Thursday, 26 February 2015

Provoking Curriculum

Just attended the 7th Biennial meeting of Provoking Curriculum Studies, a gathering of Canadian curriculum scholars, educators, and researchers. Held this year at UBC, on my home ground, easy to get to. And where this very conference was inaugurated in 2003, when I was very new doctoral student! Back then, I knew I was following the right threads, but I was somewhat dazed and confused as to my path forward in the field of education, so new to me. Let alone, “curriculum studies and theory.” I couldn’t have imagined what I feel now, that curriculum studies is my “home” in education. And judging by the good company I keep in those attending this event.

From the conference “call” (thank you Carl & Erika):

Break out! Break from all safe
comprehensive arrangements
never completely comprehended by
controllers or controlled.
(Margaret Avison)

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
(Mary Oliver)

“Acknowledging that curriculum studies are always plural and polyphonic, we invite educators to provoke curriculum studies by attending to the multiple denotations of provoke: to stimulate, arouse, elicit, induce, excite, kindle, generate, instigate, goad, prick, sting, prod, infuriate, madden, ruffle, stir, and inflame.”

“Second, we invite submissions for presentations that ask diverse questions about curriculum studies by engaging with our long traditions of provoking and invoking and evoking. Let’s embrace William F. Pinar’s (2011) invitation in “The Character of Curriculum Studies”: “Perhaps we can allow ourselves to go into temporary exile, to undergo estrangement from what is familiar and everyday and enter a third space, neither home nor abroad, but in-between, a liminal or third space…” (p. 76).

Papers included titles such as:
- Sharpening the Focus: Postcards in Pursuit of Poesis
- “Am I an English Teacher Yet?” Co-Authorship, the Invisible Subject, and Narrative Identity
- Coyote and Raven Paddle Upstream: Rekindling Human, Non-Human, More-Than-Human Intra-Actions in Education

…and many, many inspirited others (not quoting names in the blog). As you can see, these folks are not working for anything to do with instrumentalizing teachers and students through education regimes, or the human-machine-making process of modernity that philosopher Hannah Arendt so aptly warned us of.  

What is curriculum theory? (Pinar, 2004), as my French colleagues ask. A good question. More answerable after immersion in this field at UBC, where many esteemed originators and navigators are. And judging by conference attendees, its grad students are now a corpus of education professors across Canada.

I appreciate the idea of curriculum as what we immediately think it to be: the contents and design of a course of education. But what informs these? Like McLuhan, “the medium is the message.” How do we articulate, know, or experience, the structures that contain education, in all levels and phases, through the “medium” of its holding? How do we grasp, generate, and create, the institutions and classrooms within which we circulate our acts of teaching and learning?

“Sensing pain and trouble of living.” (Arendt)

Here is American, turned to-life-in-Canada, curriculum scholar William F. Pinar, with the re-conceptualization of curriculum. Moving “curriculum” from noun to verb as “currere,” in this etymological movement of "running the course," with book titles such as:
The worldliness of a cosmopolitan education: Passionate lives in public service (2009)
Queering straight teachers (2007)
Understanding curriculum as racial text (1993)

Here also, was Ted T. Aoki, “inspiriter” of Canadian curriculum studies. Infusing his grad students with oration, keen curriculum insight, support of their inquiries, and some kinda orb of transmitted life-energy, that even I am benefactor of – a trace-effect of his wise presence.

Tracing and unraveling what is brought to bear in education, in the everyday lived and hidden curricula of classrooms, from K-12, college, university, and life beyond. The university and life beyond tend to be my areas of inquiry. Who are the teachers and learners in systems of education? It’s this interfacing of school to society to daily life and back again. "Who" is there, and “how are they doing/feeling/thinking/being,” in or out of the system, that keeps me rooted in the kinds of questions that curriculum theory can ask. Arts-based methodologies and life writing grew from this generous field of inquiry, from a series of artful, life-engaged, thoughtful steps and stops along the way.

