Reading friends

I spent last week in the bushland setting of the Melbourne campus of La Trobe University in the company of the Academic Identities project team, writing, thinking, reading, talking, eating and walking. Taking a break from an ‘in-your-head’ morning, we walked around the 30 hectare wildlife sanctuary on campus (images © Film Victoria):

https://www.film.vic.gov.au/images/locations/City_of_Darebin/La%20Trobe%20University%20-%20Wildlife%20Sanctuary/mcdar-uc-WildlifeSanctuary-LaTrobeUniversityBundoora_033.JPG

While at La Trobe, I also enjoyed Shut Up and Write for its productive sociability. (And thank you to the fellow writer who described Christian Marclay’s The Clock, a 24-hour, real time immersion in cinematic time-keeping. This New York Times article is as close as I got, but it is currently showing at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne).

Colleagues and I read together—I love hearing why others value a particular piece of writing, and often enjoy it more through their eyes. I added the following to my reading list:

The notion of the ‘placeful’ university offers a tantalising counterpoint to the university as non-place. The authors describe it as ‘a university that invites and promotes openness, dialogue, democracy, mutual integration, care and joint responsibility’. (I think of it as a university filled with trees like the images of La Trobe above).

As well as articles that push ahead our thinking about academic identities, I’ve set my own reading task. I enjoyed the company of these people and their ways of thinking, so I plan to immerse myself in their scholarship. (I’m hopeful that this will be seen as a compliment). I previously blogged about thoughtful citations, now some intentional reading. These may not be the readings the authors would have me choose from their lengthy publication lists, but the following sparked my curiosity:

James Burford (2017) Not writing, and giving ‘zero-f**ks’ about it: queer(y)ing doctoral ‘failure’ (journal article)

Jeanette Fyffe (2018) Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable: a narrative account of becoming an academic developer (journal article)

Barbara Grant (2019) Wrestling with Career: An Autoethnographic Tale of a Cracked Academic Self (book chapter)

Cally Guerin (2013) Rhizomatic research cultures, writing groups and academic researcher identities (journal article)

Frances Kelly (2018) The lecturer’s new clothes: An academic life, in textiles (book chapter)

Catherine Manathunga (2016) Rendering the paradoxes and pleasures of academic life: using images, poetry and drama to speak back to the measured university (co-authored journal article)

Tai Peseta (2016) A socially just curriculum reform agenda (co-authored journal article)

Machi Sato (2011) Academic inbreeding: exploring its characteristics and rationale in Japanese universities using a qualitative perspective (co-authored journal article)

Jan Smith (2016) Identity Work in the Contemporary University: Exploring an Uneasy Profession (co-edited book)

Apologies for the paywalled links here. Where possible, access the readings through an institutional library, via Unpaywall, ask a colleague, or contact a friendly author.

I’m also reading in the company of others in the Idea of the University reading group (This week we start Raewyn Connell’s The Good University which we will be reading over a few weeks). Outside work, I’ll be hearing Sulari Gentill talk about writing, and my young adult book club is discussing ‘books we read at school’. (My picks are Tuck Everlasting and Bridge to Terabithia. So different from what I remember reading thirty years ago!) I am looking forward to a week of bookish conversations.

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