Stories from an art institution: The writing lives of students with dyslexia

TOBIAS-GREEN, Karen (2020). Stories from an art institution: The writing lives of students with dyslexia. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This thesis explores the complex and shifting relationships between writing, the art institution and constructs of dyslexia. At the time of its submission, a detailed study of dyslexia within a post-humanist framework is unique. This thesis engages with the writing lives of six art students diagnosed with dyslexia over the course of an academic year. It interrogates writing in some of its many manifestations, notably writing as an academic, assessed and measurable outcome and writing as a form of fluid and imaginative communication. By placing writing in the art school, I explore both institutional power more broadly, and constructs of the art school, and examine how these relationships interact with and create each other. To do this I actively use ideas around place, objects and materials as factors in the shaping, becoming and making-invisible of dyslexia. I question dyslexia as a fixed and medicalised model, combining theory and practical methods of research to problematise dyslexia and to explore how it comes to be, and its fluctuating relationship to the student participants. I use a post-humanist framework to consider disability, writing, and active, radical pedagogies. I have turned to thinkers including Haraway, Goodley, Butler, Foucault, and Deleuze and Guattari to think through these problems. Refuting the arboreal model of knowledge has allowed me to work with participants, present their stories, navigate the art institution, engage in discourse around dis/ability and writing and develop new and exciting ways of making writing a rich, viable, valid and accessible creative practice. As a direct result of this, I have authored, had validated, and now teach the BA (Hons) Creative Writing undergraduate degree in my institution. This is the only creative wring degree course in an arts institution in the North of England and the only one informed by this radical pedagogy and post-humanist framework. 6 This research contributes to knowledge theoretically, methodologically and pedagogically. Methodologically, the structure and assemblage of the thesis reflects and shapes its subject matter and makes manifest actual students’ writing lives, thereby bringing theoretical considerations and practical circumstances together in a novel way. Regarding theory and pedagogy, the rhizome enables me to interrogate dyslexia differently, and to produce new understandings of a) dyslexia, b) writing, c) the art institution, d) me as a researcher, e) places of research, and f) post-humanist approaches to ethics in research. It does this by employing a critical disability perspective which opens up the relevance of my radical pedagogy to many underrepresented groups and to those who might be regarded as mainstream. The conditions created by this research make this possible and are replicable. This research demonstrates a framework (through explanation and documentation of the 3 workshops) that is portable, transferable and flexible. It can be and has been applied to community groups, adult education students, tutors, community arts groups, literature festivals, writing circles, F.E. and 6th form students across arts and humanities, with dyslexia specialist teachers, with artist lecturers/practitioners, amongst M Level and doctoral students, with groups of young people transitioning from further to higher education, with widening participation cohorts and with potential H.E. applicants from polar quintiles 4 and 5. This research has produced, and continues to produce, peer reviewed articles, conference presentations, creative fiction and non-fiction. This thesis demonstrates a different and transferable way of doing research. It has a life beyond its printed text. It exists in the lives of the participants, in the propagation of the writing workshops and in the development, writing and teaching of the BA (Hons) Creative Writing degree. This thesis presents a vibrant and theoretically sound radical pedagogy which may inspire and provide a blueprint for critically aware, imaginative, liberating and productive teaching and learning.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Slater, Jen [0000-0001-6739-7784]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr Jen Slater
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2020 16:08
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:03

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