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RCC Environmental Writing Studio

The Environmental Writing Studio provides inspiration, community, and practical approaches to the art and craft of writing. Courses include seminars for doctoral candidates, workshops for Landhaus fellows, and a creative writing course for MA students. To support the transition from research to publication, the seminars provide insights from authors, editors, and lecturers about the writing process.

How to Revise Your Own Work

with Mark Olival-Bartley

18 June 2024
14:00–16:00

Location: conference room, fourth floor, RCC

This two-hour workshop will provide international scholars with effective language-pedagogy strategies to revise their own writing. Attendees are encouraged to bring along a work in progress. The first half of the workshop will survey and assess techniques; the second will be a hands-on workshop in revising a paragraph-length text.

Everyone is welcome. No need to register.

Writing Ecologically

with Landhaus Writer-in-Residence Catherine Bush

2 July 2024
14:00–16:00 (GMT)

Location: conference room, fourth floor, RCC

What might it mean to write ecologically? Or to approach writing as an ecology? This workshop will explore how we can bring ideas of the ecological to our writing practice—creating and enacting relationship, particularly between the human and more-than-human. Participants will discuss these ideas and expand our practice through writing exercises, trying different modes, with a particular focus on the braided essay, which brings different modes—the memoir, researched narrative—into dynamic relationship. Contemporary environmental creative nonfiction often uses this form (in publications such as Aeon, Emergence, Noema, and Orion). The workshop will be an experiment with techniques to enhance porosity and juxtaposition and move beyond the linear. Participants are invited to be exploratory.

Past Events:

Writing Others

with Landhaus Writer-in-Residence Catherine Bush

4 June 2024
14:00–16:00 (GMT)

Location: conference room, fourth floor, RCC

Whether writing fiction or nonfiction, we face the challenge of bringing other human and more-than-human presences to the page. This workshop will consider strategies for creating a diverse and lively world, focused on the challenge of bringing to life others who are not like us. What imaginative techniques can we employ to summon others while respecting difference and the unknowable? The workshop will touch on the particular challenges facing participants and involve a variety in-class prompts. Be prepared to be playful and exploratory.

The workshop is open to all. No RSVP needed.

Rhyme and Research: Poetic Inquiry as a Research Method

with Dr. Abbi Flint

21 May 2024
14:00

Location: conference room, fourth floor, RCC

In this hands-on workshop, we will explore how researchers might use poetic inquiry within multimethod approaches to explore human relationships with environments and their heritage.

Dr. Flint will share examples from her own research practice of how to integrate poetic inquiry as a method within research into landscape heritage and museum artifacts and work in progress which combines mobile and poetic methods. Together, the workshop participants will explore how research poems can be used:

  • to put different perspectives/sources on human-environment relationships in conversation with one another;
  • as part of the process of data crystallization, analysis, and interpretation;
  • to foreground diverse voices within the research, including the other-than-human.

During the workshop, participants will start to craft their own research poems, and if the weather permits, they may also venture outside to combine mobile and poetic methods in practice.

Example material to work with will be provided, but participants are also encouraged to bring along a couple of pages of text, images, and/or data from their research to work with during the session. Participants could, for instance, bring extracts of texts from archival sources, scientific research, interview transcripts, or fieldwork diaries/journals.

The workshop is open to all. No RSVP needed.

Please contact Dr. Abbi Flint at abbi.flint@ncl.ac.uk with any questions regarding the workshop.

About Dr. Abbi Flint: She is a research associate in history on the “In All Our Footsteps” project, which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), at Newcastle University, UK. With a background in archaeology, her research interests include peoples’ engagements with landscapes and heritage—especially peatlands—and with other-than human animals. She is also a poet and has been published in literary magazines and research project outputs.

Writing the Sensory World

with Landhaus Writer-in-Residence Catherine Bush

7 May 2024
14:00–16:00 (GMT)

Meeting Point: conference room, fourth floor, RCC

Location: outside (if the weather permits it)

In this workshop we will engage in generative writing prompts that invite us to activate our senses, particularly hearing and touch, as a route to deeper connection with the world and to enliven our writing. “If we’re not paying attention through our own senses, we have disengaged from the primary mode in which every creature since the origin of life has connected to its environment,” says acoustic ecologist David Haskell. As humans and writers, we tend to prioritize sight over our other senses. The loss of complex natural soundscapes is a specific form of ecological loss. To be out of touch with nature is to be literally out of touch—not touching. We’ll head outside for some sensory encounters with the more-than-human world—particularly as soundscape and touchscape. Then we’ll bring our attention to the page. If the weather is good, the entire workshop may take place outdoors.

This event will have a limit of 20 people. Please email katherine.arnold@rcc.lmu.de to participate.

It may also take place entirely outside, so dress and plan accordingly. If the weather is not cooperative, we will shift the event inside to the fourth-floor conference room.

