text work/identity work

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.

About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
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7 Responses to text work/identity work

  1. Bec J. H. says:

    I saw the title of this post and was thinking how funny it was that I had read a book chapter on just this topic only yesterday, for one of my Masters units. Then, reading your post I had such a strong sense of deja vu that I went back and checked the names on the assigned chapter – “Writing the doctorate, writing the scholar” from Kamler and Thomson 2006!


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