Writing From the Inside Out: A Workshop for Graduate Students

This writing workshop, sponsored by the Society for Medical Anthropology, is intended for graduate students writing in the fields of medical anthropology and science and technology studies, broadly construed. Graduate students at any stage are welcome! The workshop is free.

The small-group workshop offers a space to relax into your own text. Its focus is on craft: the intentional techniques that convey story. “Story” can be the description of a scene or event that typically comprises an ethnographic vignette. “Story” can also be the narrative of an idea you’re working through (the thing that gets called “theory”). Often, it’s both.


How it works:

-You bring 500 words of writing. (No pre-circulated papers, no reading ahead of time!)

-The 500 words can be a single 500-word stretch, or 2-3 shorter, different stretches of text that add up to 500 words in total.

-We’ll listen/read the text together, and ask: How does the story hang together? Could shifts in style better suit its aims? How are its readers ushered in, and where does the text take them? A lot can happen in a paragraph.

-We will also take breaks from individual pieces to consider the implications of the inside-out writing approach for medical anthropology and STS. Several key narrative techniques — especially illness narratives and network tracking — often serve as touchstones for writers in these fields. These may suit your needs. Alternatively, you may be experimenting with something different. We’ll consider the group’s diverse writing styles as a signs of movement in our fields. If we begin with how we already write, rather than how we think our fields expect us to write, how might we be shifting conversations?

-You will leave the workshop with a fresh take on work-in-progress; writing prompts to keep things moving after the session concludes; a lively group to connect with amidst all the isolation; and craft techniques to play with style and storytelling for your current and future projects.

  • Thursday, October 22, from 2-4pm EST.
  • Wednesday, November 11, from 2-4pm EST.
  • There will be two identical workshops on Zoom; you can attend either one.
  • Apply here by filling out a brief form: https://forms.gle/ti7ndAqQTUjQwAYXA 
  • Application forms are due *Friday, October 2, 2020 by midnight EST.* You will be contacted by October 10 with a decision.
  • There is no required reading, but some reflections on style to consider include: Kirin Narayan’s *Alive in the Writing*; Vivian Gornick’s *The Situation and the Story*; and Ursula K LeGuin’s *Steering the Craft*. Some examples of writing ideas emergent in ordinary life can be found in *The Hundreds* by Lauren Berlant and Kathleen Stewart, and *Crumpled Paper Boat* edited by Anand Pandian and Stuart McLean.
  • Any questions can be addressed to Harris Solomon (harris.solomon@duke.edu)