A Shared Cabin in the Woods

The Presence and Presents of Writing in Residential Academic Writing Retreats


  • Snežana Ratković Brock Univeristy
  • Michelle K. McGinn Brock University
  • Dragana Martinovic University of Windsor
  • Ruth McQuirter Scott Brock University






In this paper, we investigated a model of academic development based upon a recurring residential academic writing retreat combining individual writing times, workshops, work-in-progress groups and one-on-one consultations with shared meals and informal gatherings in a natural environment. Using a case study research approach, we analysed data accumulated from seven annual residential writing retreats for education scholars. Participants included 39 academics, administrative staff, senior doctoral students and community partners from multiple institutions. We found evidence that the retreats enhanced participants’ knowledge of writing and publishing processes, advanced their academic careers, built scholarly capacity at their institutions and strengthened writing pedagogy. The data indicated that the presence of writing and writers at the residential academic writing retreats generated presents (i.e., gifts) for the participants. The presence of writing time, writing goals and writing activities in the company of other writers were key to the retreat pedagogy. Participants appreciated gifts of time and physical space and described giving and receiving peer feedback and emotional support as forms of gift exchange within the community. The resulting writing strategies, competencies and identities provided the gift of sustainability. The analysis confirmed that this ongoing, immersive, cross-institutional, cross-rank, institutionally funded model of academic development was effective and responsive to the needs of individual scholars.

Author Biographies

Snežana Ratković, Brock Univeristy

Snežana Ratković is Research Officer and Instructor in the Faculty ofEducation at Brock University, Ontario, Canada. She has facilitatedresearch skills development programs and academic writing retreats forfaculty members and graduate students since 2005. Her research interestsinclude migration and indigeneity, transnational and transdisciplinaryteacher education, social justice leadership, decolonizing methodologies,academic writing and publishing, and research education.

Michelle K. McGinn, Brock University

Michelle K. McGinn is Professor in the Faculty of Education and InterimAssociate Vice-President Research at Brock University in St. Catharines,Ontario, Canada. Her major research interests relate to researcher development,collaboration, scholarly writing, and ethics in academic practice.She is co-investigator on the research project "Academic Researchers inChallenging Times." In addition to teaching courses in higher education,research methodology, and writing for publication, she facilitates residentialacademic writing retreats and scholarly writing workshops.

Dragana Martinovic, University of Windsor

Dr. Dragana Martinovic is a Professor at University of Windsor. She received her Ph.D. degree in Computer Applications in Education from University of Toronto and is a Fields Institute Fellow.

Ruth McQuirter Scott, Brock University

Ruth McQuirter Scott is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. Her instructional focus in teacher education is Language Arts, with a special interest in the meaningful integration of educational technology. Ruth’s current research interests include Makerspace in elementary classrooms, and the development of digital curation skills in pre-service teachers. She is also an avid writer of memoir and short fiction. Ruth can be reached at rmcquirter@brocku.ca.


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How to Cite

Ratković, S., McGinn, M. K., Martinovic, D., & McQuirter Scott, R. (2019). A Shared Cabin in the Woods: The Presence and Presents of Writing in Residential Academic Writing Retreats. Writing & Pedagogy, 11(2), 165-194. https://doi.org/10.1558/wap.35630



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