Magnus Linton

Written meaning

In today s increasingly standardized and almost industrial system of academic mass publication, joyful writing and storytelling for a larger audience is being successively marginalized. A significant part of texts produced by scholars is no longer a result of interest, curiosity, or the urge to contribute with something new. As the subcultures of academic research get smaller the jargon of certain groups is circulating in increasingly narrow circles, and a language emerge that seems natural to people within the tribe but appears foreign or unconceivable to others. As a result, many researchers experience in a loss of faith in meaning, and a frustration with the expectations of adapting to a generic mass production model of texts produced without ambitions to reach an actual audience. The purpose of the project is to acknowledge and counteract this trend through a series of seminars and workshops on writing, aimed at stimulating and discussing knowledge-based text production for wider circles outside the disciplinary molds. The idea is to design at least six workshops on writing, a kind of ambulatory text lab, which will be available to academic institutions all nationwide that experience a need, as well as individual doctoral students or scholars who seek inspiration regarding the future of their writing and narrative skills. The project’s overall purpose is to contribute to more animated writing and readable texts by scholars, and thereby enlarge their audience.
Final report
The project’s objective was to stimulate and improve researchers’ writing for a broader audience and encourage scholars to explore other text styles and genres than the traditional academic format. Additional to the main purpose – offer professionally supervised workshops and seminars on creative non-fiction writing to scholars – there was an intention to initiate text focused processes within the universities, that would evolve after this initial project had ended.

The basic idea of the project was to offer a big number of in-depth lectures and workshops free of charge held by the project manager, to as many scholars in Sweden as possible. In January 2020 the project was communicated through press releases and an e-mail sent to most Swedish university departments. The project reached out very well, got frequent media coverage, and the interest in the initiative was great. Most of the departments who responded to the offer were given seminars or workshops, or both. Due to the pandemic some of the workshops and seminars scheduled for spring 2020 were moved to the fall, and many were carried out online.

In total, 800 researchers participated in the project through 36 seminars and 25 workshops realized at 31 different university departments, covering disciplines in a wide range of fields in humanities and social sciences as well as natural sciences and technology.
A quick questionnaire sent to participants showed that a) there is a great interest among Swedish researchers to develop and broaden their writing skills both through the concrete practice of new techniques as well as deepening theoretical analysis about the essence of written communication, b) the participants found seminars and workshops very inspiring and led a big number of them on to new individual and group initiatives, c) several participants wished for more detailed editing workshop based on their own material, a demand that this project only to a small extent could meet due to time limitations.

Natur och Kultur, one of Sweden´s largest publishers of non-fiction literature, decided at the end of the year to finance the continuation of the project during 2021-2023. This means that the projects additional ambition, to initiate processes that would evolve into permanent or long term writing training arrangements for scholars, also was fulfilled. A more institutionalized form for the workshops and also a yearly writing school in November will be set up by the project manager during spring 2021, based on the ideas and practices from the RJ-project and Magnus Linton’s book, Text and Style (2019). This new project will be launched to Swedish universities in April 2021.

Media coverage:
”Språkhjälp gav forskare mer pengar” (Tidningen Curie)
”Kreativt skrivande ska hjälpa forskare att nå utanför institutionerna” (Sveriges Radio)
”Om konsten att berätta med vetenskap” (Statsvetenskaplig tidskrift)
”Skriva begripligt” (Forskning & Framsteg)
”Magnus Linton hjälper forskare skriva bättre” (Göteborgs Universitet)
Grant administrator
Institutet för Framtidsstudier
Reference number
SEK 443,000
Communication Projects
Other Humanities not elsewhere specified