Arena Research FibonacciThe proposed Brighton/Royal Holloway Research Skills Enrichment provision comprises four inter-related strands responding to the hermeneutic challenges of the research impact agenda. These include the digital transformation of sources, and new ways of working within and accessing communities of practice, affecting the process of knowledge production and so the overall interpretive process. In all strands, participants will deal with tangible data and case-study materials, producing outcomes combining hermeneutic insights with practical engagement. The programme addresses the new research environment which demands increased literacy across material and virtual contexts. The programme will equip doctoral students and ECRs to select appropriate hermeneutic pathways when working with historical objects, artefacts, performances, live events and recordings, and in co-production of knowledge and practice.

The strands are

(i) MasterClasses featuring a leading scholar with a track record in influencing interdisciplinary research and methodological thinking. In intensive sessions the theory/method relationship is explored drawing on the scholar’s research and illuminating the analytical/interpretive process;

(ii) evaluation of models of co-production of knowledge rooted in cases of participatory arts, drawing upon Brighton’s Community and University Partnership Programme (CUPP) and Royal Holloway’s expertise in community-based research in the arts;

(iii) workshops on ‘Navigating the Analogue and the Digital’, based in Brighton’s world-leading Design Archives, enabling participants to experience both hands-on working with objects and materials, and the context of increasing digitization of archives and archival materials;

(iv) consideration of experiential and creative writing’s place in the research process, building upon the success of this element of Royal Holloway’s practice-based PhD workshop series. All strands will generate collaboratively produced online materials.

Content of Skills Development Package (SDP)

Researchers in the arts/humanities are facing a convergence of issues challenging methodological and interpretive frameworks that have relied on lone scholarship or research networks; these are a) the need to engage with those beyond the academy for whom knowledge production is central to their work/activity (this includes but is not limited to the impact agenda); b) digitization and its effects on access to knowledge, across textual and visual, spoken and gestural, forms. Researchers need to both engage with and form new communities of practice – with for instance curators, artists, community groups and charities – that sustain research and the co-production of knowledge. For this they need new skills which this programme/package aims to provide. The proposed Skills Development Package is made up of 9 day-long sessions, primarily for research students, in four strands, and 2 day-long sessions for ECRs, over an 18-month period. These comprise MasterClasses on Method/Theory; workshops on ‘Co-Production of Knowledge’, ‘Navigating Analogue, Digital and the Archive’, and ‘Experiential/Creative Writing and Co-production’; and a 2-day workshop for ECRs/supervisors on the development of their research portfolios in partnership and collaboration with others.

i. MasterClasses on method/theory (2 classes):

In each of the MasterClasses the selected group of 24 students will spend a full day engaging with and interrogating a key figure whose work has influenced scholarship, research and, in particular, methodological thinking in the humanities and related socio-cultural fields. The scholar/practitioner will recommend up to four selected pieces from his/her oeuvre that participants must read before the event, though they will be encouraged to read more widely and deeply into the scholar’s body of work. The selections will prioritise innovative theoretical debate and associated methodological issues that transcend the specific specialist subject matter of any single field. This will be aimed at deepening the participants’ understanding of interdisciplinary issues in theoretical as well as applied terms. Students will be invited to draw on their own project and practice-based research in discussion aimed to encourage intellectual engagement with conceptual questions generating insights into both practice and analysis. MasterClass contributors will be drawn from the following, all of whom have worked with Brighton and/or Royal Holloway, or have discussed potential contributions in this MasterClass format: Professor Hans-Ulrich Gumbrecht, theorist of cultural presence (Stanford University); Professor George Ritzer, theorist of globalization and McDonaldization (University of Maryland); Professor Etienne Wenger, theorist of communities of practice and learning theory (freelance intellectual); Professor Baroness Haleh Afshar, University of York; Jonathan Burrows, leading UK and European choreographer; Mr Paul Hayward, award-winning UK sport journalist; Professor Sherry Turkle, media/consumption theorist (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); Professor Sylvia Walby, gender specialist, Lancaster University; Robert Macfarlane, Fellow of Emmanuel College (Cambridge), award-winning writer on nature, landscape and cultural perception. The consistent focus in the MasterClasses will be upon not what the work of the scholar reports or claims, but upon the process whereby s/he has developed the analysis and the argument, in an hermeneutic journey balancing conceptual, analytical, observational and experiential insights. The MasterClass programme provides the opportunity for modelling, illustrating and illuminating methodological approaches, combining critical reflection and interpretation of practice. This will involve probing the place in the scholars’ work of collaborative approaches: for instance, the researcher’s relationship with subjects in the research; or the researcher’s contact with constituencies and communities potentially affected by the research. The question of whether, methodologically, one can ever be a ‘lone scholar’ will be raised, as the MasterClasses lay the foundation for the second element of the SDP. A short (25 minute) film will be commissioned, focusing upon the students’ experiences of the MasterClasses and the scholars’ reflections upon the events.

ii. Co-production of knowledge (2 workshops):

Models of co-production of knowledge will be examined and assessed, drawing upon the University of Brighton’s CUPP (Community and University Partnership Programme) scheme/initiative, examining the potential and complexity of co-production processes and dynamics in participatory arts, and the question of the generation of data and knowledge in nonoral forms. In the first workshop the formulation of the idea of co-production, in the work of Sheila Jasanoff, and in models and contexts in Andrea Cornwall’s The Participation Reader (Zed, 2011) will provide a conceptual and empirical framework for the re-evaluation of selected examples of co-production in the CUPP portfolio, and a range of examples from Brighton and Royal Holloway’s AHRC collaborative and practice-based doctoral projects, including research in/with community-based performing arts, and models of partnership with community groups, social scientists and arts researchers; for instance, Alice Fox, Artistic Director of the learning disabled, Rockets Artists Group, on the ethics and use of participative methodology in working with communities of practice. In the second workshop, participants will present drafts of case studies, including live performance, that will be published online.