Pitching Your Research: Turning Your Work into Stories to Sell

23 April 2024
14:00–16:00

Location: conference room, fourth floor, RCC

Facilitator: Michaela Cavanagh

As researchers, you have something that every journalist envies: evidence-based expertise. So how can you translate your scholarly output into engaging stories for a broader audience?

This practical, hands-on workshop will cover the five W’s of turning your research into journalism, op-eds, essays, criticism, and memoir. We will cover how to think like a journalist, tricks for turning a topic into a story, the art of the pitch, and the nuts and bolts of where and how to pitch your story. We will finish with an open Q&A on the finer points of pitching.

Please come prepared with an idea to workshop. You will leave this session with a solid skeleton of a pitch for a non-academic publication and a clear understanding of how to approach editors. The workshop is open to everyone, no RSVP needed.

A bit about your facilitator: Michaela Cavanagh is a freelance climate journalist and news editor with a decade of experience in newsrooms across Europe and Canada. Her journalism, essays and criticism have appeared in The Atlantic, the London Review of Books, Die Zeit, the LA Review of Books, and Literary Hub among others.

Braided Poetry: Reading and Workshop

with Rebecca Sharp and Monika Szuba

10 March 2024
10:00–11:30 (GMT)

online on Zoom

At this online event, as part of the StAnza Festival, Landhaus Fellow Monika Szuba and Rebecca Sharp, artist-in-residence at the Center for Energy Ethics at the University of St Andrews, will read a poem they have co-written.

Digital festival passes can be purchased through Byre Theatre.

Second Nature(s): Drawing Together Research and Art

with Nick Earhart and Melusine Martin

Workshop: 22 February 2024, 10:30–12:30, Rachel Carson Center

Art Opening and Exhibition: 22 March 2024, Landhaus

This environmental writing workshop explores the connection between artistic and research practices. The focus is twofold: How can researchers incorporate creative media into their scholarly efforts? And how might artistic explorations, done for their own sake, inform the more structured, regimented work of academia? The workshop’s facilitators, Landhaus Fellows Nick Earhart and Melusine Martin, both maintain creative practices in addition to their scholarship. Nick has published his stream-of-consciousness comics widely and plays in bands; Melusine exhibits her abstract paintings in galleries and works in several media. Both see their art as integral to the overall learning and thinking process, rather than something that is separate or supplemental. For the workshop, Nick and Melusine will share brief accounts of their journeys through art and academia, lead a dialogue about creative research strategies, and offer prompts for participants to create their own drawings and paintings linked—however loosely—to research questions. Following the workshop, Nick and Melusine plan to host an art show at the Landhaus, and workshop participants and others are invited to contribute. Art supplies will be provided.

This workshop is limited to 15 participants. To sign up, please email Nick Earhart at nearhart@usc.edu.

Reworkshop: A Two-Day Writing Lab

with Rowan Deer

29–30 January 2024
9:00–15:00

conference room, second floor, RCC

This two-day writing workshop will provide a space for participants to rework, edit, or develop a work in progress with the opportunity to receive feedback from Rowan Deer and the group. This workshop is closed and not open to the public.

Please write tokatherine.arnold@rcc.lmu.de to register.

The workshop will cover:

  • How to write an effective and engaging title and opening paragraph;
  • Clarifying and honing one’s argument;
  • The power of good structure and storytelling;
  • How to conclude a piece of writing;
  • Editing for clarity.

The Art and Craft of the Sentence, Part Two

with Mark Olival-Bartley

5 December 2023
12:00–14:00

This workshop will focus squarely on the neglected workhorse of scholarship, the sentence. Together, we will anatomize the syntactic parts of a sentence (at the level of the word, phrase, and clause), noting their purposes and interanimations, and investigate how different sentence styles (i.e., simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex) can be best harnessed to help us ecopoetically in our respective fields in the environmental humanities. Drawing on primers by Fish, Foerster and Steadman, and Longknife and Sullivan, Mark Olival-Bartley will lead this introduction to the art and craft of the sentence.

Further reading:

  • Fish, Stanley. How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One. New York: HarperCollins, 2012.
  • Foerster, Norman and J. M Steadman. Sentences and Thinking: A Practice Book in Sentence Making. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1919.
  • Longknife, Ann and K. D. Sullivan. The Art of Styling Sentences. 5th ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Services, 2012.

The Impossible: A Generative-Prose Workshop

with Cynthia Cruz

31 October 2023
9:00–11:30

conference room, fourth floor, RCC, Leopoldstr. 11a, 80802 Munich, Germany

But you’re in love with what’s impossible.
—Ismene to Antigone, Antigone

The German word for impossible is ausgeschlossen, meaning that which is “excluded” or “barred.” That which is impossible is not nonexistent but, rather, beyond definition. In this generative workshop we will examine different ways in which writing can allow for what cannot be articulated—either because there are no words for articulating what must be spoken or because the speaker quite simply cannot utter what must be said. Our meeting will begin with the discussion of an outside text, after which we will move on to a series of readings and generative-writing exercises, which will result in a collection of first drafts from which students will be able to construct entirely new works.

