UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities


Writing Your World

Anne Helen Petersen and Kerry-Jo Reilly, UCL Writing Lab Convenor, led a guided writing programme which was open to all.

Lead Speaker: Anne Helen Petersen

Anne Helen Petersen is a journalist and author of four books, including Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation and the forthcoming Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home. Previously, she was a senior culture writer at BuzzFeed News; she currently writes the newsletter Culture Study, which you can explore at annehelen.substack.com. She received her Ph.D. in media studies from the University of Texas, and has written broadly about the history of celebrity and work culture.

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Kerry-Jo Reilly 

'In the 'Writing Your World' event, writer and journalist Anne Helen Petersen explored writing and reporting processes and forms students might experiment with, and spoke of the difficulties and pleasures of trying out these different forms. She related her own career journey, the parts of her job she has found intimidating, the importance of listening carefully and remaining open, and broke down her process in the creation of 2 published articles, giving a kind of behind-the-scenes view of work that combines field reporting, theory and personal experience. The event also served as the opening workshop of the Writing Lab's summer-long guided writing programme that will support students to follow their curiosity across subject matters, explore new forms of writing output, identify platforms/audiences for themselves, and make connections to their communities, as well as to wider social realities. In addition to three more written sets of guidance and a closing workshop in September from Dr Petersen, writers Chris La Tray, Keith Jarrett and Rianna Walcott will deliver further guidance and workshops, alongside retreats and feedback on written drafts from the Writing Lab tutors'.


Open Event - Writing Your World

From June 2021

This was a stand-alone event that also served as the opening workshop of a guided writing programme designed to support students follow their curiosity across subject matters, explore new forms of writing output, and identify platforms / audiences.

Students explored writing and reporting processes, different forms to experiment with, and difficulties / pleasures of trying out these different forms. Attendees were encouraged to follow their own research curiosity, find opportunities for writing in their own fields and communities, and shown how to make to writing relevant to wider social realities.

Live workshops bookended a summer of asynchronous input from Anne Helen Petersen, further guidance from other guest writers and optional feedback sessions, supporting your writing experiments and projects.  

Researching, Reporting & Writing Your World: A Summer-long Programme to Support Your Explorations in Writing

June 2021

  • Live workshop with Anne Helen Petersen
  • Release of Course Pack
  • Input from Chris La Tray
  • Online question box to send questions to the writers 


  • Email from Anne Helen Petersen
  • Input from Rianna Walcott
  • Online question box to send questions to the writers 
  • Opportunity for feedback and discussion on your writing drafts from Writing Lab Teaching Assistant and Convenor
  • Half-day online writing retreat 


  • Email from Anne Helen Petersen
  • Input from Keith Jarrett
  • Online question box to send questions to the writers 
  • Opportunity for feedback and discussion on your writing drafts from Writing Lab Teaching Assistant and Convenor
  • Half-day online writing retreat 


  • Monday 13th September, 5pm-6pm: Live workshop with Anne Helen Petersen

In this programme, we are exploring writing practice beyond the academic essay, giving you a grounding some key forms you might wish to pursue, and offering some feedback on your drafts throughout the summer. There will be no set parameters or writing requirements for you to complete. Rather, we support you to take your time and follow what interests and inspires you; you might write reviews of a cultural form and submit to a publication, or write guest blog posts, or complete personal essays / creative non-fiction works, or turn some of your academic research into a journal paper, or write some curatorial notes based on exploration of an archive at a museum in your community.  Beyond extending your writing skills, it may also support you to think about your careers and passions beyond your degree. Dr Petersen has experience of writing in academia, as a full-time journalist, in setting up a private Facebook group ‘Celebrity Gossip Academic Style’, a viral article had 7 million views leading to a book, and now with direct-to-consumer platforms which offers the chance to write in ways that don't confirm to traditional platforms’ pressures – her email newsletter Culture Study on Substack, and a “virtual newsroom” with 7 other writers on Discord.  
We will explore: 

  • nuance and curiosity as lodestars 
  • both staying in the questions and building a narrative 
  • the nature of research 
  • thinking about your own experiences and interests - asking what do I want to think about deeply? 
  • form and platform 

We will introduce other writers to help us explore possibilities, and consider how what we discover in our research and writing might pose questions about what the future could look like.

Here is the Writing Lab's Moodle page, which you can enrol in to take part in the programme over the summer - see the last section, 'Writing Your World'. 

Lead Teacher: Anne Helen Petersen

Profile photo of Anne Helen Petersen



Guest Writers

Rianna Walcott

Profile photo of Rianna Walcott

Rianna Walcott (she/her) is an LAHP-funded PhD candidate at Kings College London researching Black women’s identity formation in digital spaces, and a graduate twice over from the University of Edinburgh. She co-founded projectmyopia.com, a website that promotes inclusivity in academia and a decolonised curriculum. She frequently writes about feminism, mental health, race and literature for publications including The Wellcome Collection, The Metro, The Guardian, The BBC, Vice, and Dazed. Rianna is co-editor of an anthology about BAME mental health – The Colour of Madness, and in the time left over, she moonlights as a professional jazz singer. Rianna tweets at @rianna_walcott and more about her work can be found at riannawalcott.com

Chris La Tray

Profile photo of Chris La Tray

Chris La Tray is a Métis writer and storyteller. His first book, One-Sentence Journal: Short Poems and Essays From the World At Large (2018, Riverfeet Press) won the 2018 Montana Book Award and a 2019 High Plains Book Award. His next book, Becoming Little Shell, will be published by Milkweed Editions in 2022. Chris is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and lives near Missoula, Montana.



Keith Jarrett

Profile photo of Keith Jarrett

Keith Jarrett is a writer, performer and educator based in London. UK poetry slam champion and FLUPP International Poetry Slam Winner (Rio), his work has included bilingual performances in Bilbao and Madrid, in addition to UK-wide commissions. His poem, ‘From the Log Book’, was projected onto the façade of St. Paul’s Cathedral and broadcast as a commemorative art installation, Where Light Falls, in 2019. His play, Safest Spot in Town, was performed at the Old Vic and aired on BBC Four. Selah, his poetry collection, was published in 2017.



Teaching Assistant

Saffron East

Profile photo of Saffron East

Saffron is a postgraduate research student in the History Department at UCL, looking at Black politics in postwar Britain. Saffron did a BA in History at the University of East Anglia and a master’s in Public History and Cultural Heritage at Trinity College Dublin before taking a short break from academia. Saffron worked in museums, archives and the arts/ heritage sector for a while, then completed a CELTA (certificate in teaching English as a second/other language) and spent just over a year teaching English in France (Nancy), working with adults, young learners and at universities.