Workshop Leaders: Dr Hannah McPherson, Lecturer, University of Brighton and Alice Fox, Principal Lecturer, University of Brighton.
Many doctoral projects are undertaken as forms of collaboration with partner institutions, sponsors and end users, for instance, and the dynamics of collaboration and co-production have become increasingly important as work in the arts and humanities seeks to embed research and its outcomes in socially engaged contexts. But co-production also involves materials, settings, environments, and the ARENA workshop in November explored a range of dynamics and relationships that can both challenge and inspire the doctoral researcher.
View the 3 minute ‘taster’ trailer here.(Day 2)
View the film here. (Day 2)
What some of the ARENA participants said following the Workshop:
“I would strongly recommend this workshop to any researcher or (anyone for that matter) who is in need of a fresh perspective on the benefits and struggles of co-producing and/or collaborating, either with others or other materials.”
“The workshop was very helpful to do research in a practical way. It made the theory work in practice and made me to think about different aspects of my research with different perspectives.”
“So for me it was a great demonstration of just how dynamic co-production needs to be and I especially enjoyed applying that dynamism to materials.”
“A really well devised cross-disciplinary session for various subject’s researchers to come together and collaborate”
“The ideas of collaborating and co-producing knowledge through materials (non – human) was really helpful in informing my research”
“This two-day workshop …. was an opportunity to engage with key themes ‘outside of the classroom’ and allowed us to creatively engage with ideas around co-production and interpretation (for example curating our own exhibition). It helped me relax and put into perspective the demands of a PhD and realise ….. that everyone struggles with the process sometimes….. It made me realise that ‘doing’ – for example getting out and researching (when stuck) – is a good way of reigniting the whole process of doing a PhD.”
“Doing a participatory study for my PhD I very much work with individuals collaboratively so the workshop opened up discussions and themes that I am using during the length of my study– not so much in form of copying certain things and exercises we did but more widely in form of understanding individual’s needs, interpretations, perspectives and thought processes during our collaborations.”
On Day 1, principles of co-production were explored from the perspective of qualitative research methodology and research design, and the University of Brighton’s CUPP (Community University Partnership Programme) work. Some participatory exercises opened up the question of how collaboration develops, of what sort of relationships underlie and potentially stimulate co-production, and Alice Fox illustrated cases of co-production from her work in Inclusive Arts.
Below you will find slides from the workshop. The first are those from Professor Alan Tomlinson’s presentation, the second of David Wolff’s.
Click on the first slide to view as a show, then click on each slide to see the following one:
Click on the first slide to view as a show:
In the afternoon of Day 1, Alice Fox led a practical workshop about collaboration with other people. The participants were asked to work in pairs to either collaborate in drawing a pineapple, or to refuse to collaborate, each person trying to draw a pineapple their own way. At the end of the exercise, they were asked to reflect on what they had learnt by attaching a label with their thoughts to one of two pineapple pictures. Below are some photos of these exercises.
On Day 2, co-production themes framed a participatory workshop at Whitecliffs Cafe, Saltdean, and in a non-academic natural setting the beach, the cliffs and the sea provided stimulus and sources for participants to collectively explore their approaches to co-production, and their relationship to the doctoral process. The 3 minute film is a taster of what the day offered and how participants worked together and articulated their views of their research experience, and we invite you to watch the longer film that presents the creative and inventive fashion in which these were expressed.
Day 2 – 3 minute ‘taster’ trailer here.
Day 2 – full film here.
Some photos from Day 2 exercises
18th February 2015, M2 Grand Parade, Brighton
The ARENA programme ran two workshops for ECRs in February 2015, attracting 11 participants. This was an adaptation of the two-day workshop run for the core group in November 2014, though concentrating upon the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of the longer workshop. Theories and debates about the nature of collaboration in research, participatory action research as developed in particular contexts, and the challenges of co-production, framed the discussions. Participants included experienced researchers and cultural producers in documentary film-making, commercial contract and market research, as well as practice-based research in the academy. The wide professional and practitioner base of the groups brought to life the methodological and epistemological themes of the programme, raising core issues of the relationship between collaboration, co-production and interpretive responsibility; essentially, the complex hermeneutics of collective work.
