Tag Archives: writing

Photo of a blue sky with clouds with the words "sarah doyle thesis writing group" and "writing a thesis? taking a feminist approach in your work? asking questions around gender? join our new writing community"

Take a Seat: Sarah Doyle Center Collaborative Thesis Writing Collective

By: Billie McKelvie ’21, American Studies Concentrator, Sarah Doyle Center Zine Librarian 

The Sarah Doyle Center is starting a collaborative thesis writing collective.

Maybe the most disheartening thing about being asked to sever ourselves from our in-person networks is the unknown conversations we lose. We can’t predict what they might have been, and only know that for some of us, like me, those moments of spontaneous connection breathed life into our days and our work. The material losses of the center’s quiet nooks and warm embraces are deeply felt. 

We are all called to slow down and peel back the layers of our work to find its emotional core. As a staffer at the Sarah Doyle Center, this question has been present for me in the reevaluation of our community role having lost access to the physical space that had so joyfully become our home. As its absence sets in, I’ve had time to notice the function of the space in my own life and those around me who have used it not just as a landing place but a point of collaboration between students, mentors, artists, texts, and history. It is these spaces of casual cooperation, where we are able to unbutton ourselves and exhale our worries, that we do the real work of living.

Relational exchange is at the core of feminist principles. It is the uniting thread between reproduction, continuance, kinship, solidarity, and collectivity among others. Rejecting the patronizing voice of academia means consenting to speak from where we are situated and to build real networks of collaboration with our peers. The university asks us to have individual schedules, theses, processes, and even ideas. Knowledge should not be an individualist process of personal accumulation, and to be fair, it hardly ever is. When possible, the center strives to be a place where students can step outside of these boundaries of self-ascension to learn and be with each other in the co-making of new worlds. 

So many of the texts we use to ground our work have been written collaboratively, too. Before the pandemic, we had planned to host Margo Okazawa-Rey of the Combahee River Collective, a Black Feminist organizing group from the 1970s. The Combahee River Collective statement continues to jolt the world into action around collective liberation from white supremacy and heteropatriarchy by providing an intersectional framework for analysis and action. The Collective’s work has uprooted and reconstituted the feminist movement, not through an individual process alone at a desk, but in its co-making process with peers and call to collective action. The Combahee River Collective is not just a singular miraculous case of mutual thinking, writing and calls to action–it is far from it. 

In feminist history an overwhelming amount of work has been produced/enacted from a position of collaboration instead of isolation. Texts like This Bridge Called My Back, Our Bodies Ourselves, countless essay collections, oral histories, the more recent Feminism for the 99% and Feminisms in Motion, speak to the power of collective writing as an intervention. This writing inspires us as another way to be in the process of knowledge production. We can challenge ourselves to be knowledge sharers rather than producers, and strengthen our commitment to justice over personal gain. 

Can we resist individualism in isolated times? How can we offer energy as well as support? What does our work need right now? What do students need right now? What is this center? These are questions whose responses have guided this idea. 

See this group as an opportunity–a tool that will be reshaped by the people who come to live in its space. It is an open floor, a support system, a rejuvenation, or a room with a ring of empty chairs. Join us. 

The Sarah Doyle Center Thesis writing group will meet on a regular basis over zoom. It is open to all students who are working on a thesis or capstone project that relates to gender or takes a feminist approach. 

For more information and to sign up, fill out our interest form linked here.

The Two-Pager Club

By: Nicole Sintentos, Claritza Maldonado, Jacquelynn Jones, Maggie Unverzagt Goddard, Kate Duffy, Doctoral Candidates in American Studies

Providence, RI

This time has changed the way that we gather and create.

In late May, Nicole Sintetos reached out to the other graduate students in the American Studies department with an invitation to participate in a writing club. Below is her email, rooted in a feminist praxis of collaboration and care.

To: American Studies Graduate Students

From: Nicole Sintetos

Thu, May 28, 2020 at 5:32 PM

Re: The Two Pager Writing Club

Hi All,

I have been struggling to write the last two months: perhaps it is the isolation that curbs one’s confidence, or just the general depletion of joy in the world, or the increasingly overt brokenness of this country,  but let me tell you the words are not flowing. And yet, the dissertation (or any pressing deadline for that matter) needs to get done.

I’m interested in starting an unorthodox writing club. The rules: everyone in attendance must upload two pages (not three! two!) of any type of writing by Monday at midnight. Truly, any type of writing, as long as it is fresh off the press. It can be a dissertation chapter fragment. A journal entry about one’s frustration writing a dissertation chapter fragment.  A series of incomplete stream-of-conscious ideas written at two in the morning after too much wine in which you are haunted by your incomplete dissertation chapter. A partial fields essay in which you fight with Foucault. A poem about your love for Foucault. A McSweeney’s List. Really, anything.

Then, on Tuesday, over lunch, we will each discuss our individual submissions (simply, one thing we are still struggling with and one thing that we think might be fruitful).  We must then isolate just a single sentence from our submitted writing that we think is worth keeping and read it aloud.The scale of the writing group is to celebrate kernels of ideas, not fully fledged essays, and to hold space for the joy of writing at the sentence level. We actually will not edit each other’s work: the uploading is simply to provide an accountability structure for ourselves, though others can read and offer global compliments. Lunch will not exceed an hour.

I have long-felt that graduate school should be seen as a team sport. The same holds true for writing. And, frankly, I miss the spaces of community where we can casually talk about ideas.

If interested in joining the Two Pager Writing Club please shoot me an email.

Nicole

In addition to gathering virtually each week, Nicole’s email prompted us to focus on both process and the creative work that we do beyond graduate school. Below, each member of the Two Pager Club shares a look into their creative lives and practices beyond our research and dissertation projects. We hold this space for each other to recognize and celebrate the life that we live within and beyond the academy. We encourage you to experiment with art supplies (broadly conceived) and think more about creative process rather than sheer productivity.

Collage image of rhubarb plants and fruit with image of a hand and record turntable.

Collage, Claritza Maldonado

Collage, like poetry, has taught me a lot about fragments, small pieces, and the many beautiful (and sometimes ugly) things that form from them. Most of the images I cut out for this collage are from different tourist magazines, food magazines, fashion magazines, and advertisement pages.

Photo of jeans with sunflowers painted on the back pockets. Yellow, orange, and brown paint bottles with paint brushes and painter palletlay next to the jeans.

Jean Art, Jacquelynn Jones

I started painting jeans because I wanted to use what I had to create something new. Painting this design, while using a new medium, has shown me that inspiration takes time and imagination needs space. It has also served as a needed reminder to slow down, to be patient, and to enjoy the process. 

Photo of an abstract watercolor drawing and art supplies.

Watercolors, Maggie Unverzagt Goddard

I’ve always wanted to understand different watercolor techniques, but I’ve also been intimidated. By playing with different materials, I’m trying to suspend my sense of judgment and allow myself to experiment—a kind of curiosity and acceptance that I try to bring to my writing too.

Photo of a red door within an old stone wall on a sunny day.

Photo, Kate Duffy

I walk around the neighborhood, taking time to notice, ponder, and appreciate the things I see.  This red door in an old stone wall has become a favorite point of interest. Since the pandemic began I’ve observed the vines grow thick with green leaves, then begin to fade again. On and on we go.

Photo credits: All images are by the creator named below the image.