Edmund Fuller, Matthew Hodgson, Dan Lacy, Lee Smith, and James West discuss the profession of authorship in the United States, including standards and ethical codes for writers, critics, and editors. They debate whether writers can be considered professionals. The speakers address tensions between “serious” writers and those writing for the market, the professionalism of scholarly writers, the writer as an artist, the tension between art and commercialism, the role of publishers, and the creative process. Kent Mullikin joins the conversation.
At the time of this interview, Fuller, the author of many works of fiction, nonfiction, and textbooks, was chief book critic for the Wall Street Journal. Hodgson was director of the University of North Carolina Press. Lacy, a trustee of the National Humanities Center, was senior vice president of McGraw-Hill, Inc. Mullikin was assistant director of the Center. Smith, the author of Black Mountain Breakdown and Cakewalk, was professor of English at North Carolina State University. West, a Fellow at the Center (1981-82), was professor of English at Virginia Polytechnic University.
This edition of Soundings was conducted by Wayne J. Pond.