A bear blanketed by words (or getting a box of stuff accepted as a PhD thesis)

Burrows, P 2006, 'A bear blanketed by words (or getting a box of stuff accepted as a PhD thesis)' in E. Martin and J. Booth (ed.) Art-based research: a proper thesis?, Common Ground, Altona, Australia, pp. 23-38.


Document type: Book Chapter
Collection: Book Chapters

Title A bear blanketed by words (or getting a box of stuff accepted as a PhD thesis)
Author(s) Burrows, P
Year 2006
Title of book Art-based research: a proper thesis?
Publisher Common Ground
Place of publication Altona, Australia
Editor(s) E. Martin and J. Booth
Start page 23
End page 38
Subjects Policy and Administration not elsewhere classified
Summary The idea that a PhD Thesis is an amalgam of words sandwiched between two thick pieces of cardboard is a deeply socialised and taken-for-granted notion. For most people a thesis is that which one finds on a bookshelf. So, the successful student of a PhD thesis is inducted into a discipline-based orthodoxy of research and research-writing. The PhD student learns to do things properly and a proper PhD thesis is always written work. Phillips (1997, p.xiv) says 'doing something properly is a way of not doing it differently.' So what happens when you declare that the preferred container for your thesis is a box because you want to include ideas that are beyond words and you want readers to handle your thoughts? I discovered that if I wanted to include a teddy bear in a thesis I must blanket the bear in words. In the context of a thesis words comfort and reassure where the teddy bear disturbs. The teddy was one of a series of artefacts and embodied ideas in my thesis-as-box. Amongst these artefacts were a twisted wire sculpture, a fragment of brown paper bag with raffia handle, a leather 'detail' axed from a size-nine male business shoe and a shard from a tea-cup. The artefacts said what couldn't otherwise be said. But gaining acceptance for a thesis-as-box and teddy-as-text required the reassurance of a thick blanket of words; without the words it could not be a proper thesis.
Copyright notice © 2006 Common Ground in association with Office for Postgraduate Research, Victoria University
Keyword(s) Art Research
Academic dissertations
ISBN 1863355979
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