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NAWE Summer Conference 2005: Gender and Writing in Education
Wed 27 Apr 2005
Bookings are now open for the next NAWE conference, which will be held at The Women's Library, London Metropolitan University on Saturday 18 June.
Conference Programme: Saturday 18 June

09.00 - Registration and coffee

09.30 - Welcome and introduction from Paul Munden, Director of NAWE and a representative of The Women's Library

09.40 - Plenary talk by Dr Becky Francis of the Institute for Policy Studies in Education: The gendered constructions of writing in education

10.30 - Choice of:

Session 1
Boys (11-14yrs): boosting their reading and creative writing _ Anne Caldwell
What role do we as writers in education bring to this debate about boys and their supposed lack of engagement with reading and creative writing? Do we have success stories in this field and is there a way that our work can have a positive impact in partnership with educators? This workshop will look at examples of good practice, share our current practice and look at developing our skills needed to address this agenda in education. We will particularly look at good reading material for different age ranges, and creative writing exercises that inspire boys to write. Please bring along an A4 sheet on a recent project to share with the group.

Session 2
Drama of Different Genders - Georgina Lock
In this practical workshop you will build characters of the opposite gender by combining writers' and actors' techniques - reflection, observation, notes, internal monologue, interviews, interrogations and arguments. You will then write scenes for characters which emerge. The workshop is fun, avoids stereotypes and is a good way of discovering how character creates action. Georgina has used this model when teaching MA Writing students, devising actors and first time screenwriters in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Session 3
The Writing or the Subject? - Megan Stielstra
Which should a writing instructor focus on: the writing, or what's being written about? The subject matter a writer chooses to address can inspire many things in an audience - passion, frustration, dialogue, etc. - especially when issues of class, race and gender are at the forefront. Yet how, as educators, can we guide students to concentrate not on their opinions of such issues, but rather on how writers get this material on the page - process and problem solving, as well as challenges of seeing-in-the-mind, structure, point of view and individual voice.

Crossing boundaries: how the use of feminist texts inspires superior writing in the workshop - Felicia Swanson
Gender, race, class: when you select readings for a writing workshop that bring these together in various forms, the juxtaposition gives permission and inspires students to tell their own experience, their unique points of view. This is feminism at its best: the acknowledgment and encouraged expression of multiple points of view, particularly those that are under-represented. This presentation demonstrates practical applications of using feminist texts in the writing workshop, using examples from workshops taught in the inner city projects of Chicago to upper middle-class suburbia to rural America.

11.45 - Coffee, tea and biscuits

12.00 - Choice of:

Session 1
Reading and Writing: how writers help boys and girls learn - Heather Butler
Drawing on her experience as a primary school teacher, Heather Butler will explore how boys and girls differ in their attitudes to reading and writing, the reason why some succeed while others fail, how a good teacher will respond to those attitudes, and how a writer going in to a primary school can contribute to developing both boys' and girls' reading and writing skills. This will be a workshop session with plenty of room for discussion and interaction.

Session 2
Crossing Genders: Writing in the Voice of the Other - Shaun Levin What kind of person would you be if you were the opposite sex? How would being another gender change the way you did things? What knowledge would you need to take on the voice of a different gender? In this practical creative writing workshop and discussion participants will explore the liberation and the pitfalls of writing in a voice very different to their own, be it male, female, gay or straight. Through writing exercises, we will look at what we can learn about the self and about how we see the world by taking on a persona we were not born into.

Session 3
Viewpoints on Gender: text, discussion, writing _ Paul Mills Paul Mills will discuss extracts from the work of Caryl Churchill, Ann Spillard and Jackie Kay featured in his forthcoming Routledge Creative Writing Coursebook. He will use these pieces as examples to show how published writing can be used to develop gender issues in the work of student writers. Tutors of A Level, undergraduate and postgraduate students are invited to discuss the chosen extracts and share ideas. What are the current gender issues for practising writers? How might forms of narration in fiction influence reader-response to issues of gender? Should writing about gender be political?

Teaching Writing for Performance: Gendering Creativity and Accountability - Susan Bradley Smith
This paper will draw on Susan Bradley Smith's experience of teaching writing for performance in a tertiary setting. It will explore the results of research conducted at Southern Cross University concerned with observing gendered differences in areas such as reception of teaching materials, participation in workshops, and subject matter chosen for major performance pieces. It considers in doing so that if closer attention is paid to issues of gender and creativity that this might well generate a fresh pedagogic discourse around creative writing.

