About the researcher

Elena Traina is a multilingual writer, tutor and researcher in Creative Writing Studies. She writes and researches in English, Spanish and her mother tongue, Italian. 

In 2021, she published her debut novel Amarantha with Norwich-based publisher Kurumuru Books. In the same year, she was a writer and librarian in residence in Milan as part of the UNESCO City of Literature scheme. She has recently been on a 9-month writing residence in Norfolk Libraries, working on her second novel and leading creative writing workshops in 7 localities in Norfolk.  

She has qualified as a tutor of Creative Writing with Escuela de Escritores and Universidad de Alcalá, and now teaches online courses on Creative Writing in English for Scuola Holden and Fondazione Universitaria San Pellegrino (Italy), and Escuela de Escritores (Spain). 

As a tutor and as a researcher, she is interested in creative writing in English as a second language, and in cross-cultural approaches to teaching creative writing. Her articles on creative writing pedagogy have been published in the Journal of Creative Writing Studies and in NAWE’s magazine Writing in Practice. 

A keen singer and musician, she has been seen and heard busking on the streets of Norwich, Milan and Turin. She is now adding the accordion to the instruments she can more or less play, and Portuguese to the languages she can more or less speak. 

Elena Traina headshot
Elena Traina headshot

PhD abstract

Thesis title

“Literatures of Creative Writing” in Emerging Creative Writing Degrees in Spanish and Portuguese-Speaking Countries


This is a comparative and cross-cultural study of creative writing pedagogies in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries. 

This research considers and compares postgraduate degrees in Creative Writing by examining the “literature of creative writing”, a threshold concept encompassing:  

  • the exemplary texts used by creative writing tutors to illustrate successful craft techniques (short stories, excerpts of novels, etc.);  
  • the literature used as a source of creative writing pedagogy (handbooks, manuals, and writers’ memoir and notes on craft, etc.);  
  • and the literature related to course design (course descriptions, handouts and syllabi).  

The aim of the research is to investigate the relationship between place and creative writing pedagogy, by addressing two questions about literature and pedagogy:  

  1. Based on what criteria is literature chosen to teach creative writing, i.e. what works and what authors are brought into the creative writing classroom as examples of best practice and why;  
  2. What pedagogies are being used to teach creative writing in non-anglophone academia. 

The two main research methods employed in this study are the literature review of the “literature of creative writing” and interviews with members of academic staff in universities in Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil.  

Researcher bio

Research interests

As a researcher, Elena is interested in creative writing in English as a second language, and cross-cultural approaches to teaching creative writing. She is particularly interested in the role of exemplary literature in the creative writing classroom. 

Elena’s background is in modern foreign languages and literatures and literary translation, so she is also interested in multilingual approaches to academic and creative writing, and self-translation. 

Areas of expertise

  • Writing in English as a Second/Additional Language 
  • Bi/multi/translingual writing 
  • Speculative fiction 
  • Writing for children and young adults 

Committee membership(s)

On the board of the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) 

Member of the European Association of Creative Writing Programmes (EACWP) and of the Creative Writing Studies Organization 

Professional engagements

Tutor of Creative Writing in English as a Second Language at Scuola Holden, Fondazione Universitaria San Pellegrino and Escuela de Escritores. 


Peer-reviewed papers and reviews 

“Our Fear of Reading Wrong” in Writing in Education. Vol. 89. 2022. 

“Challenging Conventional Approaches to Teaching Creative Writing in Italy” in Journal of Creative Writing Studies. Vol. 7 (1). Peer-reviewed. 2022. 

“Feelings of Difference and Sameness”: Review of The Place and the Writer in Journal of Creative Writing Studies. Vol. 7 (1). 2022. 

Review of Beyond Craft: An Anti-Handbook for Creative Writers in Journal of Creative Writing Studies: Vol. 6 (1). 2021. 

“Tupaia: Palingenesis of a Polynesian Epic Hero” in AOQU Rivista di epica, vol. 2, Milano: Università degli Studi di Milano. Peer-reviewed. 2020. 

“Life as an Anchovy – Translating Gregory O’Brien’s ‘Solidarity with the Anchovy’” in Journal of Italian Translation, Mineola, New York: Brooklyn College. Peer-reviewed. 2015. 

“A Translator Prepares: Translating Drama Using Stanislavsky’s Method” in Norwich Papers, vol. 22. Norwich: The Print Group. Peer-reviewed. 2014. 

Conference papers 

“Metaphors for the Creative Writing Process”, European Association of Creative Writing Programmes Symposium, October 2022 

“Training Great Tutors”, Great Writing Conference, July 2022 

“The Tutor-Peer: Challenging Hierarchies in the Creative Writing in ESL Classroom”, NAWE Conference, March 2022 

“It’s Going to Be Fine – The Sentimental Structure Theory and Best Practice from Marco Missiroli’s Fuoripista Fiction”, Creative Writing Studies Conference, October 2021 


Year Qualification Awarding body
2022 Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching Creative Writing 

Escuela de Escritores Universidad de Alcalá 

2021 Diploma in Contemporary Humanities & Storytelling  Scuola Holden 
2021 Chartership (qualified librarian)  Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) 
2019 Diploma in Academic Writing for Researchers   Universidad de Salamanca 
2018 Level 6 TEFL   TEFL Academy 
2015 MA in Literary Translation  University of East Anglia 
2013 BA in Modern Foreign Languages and Literature  Università degli Studi di Milano 

Grants & awards

Year Description Awarding body
2022/23 Falmouth Doctoral Studentship  Falmouth University 
2022 Outstanding Academic Achievement Scholarship  Escuela de Escritores 

Republic of Reading 

9-month residency researching and writing the novel Quel luogo di cui solo noi sappiamo and leading creative workshop in Norfolk libraries 

Arts Council England 

Amarantha LIVE 

10 live performances of Amarantha in schools and libraries across Norfolk 

Arts Council England 

First prize at “Il Racconto nel Cassetto”  

Short Story Competition  

Città di Villaricca