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Creative Processes For Thesis Writing
Provider: Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Activity no.: 3778-24-00-00There are no available seats 
Enrollment deadline: 10/05/2024
Date and time10.06.2024, at: 09:00 - 18.06.2024, at: 16:00
Regular seats12
Course fee8,520.00 kr.
LecturersLouise Whiteley
ECTS credits4.00
Contact personAnnegrethe Hansen    E-mail address: ahan@sund.ku.dk
Enrolment Handling/Course OrganiserPhD administration     E-mail address: phdkursus@sund.ku.dk

Aim and content
This is a generic course. This means that the course is reserved for PhD students at the Graduate School of Health and Medical Sciences at UCPH.

Anyone can apply for the course, but if you are not a PhD student at the Graduate School, you will be placed on the waiting list until enrollment deadline. After the enrolment deadline, available seats will be allocated to the waiting list.

The course is free of charge for PhD students at Danish universities (except Copenhagen Business School), and for PhD students at NorDoc member faculties. All other participants must pay the course fee.

Learning objectives
A student who has met the objectives of the course will be able to:
1. Knowledge of a range of creative writing techniques and theories, which can help and inspire the writing process and -outcome of your dissertation.
2. Knowledge of different techniques for convincing an academic audience and the ability to put the knowledge into practice in your own text.
3. Skills: The ability to write better academic texts and edit them more effectively.
4. Competencies: The ability to identify specific challenges in relation to writing and texts, such as writer’s block, structuring or writing for specific audiences and techniques to overcome them.

Your PhD dissertation is probably your biggest writing project so far. Most PhD students experience challenges during the process, such as writers’ block, problems with structure, how to address their audiences, or finding the right form for different genres (from field notes and conference papers to monographs). This course will introduce PhD researchers to writing techniques that you can use to work through blocks in your thesis, write more persuasively, explore the value of creativity and play in scholarly writing, and edit more effectively.

The course is based at the Medical Museion (Department of Public Health, UCPH) and led by Science communication scholar Louise Whiteley and the experienced poet and researcher Dr James Wilkes, together with invited guest speakers and course facilitators. It takes a playful and pragmatic approach to making PhD writing enjoyable as well as productive. This will be achieved through a mixture of group discussions of set readings, individual and collaborative writing exercises, and facilitated solo writing time. The readings and exercises will mainly be drawn from the fields of literature, translation, critical theory and anthropology.

The course is especially relevant to students from social science and the humanities, where the written word (rather than e.g. numbers or figures) is the primary vehicle of communication, but it is our experience that students from health and medical science using more quantitative approaches also benefit from it. PhD students at all stages in their PhD process will benefit from the course.

Relevance to graduate programmes
The course is relevant to PhD students from the following graduate programmes at the Graduate School of Health and Medical Sciences, UCPH:
- Medicine, Culture and Society
- All graduate programmes


The course takes place over five days, broken up by one weekend and one more “break day” in between classes. All classes take place at Medical Museion in our project room “Appendix”.

Zoom presence is not possible unless there are very special circumstances (e.g. illness) that prevents you for being at Museion in person. Contact the course coordinator for any questions regarding this.

The days are themed as follows:

Day 1: Experimenting, opening and unblocking.
Day 2: Demonstrating, convincing and persuading.
Day 3: Writing in relation to other texts, combining rigour and play.
Day 4: Editing, discarding and flow.
Day 5: Getting it finished.

Days 1-4 will follow the same format:

09.00-12.00: Discussing texts, writing exercises and group reflections.
12.00-13.00: Lunch.
13.00-15.00: Facilitated writing time.
15.00-16.00: Group reflections.

On Day 5 we will be joined by 4 guest speakers, who will discuss the different strategies they used to complete a thesis, book or other extended piece of writing. The day is facilitated by teacher Tine Friis.

During the first four days of the course, each participant will have the opportunity to take part in one focussed writing ‘surgery’ with the course leader and a small group of peers in order to explore a current challenge in your writing.