1.15 - Lunch

2.15 - Choice of:

Session 1
Women's Empowerment Through Group Voices - Debjani Chatterjee In her years of working with groups of ethnic minority women, Debjani Chatterjee has found the creation of collaborative group poems a powerful tool for empowerment. In this session, you will be introduced to some workshop techniques that she has successfully used with Bengali Women's Support Group, Sheffield Roshni Asian Women's Resource Centre, Derby's Raunak Asian women's group and women at Pakistan Muslim Centre.

Wise Words: Women_s Writing Groups in the Community - Rose Flint In this presentation, Rose Flint will make use of her wide experience of running women_s writing groups to examine the importance of single gender groups. Women have always had a tradition of collecting in groups of all ages, and the writing group is a modern equivalent of an empowering ancient system that helped women grow. The work done within such writing groups extends women's knowledge and understanding of themselves, each other and men.

Manchester Survivors Poetry Women's Project: _Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light' - Rosie Garland
This presentation will take the form of an honest and practically-focused assessment of a women_s creative writing group in a community setting in the North West of England. The group is made up of women Survivors of the mental health system. Rosie Garland will examine the successes and advantages of working with such a group, reflect on the challenges and discuss learning outcomes and the issue of sustainability.

Transcending the Barriers: reclaiming and expanding culture and community - Nicole Moore
As a writer who has been on the receiving end of black women only courses and a creative writing tutor who has successfully delivered black women only courses, Nicole Moore will address how creative writing is particularly empowering for black women and how important and essential it is to have black women only writing groups and classes. Such classes can provide critical awareness and understanding of race, gender and class perspectives, particularly relating to the production and reception of black women's writing in the UK.

Session 2
Sex and Gender in Poetry - Vicki Bertram
Sex and gender matter in poetry. They play a significant and neglected part in the way poets write and readers read. To deny this is to facilitate a critical tradition that prioritizes men's writing and men's concerns. Reading poetry is a paradoxical activity. On the one hand, the reader is granted enormous scope for making meaning - poems urge you to interact. But, on the other hand, lyric poetry is perhaps the most egoistical of all genres, placing its reader in thrall to the poem's persona(e). What part does gender play in this complex process?

From Gendered to Genderless - Tilla Brading
Using poems in the GCSE English Literature syllabus as a starting point, Tilla Brading will explore the aspects of gender within them and compare them with some contemporary innovative text where language, mixed media or collaboration lead away from gender. Is text gendered by the author or the theme? Is there genderless text? Is there authorless writing?

Poetry and Prose: the disguises - David Hart
Gender may be one thing clearly while also mysterious, shifting, becoming, open sometimes, sometimes disguised, made to fit, elusive, easy and hard to write. In this session we will work on writing to make discoveries, to wonder about disguise in poetry and prose, to re-invent at least a margin of ourselves.

Session 3
No Woman No Cry _ Maggie Harris
This reading, writing and discussion workshop draws inspiration from Bob Marley's song title and will use writing from Caribbean poets Grace Nichols, Jean Binta Breeze, Olice Senior and Maggie Harris. We will discuss the unique nature of Caribbean women, and teaching and appreciating Caribbean writing through the sassiness of 'talking back'. Participants will have an opportunity to 'talk back' too, and write their own poem through adopting a different voice.

It all comes out in the wash - Sally James
In this workshop, Sally James will encourage participants to consider the changing role of women in society historically and linguistically. Using two of her poems as a starting point, Washer-woman and A Women's Work (written in Lancashire dialect), Sally will help you to capture your own memories of women from the past and create a portrait in words. This process will lead to an exploration of the ways behaviour, attitudes and language have changed over the years.

4.15 - Coffee, tea and biscuits

4.30 - Writing: a level playing field for men and women?
Plenary panel debate facilitated by literaturetraining

Who's writing what? Who's getting published and produced? Who's writing the blockbusters and winning the big awards? Who's studying creative writing in higher education? And who's doing the teaching? Who's working in schools? And in health and social care? Is change afoot? These are just some of the challenging questions under debate by our illustrious panel drawn from the fields of publishing, higher education, screenwriting, and writing in educational and health care settings.

5.30 - End

one-to-one professional development advice sessions with literaturetraining
literaturetraining is a group of eight leading literature organisations (including NAWE) working in partnership to provide information, advice and guidance on professional development for the literature sector.

literaturetraining will be at the conference manning an information point for professional development with reference publications, magazines, information sheets and partner leaflets. In addition, 30-minute one-to-one sessions will be available for delegates looking for information and advice on specific professional development matters. You can either book in advance on your booking form or book on the day (subject to availability).

Contact Information:
National Association of Writers in Education
Contact Name:
Joanna Ingham / 020 8670 5407
Contact Email: