Conflicting Desires & bell hooks

Why, hello. I know it’s been over a year since I posted last–and I have a lot of good reasons for that–but I wanted to drop in to say hi and that I haven’t completely neglected this blog. (Every year I renew this domain I think, man, I should probably write more.)

First thing’s first: I am in a Ph.D. program at Drew Theological School. I’m studying Christian Social Ethics. The program I’m in is incredibly interdisciplinary, and I have been trying to figure out who I am as a creative writer, literature-lover, theologian, and now ethicist.

Being now a semester in, I have a better sense of how I can be all those things at least part of the time. Help came from the wonderful feminist scholar/teacher/writer bell hooks. I found this quote of hers in an interview from back in the mid-’90s:

“I wanted most to be a writer, but also an academic. While these two conflicting desires created tensions and anxiety, the longing to be a writer enabled me to rebel against the academic status quo.”

That feistiness has been in me. It’s led me to write so many narrative introductions to my papers (all of the big ones had some kind of creative non-fiction beginning). Last semester, it led me to attempt a research-paper-meets-creative-non-fiction project which was at least partially successful. (I learned a lot about genre in the process!) And this semester, it’s led me to taking a creative non-fiction workshop in Drew’s graduate school, where I get to indulge in my creative self.

What I’ve learned most, though, is that these parts of me, what hooks calls her academic and writerly sides–what I would call my theologian/ethicist and creative sides–are always in conversation. Though not directly, the pieces I’m working on for my creative non-fiction class address themes evident in my academic research. And like I said before, I am always finding ways to bring narrative into my academic papers.

I hope I can work out some of this here on the blog–or at least go back to consistently posting in some fashion. I feel like I owe my domain name that, at least. ;)

About Lauren Sawyer

I am a Ph.D. student studying social ethics in New Jersey. I love coffee, rainy days, and John Updike. Learn more about me at

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