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Performance Studies: Introduction to Writing


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Title: Performance Studies: Introduction to Writing

Performance Studies Introduction to Writing
  • Íde OSullivan and Lawrence Cleary
  • Regional Writing Centre

Workshop outline
  • Anxieties and fears of writing
  • Key considerations
  • The writing process
  • Essay structure and organisation
  • Developing an argument
  • Features of academic writing
  • Strategies to boost writing skills
  • Motivation

Anxieties and fears
  • Freewriting
  • What I worry about and struggle when faced with a
    writing task.
  • Keep writing non-stop for 5 minutes.
  • Write in sentences.
  • Do not edit or censor your writing.
  • Private writing no one will read it.

Anxieties and fears
  • Reflection
  • What impact did the previous exercise have on
  • How might this type of writing activity be
  • Discussion
  • What do you worry about or struggle when faced
    with a writing task?
  • How will you overcome these anxieties and fears?

Difficulties associated with writing
  • Anxiety and fear of writing
  • Lack of confidence and motivation
  • Fear of making your writing public
  • Cracking the codes of academic writing
  • Getting started
  • Getting stuck writers block
  • Lack of guidance, practice and feedback
  • Misconceptions of writing
  • Good writing skills are innate X
  • Think first, then write X

Anxieties and fears
  • Dealing with these anxieties and fears
  • Readings How to be a Student (Moore and Murphy,
  • 66 Playing to your strengths
  • 68 Controlling worry
  • 99 Believing in yourself
  • Focus on your strengths as a writer What are
    these strengths?
  • Are there areas where you need to improve as a

Key Considerations
Key tasks for academic writers
  • Participating in academic conversations
  • Developing and advancing balanced arguments
  • Exploring your personal writing process
  • Developing strategies that work for you

Key stages in the writing process
  • Pre-writing
  • Drafting
  • Revision
  • Editing and Proofreading

Example Pre-writing
  • Planning
  • Analysing the assignment question
  • Evaluating the rhetorical situation, or context,
    into which you write
  • Choosing and focusing your topic
  • Establishing an organising principle
  • Gathering information
  • Entering the discourse on your topic
  • Taking notes as a strategy to avoid charges of
  • Evaluating sources

Rhetorical situation
  • Occasion
  • Topic
  • Audience
  • Purpose
  • Writer

Establishing an organising principle
  • What is the question that you are trying to
  • What claim are you trying to defend?
  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • What hypothesis are you attempting to affirm or
  • Everything that follows will inform the answer,
    the defence, the solution or the affirmation or

Organising principles
  • When the thesis is
  • a question, the rest of the paper is structured
    around the answer.
  • a problem, the rest of the paper is structured
    around the solution.
  • a claim, the rest of the paper is structured
    around the defence.
  • a hypothesis, the rest of the paper is
    structured around the attempt to affirm or negate
    that hypothesis.

Example Thesis statement
  • The status of women in Xanadu has
  • improved remarkably in recent years in
  • the areas of economic independence,
  • political rights, educational
  • opportunities, and social status yet,
  • when compared to the status of women
  • in developed countries, it is still pretty
  • low (Oshima and Hogue, 2006105).

Essay structure
  • Organise the essay so that the argument unfolds
    in a clearly stated, detailed, logical, linear
    progression and arrangement of ideas.
  • Introduction present the thesis, hypothesis, or
    question that you will try to defend, prove or
    disprove, or answer.
  • Sections to support the thesis
  • Conclusions

The introduction
  • In academic writing, an introduction, or opening,
    has four purposes
  • To introduce the topic of the essay
  • To indicate the context of the conversation
    through background information
  • To give some indication of the overall plan of
    the essay
  • To catch the readers attention, usually by
    convincing the reader of its relevance.

The introduction
  • The introduction has two parts
  • General statements.
  • General statements attract a readers attention,
    and give background information on the topic.
  • A thesis statement
  • States the main topic.
  • Sometimes indicates sub-topics.
  • Will sometimes indicate how the essay is to be
  • Is usually the last sentence in the introduction.

