The Writing and Society Research Centre's research focuses on three interrelated themes that stem from our conception of writing as an interdisciplinary practice that links social, aesthetic, and intellectual contexts. These themes are; What Writing Does (social and aesthetic research into the impact of writing), Writing Practice (creative writing and practice-led research) and Disseminating Writing (the publication and distribution of writing).
What Writing Does
This theme involves scholarly, theoretical, and critical work related to the practice and function of writing. Writing and Society scholars use differing but complementary methodologies to examine what writing does. This work shows the social and intellectual value of writing in its many forms and particularly in relation to imaginative expression. Recent work in cognitive science and psychology confirms what has long been known in the arts: what we feel and sense is as important to how we understand the world as rational or scientific modes of thinking. Literature provokes or leads us to understanding through imaginative apprehension and interpretation. We explore these ideas through two distinct strands in our literary research: an interest in the affective dimensions of writing and cultural modes of feeling; and in a philosophical perspective which views the literary text as a distinctive mode of thinking in its own right.
This theme draws together the internationally recognized creative work done both by the members of Writing and Society and the HDR students within the centre. The centre produces very high level creative writing, with the creative work of centre members attracting major awards and international critical attention. The Centre also has significant expertise in the area of practice-led research. Hazel Smith and Roger Dean of MARCS are world leaders in identifying and theorising the way in which creative practice itself can be understood to both be and involve research, and further how this leads to or inspires further research. Their recent book Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice in the Creative Arts, closely examines this idea.
This theme relates to the way in which works of literature are disseminated to audiences. Writing and Society is uniquely placed to work within this area as the centre itself produces creative content, and publishes both creative work and scholarly work in a number of high profile forms , from books and journals to a TV program. This background in turn provides material for research projects and high level research training. Visit our publications pages to read more about how the centre is engaged with the dissemination of writing.