Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project


To what extent can literary strategies deepen and enhance research in and through the visual and performing arts, as well as for research in academia?

Novelist Maya Rasker publicly defends the research project entitled 'Word and whetstone: Perspectives on writing at the intersection of art and academia' on October 18 at 13.45 in the Academy Building of Leiden University. The defense ceremony will be in Dutch.

Rasker’s research departs from the observation that the role and position of writing, as a form of communication and artistic expression, is not self-evident within the domain of artistic research and academia. In academia, it is standard practice to use writing for the transfer of knowledge: it is a means of communication. In artistic research, research outcomes are often contextualized in a written argument. This leads to the paradox that writing as artistic-academic research must discursively relate to itself through its own medium in order to achieve relevance. This paradox has been embraced in Maya Rasker's dissertation and research.

In the academic novel 'Word and whetstone', the practice of writing is thought of as an experimental system, analogous to scientific experimentation. To this end, a "textual test tube situation" has been set up, in which the processes of narrating and annotating generate a dialogical encounter that yields new insights and knowledge. The act of writing and its material outcome is both the method and the object of research.

Ultimately, Maya Rasker argues that it is necessary to critically address the position that writing is assigned in the research domain, if only because it is a common concern of (artist-) researchers, writers, and lecturers. To her, writing as an art practice is too resplendent, too versatile, and too generous to become a grey heap of ashes in the smoldering contradiction between “art” and “academia”.

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