Dean's Keynote Series: What’s departing radically got to do with academic writing? Everything

Professor Liz Mackinlay, Director Higher Degree Research, Faculty of Education, Southern Cross University

Date and time: Thursday 8th December, 2:30pm - 5.00pm


“Release the play of writing!” Donna Haraway (1991) cried over thirty years ago, “for transforming the standard, staid and stuck cultures of academic writing is now a ‘deadly serious’ matter!” Laurel Richardson (1997) heard her and excitedly joined the new writing fields of play begun by poststructural and feminist writing non-conformers. For nearly a decade Richardson poked and prodded textual and discursive academic conventions wherever and whenever she could, but soon lamented that the incessant production of “unexamined fact-oriented, plain prose-style, linear narrative expectation (past theory, literature review, present hypotheses, methods of test, findings, future research)” (2000) continued to limit what can be known and told. Another ten years passed by but still the same-old, same-old academic writings conventions promulgated presentations and publications. Bewildered and bothered by this, Patti Lather and Elizabeth St Pierre called out, “What might the ‘new’ process, product and purpose of academic writing come to be if we left the ‘old’ behind and did something else?”  (Lather & St. Pierre, 2013, p. 631) In 2019, I brought together a small group of doctoral students, researchers and academics from the Humanities and Social Sciences at The University of Queensland to take heart and respond to Haraway, Richardson, Lather and St Pierre by departing radically in academic writing - and the DRAW movement came to life. The words “departure” and “radical” are at the heart of this transformative academic writing work, embracing the 15th century origins of the word “departure” deliberately to make “turning away” and “going away” from conventional academic writing practices to do “something else” an imperative. DRAW similarly adopts the etymological origins of the word “radical” in our praxis and pays attention to “roots” as the source from which the vitality of life is drawn. Drawing upon my transdisciplinary research in music, ethnography and education, in this performative presentation I suggest that departing radically has got everything to do with academic writing which seeks to move the world with words that are deeply connected and accountable to history, memory, passion, justice and the soul in ways they have never been before.


Professor Elizabeth (Liz) Mackinlay holds a PhD in Ethnomusicology from The University of Adelaide and a PhD in Education from the University of Queensland. Her first DRAW style book, Teaching and learning like a feminist: Storying our experiences in higher education was published by Sense Publishers in 2016 and together with Briony Lipton, she co-authored the narratively written 2017 Palgrave publication, We only talk feminist here: Feminist academics, voice and agency in the neo-liberal university. Prior to these radical departures, in 2007 she published her Education PhD as a book, Disturbances and dislocations: Teaching and learning Aboriginal women’s music and dance with Peter Lang and has co-edited several books since then including Musical islands: Exploring connections between music, place and research (2009), Applied ethnomusicology: Historical and contemporary approaches (2010), The Routledge international handbook of intercultural arts (2015). Liz’s most recent radical departures include her book Writing feminist autoethnography: In love with theory, words and the language of women writers published by Routledge in 2022 and a co-edited collection with Pamela Burnard, David Rousell and Tatjana Dragjovic titled Doing rebellious research: In and beyond the academy was released by Brill Publishers earlier this year.

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Video recording of this seminar

Banner of Deans Keynote by Liz Mackinlay

Date and time

From: 02:30 PM Thursday, December 8, 2022 Thursday, December 8, 2022 2:30 PM - QLD time To: 04:00 PM Thursday, December 8, 2022 Thursday, December 8, 2022 4:00 PM - QLD time