I am, perhaps, an unlikely curriculum scholar, though now it makes sense. I do not have a K-12 teaching background. But my husband is a teacher, and comes from a teacher family, and my girls are in school. We live and breath this stuff as lived experience. I came into the field of education with a very interdisciplinary background: visual arts, midwifery/birth-work, textiles, women’s studies, feminist studies in spirituality, motherhood studies. I am happy to have landed in this curriculum place, where my views of inspiriting education with social gender justice, embodied/bodied life, ecology, Earth-wisdom, the arts and writing life, the value of story in cultural transformation, have had space to gestate and grow.

I have often thought (felt-thought) how curriculum studies and inquiry, which is little known outside the field of education, sits at the “heart” of the university itself. As if by the very effort of our soulful engagement we keep the disciplines more honest, by virtue of education attempting to look at itself.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Transformative / holistic / experiential education

This title is key to some of my basic impulses in educational practices and research. It may lie at the heart of my interests and passion for learning/teaching and research. It’s why I am drawn to and inspired by the work being done by Indigenous education scholars in Canada, alongside studies in women’s spirituality education that nourish my path. This work integrates social justice with attention to social-cultural-spiritual development and healing of the human being, who we are, where we come from, and what do we really need to know and learn. It’s about finding and walking one’s way. “Wayfinding” à la curriculum scholar Cynthia Chambers. Narcisse Blood was one such Indigenous teacher ( Sadly, he was killed in a car accident last week. I give my heartfelt condolences and payers to the family, friends, and colleagues of this wise, funny, serious Blackfoot elder, filmmaker, and educator at Red Crow College, Alberta. 

In the university, there can be that most excellent of lectures, the kind that lifts you in thinking and knowing from the professor’s passion, intelligence and delivery of her subject. Oration from the teacher, like Socrates, and elders such as Narcisse (yes, Narcisse and Socrates!) is an ancient path of learning. I love this kind of study. 

I also love the study that comes from good books and reading. My independent reading, in finding the right books (yes, the ones that drop off the shelf for you), has taught me as much as anything I’ve learned in coursework at school. Reading ‘schools’ me, over and over, all the stories and ideas of others, transforming me in their words. It’s reading itself that leads my study of Cixous. And what reading generates for further writing/research in one’s self-development and education. This can ultimately affect the collective human good. Perhaps this encapsulates a history of my own sense of “study” (in the Bill Pinar sense).

Reading, taking contemplative time with texts, re-generating through generations of the human being, “humanitas.” We pass our-selves backwards and forwards in time and space. Though reading is done in a solitary way, it’s a multi-vocal, multi-textual and bodied space. Giving our focused attention in reading, a cacophony of others and ancestors joins us in the collapse of space and time. Cixous, a reader extraordinaire, writes of this over and over. She reminds us how many voices are joined in every single text. Questioning “authorship” in writing, as a ‘stable’ or singular identity. Who is writing? Who joins us in our writing? A nod to the corpus of many.

Going back to my blog title. I didn’t know this writing would take me to the notion of “reading.” Who is guiding this pen/keyboard? My original idea was to write about how important programs and curricula that integrate the “whole” person are, to my own path of study. An integration in learning of mind/body/emotions/spirit. Where I’ve been able to bring my-self, my own fragmented stories and history, sensing into life as education. It’s also why reading Cixous is so alluring for me. She moves across daily life, dreams, memory, place, the enigma of objects (things), people, dialogue, thought-in-itself, literature, in a multi-sensory, reading experience (sens/sang – sense/blood). I think of her as “dakini” Cixous – instant enlightenment! (dakini à la Vicki Noble)

What I set out to say, is that I think it’s so important that education be centred upon, not only factors of good oration, reading and critical analysis - but inclusive of body, emotions, vital life, and spirit of students and teachers. At least it has been for me. How to be vitally engaged with one’s experience and history, and not just the delivery of information – the ‘curse’ of "instrumentalism" identified in curriculum theory. This delivery needs to be a physiologically attuned birth-giving, genuinely midwifed, if we want to feel a connective, relational sense of study. Scholarship is not much without a self-body that lives, breaths and is enhanced by it, an inspirited self-body. It’s hard for the singular teacher to work holistically or transformatively without a programmatic and philosophical structure to midwife and ‘hold’ their work, without colleagues taking on co-leadership together in new ways. Ways that can respond to the political, ecological, economic, and justice challenges of our times.

