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Sociology in Action 2020/21 - The Self in the World

Join our team of writers in residence for Durham Sociology Department's Sociology in Action week 2021.

Shagufta K Iqbal (photo: Himmat Iqbal); Okechukwu Nzelu (photo: Martin Glackin); Catherine Wilcox (photo: Gary Hibbert)

About the Project

All events for this week are now taking place online.    please use the late sign up form to indicate which sessions you would like to join and we will endeavour to you to those with spaces. 

DayMorning WorkshopAfternoon Workshop late event
Monday 28th June


10.00-11.30  Catherine Wilcox 'Getting Started - silencing the inner critic' [Limited Spaces]



1.30 -3.00 Okechukwu Nzelu 'Writing Real Characters' [Limited Spaces]


1.30-3.00  Catherine - 'Dialogue and Description'
Tuesday 29th June

10.00-11.30 (Online) Okechukwu - 'Repeat, Repeat, Repeat'

1.30-3.30 Okechukwu - 'Speak up' 


1.30-3.00  Catherine - 'Dialogue and Description' (repeat session from Monday)

Round table event


4.00-5.00 online (Tbc)


Wednesday 30th June


10.00-11.30 Okechukwu - 'Speak up - Writing Dialogue reflecting the real world'


10.00-11.30  Catherine - 'The Thinginess of Things - using concrete detail and close observation'


1.30-3.00  Shagufta Iqbal - 'Poetry and the Spoken Word I - Self in Modern Mythology'  
Thursday 1st July 


10.00-11.30  Shagufta - Poetry and the Spoken Word 2 - Self in Urban Landscapes' [Limited Spaces]


1.30-3.00 Shagufta - 'Poetry and the Spoken Word 3 - practical workshop'

Poetry Slam - TBC

Friday 2nd July


Writing Time - no workshops


Drop in time 

Writers will be available on a one-to-one basis to meet with students and plan a piece of writing



Coming to Durham to study in the Sociology Department is exciting, daunting, challenging in equal measure. Because of the topics we teach and research, many of our students end up not only developing a critical approach to thinking about society but also developing a critical approach to thinking about themselves in relation to society and in relation to the University. The diversity of staff and students in the Department mean that we are often in discussion and/or reflection about our intersecting identities of race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, citizenship status and how these are represented in our programmes of study and in the university more generally.

In academic writing there is a debate about the extent to which ‘I’ should be used but in the Sociology Department we encourage students to engage with the ‘I’ in discussions about social inequalities, power and identities as well as in assessments that ask for reflective writing. Students enjoy this challenge yet sometimes they also struggle to find ways to express a sense of ‘I’ that also engages with the academic literature. In this year’s Sociology in Action week we are exploring this struggle and offering students opportunities to work with professional creative writers to develop their writing style to include ‘I’ across intersecting identities.

In our Sociology in Action project, at the end of the Summer of 2020/21, Durham's Sociology Department is working with a group of three creative writers to run a short residency working with students and staff from within the Sociology Department, the wider University and beyond the University. 

The programme will be focused around an intensive programme of events in the week of the 28th of June which will be run collaboratively by the three writers. 

Following the residency, our creative writers will provide short tutorials to support student writers who would like to do so to produce a piece of writing of their own to be showcased in the Autumn term. 


Shagufta K Iqbal (photo: Himmat Iqbal); Okechukwu Nzelu (photo: Martin Glackin); Catherine Wilcox (photo: Gary Hibbert)

About our Writing Team

Shagufta K Iqbal

Founder of Kiota Bristol, Shagufta K Iqbal is an award-winning writer, workshop facilitator and Tedx Speaker. She has been described by gal-dem as a poet whose work ‘leaves you validated but aching – her narratives are important, heart-wrenching and relatable.’ Her poetry collection ‘Jam Is For Girls, Girls Get Jam’, has been recommended by Nikesh Shukla as ‘a social political masterclass.’ Her poetry film 'Borders' has won several awards, and has been screened across international film festivals. She is currently writing her second poetry collection and debut novel.

Find out more about Shagufta 

Catherine Wilcox

Dr Catherine Wilcox is a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, and academic director of The Manchester Writing School.  She was educated at Durham and London Universities and has a degree in English and a doctorate in Theology.  Writing as Catherine Fox, she is author of eight novels that explore themes of the spiritual and the physical with insight and humour.  Her Lindchester Chronicles are published by Marylebone House/SPCK.

Find out more about Catherine

Okechukwu Nzelu

Okechukwu Nzelu is a Manchester-based writer. In 2015 he was the recipient of a Northern Writers' Award from New Writing North. In 2020 his debut novel, The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney   (Dialogue Books/Little,Brown), won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize, the Desmond Elliott Prize, and the Polari First Book Prize.

His second novel, Here Again Now, will be published by Dialogue Books in March 2022. He is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Lancaster University.

Find out more about Okechukwu