Researching (with) Difficult Feelings

This training is now fully booked, please use the form at the bottom of page to join a waiting list

Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre, 14-15 December 2017

Many researchers find themselves encountering feelings they had not set-out to, both in terms of the content of their projects, and their relationship to their research. In the humanities at least, there is no clear guidance on how to account for these feelings within a given research project, let alone how to deal with them at a personal level. In theatre and performance, this can be heightened by studying live practices, real lives, interacting human subjects and things. This is perhaps especially true of projects that deal with extreme psychological or bodily experiences, pertaining to mental health, sexuality, and violence. 

This two-day training workshop for PhD students focuses on the study of and dealing with difficult feelings in theatre and performance research. Difficult feelings can be considered as those that complicate or compromise the researcher’s approach to their material, including anger, sadness, guilt, shame, love, offence, frustration, boredom – the list goes on. Addressing conceptual, methodological and interpersonal issues, the training event will focus on three areas of concern: 1) feelings: how to research with and about them 2) language: finding the right words 3) ethics: identifying responsibilities.

On 14 December, invited academic trainers will include Shane Boyle (Queen Mary), Gilli Bush-Bailey (CSSD), Broderick Chow (Brunel), Emma Cox (Royal Holloway), Anna Harpin (Warwick), David Harradine (CSSD), Chris Megson (Royal Holloway), Jen Parker-Starbuck (Roehampton) and theatre artists Alinah Azadeh, Dickie Beau, David Eldridge, Lauren Barri Holstein and Rachel Mars.

The workshop will conclude on 15 December with a keynote lecture from Jennifer Doyle (University of California, Riverside, and author of Hold it Against Me: Difficulty and Emotion in Contemporary Art, 2013).

The 15 December will focus on invited 15 minute presentations from PhD students at CHASE institutions whose projects have unearthed difficult feelings, in terms of research content and experience, with advisory input from academics. The emphasis of this panel is discussing feeling in the context of PhD research projects, towards developing strategies for project development, writing and analysis. For example, a student might want to explore how best to write engagingly, critically and ethically about work that is preoccupied with or provokes distress in some way. 

If you would like to attend the workshop, please use the registration form below.

Inquiries to Fintan Walsh at

The training course is now fully booked. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, please use the form below.

Name *