The Department of English, Maharaja Agrasen College organized the 4th Annual Lecture on “Writing with a Purpose” by Dr. Anjana Neira Dev, Associate Professor of English at Gargi College, University of Delhi on 27 November 2016. Drawing upon her immense and eminent experience as a teacher of English Literature, English Language Teaching and author of University prescribed text books on Academic Writing and Creative Writing, she designed her presentation around the objective of redefining what these two activities (academic writing and creative writing) mean, comprise and require.
Keeping the presentation interactive through relevant examples and questions, Dr. Dev emphasized the need for the oft-employed pre-writing strategy of “brainstorming” by drawing attention to some of the questions that we need to ask before beginning on a draft for academic writing. The students jotted down the very usable and doable tips she shared throughout the presentation copiously and enthusiastically. Strategies for effective academic writing, for example, were mnemonically conveyed through the 4 Cs: coherence, cohesion, conviction and citation. By talking about the different modes of writing like expository writing, argumentative essay, descriptive article, she highlighted the purpose and feature of each of these. She had the students riveted as she formalised writing into a structured attempt by explaining the techniques of crafting a good beginning, a thesis statement, inner linkages, body paragraphs, and a convincing conclusion. As good writing evolves through successively improved drafts, she explained how a critical mind-set of strict revision and detached self-analysis should to be employed at the editorial stage of writing.
As Dr. Dev progressed to creative writing, the audience noticed a change in the content as the sombre slides of the academic writing session transformed into colourful vibes in the creative writing section. She dwelt at length on the elusive definition of creative writing to make as lucid as one possibly could the complex idea of “creativity”. She took the audience over the highly invigorating as well as challenging business of creative writing through its constituent elements of character, setting, plot, conflict and theme. For the budding writers of today or people for whom the project of writing was too demanding, the lecture provided both motivation and advice. Her valuable tip of “journaling” or collecting experiences and thoughts on a daily basis found many takers as it promised to provide fodder and energy to overcome the proverbial “writer’s block”. The presentation also alerted the students to the very sensitive domain of plagiarism by shedding light on the need to make relevant and correct citations wherever required.
The lecture was received with great applause and appreciation by both the faculty and the students of B.A.(Hons.) English, B.A. (Programme) and the student community at large. With Academic Writing as a Generic Elective paper, Creative Writing as a Skill Enhancement course and Fluency in English as a text book for B. A. (Programme) focusing on Writing Skills, the students greatly benefitted by the lecture. As writing comprises both academic expression and enhancement, the talk was an enabling and empowering experience for the student community. The purpose of co-scholastic activities is to augment classroom learning with allied approaches and practices, and this lecture significantly served that purpose. Language teaching is a highly technical task involving specialised and expert pedagogy. It was a matter of great satisfaction to see students responding to Dr. Dev with a wide gamut of queries and observations. These ranged from the personal challenges they faced while writing to the political nature of writing, the impact of technology and the much debated areas of originality and intellectual debt. The lecture was a great success, and we hope that through this annual feature we bring our students face to face with more such teachers, thinkers and practitioners of note.
Sangeeta Mittal is Associate Professor in the Department of English, Maharaja Agrasen College, University of Delhi. She has been awarded doctorate degree for her work on “Delhi Culture: A Literary Perspective”. She continues her interest in urban studies and memory studies through her academic publications and research projects.