The Keep, Falmer, Brighton (5th March) and JISC building, London (6th March)
Workshop Leader: Professor Catherine Moriarty, University of Brighton.
Navigating the Analogue, the Digital and the Archive
This two-day event took the archive as its starting point. Over the two days we sought to unpick what the archive meant in the past for researchers and academics and what it means now. We wanted ARENA participants to look closely at how the archive remains both a tangible site and repository but also at how the term has evolved, becoming a powerful metaphor across the humanities, a vital element within critical and cultural theory, and how it now pervades the language of daily life. Allied to this, we wanted to explore how the very components of the archive and the environments in which archival content is preserved and interrogated have evolved and will continue to evolve. To this end, we built a journey about material transformation that also emphasised transformation in meaning.
Feedback from participants
“The fact that everyone was very passionate about their areas of practice was very inspiring”.
“My previous knowledge and understanding of the archive was pretty basic so the workshop has definitely enhanced my understanding and ignited an interest in using archives for my own research”.
“The workshop encouraged me to be more open-minded in regards to archives and their role as a repository of public knowledge”.
“It’s vastly contributed to my understanding of the complexity of the issues of authority on the archive, and also how the information is ordered and presented to us”.
“If we don’t work to improve the marginalised not being visible in searches, the digital age contributes to the prejudices of past societies”.
“It was great to be reminded of the material culture of objects and to get a very incisive theoretical framin”.
The first day of the workshop focused on the materiality of texts and images, and then the dematerialised text and image. We wanted to consider how texts rest on and inhabit supports that are made in particular ways at particular times – be it papyrus or a Powerpoint slide.
It began with a presentation by Sirpa Kutilainen (Design Archives Preservation and Digital Resources Co-ordinator)
in which the technologies and labour of papermaking were aligned with a discussion of the form and material properties of paper. Involving the handling of various samples, the session concluded with a tour by Melissa Williams (Conservator, The Keep) who led participants through the public, secure storage and conservation facilities of The Keep.
The second session, led by Professor David Arnold (University of Brighton) http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/staff/david-arnold introduced the notion of the surrogate in both historical and contemporary contexts. It considered how, in the 1800s, numerous works were copied in plaster ranging from large-scale architectural features to smaller-scale sculptures for use mainly in exhibitions and education. More recently, opinions have tended to emphasise the need to have access to the original artefact and its embedded narrative. Professor Arnold then explored the range of digital objects that might be considered as surrogates and the cultural heritage challenges that they can help to meet, alongside the curatorial and research concerns that arise in their use.
Moving on from the materialised to the dematerialised context we then sought to focus on the archive as an information structure and the importance of understanding how the archive is shaped by its arrangement and description, and how these ideas have evolved over time. Our final session ‘The theory and practice of archives: an introduction’ was led by Sue Breakell, Design Archives Archivist and Research Fellow. http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/staff/sue-breakell
Her talk introduced participants to the professional work of archives and the historical foundation to the theories that underpin the key principles of archival practice. Her talk demonstrated the hierarchical structuring of archival information that makes it so distinct from library or museum collections. She also considered contemporary debates about archives and records management in material and digital contexts.
The second day of the workshop took place at the offices of Jisc, in London.
The first session, led by Jane Stevenson (Archives Hub Manager, Jisc) http://www.jisc.ac.uk/staff/jane-stevenson introduced participants to the concept of linked data and how information in electronic environments can be accessed and connected in ways that move across the traditional archival structures explored the previous afternoon. Jane invited participants to comment on their experiences of searching and finding information on the web, on searching versus exploring, and on their understanding of connections between different kinds and sources of data.
