On Writing Theory Seminar and Workshop

Seminar
Workshop
Panelists and Facilitators

This event is co-sponsored by the Canadian Sociological Association’s Social Theory Research Cluster and Student Concerns Subcommittee.

Event Organizer and Moderator: Dean Ray, York University

On Writing Theory Seminar

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In sociology, the conventions of academic writing are well established, converging around a style consistent with the scientific report—introduction, methods, results, discussion, conclusion. Oft included, but seldom standardized, is the so-called ‘theory section’. With a role that is less than clear and a form that is far from institutionalized, the inclusion of theory can render anxious even the most ardent of sociologists. This seminar will provide a guide for how to include theory in your academic writing. Should we eschew the theory section and allow theory to blossom everywhere like a hundred flowers? Or should our use of theory be like an engine,  if properly constructed then barely audible? Five leading theorists from across the country will try to answer this question while providing tips and tricks relevant to even the most seasoned and senior writers of the social.


On Writing Theory Workshop

Graduate students are often given the guidance that they must make some sort of herculean gesture at the literature and this is often collated in the theory section. In a series of small group workshops, five leading writers of theory from across the country will offer feedback to sociology students and early career theorists (those who have not yet achieved tenure). The learning outcome of this applied workshop will be to allow sociologists and sociology students to learn how to write theory as distinct but connected to other forms of academic writing with a particular eye to writing theory in non-theoretical or non-specialized pieces.

Participants in the workshop were required to submit a 2500 sample of theoretical writing for discussion during the workshop.


Panelists and Facilitators

Zohreh Bayatrizi
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
University of Alberta

I am an associate professor in Sociology at the University of Alberta where I have been working since 2008. My main interests are the sociology of death and dying, history of sociological concepts, and the sociology of Iran. Currently I am working on developing a decolonial perspective on death and grief through case studies of COVID-19 in Iran and the Flight PS752 tragedy. I am also working on developing a genealogy of the formation of ‘class’ as a sociological concept as part of a larger SSHRC-funded research project called The Great Canadian Class Study.

Katherine Bischoping (she/her)
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
York University

Katherine Bischoping (PhD, University of Michigan) is an Associate Professor of Sociology at York University. She studies the behind-the-scenes work of methodologists, gendered cultural narratives, and the role of narration in oral history and memory studies. Her recent work is set in China and among the Chinese diaspora in Canada. With Amber Gazso (York University), Bischoping is coauthor of Analyzing Talk in the Social Sciences: Narrative, Conversation and Discourse Strategies (2016, Sage), and with Yumi Ishii (University of Tokyo), she co-edited a special issue of Oral History Forum d’histoire orale, entitled “Generations and Memory: Continuity and Change” (2017).

Thomas Kemple
Professor
Department of Sociology
University of British Columbia
Unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Territory

I teach and publish on classical and contemporary social theory; interpretive methods; interdisciplinary approaches to the humanities and social sciences; science, technology and media studies; visual and popular culture.  My approach to ’theory’ entails exploring the rhetorical and literary qualities of oral and written communication.

Renisa Mawani (she/her/hers)
Professor
Department of Sociology
University of British Columbia
Unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Territory

Renisa Mawani is Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia, located on the unceded territories of the Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) peoples. She works in the fields of critical theory and colonial legal history and is the author of Colonial Proximities (UBC Press, 2009) and Across Oceans of Law (Duke University Press, 2018), which was a finalist for the U.K. Socio-Legal Studies Association Theory and History Book Prize (2020) and winner of the Association of Asian American Studies Book Prize for Outstanding Contribution to History (2020). With Antoinette Burton, she is co-editor of Animalia: An Anti-Imperial Bestiary for Our Times (Duke University Press, 2020).

Neil McLaughlin
Professor
Department of Sociology
McMaster University

Neil Mclaughlin teaches theory at McMaster University, and studies the critical theory tradition of Erich Fromm, the sociology of ideas/knowledge, and the political sociology of conspiracy theories and the current crisis of higher education. HIs book Erich Fromm and Global Public Sociology (University of Bristol Press, 2021) attempts to theorize scholarly reputations, the social origins of intellectual creativity and the tensions between academic, political and public intellectual work.  He is studying how and why George Soros was constructed as the ultimate villain in world politics in the early years of the 21st century as well as  the social basis of what is often called “political correctness” in contemporary universities and colleges.

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