Writing dangerously: Creating fictional narratives as an alternative form of critique within business schools
The piano man and other cocktails best stirred
I know a management scholar who’s also a concert pianist! Should he be allowed to present his research as a concerto?
For years, Emily Dickinson had been sitting alone in her room, watching the world outside through the window. Taking notes, writing beautiful lines. Words about trees and flowers, rain and the wind, death and living. Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was an American poet who spent most of her adult life confined to her house and it seems also for long periods staying in her bedroom. All but four of her over 1800 poems were published posthumously when they had been found by her relatives among her belongings. Who was she writing to? Why did she write?
The world’s an untranslatable language
without words or parts of speech.
It’s a language of objects
Our tongues can’t master,
but which we are the ardent subjects of.
If tree is tree in English,
and albero in Italian,
That’s as close as we can come
To divinity, the language that circles the earth
and which we’ll never speak. (Wright, 2010)
Preamble – Alison Pullen
During 2017, I was Otto Mønsted Visiting Professor at Copenhagen Business School and was delighted when the organisers of the Feminism, Activism, Writing! workshop asked me to facilitate a session on ‘powerful writing’. The workshop’s 65 participants had been divided into four groups: the group that I would work with was randomly allocated and I had no idea who would attend. Our purpose was to discuss the relation that writing can have to feminism and activism. My broad aim was to move from ‘discussing writing’ to ‘writing’.
From debates about the contribution of labour process analysis to the understanding of emancipatory struggles in organization, through to a treatise on the England national football team as a maternal ‘breast’ that turns spectators into consumers who begin to resemble new forms of labour, ephemera 5.1 assembles a series of apparently disconnected studies.
This issue of ephemera is concerned with texts, discourse and organization; how discourse organizes and the organization of discourse. Without wanting to speak for the various contributors, what we, as the editors of ephemera 4(4), want to do is focus on the quotation above in relation to new forms of writing.
What more can we say today about the relations between writing and politics? ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ goes the old slogan, but is it mightier than the traditional forms of direct action, political protest and insistent recalcitrance? Further, what hopes can we have for protest and resistance without these being inscribed – in the first case inscribed in an already existing conjuncture that must be understood in all its complexity, but also inscribed in the sense that action must be mobilised through language, and its results and effectiveness communicated and criticised?