RDE Faculty Retreat Spring 2021

Friday, February 5

Writing for the Public: How to Share Your Scholarly Work With Ordinary People

Friday, February 5, 2021
9 am–5 pm
Synchronous, asynchronous & offline sessions

Registration now open! Find the link at the bottom of this page. 

This workshop is offered as part of Washington University’s RDE Initiative (Redefining Doctoral Education in the Humanities, or “Ready”). RDE focuses on supporting faculty efforts to develop the best pedagogical practices in graduate education for instilling capacities essential for success — such as writing for the public — both within academia and in the world beyond. Faculty Workshops are offered once per year on a different topic. Follow this link for details of past retreats and more on the RDE initiative.

RDE’s 2020–21 workshop is designed for humanities faculty who seek to write and publish for broad audiences and to share that knowledge and those skills in their graduate teaching. The workshop is geared to scholars as well as nonfiction writers from across the humanities and humanistic social sciences and is aimed to better equip participants to pitch their ideas and publish their writing in venues that exist fruitfully between both traditional academic and trade publishing routes. The hosts are Dr. Ian Bogost and Dr. Christopher Schaberg, founding editors of the Object Lessons essay and book series published by The Atlantic and Bloomsbury.

The one-day workshop on February 5 will include online synchronous, asynchronous, and offline sessions.  

Faculty may opt to participate in one of two ways:

  1. As a fully registered participant. Fully registered participants will attend all of the sessions on February 5 and, over the course of subsequent weeks, will receive feedback and additional support on their writing project from the workshop leaders as they move it toward publication. Fully registered participants are limited to 12. As has been the case with past RDE workshops, participants will receive a stipend of $500.
  2. As a participant/observer. Participant/observers are welcome to attend all of the sessions on Friday, February 5, but will not receive follow-up support and are not eligible for the stipend.

All participants must register. Fully registered participants must register and submit a CV via the RSVP page. Registrations must be received no later than Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 12 pm (new, extended deadline).


Workshop goals

This workshop is designed to help scholars learn how to begin writing for broad, general audiences and place work in reputable, high-visibility venues. The workshop will introduce key topics and then equip you to pitch a discrete piece of writing to a chosen venue.

Topics will include:

  • Articulating a discrete idea for a piece of public writing
  • Understanding how public writing differs from academic writing
  • Learning to think, pitch, and write in a length appropriate for general-readership venues
  • Getting comfortable with formal constraints (such as word-length) as useful limits
  • Understanding forms of writing beyond the academic monograph, journal article, and conference paper as different venues for your ideas, each with their own advantages and opportunities

Participants will learn:

  • Why writing for the public might benefit scholars in the humanities
  • How to define and pursue an audience (or multiple audiences) for your work
  • How to identify and work with different publication venues
  • How to pitch to newspapers, magazines, and websites
  • How to work with editors
  • How to build a platform as an author over time
  • When and how to publicize your work
  • How to manage the relationship between public scholarship and academic review/advancement
  • How to navigate the world of long-form nonfiction writing (books and features)
  • How public-writing experience can help produce better traditional scholarship

Workshop participants will participate in writing exercises meant to help develop a real pitch and to start writing the accompanying piece. Fully registered participants will continue to workshop these materials with the hosts in the weeks following the event.

Workshop conveners

Ian Bogost

Ian Bogost is an author and an award-winning game designer. He is the Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in Media Studies and professor of interactive computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he also holds appointments in the School of Architecture and the Scheller College of Business. Bogost is also a founding partner at Persuasive Games LLC, an independent game studio, and a contributing editor at The Atlantic.

Christopher Schaberg

Christopher Schaberg is the Dorothy Harrell Brown Distinguished Professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans, and an affiliated faculty member in its Environment Program. His scholarly interests include contemporary literature, creative nonfiction, cultural studies, critical theory, editing and publishing, and the environmental humanities. 

Register to participate

Click on the button below to register as a participant observer or a fully registered participant. Please register by Wednesday, January 27, 12 pm CST.

Register