November 13, 2022
Joyce Kinkead

Joyce Kinkead, whose recent book A Writing Studies Primer (Broadview, 2022) begins with the first writing systems in Sumer in 3200 BCE, was featured on The Conversation as well as on Chicago NPR Nerdette podcast talking about the long history of writer’s block.

Joyce reflects, “When I was working on this comprehensive history of writing around the world, I noticed that writers have been turning to goddesses, Muses, and patron saints since the first scribes made cuneiform indentations in clay.” The transition from just tallying bundles of wheat to actual storytelling meant that writing became more complicated. Early scribes called on Nisaba, goddess of grain and writing, to improve their handwriting skills. Calling on muses or using crystals that promote creativity continues today for some writers.

“Getting our research out into the public eye is important to demystify what we do in the humanities,” Joyce says. “Increasingly, I’m thinking of expanding our audience to explain what we do in our profession.”