Participants will be provided with course texts which you are expected to read and will be invited to discuss in class. Some of the writing exercises will require a little preparation beforehand; full details will be provided when you are accepted as participant.

In addition, you are asked to identify one current challenge in your writing that you would like to explore in the writing surgery.
This could range from structuring your thesis, to writing or analysing fieldnotes, to engaging with the work of a key thinker in your field, to a specific methodological or stylistic technique you would like to develop. Don’t feel restricted to identifying a ‘problem’ with your work: it will be equally valuable to bring something that you wish to celebrate, complicate or dig into deeper.

Please send James Wilkes, jawilkes1@gmail.com, the following no later than 1st June:

1) a one-page description of a current challenge in your writing – this should be understandable to researchers from other disciplines.
2) a 1500-3000 word extract of your writing that demonstrates the challenge. Note, this can be a draft rather than a finished text.

Course director
Associate professor Louise Emma Whiteley, Medical Museion – Department of Public Health

PhD and poet James Wilkes, Royal Holloway, UK
PhD, associate Professor, Louise Whiteley, Medical Museion
Postdoc, Tine Friis, Medical Museion

Hand-in assignment: by June 1st to jawilkes1@gmail.com
Course: 10th, 11th , 13th, 14th and 18th of June

Course location
Medical Museion, the Department of Public Health,
Fredericiagade 18
1310 København K

Please register latest on 10 May 2024

Seats to PhD students from other Danish universities will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and according to the applicable rules.
Applications from other participants will be considered after the last day of enrolment.


A link to all curriculum readings will be provided when registration is complete.

Stephen Benson and Clare Connors, ‘Introduction’, in Creative Criticism: An Anthology and Guide, ed. Stephen Benson and Clare Connors (Edinburgh University Press, 2014), pp.1-43.

Michael Taussig, I Swear I Saw This: Drawings in Fieldwork Notebooks, Namely My Own (University of Chicago Press, 2011), pp.1-31.

Antena, How to Write (More) (Libros Antena / Antena Books, 2013)

Carlo Ginzburg, ‘Description and Citation’, in Threads and Traces: True False Fictive, trans. Anne C. Tedeschi and John Tedeschi (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), pp.7-24.

Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2015), pp.3-25.

Humphrey Jennings, Pandæmonium: The Coming of the Machine As Seen by Contemporary Observers, ed. Mary-Lou Jennings and Charles Madge (1985; London: Macmillan, 1995), pp.xvi-xxii; pp.xxxv-xxxix; pp.10-21.

Kate Briggs, This Little Art (London: Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2017), pp.33-92.

Anand Pandian and Stuart McLean, ‘Prologue’, in A Crumpled Paper Boat: Experiments in Ethnographic Writing, ed. Anand Pandian and Stuart McLean (Durham: Duke
University Press, 2017), pp.1-10.

Todd Ramón Ochoa, ‘Origami Conjecture for a Bembé’, in A Crumpled Paper Boat: Experiments in Ethnographic Writing, ed. Anand Pandian and Stuart McLean (Durham: Duke
University Press, 2017), pp.172-184.

Ali Smith, ‘Green’, in Creative Criticism: An Anthology and Guide, ed. Stephen Benson and Clare Connors (Edinburgh University Press, 2014), pp.249-256.

Lauren Berlant and Kathleen Stuart, The Hundreds (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019), pp.ix-x, pp.3-17.

Anne Carson, ‘Every Exit Is an Entrance (A Praise of Sleep)’, in Creative Criticism: An Anthology and Guide, ed. Stephen Benson and Clare Connors (Edinburgh University Press, 2014), pp.82-102.

Note: All applicants are asked to submit invoice details in case of no-show, late cancellation or obligation to pay the course fee (typically non-PhD students). If you are a PhD student, your participation in the course must be in agreement with your principal supervisor.

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