Organising paragraphs
  • Build upon the claims made in the introduction,
    develop your topic and prove your points
  • The purpose of your argument will dictate how you
    organise your paragraphs
  • General ? specific information
  • Weakest claims ? strongest claims
  • Address/offer counterarguments as you develop
    main points or after you have made your main

Academic ethos and structure
  • Arguments are inter-textual other people who
    talk about this question (problem/
    claim/hypothesis) use evidence to support their
    conclusions. That evidence and those arguments
    serve as support for your conclusions also.
  • Arguments are balanced. All sides need to be
    accounted for. Truth is established by a
    consideration of all of the evidence.
  • Your conclusion should be a defence of the
    evidence that supports your position.

Advancing the argument
  • Advance your argument by giving evidence which is
    valid and reliable.
  • Evidence can consist of facts or reliable
    statistics, examples, educated opinions in the
    form of quotations, or summaries and paraphrases
    of ideas, from knowledgeable sources.
  • When referring to the opinions of those you have
    read, be clear that you defer to the opinion, or
    that you object to it (be critical but polite).

Advancing the argument
  • Anticipate and address counterarguments or
    objections in order to strengthen your argument.
  • Present each argument fairly and objectively.
  • Show the reader that you have considered other
    sides of the argument.
  • Leave your reader with a sense that your argument
    is stronger than opposing arguments.

Persuasion and truth in academic writing
  • Because they are argumentative, academic writing
    tends to be persuasive.
  • An argument should be persuasive, but do not
    sacrifice truth in favour of persuasion.
  • Academic inquiry is a truth-seeking pursuit.
  • facts are distinguished from opinions.
  • relative truths are distinguished from absolute
  • The integrity of the conclusions reached in an
    academic essay or report is based on its honest
    pursuit of truth.

  • Leedy (2001183) cites Marius (1989) in
    highlighting 4 rules for an argument
  • state your arguments early in the game
    present and interpret data
  • provide examples to support any assertion you
  • give the fairest possible treatment of any
    perspectives different from your own may
    support or disagree with them
  • point out the weaknesses of your own argument
    by doing this you show objectivity as a

  • Pursue your argument logically.
  • Do not only describe, but evaluate and interpret
  • Establish your argument in the introduction in
    a thesis statement.
  • Advance your argument by giving evidence.
  • Do not reiterate evidence already provided, but
    refer back to something you have already stated.
  • Lines of argument should flow linearly.
  • Paragraphs carry arguments.

  • Logical method of development
  • Effective transition signals
  • Good signposting
  • Consistent point of view
  • Conciseness (careful word choice)
  • Clarity of expression
  • Paragraph structure
  • Unity
  • Coherence

Paragraph structure
  • What is a paragraph?
  • Series of sentences
  • Coherent (introduction, middle, end)
  • Common theme
  • Every sentence in a paragraph develops one topic
    or idea.
  • Paragraphs signal the logically organised
    progression of ideas.
  • The flow of information should be organised
    around themes and comments.
  • The main idea in one paragraph should flow
    logically into the next.
  • Shifts in the argument or changes in direction
    should be accurately signalled using appropriate
    adverbials, conjunctions, and prepositions.

Paragraph structure
  • Just as an essay is guided by a thesis statement,
    a paragraph is organised around its topic
  • A topic sentence informs the reader of the topic
    to be discussed.
  • A topic sentence contains controlling ideas which
    limit the scope of the discussion to ideas that
    are manageable in a paragraph.

Paragraph structure Supporting sentences
  • The sentences that follow expand upon the topic,
    using controlling ideas to limit the discussion.
    The main idea is supported by
  • Evidence in the form of facts, statistics,
    theoretical probabilities, reputable, educated
  • Illustrations in the form of examples and
    extended examples, and
  • Argumentation based on the evidence presented.
  • Qualifying statements indicate the limitations of
    the support or argument.

Paragraph structure Concluding sentences
  • Not every paragraph needs a concluding sentence.
  • Concluding sentences can either comment on the
    information in the text, or
  • They can paraphrase the topic sentence.