I think arts-based and life-writing research go in this direction, in a Canadian education context. These are communities of scholars working with and through “wholeness” of life-forms, in practices of social engagement, justice, daily life, culture revival, in artful ways. It’s why I’m drawn to these forms of research. But in itself, research is not enough. There is so much more to a “whole” curriculum of human-making and being. This is best accomplished in collective communities of scholars /educators /learners, who are able to work together analytically, organically, emotionally - responding and creating as needed in our universities and schools. 

My doctoral topic on Women’s Spirituality education was ahead of me in these concerns. It wasn’t specifically the question I set out to ask, but it's part of what I discovered in my inquiry – the necessity of collective creative effort. Over and over I see how this graduate program was such a unique example. A collective of educators /mentors, devoted to feminist scholarship and social justice, in concert with attending to the birth of students' emergent inquiries, blending transformative and holistic education of self /body /emotions /spirit. Interestingly, it was my independent reading that brought me to this program of study. These women were not anyone taught to me in my undergraduate university coursework.

How to focus on the human being in her/his becoming, an ongoing birth. Who is she? What does she bring? Where did she come from? Where is she now? What does she fear and hope for? What does she yearn for, or want and need to know more about?     

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Partie/partir – and “Red Tents”

My last day in Paris, its time to leave, partir – this trip has now flown by. I have just gotten more used to being here. I have "arrived," more comfortable with French, and enjoying the cultural difference. This morning I wandered by the Saturday market stalls. So much good food on view, vegetables, fish, fruits, and more. I had just eaten a very delicate chocolate, and was struck by the care for, and ritual of food in France, of course its famous for that. Then I sat down at a crêperie – and ate the best crêpe I’ve ever had. I couldn’t believe how good it was, each bite soft and delicate. It was a galette actually (buckwheat), with the texture of a ‘dosa’ (South India). 

Cixous has written a text entitled, "Partie" (1976) - a complex term (and text). "Partie" is drawn from the verb "partir," to leave, to part, to go off to, evoking journeys, departures, the final trip of death, but also marking beginnings - where one starts from. The "e" of "Partie" denotes a feminine reading of this word/text. We arrive and depart at neither beginning nor end in this text. A ‘double’ text, the book writes and reads from both sides towards the middle, giving birth to itself. One side begins with the title “Plus-je” (More then - I) and reads towards the middle, until one finds the end meets the end of the alternate text in reverse. This other side is titled “Si-je” (If – I, see - I). Words are so common, and so strange, what do we have without the common place of language?

I miss my husband and girls. The girls are older now, so are more independent, but not really. They still need their home, and us (as do I!). I have no idea how I will do the longer time away from them, coming up in April/May. I have been pondering this along. Leaving my ‘nest’ to go to work. It’s a long way to fly for a seminar! But that is the process, to be here, learn and research (to arrive, and to leave). And there was no way to have my family be here for these periods, with all the commitments of school and life they are in. As too my husband, who stays home to tend the nest. So I go alone - elle partie. Of course it’s an incredible opportunity, but there is the fact of being ‘away.’ I re-visit the travelling form of my youth – the young woman who wandered alone through India, and came here to France at very young age, how did she do it? Then I travelled for graduate school, to San Francisco and back (it’s obviously a theme for me). Now I am at the age of: “Madame,” no longer that young adventurous girl. I take things in, step by step – it’s more a savour-ing (savoir - to know). And I appreciate the ability to move around like this again, after illness. I go slower now.

While here, in the evenings with my computer, I’ve had the pleasure of watching DeAnna L’am’s video series, made for her “Red Tents in Every Neighborhood” movement It’s a series of videos of women who are educators/leaders in the work of creating spaces for women to gather, and be nurtured by each other, especially during menstruation as a cycle of female/feminine life. It’s a movement for women to support and re-claim bodies/selves, past the shame and taboo of menstruation, to care and honour, to know oneself as the 'goddess' one is. The women are heart-fully speaking about what they learned from their mothers (good and bad), what they are teaching their daughters, and their visions for empowering girls’ and women’s lives in body/spirit/mind, through menstrual awareness and celebration. They wander through topics and life stories, of mothers/daughters, goddesses, sexuality, care of body and self, the importance of ceremony, and relationship with the Earth. It’s been a nice touchstone for me, to hear these women’s voices, and be brought into women’s spirituality space online. I miss my women’s circles of old! Being in circle/ceremony with women, creating ritual and hearing the stories, in all our cycles of life. We work this way together in my women’s art collective, the Gestare Art Collective:

Old forms, into new forms - transforming. I do love this time of word-weaving, in my ‘red tent,’ avec mon fil rouge – un fil de sang/sens, un fil du corps feminine.  

