'Barely indicative of a method’: researching with Perec

LEE, Joanne (2014). 'Barely indicative of a method’: researching with Perec. In: Species of Spaces: A Transdisciplinary Conference on the Work of Georges Perec, Teesside University, 28 March 2014. (Unpublished)

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Gerald Raunig’s Factories of Knowledge, Industries of Creativity contends that ‘wild and transversal writing’ is tamed by ‘disciplining institutions’ wherein researchers are required ‘to squeeze the last vestiges of their powers of invention into the straitjacket of the essay industry.’ At the heart of this ‘norming’ lies what he describes as researchers’ subjection to the ‘fetish of method’. This fetish has seemed especially vexatious within practice-based research, where space for creative and critical exploration frequently seems circumscribed by repeated anxieties about method. This paper, then, focuses upon the lessons for creative and critical method to be derived from Perec’s oblique approach to the exploration of ideas. In Penser/Classer, he articulates the process of thinking through practice when he remarks his difficulty organizing material and notes the fuzzy, fugitive, unfinished nature of the ‘shapeless scraps’, describing how he muddles along, feeling his way, ‘meandering in the midst of words’. For Michael Sheringham, Perec’s ‘deviation into practice’ causes temporary but effective suspensions of judgement, where spaces are opened in order to ‘see what happens’, and where, via a decision to work through ‘projets’, research is less likely ‘to be achieved in a set way, being something with a ‘less defined, more hypothetical’ sense of an end point. Using examples from Perec’s work, and from my own research through and into practice (which takes place via an independent serial project, the Pam Flett Press), I want to consider the relationship of meandering and criticality, the tensions between formal constraint and fuzzy thinking and the use of a productive oscillation between free-floating attention and active interrogation. I hope to show how such methods allow us to go beyond ‘the limits of orthodox, abstract thought’ (as Sheringham has termed it) and produce transversal work that is simultaneously literary/artistic and theoretical. This paper is currently being developed for publication in a volume edited by Dr Rachel Carroll, Principal Lecturer in English / Research in the School of Arts and Media, Teesside University.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Joanne Lee
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2015 09:19
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2015 09:19
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10247

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