Title 9:

[Cover design: Rowan McCormick / Cover layout: Jack Ross ]

Writers of Passage

by Rowan McCormick

Edited by Jack Ross

Preface by Mary Paul

Afterword by Eleanor Rimoldi

Social and Cultural Studies 9
(June 2008)
ISSN: 1175-7132


I considered the potential of ascribing ‘heroic’ significance to the events of our lives – to cast a more favourable reading on those hard times past, and yet to come.

Rowan McCormick’s monograph is based on an experimental and explorative research process - a leap of faith - from which has resulted a somewhat experimental and explorative essay. With reference to both anthropological and literary theory, a series of conversations with writers reveals the heroic nature of their existence.

This study celebrates the power of narrative to mediate a sense of the conditions of one's existence, to manipulate an audience, to affect conventions, to impress readers with notions about the other, to impress a sense of order upon a chaotic existence, to convey knowledge, and to affect a sense of connection between people.

Recognising what he calls ‘the generative and transformative power of the ethnographic process,’ Rowan's monograph examines the many ways in which we attempt to ‘write’ ourselves into significance. The result is a fresh and witty essay which combines insights from both English and Anthropology, and suggests fruitful new ways of reconciling the two disciplines.

Notes on Contributors:

Rowan McCormick is a graduate student in Massey's School of Social and Cultural Studies, majoring in Anthropology and Media Studies.

Dr Mary Paul is the Coordinator of the English Programme in the School of Social and Cultural Studies.

Dr Eleanor Rimoldi is the Coordinator of the Social Anthropology Programme in the School of Social and Cultural Studies.

Reviews & Comments:

  1. Jennifer Little. "New books reveal bold approach to writing life.” Massey News. [6/6/08]

    Writers of Passage, by social anthropology and English literature postgraduate Rowan McCormick, is ... the ninth in the school’s monograph series.

    In it, he takes the roles of ethnographer, philosopher, interviewer, writer and editor to explore the complexities of authorship and identity, and the meanings and interpretations ascribed to both. His essay is, he says, an endorsement of the heroic quality needed to pursue the writing life.

    Senior English lecturer Dr Mary Paul, in her preface, describes Writers of Passage as “fascinating.” She says Mr McCormick “simultaneously synthesises a wide range of ideas about writing, the phenomenology and hermeneutics of reading, testimony and therapy and enacts (or performs) a heroic journey of discovery; and has ‘a really good time’ doing both.”

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