‘A thousand tiny feminisms’: An interview about writing retreats for academic women and feminist praxis in academia
Keywords:academic writing, feminist praxis, women academics, writing retreat
This is an interview with Dr. Barbara Grant, Associate Professor in the School of Critical Studies in Education at the University of Auckland. The idea behind this interview originates from my own research interest in the ways academic women live the existing norms of academia, how they submissively or unconsciously accept, or push, or even ‘transgress’ these norms by the daily possibilities of change. What does it mean to be a feminist academic and to practice feminism in universities today? Barbara Grant’s research field is higher education and she has researched and published in a wide range of higher education areas, including postgraduate research supervision, researcher identity, student subjectivity, and academic writing. She has been running residential writing retreats for women academics twice (and now thrice) a year since 1997. The retreats have attracted women from different countries, institutions, disciplines, and stages in their career paths. Writing for publication is crucial in the research productivity-rewarding milieu of higher education, and writing retreats are a form of academic development, as Barbara argues. Given Barbara’s experience of writing retreats, and her notion of ‘a thousand tiny universities’ (Grant, 2019), I interviewed Barbara on March 30, 2021, focusing on feminist praxis in higher education to explore further the possibilities of becoming a woman academic.