Scholarly Writing as Activism

Title

Scholarly Writing as Activism

Creator

Emma Le Pouésard, Claire Dillon, Hannah Margaret Elmer, Nina Elizondo Garza, Lila Goldenberg, Angel Jiang, Sarina Kürsteiner, Adam Matthews, Carolyn Janice Quijano, and Robin Reich, Columbia University

Instructions

We came together as a group of graduate students studying medieval history and art history with the goal of writing a series of articles that could be utilized by community stakeholders addressing issues of prejudice under-girded by ignorance of the Middle Ages. We invited experts working in the field of journalism, activism, and social work to evaluate our content and identify its practical uses in the public sphere. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and we are continuing to create new content in collaboration with them with the feedback we received. The project enabled the authors (students) and their audiences to recognize the value and necessity of public engagement in the humanities. It sharpened our writing tools, teaching us to gear scholarly writing towards public readership. This model could be used in a classroom setting or in the working group format.

We developed this project over the course of a semester. The culmination was a day-long symposium during which our guest panelists gave us feedback and discussed the stakes and applications of the project. The content we produced was both single-authored and collaboratively written, and both formats were effective. We also peer-reviewed each other’s work. This exercise would work well in a classroom setting, giving the students the opportunity to develop their scholarly work for activist purposes. It would function well as a final assignment. The pieces we produced were short, given we wanted them to be readable to a wide audience, but they were researched and nuanced. It proved a difficult exercise to concisely convey complex ideas in a scholarly yet accessible manner. In-class preparation for this assignment could include inviting a member of the intended audience (as we did, with the journalists and activists) to discuss tactics to leverage research in the public sphere, and to what ends it is useful to do so. Our discussion with our panelists did indeed require us to revisit our writing and integrate their feedback (both for style and content). It would therefore be useful to receive this feedback earlier, perhaps (in the context of a class) at mid-semester.

Citation

Emma Le Pouésard, Claire Dillon, Hannah Margaret Elmer, Nina Elizondo Garza, Lila Goldenberg, Angel Jiang, Sarina Kürsteiner, Adam Matthews, Carolyn Janice Quijano, and Robin Reich, Columbia University, “Scholarly Writing as Activism,” Teaching the Middle Ages in Higher Ed, accessed May 29, 2020, https://medievalhighered.omeka.net/items/show/45.

Social Bookmarking