Research paper symposium

It’s taken me the weekend to process and respond to last Tuesday’s research paper symposium. The symposium was preceded by a paper Jonathan sent outlining the paper’s specification – see research paper briefing 2014-15_MAVA all_May2015 and then following it up with a second more detailed paper research paper EXTENDED briefing with examples.

We covered a lot of ground in the meeting specifically about approaches and breadth as well as some of the more straight forward administrative issues regarding format. I’ve spent quite a lot of time looking at previous student’s research papers and they seem to fall into three heavily related but distinct categories.

There are those papers like Matt Lee’s Between Limit and Transgression: The Play of Meaning at the Image’s Edge which explore conceptual issues and then there are papers like Terry Long’s Kinetic Drawing with Light that explore practice and form and Shiyuan Guo who explore the impact and implications of interactive art in The Uncontrollability of Aesthetics in Interactive Art. These differences in emphasis are useful to think about when considering what I want to focus on in my paper.

The key focus from the briefing paper is this:
“This [the research question] question should address an issue or
theoretical concern that is central to your practice and relates to the
contemporary culture of art and design and contributes to knowledge
in the field.”

So my paper will be about 11 pages long and address an issue central to my work. One suggestion in last weeks symposium was to:
“1. Find a broad subject area
2. Narrow this interest to a specific topic
3. Question that topic from several viewpoints
4. Choose the question whose answer is the most significant to you”
(Jonathan Kearney Skype session 02/06/2015)

So, my interest is in the contemporary representation of disability. That is the social barriers – physical, organisational and attitudinal that disabled impaired people. So a draft title and abstract would be something like this below.

Draft title: Conventions in the pictorial representations of disability

Draft Abstract: This author argues that explosion of pictures being shared across the internet suggests a ubiquity (Hand, 2012) in subject coverage while in reality online imagery offers very limited perspectives based on the historically based conventions regarding disability that conflates it with impairment.

This paper shows how new ways of understanding, such as those based on the Social Model of Disability have failed to be adopted within mainstream arts and such imagery continues to hark back to earlier forms of representation. This failure is, in part, due to the continued dominance of the impaired body in much disability related imagery and the failure of artists to successfully promote particular visual discourses which counter dominant assumptions and conventions.

Draft Keywords: disability, impairment, internet, photography, hegemony

Shape of research: (looking at the issue from a variety of viewpoints)

1. Historical representational approaches in respect of disability
2. Impact of digital
3. Impact of digital in the arts
4. Disabled people – context – theoretical models of understanding
5. Disabled artists – context and approaches
6. Difference in meanings (including intersectionality eg Black, gender and gay representations)
7. Response from the mainstream
8. Implications, conclusions and way forward

The brief might be too wide; the abstract too general. By hey it’s a start. I think the way I will approach this is to write and refine until I have a good shape to the argument I want to make and have sourced and accessed the resources I need to make it, and then post a draft. Otherwise if I post the paper when the argument and shape is not formed the feedback will not be as useful and it should be.

So given the real deadline is October 14th and its only June 5th I will aim to have published a draft by July 24th – the end of this term. That will give me plenty of time to receive feedback and make changes.


Hand, M. (2012) Ubiquitous photography, Published by Polity Press, p. 1 and p. 148


About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
This entry was posted in Proposals, Tutorials, Symposiums, and Term Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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