Higher Degree Research (HDR) Law
and Business candidate, Michael Gatumu, was sponsored by the Office of the
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research to attend the annual Performing the Word
Residential Writing Retreatin Victoria in October.
Performing the Word is a live-in writing retreat for
HDR candidates keen to extend the boundaries to how they present scholarly
knowledge. Developed and run by Victoria University’s Professor Ron Adams, the
retreat is a core program in the Demystifying the Thesis initiative for
which he was awarded the ALTC’s 2010 peak Award for Programs that Enhance
Learning: Postgraduate Education.
writes about his experience:
retreat was facilitated by Professor Ron Adams and Dr Rose Lucas from Victoria
University. Fellow participants came from different universities across
Victoria and Tasmania. The participants had such varied backgrounds and
experiences, and a sense of collegiality was developed early on in the retreat.
different activities and exercises in the five days. On the first day, the participants
performed short stories which everyone had prepared prior to the retreat. The
stories contained a mixture of inspiration, humour, insight and sentimentality.
The other exercises included a ‘writing wake up’ in the early morning which
involved writing a chapter and reading it out to the group. We then learned how to brainstorm this chapter
and how to edit it.
Each of the
participants had time for a personal session with both Rose and Ron to discuss
a paragraph we had written. All these exercises provided me with tools to
produce more engaging, meaningful and respectful writings. I took home an
empowering message that I have a voice which should come through in my writing.
to this, Dr Rob McCormack, Victoria University, was available for consultations
throughout the retreat, and Australian writers Brian Matthews and Lucia Nardo held
two very helpful sessions.
Now that I
am back after a productive and enjoyable time at the retreat, I am inspired to
use the techniques that I have learnt from the retreat. I have shared the
strategies (e.g. a framework for reviewing a chapter and conceptualisations of
the writing process) with my supervisor, Professor Lynne Bennington. The knowledge that I gained at the retreat
will help ensure that my academic writing will be knowledgeable, precise and
I hope that
other ACU research candidates will have similar opportunities to explore their
Performing the Word is a collaborative venture between Victoria University and Edith