Academic Identity in the Arts: Dialogue, Co-existence, and a Pedagogy of Potentiality
Rebekka Kill Submitted in May 2011
This work is an autoethnographic examination of academic identity in higher education. The autoethnographic approach means that this is not a generic study of all academic staff. It is very specifically an examination of my academic identity that has been contextually, and theoretically, located in order to discuss certain aspects of the academic identity of those staff who sometimes call themselves lecturers and other times call themselves artists. My original contribution to knowledge is an examination of academic identity that is anchored in the dual contexts of discipline-specific pedagogy and practice as research in higher education. The aim of this study is tease out the complexity of these fields and explore them in relation to a series of practice outcomes and case studies. This PhD is unusual in two senses. Firstly, the body of practice as research projects culminating in the major case study (the Tangier project) constitute 50% of this submission. In one sense this work is a 50:50 theory/practice submission; however, it is also an attempt to generate something much more integrated than a portfolio of practice and a thesis. Secondly, this submission also has something in common with a PhD by published work. The practice as research projects have a number of publications and events as outcomes and the major case study also resulted in a peer-reviewed published book chapter. These are represented in chapter six (the image chapter), chapter seven and in the appendices.
Academic Identity in the Arts: Dialogue, Co-existence, and a Pedagogy of Potentiality uses a broad range of textual language, including more traditional academic language, reflexive writing and more creative approaches. It also uses a range of different visual languages: diagrams, drawings and photographs. All of this is framed by key concepts from Ronald Barnett, Nicolas Bourriaud and Mikhail Bakhtin. My central question in this research is:-
How is academic identity constructed in contemporary creative arts higher education?
This research addresses a number of important issues related to academic identity, for example: complexity and simplicity, the purpose of writing, students and academics, and the status of practice. However, in the course of this research, my central question won’t get answered in a particularly satisfactory way. Why not? Because I’m nervous about of straightforwardness, suspicious of simplicity and terrified of being reductive, but, given the theoretical frames here (e.g. Bakhtinian unfinalisability), this seems apposite. Risk-taking is central to this study and the biggest risk of this PhD was that nothing would get answered; that I would attempt too much and achieve nothing. In what you are about to read there are undoubtedly some failures but this is an inevitable by-product of risk. This research is not only risky in itself, but inexorably it became about risk.