We Write Where It Hurts

Welcome to Write Where It Hurts, a community for scholars doing deeply personal research, teaching, and service!

In this inaugural post, we thought it might be wise to introduce ourselves and explain our expectations for the ongoing development of this blog. Like many scholars (some say all), we initially embarked on academic careers seeking to make sense of our own lives, and find practical solutions to problems we faced along the way. Whether we sought to understand religion and sexualities (J), health access and inequalities (Xan), or gender and sexual fluidity (Lain), each of us sought to make sense of things we experienced that were not very well understood in the world in hopes of creating greater understanding for ourselves and for others facing similar experiences and structural conditions in the future. As a result, we are intimately familiar with the promise and the pitfalls of doing deeply personal research, teaching, and service in the current academic system.

With the launch of this blog, we thus seek to open a space for conversations and debates concerning the personal and emotional elements of research, teaching, and service. While all research, teaching and service is accomplished by human beings with personal lives, experiences, expectations, and assumptions, academia has been slow to embrace the human or subjective component of scientific inquiry, and many people engaging in controversial, emotionally-charged, or otherwise “non-traditional” activities are often stigmatized for doing so. In other cases, people doing deeply personal research, teaching and service find themselves without support that could ease the process as well as the management of negative interactions with others promoting “traditional” activities. Our goal is thus to both begin pulling the subjective elements of academic work out of the shadows, and provide a supportive space for those already engaged in (or considering engaging in) deeply personal research, teaching, and service within and beyond academic settings.

To this end, the blog will host regular features in the coming weeks, months, and (hopefully) years.

  • Reflective essays on experiences managing personal topics as a researcher, teacher, or activist
  • Reflective essays on experiences managing trauma related to research and teaching topics, areas, and endeavors
  • Reflective essays on personal experiences that facilitate academic careers
  • Critical essays on the myth of objectivity, and the ways this ideology is used to stifle creativity and maintain academic norms
  • Critical essays on the marginalization of personal, subjective, and / or emotionally-based research and teaching efforts
  • Anonymous stories wherein people experience personal or emotionally-based negative and positive experiences while working in and beyond academic settings
  • Tips for teaching personal, emotionally-charged, and / or controversial topics in various settings and contexts
  • Tips for doing research in emotionally-charged and / or controversial areas
  • Strategies for managing emotions in relation to conferences, academic jobs, graduate programs, and other tense areas of academic life
  • Strategies for dealing with “objectivity” claims by academic practitioners and structures

In closing, we invite all interested parties to read, comment, and consider contributing to Write Where It Hurts. Together, we can begin to shed light on the ways our personal and professional lives are intimately intertwined as well as the ways this recognition could shape the path of scientific and other academic pursuits over time.

Xan Nowakwoski, J. Sumerau, and Lain Mathers


15 thoughts on “We Write Where It Hurts

  1. I’m doing a happy dance over here in New Zealand – awesome work. Hope I can contribute!!

    • Thanks for connecting with us, and yes we would be happy to have you contribute! Simply contact us at wewritewhereithurts@gmail.com anytime you wish to propose a post or an idea and we’ll discuss details and be happy to have you in the conversation 🙂

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