poets such as Robert Lowell, John Berryman, and Dylan Thomas.
The coastal coordinates between which Engle focused his vision of the middle were the traditional locations of America's home-grown bohemian communities, which, in Engle's day, were occupied by the Beats, who were a recurring reference at the Mass Culture symposium. Macdonald called them "a kind of parody of the old avant-garde" (12), and Mailer agreed that they constituted "the only elite of any sort" that remained in the United States (14). A more oblique reference to the Beats would come in Engle's opening remarks on the second day of the symposium: "I should like to say in introducing these people this afternoon that one thing which really bugs me about these cats is—here we are talking about the problem of the artist in an age of mass culture in the midst of an enormous amount of discussion by the mass culture media of the problem of living in a mass culture" (25). Ralph Ellison couldn't help but comment: "I noticed Paul Engle using a language which I first knew as a little boy hanging around the big boy jazz musicians. It's current. It has become part of our dictionary. It adds a certain nuance of meaning—we're all cats. I suppose we are all a bit beat, but we certainly aren't beat because times are hard" (27). Ellison's semi-ironic remark shows how the bohemian ethos was infiltrating the affluent mainstream through the very mass culture that was being so roundly maligned in the symposium itself.
The next speaker, Mark Harris, affirmed the degree to which academia, and specifically creative writing, was enabling this accommodation. Harris opened with: "I'm very nervous right now. First of all I didn't get to bed until about 7 o'clock this morning and I got up very soon after. Then I took some pills and I'm feeling better...When we left here around 11 o'clock last night we went over to the house of the Justices and then the symposium really started" (35). Harris then asserts: "I am an academic man, but I am a beat academic, and we are all beat academics" (36). The term aptly describes the community of writers that Engle first envisioned and then achieved. As Engle himself affirmed in a letter addressed only to "Lewis": "The university is the Greenwich Village of the twenties diffused across the country, made more orderly, more efficient."
Charismatic leadership is only one element of the prophet's role; his other function, at least in the Protestant context, involves liberating rationalization itself from its confinement to monastic life. For Weber, the medieval monastery represented "an enclave of rationalization within a tradition-oriented world," and it would be Martin Luther who would liberate "the nascent rationalism of monasteries, which are now able to spread to all domains of life" (Jameson 24). As Jameson reminds us, the key achievement of Protestantism was to make the ascetic discipline of the monk available to all true Christians; the resulting Protestant Ethic became central to the spirit of capitalism. However, "once Protestantism has accomplished the task of allowing a rationalization of innerwordly life to take place, it has no further reason for being and disappears from the historical scene" (25). Hence Protestantism acts as a vanishing mediator between medieval monasticism and modern capitalism.
Engle's monk is Gustave Flaubert, the disciplined ascetic artist par excellence. Flaubert figures centrally in Engle's two important edited volumes from the sixties, Midland and On Creative Writing, a collection of essays on the vexed topic of teaching writing. In the introduction to Midland, Engle cites Flaubert as the signal example of writerly discipline, the author who knew that "it is not the intensity of emotion in the writer that matters, but the intensity of the shaped language" (xxiv), the author who insists on "an objective stare at the subjective scene" (xxv). If Baudelaire represents the irrational forces of charismatic talent, Flaubert here represents the rational discipline necessary to craft inspiration into art.
Unlike talent, craft can be taught. Flaubert serves as a signal example of craft in Engle's introduction to On Creative Writing, billed on the title page as "significant, practical advice to help the writer learn the demands of his craft and develop his talent." Engle explicitly invokes Flaubert's monastic discipline:
All those writers who have commented on their craft agree that a work of art is work. How could the joining of passion and idea in slippery ideas be anything but labor? That first really modern novel, Madame Bovary, was composed by Gustave Flaubert with the deliberation of a medieval monk cutting the Lord's Prayer on the head of a pin. (12)
Flaubert proves that writing is hard work, and this axiom would compensate for the unteachability of talent. It would also provide a counterweight to the Baudelairian bohemianism that would risk making the Workshop look like one long subsidized bar crawl. Indeed, if visiting figures like Lowell and Berryman represented the cult of charisma—those who offered, in Robert Frost's memorable phrase, "education by presence"—permanent staffers like R. V. Cassill and Donald Justice, authors of the chapters on short fiction and poetry for Engle's anthology, would come to represent the consummate craftsmen, teachers of technique far more easily accommodated to institutional life (qtd. in Myers 97). The concepts of discipline and craft provide a teachable element as well as a work ethic to temper the leisurely lifestyle of the bohemian community.1 Indeed, it is from this element of writerly craft that the term workshop derives.
