Friday inspiration #3: experimenting on academic writing

Almost ready to leave the office, but not without the weekly Friday inspiration post! Today I attended a seminar by Helen Sword who gave a talk on academic writing. She spoke quite a deal about storytelling and how writing academic papers is actually about crafting interesting stories.

I asked her a question on the cultural foundations of the storytelling format she was talking about, because to me it seemed it was heavily relying on the western foundations of storytelling. Being aware of the notion that all stories are products of the cultures they’re embedded in, I thought it might be interesting to question this western, or ‘traditional’ (at least in the English-speaking academic settings), form of storytelling, because it might yield interesting presentations of research. But a word of advice is in place here: no matter how fancy your storytelling format is, it cannot turn poorly conducted research into brilliant piece of research.

Bearing this in mind, let me give you some food for thought for this Friday. Given that academic stories seem to have a clear chronological order (beginning -> end) and a hero (the researcher solving the most important question in the world), why not try to play with these norms by turning them upside down? Take the movie Memento, for example: there is no clear or traditional chronological order. And here’s another example: Japanese horror movies like Ringu (リング) where the villain usually kills almost everyone in the scene.

These two examples show that by deviating from the conventional storytelling format we can actually produce stories that a) are different from what we’ve used to and b) make us to think and reflect (un-)ordinary matters.

How does this sound to you? Have you heard of any alternative ways to communicate research findings in the academia? Or outside academia?

Have a nice weekend!

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