A lecture and workshop series – normally held on Thursday mornings at 9:30 - introducing creative arts research epistemologies, thematics, discourses, methods and techniques. (For the current iteration of this course go to the 2009 Autumn Semester resources section.)
'Epistemic practices' is a broad term indicating the active production, reproduction, distribution, and rhetorical construction of knowledge, knowing and the knowable. This course facilitates the researcher to build competency, experience and critical reflection through the peer dialogue that is central to the School's activities. There is a balance sought through the course between the specific needs of individual research projects and the broader portfolio of competencies that all researchers need to demonstrate. Central to this course is a critical rethinking of academic culture and traditional practices as informed by current research. The following quotations indicate the kind of dynamic and contested space that 'epistemic practices' inhabit.
'[T]he problems of real-world practice do not present themselves to practitioners
as well-formed structures. Indeed, they tend not to present themselves
as problems at all but as messy, indeterminate situations.'
'Such questions as …“what method is common to palaeontology and particle
physics?” or “what relation to reality is shared by topology and entomology?”
are hardly more useful than “is sociology closer to physics than to literary
criticism?” or “is political science more hermeneutic than microbiology,
chemistry more explanatory than psychology?”'
For only two centuries, knowledge has assumed a disciplinary form; for
less than one, it has been produced in academic institutions by professionally
trained knowers. (sic.) Yet we have come to see these circumstances as
so natural that we tend to forget their historical novelty and fail to
imagine how else we might produce and organize knowledge.
[Messer-Davidow et al.]
'There is an inevitable paradox when talking about interdisciplinarity.
Our vocabulary – indeed, our entire logic of classification – predisposes
us to think in terms of disciplinarity. This predisposition has created
a set of metaphoric structures in the discourse. The dominant image –
the surface structure – is that of geopolitics. The major activity is
dispute over territory, not only in education and research but also in
health-care teams, where a patient becomes the "turf" of specialists.
In the logic of the geo-political metaphor, a discipline is "private
property", an "island fortress" staked off by its own "patrolled
boundaries,” and "no trespassing notices."'
[Julie Thompson Klein]
'As higher education becomes an industry, it commercializes. This process
is giving rise to certain anxieties. True, commercialization is bringing
certain evils; at the same time, it is generating impulses towards the
development of higher education as an essential factor of social progress
and economic growth.'
[Andrzej S. Nartowski]
'Given that we are paid to do research, what is there to monitor the
research we are doing? How can we keep informed people who might be interested
in it, or who might have some reason for taking this research as a starting
point? How can we keep them informed on a fairly regular basis about the
work we are doing, except by teaching, or in other words by making a public
'Today, philological and historical disciplines consider it a methodological
given that the epistemological process that is proper to them is necessarily
caught in a circle. The discovery of this circle as the foundation of
all hermeneutics goes back to Schleiermacher and his intuition that in
philology "the part can be understood only by means of the whole and every
explanation of the part presupposes the understanding of the whole." But
this circle is in no sense a vicious one. On the contrary, it is itself
the foundation of the rigor and rationality of the social sciences and
humanities. For a science that wants to remain faithful to its own law,
what is essential is not to leave this "circle of understanding," which
would be impossible, but to "stay within it in the right way." By virtue
of the knowledge acquired at every step, the passage from the part to
the whole and back again never returns to the same point; at every step,
it necessarily broadens its radius, discovering a higher perspective that
opens a new circle. The curve representing the hermeneutic circle is not
a circumference, as has often been repeated, but a spiral that continually
broadens its turns.'
'Positivism marks the end of the theory of knowledge. In its place emerges
the philosophy of science. Transcendental-logical enquiry into the conditions
of possible knowledge aimed as well at explicating the meaning of knowledge
as such. Positivism cuts off this enquiry, which it conceives as having
become meaningless in virtue of the fact of the modern sciences. Knowledge
is implicitly defined by the achievement of the sciences.'
'The problem of the relationships between the human and natural sciences,
if there is a problem, pertains to method, not object.'
'The philosophers have only to dissolve their language into the ordinary
language, from which it is abstracted, in order to recognize it as the
distorted language of the actual world and to realize that neither thoughts
nor language in themselves form a realm of their own, that they are only
manifestations of actual life.'
[Marx and Engels]
'Words and discourse aboundeth most where there is idleness and want...'
'We next went to the school of languages, where three professors sat
in consultation upon improving that of their own Country. The first project
was to shorten Discourse by cutting Polysyllables into one, and leaving
out Verbs and Participles; because in Reality all things imaginable are
but Nouns. […] An expedient was therefore offered, that since Words are
only Names for Things, it would be more convenient for all Men to carry
about them, such Things.'
'All researchers, all theoreticians must ask themselves the question
of their personal relation with their ideas, that is, of the relationship
of their ideas to their idiosyncrasies, their dreams, fantasies, desires,
interests, respects, that is to say, everything within them that pushes
them to select and hierarchically arrange facts and ideas in such a way
as to tend toward such and such a conclusion. But such an incitement is
not only a stimulus toward introspection.'