This was followed by Anna Kisby (Data Editor, Exploring British Design) http://annackisby.webs.com/ who introduced the concept behind this AHRC-funded Design Archives/Jisc project.http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/collections/design-archives/projects/exploring-british-design Anna described the role of name authority files and the ways that compiling data about individuals has the potential to build news stories and connections that complicate and extend conventional monographic and hierarchical data models.
The final session, led by Dr Lesley Whitworth (Design Archives Deputy Curator) http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/staff/lesley-whitworth addressed the circulation of archival objects beyond the archive and notions of curation and interpretation. It took the form of a visit to the Hayward Gallery exhibition History is Now: 7 artists take on Britain. http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/history-is-now-7-artists-take-88866
The exhibition included a section curated by artist Richard Wentworth in which various items from the University of Brighton Design Archives and from the V&A were arranged alongside artworks and publications from the immediate post-war years. Discussion centred on issues of custodial care and the fluidity of meaning that representation and exhibition brings about.
Participants then explored the other sections of the exhibition in which artists addressed questions of cultural history in numerous ways. It proved to be a lively and thought-provoking conclusion to two days of absorbing debate.
Participants were invited to read the following texts prior to the workshop:
Ann Laura Stoler, Along the archival grain: epistemic anxieties and colonial common sense (2009), specifically Chapter Two ‘The Pulse of the Archive’.
Terry Cook, ‘Archival Science and Postmodernism: New Formulations for Old Concepts’ (2000). http://www.mybestdocs.com/cook-t-postmod-p1-00.htm
Participants were invited to explore the two websites listed below, and to undertake searches relevant to their own research.
The Archives Hub http://www.archiveshub.ac.uk/
The Prototype History Research Tool of Social Networks & Archival Context http://socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu/home_prototype.html
For more information about the research work and holdings of the University of Brighton Design Archives visit http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/collections/design-archives
Follow us on Twitter:
The Keep, East Sussex http://www.thekeep.info/
Jisc office, London http://www.jisc.ac.uk/
Hayward Gallery, London http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/venues/hayward-gallery
Hosted by the University of Brighton Design Archives http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/collections/design-archives
Workshop Leader: Professor Catherine Moriarty http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/staff/catherine-moriarty
Workshop Leader: Dr Kristen Kreider, Royal Holloway, University of London, assisted by Dr Elizabeth Reeder, University of Glasgow, Elizabeth Fusco, University of Edinburgh, and Dr Jessica Moriarty, University of Brighton
As part of the ARENA Skills Enhancement Programme, Dr Kristen Kreider hosted a three-day residential workshop series from 10th June – Friday, 12th June intended to explore writing from experience, situating the self in research, writing for and reaching multiple communities of readers and researchers. The residency involved workshops run by myself as well as three guests including Maria Fusco (University of Edinburgh), Elizabeth Reeder (University of Glasgow) and Jess Moriarty (University of Brighton).
The residency was held at Emerson College in near Ashdown Forest on the outskirts of the village of Forest Row in East Sussex. This was an extraordinary location: beautiful grounds, fresh and healthy meals that we all ate together and sparse accommodation (single rooms with a sink, bed and desk) where we each retired in the evening. All of this combined to set the time of the residency off from our ‘everyday’ and to foster a sense of community that was conducive to learning, experimenting and thinking about different modalities, forms and approaches to writing.
Feedback from participants:
“I really enjoyed it – all the speakers and workshops were brilliant and really helped me with thinking and writing about my research”
“The afternoon with Elizabeth was an absolute treat. I saw ‘Antigone’ at the Barbican earlier this year in the new translation by Anne Carson and it was wonderful to discover the short stories through such an energetic and enjoyable close reading. It was quite moving. Despite my scepticism of autoethnography that arose particularly through the varied selection of papers sent beforehand, I very much enjoyed the session with Jess. The writing exercises very much contributed to my understanding of the potential nuances and applications of autoethnography in its many forms. Kristen led the discussions beautifully – even though I would have preferred a quick discussion of the Cixous film – and I am excited about new perspectives and ideas for my work and writing. A big thank you!”
