Site-Writing as Holding

 The term “holding” is used here to denote not only the actual physical holding of the infant, but also the total environmental provision prior to the concept of living with. In other words, it refers to a three-dimensional or space relationship with time gradually added. (D. W. Winnicott, “The Theory of the Parent-Infant Relationship,” (1960)


In early March when COVID19 arrived in the UK, I was on strike, as part of the University Colleges Union, our third strike in two years. This one, called Four Fights, directly addressed the key issues impacting academic workers as a result of the marketization of the university sector, including pay, workload, equality and casualization. On the 11th day of the strike, Thursday the 12th of March 2020, I read an “Open Letter to the Trade Union Movement” from Labour Transformed. This encouraged us to close our picket at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, as an act of social solidarity with the UK’s National Health Service, to help to “flatten the peak” of the COVID19 pandemic. Over that weekend, we (Polly Gould, David Roberts and I) transformed the pedagogy of our site-writing MA module from picket line teachouts to teaching on zoom. These zoom site-writing sessions produced what I have come to call “holding environments.” In the zoom grid we found ourselves next to each other, in new ways, different each time. Despite the physical distance, this process of reconfiguring our relations spatially created new proximities between us, transitional spaces that allowed our writing to flow in fresh patterns.


Jane Rendell, ‘Site-Writing as Holding,’ special issue of the JAE, ‘Pedagogies for a Broken World,’ edited by Igor Marjanovic, Jay Cephas and Ana Miljački, v. 78, n. 2 (Fall 2022), pp. 201-22.

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