If the bohemian community provided a social support structure for the solitary artist, the American university would provide the institutional support. Engle dedicates Midland to "the State University of Iowa," praising it as a "patron" of the creative arts (xxi). But Engle's vision was even wider and broader than this, as he affirmed in his dedication to On Creative Writing, which opens, "One of the powerful themes of literature in the twentieth century has been the alienation of the writer from his times and his country because he felt he had no home there." And he dedicates the book "to a heartening variety of individuals, foundations, and corporations who have refused to believe that this must be true. In recent years they have given funds to the Program in Creative Writing at the University of Iowa, so that young writers from all regions of the USA and many areas of the earth could come here and make an international community of the imagination." Engle, in other words, presciently envisioned the postwar university as a home for the modern writer that would end the very alienation that had constituted his modernity.
In the Weberian schema, the ultimate result of the successful routinization of charisma is the establishment of a priesthood, a rationally organized bureaucracy of functionaries whose authority inheres in their appropriation of the prophet's original charisma. For Paul Engle, and for creative writing more generally, there was a crucial obstacle to this trajectory: there was already a priesthood in place. The Writers' Workshop had developed as a unit within the English Department, but Engle had expanded it into a semi-autonomous fiefdom, housed in a set of temporary huts significantly known as the "barracks," funded by his expanding network of corporations and foundations, and answerable only to his own autocratic authority. Engle's entrepreneurial energies earned him enemies. As John Gerber, who took over as chair of the department in 1960, reports, "He was not popular among all his colleagues, for he irritated many of the scholars in the department because of his promotion of the Workshop—and of himself—almost to the point where the department seemed little more than an appendage to the Workshop" (103).
Weber notes that "routinization is not free of conflict" (252), and that, in transitioning from a charismatic community to a traditional or bureaucratic institution, "the first basic problem is that of finding a successor to the prophet, hero, teacher or party leader" (1123). By the early sixties, the Workshop needed a successor to Paul Engle. He was increasingly preoccupied with responsibilities beyond Iowa City, lecturing around the world and becoming involved in Kennedy's Cold War Cultural Front. As he noted on his CV, he was now the "only poet on The National Council on the Arts" and the "American specialist for the Department of State." Engle was spending more time hobnobbing with the best and the brightest in New York and Washington, DC, than he was running the Workshop in Iowa City. The Workshop itself was growing to such a size that he no longer had the time, or the staff, to administer it effectively. Not surprisingly, there was no mechanism in place for appointing a replacement for what was, as Engle himself conceded in a letter to Virgil Hancher, "an honorary and chance title," nor was there any obvious candidate who was willing and able to take over the numerous responsibilities Engle had semi-officially appropriated to himself over the years. The more prestigious figures in the program, Donald Justice and Verlin Cassill, were understandably reluctant to deflect their attention from creative and pedagogical endeavors to administrative responsibilities, but they were equally leery of submitting to the leadership of someone less prestigious than themselves.
"The Battle between the Hut and the Hill," as it came to be known, "pitted Engle against every other full-time professor in the English Department," and resulted in the eventual departure of both Justice and Cassill, as well as Engle's resignation from the directorship (Wilbers 109). The battle involved not only the problem of succession, but also the authority to hire, fire, and promote which constitutes the ultimate prerogative of bureaucratic legitimacy. Engle had regularly struggled against the English Department's established personnel practices, taking it upon himself to hire and fire creative writing instructors as he saw fit, and affirming in a letter to Wilbers that "too many faculty members look at teaching as a priesthood, from which one cannot be terminated save for the grossest (and public) moral scandal" (qtd. in Wilbers 89).
Thus it is not surprising that Engle, along with Verlin Cassill, took exception to Chairman John Gerber's promotion of the relatively unknown writer Robert Williams to associate professor in response to a counter-offer from California State University. Engle claimed he had not been informed of the promotion, and the resulting series of struggles over salary and status brought the longstanding resentments against Engle amongst the Department faculty into the open. In a letter to Gerber written after an obviously tense meeting about the affair, Engle writes, "I have never entered a room so crowded with dislike, distrust and hostility as that conference room when I listened for two hours to the accusations of the Professors about my credibility, my honesty and, even, my mental stability." The priests resented the presence of a prophet in their midst, and their entrenched institutional power trumped his charismatic authority. Paul Engle subsequently resigned as director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Engle landed on his feet, exploiting his connections in the State Department and the Rockefeller Foundation to start the International Writing Program. This was in many ways the perfect move, as it enabled him to expand his duties as a cultural entrepreneur without having to get bogged down in pedagogic and administrative functioning at the departmental level. For the rest of his career he would be something of an ambassador without portfolio, leveraging his charisma on a wider stage and achieving his dream of making Iowa City a central hub in the migratory circuits of World Literature.
The Iowa Writers' Workshop, after a brief period of uncertainty, continued to thrive and build on its reputation. Indeed, it would continue to be the model, and key personnel resource, for the rapid and inexorable expansion of creative writing programs—what Donald Justice would call "a kind of pyramid scheme"—across the country and, increasingly, the globe (qtd. in Myers 164). But the controversy of the mid-sixties, I believe, remains emblematic of the uneasy institutional relationship between English departments and creative writing programs. Literary studies, for all its political, methodological, and demographic transformations over the past decades, remains a creature of its institutional habits, comfortable with the protocols and credentialing procedures sustaining English departments at the curricular center of the liberal arts education. Creative writing, on the other hand, maintains a firmer allegiance to the anti-institutional ethos of both the bohemian and the monastic lifestyles, and therefore, in the vast majority of academic configurations, it remains ancillary to the larger department on whose resources it continues to depend.
