The Department of Social Sciences organised this writing workshop with an aim to improve the skills of research assistants/ research engineers/scholars, both associated with the institute and outside, in the writing practices. The workshop was divided into five sessions and organised over a period of two months, starting from January 06, 2022 and ended by February 25, 2022. The participants, in between these sessions, were made to read literature, practice the skills and write short notes.
In total, fifteen participants attended this workshop and four trainers (Niranjana; Annapurna; Nithyanand Jayaraman; and V. Geetha) were involved in this process. The Covid – third wave forced organisers to rework on the schedule of this workshop in January, 2022, so a couple of sessions were organised online. This workshop focused both on academic and popular writing practices. These are some of the broader themes that were covered in this workshop: writing methods; sources; conceptual framework; structure; literature review; memories and archives; objectivity; epistemic justice; story telling; and self reflection.
Niranjana designed her sessions in such a way that participants were given small exercises every now and then to learn, understand and practice different ways in writing academic articles. For example, in a session, she divided participants into teams and circulated reading materials to find, discuss and present the following aspects: core arguments, methods, sources and structure. Annapurna read the short notes that participants wrote on the topic of their interest and provided valuable suggestions to improve the same. Nithyanand and Geetha tutored the participants on the popular writings. Nithy’s session brought discussion on aspects such as who are target audience, bias and objectivity, commons, medium/genre and story telling. Geetha taught participants on the various forms of popular writings based on her field experiences. She also read the field notes/sample narratives of participants well before her session. It helped her to understand the level of participants and provide individual inputs to them.
Some of the feedback of this workshop are as follows: Muthuvel shared, “I personally found the writing workshop productive in improving and reflecting on my writing skills, ways of telling stories in academic & popular writing framework.” Likewise, Supriya said, “The workshop raised very important reflective and ideological questions and emphasized nuance and empathy. The speakers were very helpful and communicative. They ensured participation and inter-group communication.” Lastly, Leela informed, “Nithy’s session was about story line, audience and how to achieve the objective of communication and the importance of this process. From that I understood how to structure an essay effectively.”
Dr. Niranjana Ramesh, Faculty of Geography in the University College, London; Dr. Annapurna Mammidipudi is a STS scholar with the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin; Nithyanand Jayaraman is a teacher of journalism and a practitioner based in Chennai; Geetha V. is a historian and has written extensively in both Tamil and English.
Contact: Senthil Babu, IFP