The Future of Arts Research

Second Call for Papers: The Future of Arts Research
Deadline for proposals: 31st August 2011
The Future of Arts Research, a one-day Postgraduate conference to be held at the British Library, Friday 18th November 2011, hosted by the Faculty of Arts, Royal Holloway University of London.
Keynote speakers: Professor Martin McQuillan, Kingston.
David Cross, University of the Arts.

The Future of Arts Research is an interdisciplinary conference in which all papers apart from the initial keynotes will be given by research students. We are looking for papers which in your own terms define what you see as the true value of your academic activity. We want to know what you consider to be important and innovative work because it will have a certain value in the world, whether in the form of social intervention (making music in shanty towns) or not (a new interpretation of Jane Austen because reading Austen is a life-enhancing experience). We are looking for 20 minute papers that demonstrate the range of projects that arts researchers in English, Drama, Music, Media and Film Studies, Visual Arts, and other disciplines within the field of cultural studies, languages and literatures, philosophy, and history are currently undertaking in the field.
New guidelines and funding advice from the AHRC website speak of the “Big Society” no less than five times, suggesting an encroachment of government policy upon funding awards made to researchers, potentially negating the concept of academic freedom from external political agendas. The guidelines stress the importance of “knowledge exchange,” “impact,” “public engagement” and the “Big Society” within the context of the government cuts to public spending. We have to ask: What is the potential impact of the framing of funding decisions in this way, and to what extent could this impact upon the future careers of researchers and academics? How could this affect the value, validity, and nature of the resulting research? Furthermore, does this represent a dangerously Orwellian move towards the framing of ‘knowledge’ within a politically ‘acceptable,’ government-approved discourse?
The AHRC website, as of February 2011, stresses a need to “capture the value and wider benefits of the projects and programmes we fund.” One implication is that the concept of ‘value’ may be measured against a shifting political agenda, which raises the question of what value arts and humanities research actually has to the wider community, and who determines that ‘value.’ Does the perception of the ‘ivory tower’ of the academic community represent a genuine gulf between academia and the wider society? Or does all research, learning, and expansion of knowledge hold inherent value? These are the questions we want to address by assembling activities and viewpoints from across the spectrum of arts disciplines.
Proposals might include, but are not limited to, relating your own research to some of the issues set out below:
• Relevance of theory to arts practice
• The gains of collaboration
• The meaning and value of interdisciplinarity
• History or heritage?
• Quests for self and other
• How knowledges are shaped by technology
• How your research may be of inherent value to the ‘wider society’
• How current political discourse impacts upon your own research
We would like to invite you to send us your proposals for presentations lasting no more than 20mins. The proposals should be couched in terms that make your argument clear to your peers in other arts disciplines. Proposals should be no more than 250 words (in a format compatible with MS Word), and sent to no later than 31st August 2011. We also welcome proposals for poster presentations, which set out a stall for your project in the conference foyer. Proposals should mention the department where you are studying and the working title of your thesis. You need to be registered for a masters or research degree, or to have completed a thesis very recently without being in possession of a university post.
Given the growing emphasis of arts research upon the relationship between theory and practice, a purely theoretical exploration of these issues would be of little ‘value’ without the opportunity to demonstrate ways in which research and practice interrelate, and so there will be a follow-on event at the Centre for Creative Collaboration, Acton Street, London. We would like to invite proposals from researchers, artists and performers who would like to demonstrate their own work within this context. There will be a reception in Acton Street where participants can network and discuss some of the day’s pertinent issues in a more relaxed setting. We are happy to respond to enquiries at the above email address.
Matt Cawson (RHUL Drama and Theatre)
Kelvin Thomson (RHUL Music)
Alex Trott (RHUL Media Arts)


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