We build this work from the memory of the time we stumbled into tulips at city hall. As guard sirens fled off into the night, we wondered, “Maybe we can borrow some.” We ripped handfuls from the ground and ran. “Don’t worry,” we said, “they are too busy to catch us stealing tulips.” Likewise, we get away with this useless project because others are busy doing useful work: exigent, coherent, important work. We support much of that busyness, and at the same time wonder what is lost with all that attention towards usefulness. What we offer here, through a hybrid of reflective, poetic, essayistic and scholarly forms, may be an attempted escape from the obligations of scholarship. It may be indulgent. It may tell the reader nothing, or only what the reader already knows. Yet it is oriented towards an enduring promise. This is the promise of a literary experience, understood as a kind of resonance, ineffable primarily, but nevertheless one that matters. Such a promise is found in the power and possibility of story, through poetic lines that must be broken and conceptual tethers left incommensurable. We enter this space of breaking and unfurling through an inquiry into use.
The question of use and uselessness is one way of holding human contradictions in both hands. By this we mean that we make and leave space for literary and philosophical inquiries considered useless—in that they do not resolve anything—but nevertheless matterful. We suggest that readers meander these curated pages as they \ meander through an art exhibition or a museum. Within a literary exhibition one can wander through pages, spaces, and ideas. Pause. Dwell. Think. We curate a literary home beyond the demands of making something of use and we invite the reader to sit with us. As with an exhibition, possibility cannot be controlled for and so we exist in potentiality acknowledging both its positive and negative potential. Through our use, misuse, and abuse of literature and philosophy, we make ourselves a home in a possibility that can only be offered, not demanded. We manifest this literary home through fragments of philosophy evoked through a series of microfictions.
As scholars, learners, teachers, and writers we are often asked to defend what our writing does. And it is implicitly suggested that knowledge creation is the result. What is the use of a work that cannot promise new knowledge? Literary knowledge may only be one gorgeous possible ordering. It is a practice which produces a kind of knowledge which is no knowledge, which is useless. If we must answer what it is that our writing does we suppose that—if anything—it offers up fictions for philosophizing. We explore a home for this work in scholarly contexts which too often find it useless, which is to say we position uselessness as a concept of value for our work as scholars, writers, and teachers. In the end we name no new uses but fiction; we steal tulips.
This proposition explores the potential of a pedagogy of affect as an arts- based research approach to museum education at the university level. Such an approach is predicated on a continuous movement of situated stories as the heart of the learning encounter, generated relationally between object-body-space, or artwork- learner-museum. As a forum for deliberation, the purpose of this conversation is to consider how emotions, as the basis for teaching with caring and sensory awareness, bring vitality, aliveness, and feelings to the fore. This conversation explores affective epiphanies sourced from personal practical knowledge as an expression of arts- research-in-progress. By drawing on autoethnographic life writing, I explore an alternate approach to three museum collections that demonstrate how and why the aesthetic relation of stories operate as pedagogic pivots in ways that reconfigure conventional museum engagement. Rethinking museum education with an arts research perspective is an effort to advance how context connects affective systems of knowing relationally, and why embracing stories offers new pathways to understand museum education through more expansive learning approaches, inclusive of feeling.
As a doctoral candidate ever-deepening my understandings of arts-based research methods, in general, and performative and poetic methods of inquiry in particular, this paper advances several new theories of Vox in poetic inquiry (Prendergast, 2009, 2015, 2020), playing with the generative possibilities found with/in such poeticizing as writing method, performative gesture, and reflexive praxis, while addressing intersections between the personal/public and poetry as political currency. Woven as a métissage of poetic offerings within theoretical exposition, this essay links theory, research methods, and personal explorations with/in poetic inquiry. Found poems and original compositions punctuate the proposal of several new Vox to help elucidate our myriad voices within a growing chorus of poetic inquirers singing to a variety of purposes. A journey through methodological praxis unfolds, poses further questions, and encourages ongoing exploration and practice of poetic research methodologies in diverse, rhizomatically fruiting tendrils and directions.
Poetic inquirers immerse themselves in the flow of life, listening for art in the ordinary world, offering a response through voice and written word. The biennial International Symposium on Poetic Inquiry, which draws poet-scholars from across disciplines and the world, showcases the artful use of poetry in research as a method of inquiry. In this article, the Fifth Symposium on Poetic Inquiry is relived by two attendees who interrogate found poems they each created from presentations and performances. The poems are brought together as a means of researching each author’s respective approaches to creating found poetry. In this article, the authors converse about their methodological frameworks: phenomenology and metaphor/ narrative. Central to this dialogue is how the found poem is listened for, and how artful responses are made to the pull of words. The authors conclude by considering the ethics of rehousing others’ words and the challenge this inquiry presents to our own private sense-making in academic conferences.
How can a poem be true? This autoethnographic study uses poetic inquiry to explore the boundaries between fiction and reality within poetic experience. A series of poems composed during, and about, the current COVID-19 pandemic, provides a means of understanding the experience of having one’s everyday reality overturned by crisis. A central theme of the author’s poems and accompanying reflections is how art can be used to explore psychological experiences, such as melancholia and depression, and, in turn how the experience of suffering can be used to facilitate artistic expression. Using poetic inquiry, the author examines the complex interplay between speaker and authorial intention, fiction and truth, text and the performance of writing, reading, and poetic interpretation.
