When we write we not only produce text, we also produce ourselves as scholars. As we make textual decisions – what to write about, who to cite and who to leave out, what evidence to include, how we use language to craft our ‘voice’ – we are also writing ourselves as scholars. Writing is a form of scholarly action, a performance if you like, through which we take a particular position on something and argue for it, we become known for some things and not others, we find the place from which we speak in scholarly conversations. Authoring a text is also producing an author – one who speaks with authori-ity.
Doctoral researchers often feel the tangle of text work and identity work most acutely when they are working with literatures, as the task here is not simply to repeat or summarise what other people have said, but also to position yourself in relation to it, and to them. Barbara and I have written a lot about this in our books. We’ve also written the odd chapter or two, and I’ve recently put one – a chapter called Working with Literatures – onto my researchgate page. In this chapter we give two examples of actual doctoral writings to show what the struggle to do both text work and identity work can look like.