“Despite my scepticism of autoethnography that arose particularly through the varied selection of papers sent beforehand, I very much enjoyed the session with Jess.”
…”a big thank you to all the speakers, and especially Kristen, who was absolutely brilliant and really put a lot of work into making it an inspiring three days!”
3-day programme here:
In the first workshop, the emphasis was on research as a practice. Here we looked at how, when engaged in research, the act of searching itself (our method) as much as the communication of our findings through writing and other means actually makes our ‘object’ of knowledge. In other words, knowledge is not something that is simply ‘out there’ for us to find: knowledge is made; knowledge, itself, is a practice. Throughout the workshop we engaged in specific writing exercises in relation to the objects, images, words/sentences and theories that the students had been asked to bring to the table. In doing so, it was important to recognize that, while these things were not, themselves, our research/objects of knowledge, we could use our writerly engagement with them to look for our research as well as to look at our practice of making knowledge. Throughout the workshop we employed the practice of ‘universal teaching’, working in pairs to ask questions, continually directing one another back to the materials at hand and our process of engaging with them.
Preparatory reading for session 1 suggested by Dr Kristen Kreider:
Rancière, J. (1991) The Ignorant One’s Lesson. In Rancière, J. The Ignorant Schoolmaster. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Maria Fusco (Edinburgh College of Art)
Donald: from Noun to Verb
The second workshop, run by Maria Fusco, worked through a particular case study – Fusco’s own work – in order to find the conditions that shape research. Using the case study, we found that the conditions shaping this work involved Time, Proximity and a One-to-One scale. Fusco then worked expertly with the group, dividing them into small groups, in order to tease out other possible conditions. The conditions proposed were Sphere (of influence/relation), Reciprocity and Material. (Importantly, we understood that there could be others as well.) Based on these conditions, we then set out to devise research questions that would particularly address these conditions. The workshop then moved into a very careful unpacking of what a research question is, how it addresses the conditions and how this shapes the research method and process. We were encouraged to be clear, specific and directive in formulating our questions, which would become the guide on our quest or search for (making new) knowledge as much as they would become the guide for an external examiner.
Preparatory readings for session 2 suggested by Maris Fusco:
Fusco, M. (2011) Copulation Mécanique/ The Mechanical Copula. Berlin: New York: Sternberg Press.
Fusco, M. (2012) Start the Revolution without Me: Notes on Comic Face. E.R.O.S. (2): 28-37. London: Eros Press.
Guattari, F. (2009) Project for a Film by Kafka. Deleuze Studies. 3(2):150-161.
Wittig, M. (1969) Les Guérillères. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Dr Elizabeth Reeder (University of Glasgow)
Catastrophe, Exuberance and Editing: Creative Practice and Radical Essaying
This workshop looked at essaying as a revolutionary practice fraught with danger, failure and unexpected pleasures and consequences. Reading essays by Judith/Jack Halberstam, Anne Carson and Claudia Rankine, we looked at ways in which breaking form with expectations might impact our creative processes and thinking when we’re making. As a part of this discussion, we close read these essays discussing content, structure and editorial approaches.
Preparatory readings for session 3 suggested by Dr Elizabeth Reeder:
Carson, A. (2009) Variations on the Right to Remain Silent. A Public Space. (7): 175-187.
Carson, A. (1992) Introduction (excerpts). In Carson, A. Short Talks. London, Ontario: Brick Books.
Halberstam, J. (2011) Introduction. In Halberstam, J. A Queer Art of Failure. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Rankine, C. (2014) World Cup. In Rankine, C. Citizen: An American Lyric. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press.
Dr Elizabeth Reeder’s summary of her workshop:
My workshops for ARENA took place on an incredibly sunny and warm day and aimed to expand the field of consideration of approaches to making, research, thinking and writing within academia and also out towards other audiences.
