Retreat to combine graduate writing and expressive arts

A day’s worth of activities meant to help creativity flow for graduate writers is set for Wednesday, May 22.

Hosted by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and other campus partners, the annual Vitae Writers’ Retreat will take place at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.

The event, which focuses on the theme of “Art-making and creative expression for inspired scholarly writing,” will include self-determined writing cycles, writing consults with campus experts and expressive and art-making mini workshops.

Participants can choose from three streams for the retreat that will either provide a dedicated day of quiet writing, writing blocks integrated with three unstructured free-painting breaks or writing blocks relieved with an introduction to improv, zine or button-making workshops.

In addition to graduate students, faculty and staff who support graduate writers are also invited to attend.

Giulia Forsythe, Associate Director of the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation, and Elizabeth Vlossak, Interim Director of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, will open the day with a conversation called Musings: Art-making and Creative Expression in Scholarly Writing.

Arts-practitioner Deanna Jones, Co-founder and Artistic Director of Suitcase in Point, who has produced and performed in satirical cabarets in St. Catharines, will facilitate a playful mini-workshop to help writers get out of their chairs and open up to creative thinking.

“Building on the research linking creative practice to play, motivation and affective regulation, we hope to provide a space for graduate writers and their supervisors to explore these notions while moving forward with their own writing projects,” said Karen Julien, a Faculty of Education PhD candidate, Graduate Writing Scholar-in-Residence and Co-chair of the Vitae Graduate Writers’ community-of-practice, who was instrumental in developing this year’s program.

Vitae Writing Partners — a campus collaborative that includes the Faculty of Education, Library Services, A-Z Learning Services and the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation — have been working together for five years to collectively develop graduate-level scholarly writing programs that reflect components of a writers’ community of practice.

“We are all writers. We struggle, feel defeated, and sustained by selecting one choice word after another,” said Karin Perry, Program Co-ordinator, Development and Training, in the Faculty of Graduate Studies. “This retreat brings a number of campus services together that provide graduate students with an outlet to talk about their writing and the writing process.”

Those wanting to attend the retreat can view the day’s schedule and register on the Grad Studies website. Deadline to register is Friday, May 18.

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