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Contents: Writing In Academia (Issue 50)

Contents: Writing In Academia (Issue 50)

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Dedication: Aniket Jaaware (1960-2018)

We dedicate this special issue on Writing in Academia to Aniket Jaaware – scholar, teacher, colleague and, most importantly, our friend in reading and writing. Aniket’s words and ideas from his published works, his classes or informal conversations are throughlines in several essays in this collection. His vast range in scholarly and literary writing remains an inspiration to us.

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Contributors

Contributors

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Guest-Editorial – Building the Boat While Sailing it: Writing Pedagogy in India

By Anannya Dasgupta and Madhura Lohokare
Writing pedagogy may be new in the Indian higher education scene, but if this issue of Café Dissensus is any evidence, the kind of work that is already being done and the number of people it is attracting to join-in, indicates that it may be time to graduate its presence as not mere figment of our imagination, and draw encouragement from the beginning of its visible presence in some universities.

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Regional, national, international: graded hierarchies of academic practice

By Savitha Suresh Babu
I use the phrase writing capital to allude not only to caste, class and other forms of structural advantage, but also, some forms of training and support in understanding the grammar of academic writing. I refer here to processes that help understand how best to lay out succinctly what others in the field have written, what is most helpful for you from that writing, and how to articulate one’s own work in conversation with that scholarship.

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Taking Academic Writing Back to School

By Payal Singh
this course on academic writing I was taking as an MA student had, as one of its fundamental premises, the idea of helping us write without the fear of being graded. Here, I will elaborate on the grading criteria of this course which did not seem like evaluation in the sense we understand in educational institutions. For evaluation, we were asked to maintain a journal at the very outset of the course to record our reflections about writing.

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Towards Breathing New Life into Writing Practices in School Classrooms

By Rajashree Gandhi
The question “Can you even teach writing?” continues to be asked. This question either arises from a distrust in pedagogical progress or from an arrogant belief that writing is something we either have it in us or don’t. Those of us who believe in a growth mindset know that writing can be learned through practice, and that nurturing a young writer’s confidence will motivate them to work through the process of writing with patience and grit.

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Assessing to Teach: Writing in an ESL Classroom

By Nupur Samuel
Why are the policy documents silent on the pedagogy and assessment of writing? Why is there no discussion on how to teach writing, which is crucial since it is through writing that students’ learning is assessed? Since Vivian Zamel introduced the idea of writing as a process in second language studies in 1976, highlighting similarities between writing in first and second languages, emphasis has shifted from a text-oriented approach to writer-oriented research.

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Languages → ← Realities: Some Thoughts on the Writing Courses Indian Universities Need

By Anuj Gupta
We need to start paying a lot more attention to how students like Dheeraj are shaping writing pedagogy in India. I am immensely grateful to him, who apart from giving me the permission to use his writing and his name for this paper, has also taught me a lot of what I know about writing pedagogy. As I realized while writing this paper, it is primarily by closely reading his words, as well as those of my other students, that I am beginning to find the critical vocabulary to think about writing and its teaching in a whole new way.

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Bridge-Books in Malayalam: The Transformative Potential of Social Sciences Writing

By J. Devika
For humanities, the question is equally crucial: what kind of teaching can activate the transformative potential of literature or art or cinema? Perhaps the issue here is not so much the use of a highly-specialized and technical vocabulary in literary, art, and cinema criticism, but its fetishization, which is also one of the reasons why it rarely enters the critical imagination outside the academy.

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Translating (Gender) Trouble

By Sameer Abraham Thomas
I believe that Simple Writer is of great use from a pedagogic standpoint. Asking a student to translate a passage into Simple Writer would force them to break each concept down to what they feel is its most crucial elements, thereby both encouraging them to think harder about the words they think they know and allowing any teacher reading their translation an insight into the way they imagine certain concepts.

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Reading While Writing While Reading

By Bhoomika Joshi
Our academic training ends up slotting reading and writing as discrete activities. More than often, writing comes after reading – we mostly read so that we can write. Rarely does writing precede reading. The relationship between reading and writing has become that of a follow-up, determined by the logistics of input and output. We depend upon reading to fix the gap in our writing, like a searchlight that can help us put things in their place.