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Jesus said that a prophet is not without honor except in his own country. The only event dedicated to Engle's memory in Iowa City is the International Writing Program's Paul Engle Memorial Reading, which has been held on his birthday every year since 2000, when then Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack established the date as "Paul Engle Day." His only recognition, then, is from the most recent generation of international writers for whom Iowa City became a gateway to the United States. Otherwise, it is hard to find evidence in Iowa City of Paul Engle's time here. There is no street, building, chair, or scholarship named for him. Few Workshop graduates know anything about him, and none read his poetry. Yet few visions have been more effectively and exactly realized than Paul Engle's. Iowa City is a spectacularly literary town. The streets are literally lined with literature, as all the sidewalks downtown are inscribed with quotations from authors of note. There are readings almost every night at Prairie Lights, the local independent bookstore, by writers and poets both famous and obscure. In addition to the Writers' Workshop and the International Writing Program, the University features a Nonfiction Writing Program, a Translation Workshop, a Playwrights Workshop, and a Summer Writing Festival. Indeed, there is probably a higher concentration of writers—aspiring, successful, and failed—in Iowa City than anywhere on earth. And now the University of Iowa has sought to brand itself as the "Writing University," ratifying the degree to which Engle's vision accommodates art and commerce in ways that were unimaginable to the participants in "The Writer in Mass Culture" conference. The University can insulate creative writers from any direct dependence on the literary marketplace while simultaneously using their charisma as a marketing strategy. Engle's vision, in other words, has become the informing structure of the contemporary literary field.
1. McGurl affirms that this disciplinary element would be crucial in accommodating the workshop form to the protocols of the academic career structure: "While the existence of degree-granting entities like the Workshop was owed, in part, to a new hospitality to self-expression on the part of universities willing to expand the boundaries of what could count as legitimate academic work, the founders and promoters of these programs more than met the institution halfway, rationalizing their presence in a scholarly environment by asserting their own disciplinary rigor" (531).
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Adams, J. Donald. "A New Voice in American Poetry." New York Times Book Review 29 July 1934: 1.
Bradbury, Malcolm. "The Bridgeable Gap: Bringing Together the Creative Writer and the Critical Theorist in an Authorless World." Times Literary Supplement 17 Jan. 1992: 7.
Dana, Robert, ed. A Community of Writers: Paul Engle and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 1999.
"Eggheads in the Tall Corn." Newsweek 28 Dec. 1959: 65.
Engle, Paul. Curriculum Vitae. n.d. University of Iowa Special Collections.
---. Letter to "Lewis." 27 Feb. 1951. University of Iowa Special Collections.
---. "The Gulf Is Always Thirsty." The Centennial Celebration of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal. Texas Quarterly Supplement to 1.1 (1958): 3-12.
---. Letter to Virgil Hancher. 31 Oct. 1963. University of Iowa Special Collections.
---. Letter to John Gerber. 10 Feb. 1965. University of Iowa Special Collections.
---. "Comments on the Manuscript by Steve Wilbers on The Writers' Workshop." University of Iowa Special Collections, n. d.
Engle, Paul, ed. Homage to Baudelaire: On the Centennial of Les Fleurs du Mal From the Poets at the State University of Iowa. Iowa City: Cummington, 1957.
---. Midland: Twenty-five Years of Fiction and Poetry, selected from the Writing Workshops of the State University of Iowa. New York: Random House, 1961.
---. On Creative Writing. New York: Dutton, 1966.
English, James. The Economy of Prestige: Prizes, Awards, and the Circulation of Cultural Value. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2005.
Gerber, John. The Teaching of English at the University of Iowa: Volume One 1861-1961. Iowa City: The Maecenas Press, 1995.
Jameson, Fredric. "The Vanishing Mediator; or, Max Weber as Storyteller." The Ideologies of Theory: Essays 1971-1986. Volume 2: Syntax of History. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1988.
McGurl, Mark. "The Program Era: Pluralisms of Postwar Fiction." Critical Inquiry 32.1 (Autumn 2005): 102-29.
Myers, D. G. The Elephants Teach: Creative Writing Since 1880. 1996. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2006.
Peyre, Henri. "Foreword." The Centennial Celebration of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal. Texas Quarterly Supplement to 1.1 (1958): ix-xvii.
Weber, Max. Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology. Ed. Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich. Berkeley: U of California P, 1968.
Wilbers, Stephen. The Iowa Writers' Workshop. Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 1980.
"The Writer in Mass Culture." Transcript. University of Iowa Special Collections.