Doctoral writing as relational practice: materialities and timescapes

Authors: Emma Waight*, Coventry University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Higher Education
Keywords: posthumanism, writing, students, materiality, time
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


How do doctoral students experience writing in time and space? Existing studies demonstrate that doctoral writing is a high-stakes activity linked to student progression, self-efficacy and wellbeing, but they also tend to focus on the outcome of writing (the text) and not the experience of writing. In contrast, by drawing on posthumanism and the new materialisms, I was able to study writing as a relational, more-than-human practice. Furthermore, I problematise hegemonic approaches to time that fail to account for how doctoral education is experienced as a relational phenomenon. Through a posthuman lens then, this study utilised participant interviews and photovoice to explore doctoral students’ writing experiences at one research-intensive university in the UK. In the study I found that students use material artefacts to curate their writing spaces and that they use technological devices and hand-written notes in different ways to support their writing. Furthermore, the study found that when immersed in the writing process, doctoral students experience time differently; as a kind of suspended time. I conclude with recommendations for policy and practice with the aim of improving doctoral writing support in a way that recognises writing experiences as an assemblage of human and non-human parts.

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