Paragraph structure Unity
  • Paragraphs should be unified.
  • Unity means that only one main idea is discussed
    in a paragraph. The main idea is stated in the
    topic sentence, and then each and every
    supporting sentence develops that idea (Oshima
    and Hogue, 1999 18).

Paragraph structure Coherence
  • Coherence means that your paragraph is easy to
    read and understand because
  • your supporting sentences are in some kind of
    logical order
  • your ideas are connected by the use of
    appropriate transition signals
  • your pronoun references clearly point to the
    intended antecedent and is consistent
  • you have repeated or substituted key nouns.
  • (Oshima and Hogue, 2006 22)

Example (Meei-Fang et al., 2007 471)
  • People with dementia are particularly vulnerable
    to malnutrition they have a decreased ability to
    understand directions and to express their needs
    verbally, are easily distracted from eating,
    prone to become agitated, and may use utensils
    incorrectly. Inability to feed oneself (eating
    dependency) is a major risk factor for
    malnutrition among older people living in
    long-term care settings (Abbasi Rudman 1994,
    Durnbaugh et al. 1996). When people with dementia
    can no longer take food voluntarily, assistance
    is required although, as the disease progresses,
    even taking food with assistance can become
    difficult and, in some instances, tube-feeding
    may be required to supply nutrition. This form of
    feeding can, however, cause distress and anxiety,
    not only for the person being fed, but also for
    caregivers (Akerlund Norberg 1985, Burgener
    Shimer 1993).

Paragraph structure Transition signals
  • Transition signals do exactly what it says on the
    tin they signal. They can signal relationships
    between sentences, just as they can signal
    relationships between paragraphs.
  • Example Finally, there have been numerous women
    altogether outside the profession, who were
    reformers dedicated to creating alternatives
    (Gillet, 2005).
  • The signal indicates the final point in a series
    of points.

Sentence structure
  • Vary your rhythm by using a variety of sentence
    types and patterns. Use a combination of
  • Simple sentences
  • Compound sentences
  • Complex sentences
  • Compound-Complex sentences
  • Do not limit yourself to simple sentences or
    linking sentences using and/but.

Revision, Editing and Proofreading
Revising (Global)
  • Global issues (organisation and structure)
  • Does the text achieve your writing goals as
    established in your evaluation of the rhetorical
    situation (writing context) and by your thesis?
  • Is there deviation, wander and digression?
  • Does each paragraph treat in a controlled manner
    an identifiable idea, and does that idea follow
    logically the ideas expressed in previous
    paragraphs and do they allow readers to predict
    the ideas expressed in the paragraphs that follow?

Revising (Global)
  • If the process of writing has changed your
    views, consider rethinking the thesis and
    reworking the paper (Ebest et al., 200414).
  • How does the introduction fit in with the body of
    the paper? Did you address what you said you
    would address? Did you fulfil your promises?
  • Does your conclusion take into account the
    discoveries made during your research and writing
  • Strategy Outline your paper, now that you have
    finished it.

Revising (Local)
  • Local issues (editing and proofreading)
  • Look at logical and grammatical relations as
    expressed within paragraph boundaries.
  • Is the relationship between pronouns and noun
    substitutes and the things they represent clear?
  • Verbs express relationships of time and indicate
    person, number and mood. Are those relationships
    consistent and appropriate?

Revising (Local)
  • Is information logically arranged, and is the
    organisation of your text clear?
  • Does each paragraph have a topic sentence and is
    the paragraph cogent, coherent and unified?
  • Do your sentences express complete ideas, and do
    you vary your structures? Are they grammatical?
    What about the mechanics?

Checklists and Feedback
  • Before flying, pilots go through a methodical
    check of their plane. Do you have a checklist for
    your assignments before you hand them in?
  • How can you anticipate problems that you are
    unable to see? Get a peer to help.
  • Ask for the feedback that you need and that is
    appropriate to the context.

Revising (Local)
  • For example, this is an argumentative paper
    Were you convinced by my argument? Why? Or why
  • I know I write poor introductions Could you
    identify my thesis? Or ...could you tell me how
    the introduction attempts to grab the readers
  • I know that my sentences tend to be long and
    difficult to understand Could you read my paper
    aloud so that I can listen to it and mark where
    you are having difficulties in reading?