iii. Navigating Analogue, Digital and the Archive (2 workshops):

Digital technologies and processes have transformed access to sources, but also raised issues concerning the nature of the archive and the relationship of the archivist to the researcher. Dr Catherine Moriarty, Curatorial Director of the University of Brighton Design Archives, will facilitate two day-long workshops on ‘Navigating the Analogue and the Digital’, based in the Design Archives of the University of Brighton, which will enable participants to experience both the hands-on element of working with objects and materials, and the context of increasing digitization of archives and archival materials. It will explore the transformation of ‘hidden’ archival content into digital forms, looking to understand fully what the analogue/digital relationship really means for research and for archival and curatorial practice. The context of live events will also be introduced with focus upon the relationship between the ephemeral and material traces of the live event/performance. In the second workshop, teams of three or four participants will trial online materials/exhibitions drafted between the workshops.

iv. Experiential/Creative Writing and Co-production (3 workshops, in residential single session):

The place of the researcher within the research process itself has become an increasingly significant question in contemporary humanities. In influential cases – such as the work of W.G. Sebald and Robert Macfarlane – the blend of the experiential and the observational has pioneered an interdisciplinary approach to cultural analysis and reportage. Royal Holloway’s Centre for Creative Writing which includes lecturers such as Andrew Motion, Jo Shapcott, Doug Cowie, Adam Roberts, Ben Markovits, and has innovated approaches to creative critical writing in its Cutting Objects into Slices series, is well placed to develop this strand. In a three-day residential workshop, the potential for the self as source will be examined, in forms of writing exercises geared towards the dissemination of research drawing upon a variety of writing styles and creative writing techniques; representing the point-of-view and perspectives of partners and stakeholders in the research process; and illuminating the potential of the auto-ethnographic and the biographical in humanities research. Such writing techniques will also be reviewed in the light of their potential to disseminate research and research findings to multiple communities beyond the traditional constituencies of the academic researcher, including through online outlets such as blogs and tweets. In small-group teams, participants will generate sample texts/materials of particular models and cases for online publication.

ARENA induction, Tuesday 16th September 2014

Room M2, Centre for Research and Development, College of Arts and Humanities, 58-67 Grand Parade, Brighton BN2 0JY


2.00pm: Welcome and introductions

2.20pm: Programme Leader, Professor Alan Tomlinson, on the rationale for the programme and the projected schedule, and discussion.

3.30pm: Tea break

3.45pm: The Workshops: brief introductions by Workshop Conveners (Alice Fox, Professor Catherine Moriarty, Dr Kristen Kreider), with discussion.

4.30pm: The website and the forum: establishing creative dialogue; participation and collaboration in doctoral work.

5.00pm: Close of Induction session

Please see below the presentation which Professor Alan Tomlinson gave to the ARENA participants on Tuesday 16 September 2014 at the induction session. Click on the first slide to see them in sequence:

Please see below the list of the PhD students who are participating in the ARENA programme, together with the members of staff who are directly involved with the project.  There is also a statement by Professor Tomlinson about the project.  Both these will also be in your induction pack.

Statement about ARENA by Professor Alan Tomlinson, Programme Leader

We at the University of Brighton and Royal Holloway (University of London) are excited to have the opportunity to plan, support and stage such an innovative and integrated programme, in which individual scholarly excellence will be blended with collaborative and creative approaches.  We are sure that the core group of ARENA and all other participants – ECRs as well as doctoral students, and programme session conveners – will find real benefits from the programme; benefits in line with the AHRC’s initiatives and hopes in promoting the Collaborative Skills Development scheme of which ARENA is a part.

As Programme Leader, I am confident that this time next year we will look back at our ARENA experience and see extensive evidence of truly enriching individual and collaborative activities enhancing our research projects and skills.


Bergit Arends Royal Holloway
John Barlow Brighton
Elizabeth Bennett Royal Holloway
Katie Boxall Royal Holloway
Liz Bruchet Brighton
Kimberley Chandler Brighton
Anja Crabb Brighton
Bahar Khayamian Esfahani Brighton
Aycan Garip Brighton
Cara Gray Royal Holloway
Uschi Klein Brighton
Jayne Lloyd Royal Holloway
Ishita Mandrekar Royal Holloway
Emma Miles Royal Holloway
Lujain Mirza Brighton
Melaneia Warwick Brighton



Professor Alan Tomlinson, Programme Leader Brighton
Alice Fox, Workshop 1 Convener Brighton
Professor Catherine Moriarty, Workshop 2 Convener Brighton
Dr Kristen Kreider, Workshop 3 Convener Royal Holloway

Response (1)

  1. Kimberley Chandler
    12/10/2014 at 1:16 pm · Reply

    In the first ARENA Master Class, Dr Etienne Wenger made the distinction between “competence” and “knowledgeability” in relation to “communities of practice”—both of which directly address the question of specialism. A competent practitioner is one who demonstrates the ability or skill to do something well, which can be read in the renewed interest in craftsmanship in recent years; while knowledge-ability—the ability to be knowledgeable—is about adaptability and imagination. A practitioner who demonstrates knowledgeability can sufficiently negotiate the varied landscape of practice, while not necessarily being the most competent. “Knowledgeability is an improvisational dance”, asserts Wenger, which sounds compelling to contemporary practitioners. In a world where makers are often working outside of the confines of their discipline—what Glenn Adamson refers to as the “post-studio environment”—knowledgeability is about a dialogue with practice that is provisional, dynamic, and incredibly inventive.


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