The workshop has been organized for the LearningNatures project, but is also open to other RCC members. To register, please contact James Matharu under james.matharu@hotmail.co.uk.

The Art and Craft of the Sentence

with Mark Olival-Bartley

7 November 2023
12:00–14:00

This workshop will focus squarely on the neglected workhorse of scholarship, the sentence. Together, we will anatomize the syntactic parts of a sentence (at the level of the word, phrase, and clause), noting their purposes and interanimations, and investigate how different sentence styles (i.e., simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex) can be best harnessed to help us ecopoetically in our respective fields in the environmental humanities. Drawing on primers by Fish, Foerster and Steadman, and Longknife and Sullivan, Mark Olival-Bartley will lead this introduction to the art and craft of the sentence.

Further reading:

  • Fish, Stanley. How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One. New York: HarperCollins, 2012.
  • Foerster, Norman and J. M Steadman. Sentences and Thinking: A Practice Book in Sentence Making. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1919.
  • Longknife, Ann and K. D. Sullivan. The Art of Styling Sentences. 5th ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Services, 2012.

Creative Writing Workshop for the Environmental Humanities

with Rowan Deer

14–15 September 2023
11:00–17:00

This two-day workshop will explore various modes of creative-critical writing related to the environmental humanities. Participants will look at examples of environmental creative non-fiction and creative scholarly writing, and observe what they do well and how. It will make use of a variety of writing exercises to explore different techniques, perspectives, structures, and styles in our own writing.

The workshop is open to all. It is both for those that consider themselves seasoned writers who want to deepen their practice, and for those to whom the idea of writing more “creatively” maybe feels like something alien or scary. Participants are asked to join for the full two days.

Some example topics to be covered are:

  • Observational writing and vignettes;
  • Storytelling and structure;
  • Writing to discover;
  • Writing the nonhuman world;
  • Close reading as a skill for writers;
  • Creative academic and scholarly writing;
  • Effective planning, writing, and editing processes.

“ILL-LIGHT: The Georgia Landscape in Lyric and Lens”

A Talk with Andrew Zawacki

22 June 2023
16:15–17:45
Location: Rachel Carson Center, fourth floor, conference room

American Visiting Professor Andrew Zawacki will read poems and screen photographs from a trio of recent projects. He will begin by showing documentary images from “The Land Beneath Our Feet: Mapping Cherokee Homesteads in the Early Nineteenth Century,” a work-in-progress undertaken in collaboration with University of Georgia historian Claudio Saunt. The majority of the session will feature a reading from Zawacki's forthcoming poetry book, These Late Eclipses, in tandem with photographs from an ongoing work focused on Georgia landscapes.

This event is organized by Noemi Quagliati (LMU München/Amerika-Institut) as part of the UGA-LMU Faculty Research Exchange.top

Creative Writing Course (MA program)

21 April–21 July 2023
12:00–14:00
Location: 201 Schellingstr. 3/VG

An interdisciplinary creative writing course will be open to Environmental Studies MA students, taught by Dr. Amy Mohr, former RCC editor and literary scholar at LMU. The sessions will include tips and models and the time and space to write and receive feedback. This collaborative approach will create a sense of community while improving creative writing skills.

Beginning 21 April and running through the end of the semester, sessions will take place weekly on Fridays from 12:00–14:00 in room 201, Schellingstr. 3/VG. The course will culminate in a reading event (TBD). This non-credit course is open to students in Faculty 13.

To register, please contact Amy.Mohr@lmu.de.

Creative Writing/Academic Analysis (PhD seminar)

8 May 2023
14:30–17:00
Location: Rachel Carson Center, fourth floor, seminar room

In what ways does academic writing follow a creative process? In this workshop, participants will practice weaving literary style—the use of figurative language, setting, characterization, and conflict—into analysis so that the topic resonates with an audience. Please send a paragraph of a work in progress to Amy.Mohr@lmu.de by 4 May.

Thinking with Image and Text: A Comics Workshop

5 May 2023
15:00–17:00
Location: Rachel Carson Center, fourth floor, conference room

While comics are often associated with a genre, they are—like prose or film—a medium. As a distinctly multimodal medium, comics offer unique opportunities to communicate ideas and experiences that can be difficult to capture through traditional, linear writing. Across genres—from journalism, science communication, ethnography, fiction, nonfiction, and memoir—comics artists employ a variety of devices to play with concepts like space and time, scale, memory, trauma, and subjectivity.

This workshop will introduce participants to a few of these devices and how to apply them to their own stories and ideas. Participants are encouraged to bring a topic to explore through comics—anything from a personal experience to an academic question. No drawing or comics experience required!

The workshop will be run by Amey Yun Zhang, a PhD student in anthropology at the Rachel Carson Center and former graduate facilitator of the Oxford Comics Network. Some of her artwork can be found on her website.