Room to DRAW

Year: 2021

Author: Madden, Karen, Mackinlay, Liz

Type of paper: Symposium

This presentation recreates the moment a PhD candidate met her primary advisor. Karen found Liz’s office in the middle of the sixth floor of the Social Sciences Building, the opposite end of the St Lucia campus from the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), where she had been attending the Science of Learning seminars for the past few years. “Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own, 1928,” was printed on a cloth bag hanging on the inside of the glass window in Liz’s door. Slightly obscured by a jumble of stickers with messages like “Girls can do anything,” the message on the bag signalled this office was not going to be like the clinical, orderly spaces of the QBI. A refined scent of a rose in full bloom hinted at the woman inside. The tippity-tap of light typing gave Karen pause as she wondered for a moment if she should interrupt.With due diligence, Karen had looked up Liz online and discovered she was an Associate Professor in the School of Education with teaching areas in Indigenous Education, Gender Studies and the Arts - a clear sign they had much in common. However, it was Liz’s book, Teaching and Learning Like a Feminist: Storying Our Experiences in Higher Education, (2016) that brought Karen to Liz’s door on this particular day. This was the book that had introduced her to the themes of Liz’s work: decoloniality in education, autoethnography as heart-line work, and feminism in higher education; and it had torn Karen’s heart right open! She’d had no idea academic writing could move her in such a way. In Liz’s writing, secret-ed secrets were intimately interconnected with theoretical ideas in a personal-as-political-as-poetic feminist ethic — it was post-qualitative (Lather & St. Pierre, 2013), it was post-structural, it was creative and critical, it was a writing body and a body of writing brought to life (Cixous, 1976) — Karen wanted more.But on this day, Karen was yet to meet Liz and when she put her hand on the door handle, she paused. She sensed that once she opened that door, there would be no turning back. With a deep breath, and a determined turn of the handle, Karen opened the door. There sat Liz, full of life, full of love, full of love for her writing life.“Teach me to write like you do!” Karen burst out.“Ah, you want to Depart Radically in Academic Writing (DRAW) with me,” Liz answered with a smile. “Come in, sit down. Let’s see what we can do.”This is at once an individual and collective story of how a room of their own (Woolf, 2015) to DRAW came to be reimagined in doctoral work as “writing, life” (Stewart, 2018).