Transitioning from graduate student to early career faculty can often provoke uncertainty and questioning. This study explores the rhetorical and revealing nature of such questioning (i.e., Am I really this lost? Am I in the right place?). Utilizing methods from arts based research (Barone & Eisner, 2012), specifically poetic inquiry (Prendergast et al., 2009; Richardson, 1992), we created found poetry around rhetorical questions from our existing collaborative autoethnographic journal. We frame our findings with a selection of poems to provide insight into our lived experiences of transition. The question poems illustrate that our first year as assistant professors were preoccupied with managing tasks, balancing work, avoiding burnout, building relationships, and discovering how to belong in the new context. While rhetorical questions do not necessarily produce answers, questioning in a collaborative space allowed us to explore the struggle, complexity, and ambiguity of academic identity construction as early career faculty.
In this study, I provide applied examples of using cut-up poetic inquiry as an arts-based research method for analyzing erasure poetry. The erasure poetry was composed by five poet-participants and me during a sensory ethnography that explored embodied experiences of a sexual educator training program. I first overview erasure poetics in the context of sexuality education. I explain how erasure poetry as method can interrupt authoritative proclamations of truth, while also providing a technique to grapple with complex, corporeal data – central topics in sex education research. I then theorize cut-up poetic inquiry as an additional form of erasure, asking and illustrating how the processes of cut-up can distill information to enable emergent analytic insights in the context of my research. Throughout, I meditate on how erasure poetry as an arts- based research method can contribute to discussions of language, discourse, and embodiment in sex education research.
My mother’s love of Tootsie Rolls was the only fact I could grasp after her sudden passing. I wanted to share this and other memories of her through a eulogy that was whimsical, far-ranging, and entertaining, but I struggled to write one. My struggles reminded me of other writing challenges, such as my recent dissertation proposal, although there I was partly guided by my arts-informed research methodology framework. Gradually, I found some of those methodological elements could illuminate parts of eulogy writing: formal concerns, audience, presence and engagement, subjectivity, and meaning-making all resonate with arts-informed research’s commitment to form, audience, creative enquiry, researcher presence, and holistic quality. These connections show arts-informed research affords lifelong learning opportunities apart from academic practice; in this case, arts-informed research is a resource tool for navigating lived experiences of grief and grief writing. Moreover, arts-informed research encourages affective narratives and socially-constructed meanings to produce new understandings, which I realize here by including eulogy excerpts to produce an artistic representation of “research” about my mother (including her undying love of chocolate).
In this narrative account of sleeplessness, I draw on Ball’s (2002, 2012) poststructural conceptualization of quilts as social texts to explore the practice of quilting as a method of arts-based storytelling. Through the process of quilting, I story my experience of resisting the Sleep Industrial Complex. I explore the biocultural arena of sleep and critique the biomedical construction of sleeplessness as insomnia. I argue that the medicalization of sleeplessness works to support multi-billion-dollar industries that purport to cure insomnia through consumerism (Barbee et al., 2018; Williams, 2008). I describe how radically accepting sleeplessness as a facet of my existence, and not a medicalized disorder, is an expression of self-acceptance and an act of self-care. In this arts-based narrative account of sleeplessness, I mark the transition from viewing sleeplessness as a medical disorder to radically accepting sleeplessness as a natural facet of our complex being-in-the-world.
Creativity and affect in families with a family member, who is labelled as disabled, is central in this article. These families are often pinned down to individual, closed categories where everything revolves around the label “disability.” Our research goes beyond binary thinking in terms of abled/disabled and other linear explanations by using artistic processes as ethnography. We start from encounters between two people who both created something about their “non-ordinary” brothers. One (first author) made a shortfilm/documentary about her own family, the other (research participant) wrote a TV series about a man who takes care of his brother after their mother’s death, which was not autobiographical yet inspired by his own experiences. The first author distilled etchings from their encounters, which piece together different layers: the scenarist’s biographical story, the story of creating the series, the series’ script and the first author’s thoughts and readings. The concept of re-touche—of touching and being touched, and in this way returning to family fissures and creating something new from them—runs through this art-based project.
At Studio A, a supported studio for neurodiverse artists, the prolific painter, performer, photocopier, and installation artist Thom Roberts frequently reaches out to connect with friends and fellow artists by running his hands across the backs of their heads; “reading” their crowns. It’s a blessing I have been lucky enough to receive countless times over the course of my ethnographic engagement with Studio A, and as my relationship with Thom has developed. During my research, I have witnessed Thom read crowns in all kinds of contexts, from pubs to art galleries, in a performance artwork that could also be understood as an experimental artist talk. Here, I trace the narrative of this facet of Thom’s practice. I consider how such embodied encounters have the potential to open avenues of communication and connection between people who might experience the world in very different ways.
This piece is a review of Natalie Loveless’s How to Make Art at the End of the World: A Manifesto for Research-Creation (2019). Poetic responses frame a more traditionally structured review. In her book, Loveless draws upon a diverse combination of theories to collage an argument for a care-full ethic in the increasingly neoliberal university. Her manifesto positions research-creation as an opportunity to reframe the narrative of research and pedagogy by going beyond what we study and attend to questions of how and why.
This is a review of Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene, an edited volume from Anna Tsing, Heather Swanson, Elaine Gan, and Nils Bubandt. The text showcases historical abuses of the earth and offers a myriad of opportunities to creatively inquire about our current relationship and interactions with other matter, creating a sense of urgency within the precarity of the Anthropocene.
The intersection between artistic research and literature has so far found little attention in the literature of arts research (Caduff & Wälchli, 2019). This is surprising as artistic research regularly encompasses creative forms of language, but also because creative writing has established itself as an academic discipline for quite some time. The anthology I review here, Artistic Research and Literature, edited by Corina Caduff and Tan Wälchli offers a heterogeneous and hybrid collection of contributions engaged with the performative quality of the research, the definition of the subject, institutional affiliations and self-positionings as well as a diverse range of case studies.