Thursday, October 13, 2011

RSL on Tour

Next week, I won't be blogging on the regular schedule because I'm travelling. On Sunday, I leave for Barcelona to run a couple of workshops for PhD students at the ESADE Business School. I return Wednesday, and will be spending the following two days here in Copenhagen at a round table on the recently proposed "liberal learning" model of business of education. Then I fly to Budapest to do a one-day seminar and workshop on Writing Process Reengineering at Corvinus University on Saturday. I'll be back at the regular blogging on Tuesday, October 25. But the following week, November 3, I'll be in Bristol at the University of the West of England. It feels a bit like a European tour.

I'm looking to forward to meeting a lot of new people and to testing my "product". In the new year, I'll begin my freelance career as a writing consultant, and I hope that the majority of the work will consist of doing seminars and workshops like these, as well as advising administrators (including department heads) on how to organize productive writing environments. I will also, no doubt, continue to offer individual coaching and editorial assistance here in Copenhagen. A number of my current authors have expressed interest in continuing the relationship, and that is still something that gives me a great deal of satisfation to do (though it's relatively time consuming). But I'm also very interested in building a network of institutions, especially in Europe, around the concepts of Research as a Second Language and Writing Process Reengineering. I think "discursive impact", for example, ought to be an explicit part of any research strategy, whether at the individual, departmental, university or national level. Even the EU, to my mind, should be thinking about it.

I'm willing to help in whatever way I can.

One simple thing I can do is to share my experiences as a resident writing consultant, presented in the form of a proposal for how to reengineer your writing process, individually and collectively. The one-day workshop I'll be doing in Budapest and Bristol deals with the problem of managing the writing process and developing the written product. It is a workshop in four parts:

1. Research as a Second Language. Even researchers who have English as their native language find themselves struggling with the idiom of their chosen field. In this introductory lecture, I define academic writing both in terms of the knowledge it communicates and the conversation that it informs. I argue that your prose style is a crucial part of your skill set as a scholar. The challenge is simply to become an articulate member of your scholarly community.

2. Discursive Impact. Your ability to speak and write knowledgeably is conditioned by the "discursive formation" or "disciplinary matrix" in which you participate. I talk to participants about how the exemplary work that has already been done in their traditions can be used to inform their own efforts to write more effectively. I show participants how to use our growing knowledge of citation networks to give their writing the impact it deserves.

3. Time Management. One of the most common explanations scholars give for not writing is that there is no time to do so. I try to dismantle some common myths about the time that is required to write effectively and provide a number of simple tools to help participants secure the time they need to work. These tools can be used by individuals, but can benefit greatly from a supportive collegial environment.

4. Space Management. The "space" for writing must be thought of both physically and conceptually. It is important to structure both the environment in which writing goes on (i.e., that it be sequestered enough from everything else that is going on at the same time) and the manuscript that is being developed. If you begin with a blank page in an open space you are not likely to work effectively. I show participants how to get organized to avoid this problem.

This is familiar stuff to readers of this blog. (New readers who want to get a sense of what I'm about might read my sketch of the book I'm working on.) If you want to experience me live, then, you now have a simple way of making it happen. My standard fee is 1000€ per day, plus expenses, to hold the workshop. Participants are expected to do a little bit of work in advance to prepare (I have a form for them to fill out). Contact me by email at tbasboll at gmail dot com.

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