26 Apr 2019 - 27 Apr 2019
09:00 - 17:00

Graduate Network African Studies
Centre for African Studies, Rheinsprung 21, 4051 Basel

Workshop / VA

Creative Nonfiction Writing

PhD workshop with Gaiutra Bahadur

Picture creative writing

Academic writing and reasoning are commonly understood as the most important skills developed in successful higher education. Writing journal articles, public lectures, research proposals and books are part of the daily routine of students and faculty who share knowledge amongst themselves. In addition, scholars from all disciplines contribute to the public understanding of science and scholarship through regular contributions of essays to newspaper feuilletons, trade journals and, increasingly, online media. Given that writing is one of our key concerns and certainly remains our main form of conducting and communicating research , advancing and refining academic writing skills among students on various levels and across  academic disciplines is paramount. This course will be taught in collaboration with the New York based writer and journalist Gaiutra Bahadur. Together, we will explore the ways in which we ground knowledge about the subjects, societies and histories we wish to represent in academic scholarship and writing. We explore imaginative ways in which creative nonfiction writing can respond to the biases, silences and shortcomings in the representation of women, the poor, the enslaved, the indentured, the criminalised, or the disenfranchised. We’ll draw inspiration from nonfiction writing such as Saidiya Hartman’s Lose Your Mother, Stephen Greenblatt’s speculative Shakespeare biography Will in the World, Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land, Natalie Zemon Davis’ Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth Century Muslim Between Worlds and Jill Lepore’s Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin. 

For MA students, the seminar is a regular course, taking place each week throughout the semester. Doctoral students, who wish to subscribe to the course as part of their graduate school programme (Graduate School of Social Sciences; Graduate School of History), will join the course on the occasion of a block seminar (2 days-workshop). Experiences in writing in English are a requirement for attending.

Where and when?

26 and 27 April 2019

Rheinsprung 21, Room 00.002 (Friday) and Room 00.004 (Saturday)
We might swap rooms depending on the number of graduates attending.


All participants are invited to register no later than 20 April 2019 via email to

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