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Writing the Now

There is a black circle with cream coloured text reading Writing the Now with a line through the middle of the circle. The black circle is in front of a green background.

Collective members

Kimberley Campanello (School of English)

Helen Graham (School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies)

Laura King (School of History)

Lone Sorenson School of Media and Communication

Laura Swithenbank (PI, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies)

Aylwyn Walsh (School of Performance and Cultural Industries)

Jessica Wright (Academic Skills Development, Lifelong Learning Centre)



Writing the Now is a project focussed on a key motivating question: ‘what writing do we need now?’. We are motivated by experimenting with non-traditional form and engage with leading writers, practitioners and publishers in the field of experimental academic writing.

We face a ‘now’ which is at the intersection of multiple interlinked crises, where modernity-coloniality is collapsing in on itself having destabilised the planet and made questionable the future of humanity. In order to address this context, to produce different and more suited kinds of academic intervention (across discipline) our project will investigate alternative, experimental modes and forms of writing.

Experimental academic writing has a range of broad influences and draws on multiple traditions of working creatively in academic practice (for example, the development of ‘fictocriticism’ in anthropology or the experimentation in form in feminist and environmental studies exemplified by something like Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto). Across disciplines academics have and continue to look towards creative experimental writing for inspiration in order to take risks and innovate in making concepts and theories in a way which could not be done using more traditional writing methods.

Our project is formed of both an event series and a monthly writing group for University of Leeds staff and PhD students. Come and join us to find out more, explore the place of experimentation and form in your work and to meet like-minded interdisciplinary scholars from across Leeds and beyond!

Writing group

Our writing group takes place once a month and is open to all staff and PhD students across the University of Leeds. During the course of the year, we will explore different kinds of academic writing practice, try new things, and discuss different elements of our writing practice in a safe and (hopefully) fun space. You are welcome to join for one or as many as you wish!

2023: 18 October, 15 November, 13 December
2024: 17 January, 14 February, 14 March, 17 April, 15 May


Venue: In person, on campus.

To secure a space please contact Laura Swithenbank by email at with:

  • the date(s) you want to take part;
  • a sentence or two on your writing practice and why you are interested in joining us.

Spaces are limited to keep the group to a manageable size so try to get in touch soon to avoid disappointment.

Upcoming Events

The image shows an open noted book with writing on it, a blue pen laying across the page and a hand above both which is tattooed with female and male gender signs, and a heart monitor reading leading out from them

[IMAGE: Credit: Marquis Bey, 2023]

Marquis Bey, Writing for Life While Writing for a Living: Meditations on Black and Trans Language  - 26 October 2023 (Please note this event was recorded and  this page will be updated once available).

Marquis Bey will engage the question of how writing of black and trans people—or more precisely, black and trans writing—offer glimpses of how to discursively elude capture. Through terms, theories, and linguistic practices, this talk will show how language we might consider black and/or trans offers another way to move and think.

Bio: Marquis Bey is Professor of Black Studies and Gender & Sexuality Studies, and core faculty in English and Critical Theory, at Northwestern University. Their work, broadly speaking, concerns black feminist theory, trans and nonbinary studies, critical theory, and abolition. Most recently, they are the author of Black Trans Feminism and Cistem Failure: Essays on Blackness and Cisgender (both published with Duke University Press, 2022).


The image shows a grassy lawn with patches in it that form a kind of pathway.

[IMAGE: ‘KStewart History in Grass’. Credit: Kathleen Stewart, 2023]


Kathleen Stewart, Worlding  - 13 December 2023, 3.00-4.30pm, online. Please book tickets via the link.

In the activist occurrent arts of everyday life (Massumi 2002), we’re all differently feeling our way through the transitional immediacy of a charged present–unstable, damaging, made durable in the suggestion of a coherence. A field opens in the swell of a milieu. Thought is an improv in the perturbed expanse (Cohen 2011) of “the ongoing thought experiment the world performs with itself” (Barad 2015, 396).

Bio: Kathleen Stewart writes ethnographic experiments to approach the composition of emergent worldings and their modes of knowing and sensing in refrains, rhythms, voices, tactilities, misfires, labors, and atmospheres. Her books include A Space on the Side of the Road: Cultural Poetics in an `Other' America (Princeton, 1996), Ordinary Affects (Duke, 2007), The Hundreds co-authored with Lauren Berlant (Duke, 2019) and Worlding (in preparation). She taught at the University of Texas, Austin.


The image depicts hands submerged in grains of rock salt. The image is in black and white

Image credit: 'Osmosis' ally walsh, 2016. Photograph: Fenia Kotsopoulou.

Writing the Now: Conjuncture


The Writing the Now collective is pleased to be joined by four fantastic UK writers - Jemma DesaiSuhaiymah Manzoor-KhanLola Olufemi and Sita Balani to engage on our theme of 'Conjuncture' in an online roundtable.


The question of how to capture the distinctiveness of our present moment animates our focus on conjuncture - in the UK facing a general election, and in more immediate terms, a moment of terrible imperial inaction, repression, and resistance in constellation; and simultaneous worldwide resistance in solidarity with Palestine.


We are keen to make space for this within our theme of the role of 'writing the now':· How can writing handle complexity, confluence, conjuncture?· How can writing hold modes of political conceptualisation that does not fall into tramlines of causality, of agency vs structure, of ideology vs affect, of big vs small, of particular vs general?


Monday 29 April 6 - 8pm


Join and sign up at this link:


Session convenors: ally walsh and Jess Wright