The Reflective Muse
The Reflective Muse:
Inspiring a transformative writing practice.
This case study charts the evolution of a developmental, reflective writing assessment in the Travel Writing and Journalism (TWJ) module that I previously taught at the University of Leeds. What started off as a free flowing writing exercise has become increasingly structured over time – with creative results.
TWJ is an optional module available to all second year students across the university. Participants are intelligent, well educated and motivated. They hail from across the globe and many have travelled widely. They enjoy travel and are motivated to write about it.
As twenty something learners, many also start the course with limited knowledge of the intricacies of world politics and only a sketchy appreciation of the genre. The first assignment is designed to expand their boundaries both as writers and travellers, through a process that at the same time challenges them to become more self-aware and worldly wise.
The assignment poses a 2000 word reflective writing challenge which tasks students to potentially transform their own travel writing practice, by reflecting upon it.
Due in week 7 of an 11 week teaching schedule, the assignment requires that each student summarise what insights they have gained through their creative participation in the course during those first seven weeks. Effectively then, assignment 1 has 2 parts: Students first need to engage with the course before they can later reflect upon that engagement. In other words, students are being encouraged to proactively seek out the insights that can emerge through creative reflection. The prescribed method to achieve this aim is to write down their response to the course context – thus forming a personal response to these learning opportunities.
Fermor, Patrick Leigh 1977 A time of gifts: on foot to Constantinople: from the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube: New York Review of Books. Holland, Patrick, and Graham Huggan
Tourists with typewriters: Critical reflections on contemporary travel writing: University of Michigan Press.
Johnstone, Keith 2012 Impro: Improvisation and the theatre: Routledge.
Moon, Jennifer A 2009 Resources for Reflective Writing. UK: Routledge.
Nightingale, Florence 1987 Letters from Egypt: A Journey on the Nile 1849-50: Barrie and Jenkins.
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