About me

Me (Brittany, or Britt for short) with one of my favourite books, Joyful Militancy.

Why “Writing Otherwise”?

I created this space for two initial reasons. First, I wanted to have a place to capture my thinking, and I wanted it to be a space that gave the illusion of being public without feeling overly formal or rigid. (I say “illusion” here a bit tongue in cheek, as I don’t anticipate a lot of traffic/readers!) Second, I want a space to link to dissertations that are imagined “otherwise” so that other doctoral students can benefit from having a sense of what’s out there and, perhaps, a sense of a shared goal. To this end, I’ll be working towards building this over the summer of 2019.

A bit about me…

Hello! My name is Brittany Amell. I am a PhD Candidate studying at Carleton University in the department of Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies. My research area is interdisciplinary, which means it has blurry boundaries and a lot of flexibility.

Most of my work tends to cluster around writing and social justice. My Master’s research, for instance, focused on the experiences that four Indigenous students had with writing in an Eastern Canadian postsecondary institution. Some of my previous research asked Canadian doctoral students across Canada about their experiences with being “stuck” in their writing.

I spend a lot of time reading about feminist geographies, affect, neoliberalism, writing, and social change. I also spend a lot of time reading about Settler Colonialism, whiteness, and other exclusionary practices. I see all these as critical forces that not only shape the environments we live and write in, but also the kind of writing and research that comes to be seen and legitimized as “scholarship.” I try to remember that writing is a technology–a tool that can be utilized for generative or destructive means, or to maintain the status quo, just like any other. But I also try to remember that writing is also an instrument, requiring practice, tuning, and attention. Writing is not neutral, it is not devoid of beliefs, ideologies, or otherwise.

My current research is funded by the Social Science & Humanities Research Council here in Canada. At present, I am honing my aim but my focus is on gathering and sharing information on doctoral writing (the writing PhD students do), particularly doctoral writing that breaks with convention. I’m interested in reimagining the dissertation, and wonder how the dissertation might be repurposed or updated to include alternatives that could range from planning curriculum to writing policies, building websites, or arranging a conference.

As a bit of a personal joy, I’m also particularly enthusiastic about the writing involved with social movements–from protest signs, blogs, letters, and petitions to t-shirts, pins and more.

I also teach workshops and courses on writing, and work one on one with academic writers. I lead yoga and meditation classes in my hometown, Ottawa, Ontario–which is on the unceded, unsurrendered land of the Anishinaabe-Algonquin people.

I hold two previous bachelor degrees, one in Social Work and one in Psychology.