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Creating (and) the Critical: The critical component of practice-based PhDs

Creating (and) the Critical: The critical component of practice-based PhDs

Thursday 14 June 2018 | Goldsmiths, University of London

What is the relationship between the creative and critical strands of practice-led PhDs? How should the critical commentary be thought of, when should it be written?

This CHASE training event will consider this relationship and the questions, challenges and, sometimes, anxieties that it causes, both for students and supervisors.

Join us for a day of discussion, debate and reflection, open to all research students but especially aimed at those involved in creative practice.

Our scope and questions

The relationship between the creative and critical strands of practice-led PhDs often raises difficulties both for students and for supervisors.

Practitioners might see the core of their “research” as located in their creative outputs; after completion of the doctorate, publications or exhibitions will often consist of the practice-based material, while the critical component may be regarded as an exercise left within the thesis. The perceived disjunction between these components may be reinforced by institutional regulations that state specific percentage weightings for each. How to articulate in appropriate language and form the critical or theoretical reflection that is necessary to fulfil the requirement of the PhD as “an original contribution to existing scholarship in a field”, when the critical discussion may appear, to some, to compromise the integrity and self-sufficiency of the artwork? And do supervisors always grasp the implications of their own perceptions and assumptions?

Through our training event, we wish to stimulate a reflection on the role of scholarship and the critical component of practice-based PhDs; the difficulties met by students (and supervisors); how the academic context can support and develop students’ critical/theoretical insights into their own creativity and into the traditions within which (and frequently, against which) they work; how students might be supported in transforming the critical component into something that has its own post-doctoral afterlife alongside, or in dialogue with, their creative output. We also hope to encourage further institutional reflection on the disciplinary status of practice-based PhDs.

Experienced supervisors and practitioners alongside current and former students from a range of disciplines will share their experiences and insights into the process, and consider how writers and artists have approached the question of the critical. A workshop will give students an opportunity to reflect on their own critical practice, and reflect on questions such as: what is the place of the critical component?  How is it written? Should it be thought of and written from the start, throughout the work, at the end… how can there be a continuous relationship and integrated development?

The programme will include:

  • Roundtable discussions on the experience of the supervised / supervisor, the afterlife of the critical component, the institutional context and how it directs, supports or hinders the clarity of the what is required, the challenges experienced, and how those challenges can be approached and resolved
  • Panel of talks on “the artist as critic, the critic as artist”
  • Workshop: students discussing their current projects and the relationship in their work between practice and critical/theoretical reflection. Experienced staff (practitioners and critics) will be on hand to ask questions, challenge, advise, prompt, suggest solutions, invite further reflection.

Some places on the Roundtable discussions will be reserved for current students. All participating students working on a creative/practice-led project will be invited to take part in the Workshop.

To apply to participate, please visit the Apply page (external website).