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A Will to Write, or ‘ That blinking cursor demands words from me.’ Ronald Barnett, Visiting Professor University of West London, professorial lecture,

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Presentation on theme: "A Will to Write, or ‘ That blinking cursor demands words from me.’ Ronald Barnett, Visiting Professor University of West London, professorial lecture,"— Presentation transcript:

1 A Will to Write, or ‘ That blinking cursor demands words from me.’ Ronald Barnett, Visiting Professor University of West London, professorial lecture, 14 March, 2013 Centre for Higher Education Studies Sub-brand to go here

2 2 Current work  Trilogy?  Being a University  Imagining the University  Understanding the University  The Ecological University -Changing one’s mind -Living amid multiple time horizons

3 3 Personal background Home(s) in Raynes Park Family School/ university Challenges (teachers’ remarks) etc Struggles Self-image – difficulties in speaking Writing as a way of being heard and reaching out

4 4 Adult biography PGCE PNL CNAA (Ealing CHE) Evening job IOE – aged 43 4 yrs, Dean and Prof Course Leader, supervisor – now one’s students are themselves professors!

5 5 Academic identity - a layering Researcher Teacher Administrator/ bureaucrat Speaker Manager Institutional leader Facilitator

6 6 A will to write Self-identity as a writer Reaching out/ communicating Teaching Scholar/ library/ books as texts/ as friends

7 7 Scholarly challenges Liminality (being caught reading) Writing as a private activity Rhythm of writing Rejections – keeping going That blinking cursor demands words

8 8 Writing disciplines Steadiness - a page a day … Writing as work/ as brushing one’s teeth Space for thinking And for being oneself ‘say what you want to say’ But just what do you want to say? ‘The bodily pain of writing’ Finding it within oneself; drawing it out.

9 9 Sources of support Individuals/ friends (over decades and new ones) Mentors Groups Dedications/ acknowledgements

10 10 Journeying Having a project for one’s writing (practical/ empirical/ theoretical) – an intellectual project [5-10 yrs] Care – woods and trees; commas and overarching project Communicating – audience(s) Tortoises and hares Reading/ writing/ sharing/ thinking

11 11 ‘I just don’t have time to write’ Facing one’s inner demons Turning on the computer The blinking cursor … How start? Just write! Beauty of a word-processor –Value of touch-typing

12 12 That first sentence So easy; and so difficult Resources Overall theme Sub-theme/ issue Yesterday’s last para

13 13 Realistic goals Never expect of yourself that you will write a paper, let alone a book Just a page Words per day/ per week Turning off the computer Having a life

14 14 Inspiration No good waiting for inspiration But the writing comes ultimately from within Autobiography A compulsion A struggle – inchoate feelings/ presentiments/ values/ murmurings … One inspires oneself (ultimately) A never-ending conversation

15 15 Images/ metaphors The writer as: Architect Sculptor Musician Jigsaw solver Potholer

16 16 Methodologies Research questions Speaking to the reader Language The look on the page (length of paragraphs) The feel of the text (length of words/ sentences) – [2 word sentences] Sub-headings Rhythm – rules and rule-breaking Delight Words Linking the sentences Scaffolding

17 17 Finding a voice One’s own voice Writing signature Finding oneself Finding one’s voice Autobiography (the management team mtg) –My own writing – interplay between theory/phil and practical academic life (Bruce’s island – but with bridges) Writing as fiction

18 18 Audience(s) Writing to be read Who would you like to persuade? Representatives of one’s audience(s) behind one as one writes –Anticipating objections Sitting in a cafe (the engineer’s tale; the South African tale) ‘Doing the thinking for the reader’

19 19 Crafting a book Different levels of reading –The busy reader –Delighting the reader Sub-headings Indexes with a smile Bibliographies Footnotes (uncluttered text) [that reviewer] Diagrams – keeping them simple Photo(s) – a diplomatic incident

20 20 Keeping going There are bound to be difficulties Rejections Being honest with oneself Internalising voices Friends Conversation

21 21 The value of writing Not for the REF - but for oneself And for others Wanting to change things – in however small a way Seeing the world Bertrand Russell – p sceptic; - RAB: a passionate scholar Changed my life; changed me – words on the screen So be careful with your writing – it may just change your life! Institute of Education University of London 20 Bedford Way London WC1H 0AL Tel +44 (0) Fax +44 (0) Web


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