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This article takes up the "special strangeness" of grading practices in the graduate creative writing workshop, based on the author's research, personal experience, and interviews with the faculty of her doctoral creative writing program. Using a structure of notes, the author attempts to make sense of the way grades are understood by both teacher and student at the post-secondary level. First, she considers why the formal evaluation of creative writing continues to be defined by a system of grades, despite the perceived failure of grades to represent the value of such work, and despite educators' historic and ongoing attempts at reforming the system. And secondly, she explores the many resulting disconnects: between the neat collapse of meaning in a grade and the very pluralistic, collaborative arrival at meaning in a graduate workshop; between the creative writing teacher's tendency for grade inflation and the literary market's stark one percent publication rate; and between the mentor's fraught roles as both a critic/evaluator and "friend" to the creative writing graduate student.


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