Features of Academic Writing
Features of academic writing
  • What distinguishes the writing in your discipline
    from other kinds of writing?
  • Its purposes
  • The evidence that support its claims
  • Its features

  • Our boys may be facing real war and I for one
    am scared
  • By Kevin Myers Irish Independent, Wednesday
    October 31 2007
  • Look, I'm not trying to rock the boat here, but
    I can't be alone in worrying about the Army's new
    mission in Chad. I don't worry about the
    capability of the Army itself, for it is composed
    of the best people in Ireland I admire
    patriotism, and the soldiers of the Army are true
    patriots who loyally serve their country and
    their flag.
  • But who will they end up serving in Chad?
    Because it seems to me that a mightily complex
    command-chain is involved here. This, after all,
    is a UN-authorised EU operation, under the
    command of our own Major General Pat Nash.
    However, Pat will be based in Paris and the
    French have been involved in the region for over
    a century.

Stylistic differences that mark academic writing
  • Complexity
  • Formality
  • Objectivity
  • Accuracy
  • Precision
  • Explicitness
  • Hedging
  • Responsibility
  • (Gillet, 2008)

Strategies to Boost Writing Skills
Writing to prompts
  • Strategies that might help boost my academic
    writing skills
  • Keep writing non-stop for 5 minutes.
  • Write in sentences.
  • Do not edit or censor your writing.
  • Discuss what you have written in pairs.

Getting started
  • Create time and space for writing
  • Freewriting
  • Writing to prompts
  • What writing have you done for this assignment,
    what writing would you like to do
  • The aim of this assignment
  • Experiment with different types of writing

Keep writing
  • Where and when do you write?
  • Why are you not writing?
  • I dont feel ready to write.
  • Writers block
  • Getting unstuck
  • Writing to prompts/freewriting (write anything)
  • Set writing goals
  • Write regularly
  • Integrate writing into your thinking
  • Break it down into a manageable process

Keep writing
  • Be patient
  • Be creative
  • Taking pleasure in writing
  • Be proud of your writing
  • Get stuck in

Cracking the codes
  • Analysing the genre/text and modelling
  • Generate a list of
  • The most important features of academic writing
  • Criteria to make your writing-strategies more
  • The important conventions in your discipline
  • What is/is not acceptable in your discipline
  • Student handbooks and guides for written

Writing time
  • Dealing with issues of time
  • Setting goals
  • Binge and snack writing (Murray, 2005)
  • Do I need a big block of time to write
  • Short bursts of productive writing (Murray and
    Moore, 200617)
  • Outlining (Murray, 2005)

Dialogue as a social strategy
  • Peer-review
  • Generative writing
  • The writing sandwich (Murray, 200585)
    writing, talking, writing
  • Writing buddies (Murray and Moore, 2006102)
  • Engaging in critiques of one anothers work
    allows you to become effective critics of your
    own work.

Motivation It is not too late
  • Take stock of where you are now
  • Outline your research
  • Make plans based on the time that is left
  • Organise your time accordingly
  • Get writing
  • Keep writing
  • Allow time for revision and to put it all
  • Let family and friends know
  • Be selfish with your time

(No Transcript)
  • Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre, UL
  • Using English for Academic Purposes
  • The Writers Garden http//www.
  • The OWL at Purdue http//
  • The Writing Center at the University of North
    Carolina at Chapel Hill http//

  • Elbow, P. (1998) Writing without Teachers (2nd
    edition). New York Oxford University Press.
  • Moore, S. and Murphy, M. (2005) How to be a
    Student 100 Great Ideas and Practical Hints for
    Students Everywhere. UK Open University Press.
  • Murray, R. (2005) Writing for Academic Journals.
    UK Open University Press.
  • Murray, R. and Moore, S. (2006) The Handbook of
    Academic Writing A Fresh Approach. UK Open
    University Press.
  • Oshima, A. and Hogue, A. (2006) Writing Academic
    English, 4th edition. New York Pearson