51. writing (academically) with vulnerability

thinking about emotional resonance in scholarship

Hi there! 👋 I’m Ida, and this is tiny driver, a newsletter about research, pedagogy, culture and their intersections. Thank you for being here. Reach out anytime by just hitting reply, I love hearing from you.

Hello, and happy Monday.

I hope that you all will be able to set aside some time for rest today. I'm sure that we all need it, given the deluge of heart-breaking news last week. It's wild to me that we are halfway through 2021. Sometimes it feels like the energy of 2020 trickles in and I must remind myself to keep moving forward.

What I write.

Before starting to write tiny driver, I was very accustomed to only writing "vulnerably" in private places: a journal, or a letter sent through a mailbox. Places where I was trying to connect with myself or others when I couldn't speak the words or needed them written down to really see their impact. While I'd say that most of my posts on tiny driver don't divulge too too much outside of my reflections on academia, I have connected these thoughts to my lived experience here and there. These issues of the newsletter are usually the most anxiety-inducing to send and also the most rewarding. Usually, after a few days, folks write back, letting me know they've had similar experiences or that they've felt the way I have. It's that connection that I love the most from these posts—the shared understanding that we are not alone in the way we move through the world.

I've realized that this is really what tiny driver has given me. A place both to practice finding my voice again and to practice writing vulnerably with a community that opted in to receiving these posts as a little electronic correspondence—a letter from me to you right in your inbox.

This is all to say, when I saw Fariha Róisín's call for applicants to her second Writing with Vulnerability course, I knew I had to apply. Rather than using this time to workshop one piece, we would complete writing assignments each week based on a reading and prompt having to do with emotion and our writing voice. Fariha's work (both through her writing on Substack and in other venues) has been so nourishing to me. I wish I could be as honest and clear (and low-key prolific) as Fariha is with her work and ideas. To work with her over the course of six weeks would be to intentionally work towards unlocking vulnerability in a way that would serve my writing, particularly when I think about writing in the academy.

When I wrote to Fariha about why I wanted to take the course, I expressed the desire to use vulnerability in my writing in a way that amplifies my research and analysis. I said, "I'm hoping to take your class in order to have a sustained and guided space that will help me breathe emotional life into my work in a way that resonates with myself and others. I think often of the work that Tiya Miles, Saidiya Hartman, and Jose Esteban Muñoz have done in connecting emotional vulnerability with rigorous scholarship, and I really think that their capacity to communicate feelings so personally is what makes their work resonate beyond the academy."

So much of the scholarship that I have connected with has fostered that intentional connection through vulnerability—here perhaps, the shedding of the illusion of objectivity. It looks like lifting the curtain of expertise to reveal the very human, emotional reasons why we write in the first place. Yes, the rigor and work needed to convey these important narratives and arguments is absolutely necessary. But the vulnerability that I see in some texts is what makes those narratives carry weight.

More on this to come... We are about a third of the way into the course, so I'll let you know how I'm feeling on the other side of it. 🥰

What I consume.

In the Bookshop:
Currently Reading: Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
On Deck: The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler


Friends! It is time for the next book club pick! Cast your vote below by Saturday, July 10 and I’ll announce the pick in next week’s newsletter!

Which book do you want to read for July book club?

Here's the event info:
Date & Time: Tuesday, July 27 @ 5PM PST/8PM EST
Registration Link!
Suggested donation (for those able to donate): $3-20 through Paypal or Venmo (@idyalz)

Item(s) of note.

A pup-date.

Higgins loves munching on sticks. Even better when there's a farmer's market going on behind him!

As always, thanks so much for reading through, and I'll see you in the next one!

Warmly,
Ida


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