Don’t delay….

If you want to work on your writing, don’t wait for news of the next workshop to be posted.  Contact Brenda at

I’m continuing to work online, while cautiously returning to in-person engagement, with all necessary precautions.  The first of my new series of three-day Pringle Bay Academic Writing Retreats has been postponed to April 2021.  Book your place here….


ZAPP Southern African Poetry Project

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In 2020 Brenda was approached by the director of ZAPP (South Africa) to run writing workshops to help contributors to polish their drafts for submission to a Special Issue of Education as Change. Six writers participated and all of them produced final drafts which have been submitted for peer review. ZAPP is a joint-project of the Centre for Commonwealth Education (University of Cambridge) and the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits), to promote poetry in schools both in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Wits University Press

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In 2019, and continuing today,  Brenda began a project with Wits University Press and the  Humanities Faculty at The University of the Witwatersrand entitled PhD to book conversion. She is currently working with three young scholars who produced great PhDs, which require ‘translation’ from the language of academic internship into the voice of an intellectual in their own right. This programme is part of a University, Department of Education and publishing goal to ensure that brilliant, qualified South Africans are able to be ‘in the pool’  when academic jobs are advertised.

New Materialisms Conference

In December 2019, Brenda ran a writing workshop for academic colleagues attending 10th Annual New Materialisms Conference on Reconfiguring Higher Education taking place at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town. This workshop discussed strategies of writing, which work against the powerful template, which dictates the acceptable form, style and substance of academic writing.

The workshop was an invitation to academic writers, who are bold enough to hunt for treasures that have been discarded and bounced from the knowledge archive. These exclusions occur for many reasons, always linked to power. The challenge is to turn these discards into inclusions. The further challenge is that to do so demands new ways of crafting academically. This core proposition is, of course, open to debate and discussion.

GetSmarter/ 2U Inc.

Ending in 2019, Brenda ran training workshops for learning designers at the online learning company GetSmarter, now part of 2U Inc. She worked on the principle that learning designers needed to base their course development on the indivisible nature of forms of design and course content.

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University of Stellenbosch

In May 2018, Brenda ran a series of research completion workshops with colleagues from Stellenbosch University’s English Department. Participants pre-circulated drafts of a book chapter, journal article or book proposal for collaborative brain-storming and feedback. After the group series, participants revised and polished their drafts and re-sent them to Brenda. They then met with her individually to discuss the final version.

Harvey Mudd College, California

In April, 2018 Brenda was invited to run an academic writing workshop for colleagues from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont California. From the workshop programme:

Academic writing is hard. It is annihilating when our writing is blocked and our research output dries up. The writeshop is based on the assumption that crystal clear clarity on why you are writing a particular piece becomes a compass for a blog or a book, a chapter or an article. It is the still point from which you launch your writing. It is your shtick. The choice of writing project is entirely up to you and should be based on what would be most helpful to you for receiving feedback. It could be a brand new first thought or the tenth draft of advanced writing.

ASSAR, University of Cape Town


Starting in 2017, and continuing in 2018, Brenda was invited by ASSAR in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town,  to run a series of collaborative workshops. There were seven participants in the collaborative workshops, presenting papers for discussion on environmental vulnerability in semi-arid regions. Papers were presented on India, Namibia and South Africa. After the workshop series, participants availed themselves of one-on-one feedback on second drafts of their papers.

International Academic Writing Retreat

Table Mountain

Brenda hosted a four day international academic writing retreat/work-in-progress conference in her workshop in Green Point Cape Town in August 2017. It was wonderful to work with such creative people, who are continuing to refine and polish their writing.

Book launch: Floating in an Antibubble

In early May 2016, Clarke’s Bookshop hosted the launch of Brenda’s latest book, Floating in an Antibubble.  From South Africa to Salford, A Mosaic of Pictures and Stories”.  Publisher Kassahun Checole of Africa World Press flew from the US to Cape Town for the event.

Book launch May 2016

Executive MBA Workshops at the University of Cape Town

Writing workshops for UCT’s Graduate School of Business Executive MBA programme have included:

“The Hunting of the Research Topic” (October 2015) and

“Finding your shtick” (July 2015)

African Network for Economics of Learning, Innovation and Competence Building Systems

24th – 27th August, 2015, Brenda ran a four day writing retreat, a ‘writeshop’, on behalf of AfricaLics – African Network for Economics of Learning, Innovation and Competence Building Systems, an organization based in Nairobi.

The event was co-hosted by IERI – The Institute for Writeshop 2 (Aug 2015)Economic Research on Innovation, Tshwane University, where the writeshop was held. The event brought together six groups of researchers, from a range of countries across the continent. The groups are collaborating on various research topics relating to the issue of innovation and economic development.

Participants included emerging scholars still working on Ph.Ds and accomplished Professors with publication track records. The retreat enabled the groups to work together face to face and to transform their reports into more sharply focused papers for submission to journals. By the end of the four days, all the groups reported that they had made great progress towards publishing their findings.

Writeshop 1 (Aug 2015)

Salford Research Publication Completion Workshop

Bring a draft, take home a paper for publication
Delivered remotely by Professor Brenda Cooper (from Cape Town, South Africa)
Facilitated by Vera Barron, Research development manager, Salford University
Friday 3rd July and 17th July 2015 10am – 12 (noon)
Four groups of three will then each agree on a time to Skype with Brenda to discuss their papers after the 3rd July and before the workshop on the 17th July.
More about this workshop:
The University is hosting an online, peer support-based, developmental workshop for research colleagues at all stages of their career. All researchers who are currently working on a paper are invited to attend.  By the end of the workshop miniseries, it is expected that participants will leave with a paper that is ready for publication.
During the course, led by external consultant Professor Brenda Cooper, participants will explore the nature of producing knowledge in different research fields and present their papers to the group for feedback.
There will also be dedicated time off line, to revise the abstracts of the paper in light of discussions and to share these revisions.
A follow-up discussion and feedback sessions with Professor Cooper will take place via SKYPE with each participant and their peer mentor.
Places at this workshop are limited to 12, as these sessions represent a genuine cost to the University, therefore please book as early as possible and ensure that you will be able to attend both the online sessions and take part in the peer support.

Eight Chickens and this Goat…

Centre for Postcolonial Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London

Eight chickens and there was this goat. Academic Knowledge and Not Knowing 

Brenda Cooper (Emeritus Professor, University of Cape Town)

Wednesday 13 MAY: Room 256 Richard Hoggart Building, 4-6pm, Goldsmiths

8 chickens and goatWe have to be knowledgeable, us academic writers, otherwise what is the point of us? It is a truism to state that we read and research with the purpose of adding to the store of knowledge in the world. Knowledge, however, is always partial. It would be academic hubris to assume otherwise. This is so in general. More specifically and politically, however, there is the academic research about people and places by researchers with backgrounds different from their subjects. The ignorance of fundamental aspects of the lives of these subjects is not always written into our findings. The challenge here is how to fashion our academic writing such that it expresses both our knowing and also our not knowing simultaneously. My question is how might our declared not knowing be written into the form and style of our writing?