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Ruminating the Field and the Pedagogy of Writing Notes

By Suchismita Chattopadhyay
Anytime somebody has to embark on a research that involves field work, the first piece of advice is that one must take extensive field notes. One must maintain a journal for recording their days on field. The advice is mainly limited to that. It is specific and vague at the same time. It is specific to the point of the researcher must make field notes every day and vague because nobody tells you what exactly constitutes a good field note. This is possibly the reason why anything and everything can become a field note.

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From Fieldnotes to Finished Text: Affect and the Labor of Care in Writing Ethnography

By Anusha Hariharan
Anthropological lore has it that A Diary in the Strictest Sense of the Term (1967) caused ripples across the north American academy when published posthumously. It was as if, suddenly a celebrated ancestor’s vulnerabilities during the period of data collection had been laid bare for the world to witness; it intruded into his status of an empirically-rooted positivist social scientist.

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Enacting Care in Writing Pedagogy: Notes from a Collaborative Exercise

By Madhura Lohokare
We exchanged notes with each other, earlier in the corridors and over chai-coffee, and later in our semi-formal parhai-likhai meetings, even as we realized that we were generating a distinct conversation about the challenges, possibilities and the overwhelming need for the teaching of writing in our classrooms.

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Mortality and Writing Pedagogy

By Durba Chattaraj
Evocative writing aimed a general audience can persuade far more than the dry prose of peer-reviewed medical research, and I was sure I was going to go with Gawande, but then there was a further development in my case. After much thought I decided to have the surgery, and gave up my butterfly-shaped thyroid, first one wing, and then the other, to an extraordinarily skilled surgeon, in a hospital perched high up on the banks of the Schuylkill River.

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The Writing Self and the Work of Care in Critical Writing Pedagogy

By Anannya Dasgupta
In the context of university classrooms to show care would mean enabling spaces and vocabulary to help students locate the sense of an embodied self in relation to others, to get students to a place where the tools of critical thinking become useful things to learn. This makes the work of teaching writing both daunting and an exactly appropriate place to begin the process of self-recovery because as it turns out writing demands an engagement and examination of the self like few other activities.

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Writing Together: Working Towards New Cultures of Writing in Academia

By Vasudha Katju
Academic writing is social. The arguments we make and ideas we debate are part of academic debates, dialogues and conversations which began long before we arrived on the scene and will continue after we depart. The norms of writing and publication that we must follow too come to us from without, and at least some of our academic training involves learning these norms.

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Notes from an Inattentive, Lumpen Professor

By Nandini Dhar
I wrote in cafes, I wrote in libraries. I got up at 4 am to write. I came back home early to write. And, even then, much to everyone’s surprise, my PhD thesis remained incomplete. Because, to tell the truth, beyond those fifteen minutes every day, I wasn’t writing my dissertation at all. I was writing poems. I was writing poems in two languages – English – and my native language, Bangla.

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Writing without Discipline: Reflections of an ‘interdisciplinary’ academic

By Swathi Shivanand
One of my most serious problems in the course of the writing was one of limit or restraint. With all the initial motivations of the thesis condensed into this one chapter, it seemed often that the scope of the chapter was vast and my abilities to limit it to specific elements less than satisfactory.

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Writing Without Arguments: An Argument Against Utility in Academic Writing

By Shantam Goyal
We recognise that our work as academic writers is not limited to producing paranoid knowledge about a single text, or to understanding the symptomatic dimension of the layers behind the wordy surface. Instead, our work can be transformative and reparative.

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Softening boundaries: Entering Academic Writing through Creative Writing

By Kumud Bhansali
Academic writing is a form of writing with its specific vocabulary and grammar, meant for audience who are participants in conversations that have been going on for a long period of time. The aim is to eventually participate in the discourse, but we also have to remind ourselves that we write first and edit later as far as the written word goes.

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A Brief and Uneven Guide to Writing Pedagogy in Higher Education in India

By Madhura Lohokare and Anannya Dasgupta
Apart from the instructors who teach writing and students who imbibe it, we need to recognise that both these sets of actors operate in the institutional setting of a university/ college, which is a material as well as a social space. How do institutions enable or hinder the emergence and consolidation of a writing pedagogy?

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