The first session focused on exuberance, failure, getting lost and re-vitalising the meaning of rigour, particularly in practice-led research context. We started by looking at how a piece might fail one spec but succeed according to another, and discussed why and how you make a piece of work and how you (and others) judge it a success. This included a discussion about making your critical skills and engagement with the work of others and your own work incredibly flexible and robust – a skill we returned to in our discussion of the essay.
Using Halberstam’s The Queer Art of Failure and Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts as starting points, we looked at how failure can help define what we don’t know and what doesn’t work and also take us into wildly different directions in terms of the questions we ask, the approaches we take, the research we do, the practices we adopt and the radicalness of the ideas we can put out into the world (and enact). We discussed the failure of pronouns and how language fails us again and again – and yet this is the main medium for academic work and this grappling with the impossible is part of why we do what we do. We looked at the importance of getting lost referencing Solnit, Benjamin and Sebald. I put forth a call for us to reclaim rigour as a word that can come to mean a process and environment that includes time and space for wandering, uncertainty, failure, re-assessment, editorial interrogation and not necessarily producing what was on your spec/proposal etc. There’s a necessary and demanded agility and attention here, demanded by the work being made.
The Essay session started from the premise that an essay can sally, can place radical elements together, can build trust even as it breaks conventions and rules and ideas of how knowledge can be conveyed and experienced. We did a close reading of Anne Carson’s “Introduction to Short Talks” and one or two short talks looking at linguistic and structural choices made in alternative constructions of knowledge conveyance. We then discussed Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, which provided an applied example of using our research skills, poetry and art to approach difficult, necessary ideas. In Citizen, Rankine draws our attention to everyday racism and the citizenship and hyper-visibility and invisibility of black men and women. The session had an obvious undercurrent: research and write about ideas and knowledge that will matter to this world. As you do this, be daring and attentive to the forms you create and choose, and interrogate the language and structure as much as the ideas for they are all essential as we put forward complex and necessary knowledge into a sometimes habituated, simplified world.
Jessica Moriarty (University of Brighton)
Autoethnography: Leaving the Blood In
Autoethnography seeks to engage readers of the research in evocative texts that detail the complex and messy lives of the researcher and the researched. This presentation reports on a research project at the University of Brighton where academics were interviewed in order to gain insights into their experiences with academic writing. The research data has been used to inform an autoethnodrama set in a fictional university on the south coast, providing the reader with an emotional text that explores experiences with academic writing and the potential ‘Impact’ on academic culture and life
This final workshop was run by Jess Moriarty and focused on the method of ‘autoethnography’ in writing. This was a helpful session, particularly as many of the students on the course are engaging in this method. Particular emphasis was given to the role of the first person in research. We were exposed to work of autoethnography as well as different reasons for its value. We engaged in a number of writing exercises throughout the session, encouraging us to situate ourselves in our research.
Preparatory readings for session 4 suggested by Dr Jessica Moriarty:
Moriarty, J. (2013) Leaving the Blood in: Experiences with an Autoethnographic Doctoral Thesis. In Contemporary British Autoethnography. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
Denzin, N.D. (2006) Analytic Autoethnography, or Déjà Vu all Over Again. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. 35(4): 419-428.
Ellis, C. (1999) Heartful Autoethnography. Qualitatative Health Research. 9(5): 669-683.
Rambo, C. (2005) Impressions of Grandmother: An Autoethnographic Portrait. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. 34(5): 560-585.
Doherty, T. (2012) Research by Numbers. Index on Censorship. 41(3)46-54.
Powerpoint from Dr Jessica Moriarty’s workshop:
Film screening of Writing Not Yet Thought. Hélène Cixous in conversation with Adrian Heathfield. Paris, September 2010.
Suggested reading for session 4b by Dr Kristen Kreider:
Cixous, Hélène (1994) Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing. New York: Columbia University Press.