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Confession / Circonfession

A long post here, but something to relate at the end, if you get there. Those who know me, know I have an inexplicable, devotional relationship with the figure of mother Mary. I am not Catholic, and was raised in mostly non-religious homes. Though my grandma was a quietly practicing Anglican, and my matrilineal line were Quakers. Being in France is like a field day for me in terms of visiting Mary, en pluriel! I am also fascinated by the presence of the black madonnas that populate this land. Ancient mothers I have previously written of, in the context of goddess studies. That being said, this fact of my devotion to the Mother as Mary is at odds with how I feel about, and understand/critique, the traditional patriarchal and dogmatic institution of the Church, with its one-sided gendered language of text and liturgy (and more, in the history of female suppression/oppression).

I am deeply drawn to an earth-based spirituality that honours women, and the female/feminine on Earth, a sense of generative life-giving/shakti, birth-giving-ness, following yearning, celebration in body/feeling, interconnection through the web-of-life, incorporation of our trauma/woundings through healing. Some things don't 'heal,' but we learn from them, and how to live with them. ‘Mary’ came to me you might say. So I go along, in my own paradoxical way. Not being raised in the Catholic tradition, I somewhat naively go about my own Marian devotions when I visit cathedrals or churches. I spend time with the icons, statues, and the presence of Mary, silently conversing, as so many others do, in simple meditation, or holding questions of my life, or prayers for others. Sometimes I cry, other times I feel awash in joy, or I hold gratitude in sensing gentleness.

As I related in the blog post “J’arrive,” I just visited Notre Dame cathedral. Wandering around inside Notre Dame with the many others visitors, I walked past an area where two people were sitting on a bench, waiting for confession. Confession it seems is no longer confined to dark wooden boxes, with strange hidden priests inside them all day, like I’ve seen in old movies. The priest is in view, in a glass cubicle with only a bit of privacy. You see him praying with the confessed. People kneel or sit next to him. Anyway, it got me pondering the condition, and the ritual, of confession. Something I do not have insider experience with. I wondered at the impulse of confession (indoctrinated or self-driven), and how or if it relieves suffering? I associate the ritual itself as anxiety provoking, perhaps from Italian films or Irish literature (Joyce?), and the insistence on sin. From events in my own life of the last years, I can understood how one can feel overwrought in regards to an/other, in front an inner 'jury,' trapped in the ethics of harm and non-harm in relationships. I thus pondered the suffering that may have brought people to confession that night. I thought it might be nice to pray with someone, for reconciling trauma, healing illness, sending good wishes to oneself and others, or asking for world peace. I have experienced this affirming kind of prayer in women's circles. 

Onwards - yesterday I went to rue de Bac. Home of the Miraculous Medal, where Mary appeared to Catherine Labouré in 1830. I went there unplanned, as I was in the area. A chapel sits on this site, and receives the faithful down a long open corridor. This opens into a large vaulted space with two major sculptures of Mary on view. This chapel is truly a place of prayer. The pews were almost full of people sitting in contemplation, and waiting for the mass to start. There wasn’t room for me to sit in view of the main statue of the Mother. In this, her hands extend downward with open palms. The centre of her palms pour healing light/shakti to all. She stands on a globe and a snake, apparently vanquishing the snake, but one might make other interpretations. She is crowned in gold, a Queen. This crown does not appear in her small medal image, the little charm you take home with you to wear for devotion, remembrance and protection.

This is a long story, due to all this background, but I go on. I actually wanted to touch upon Derrida’s text, Circonfession (on Cixous’ seminar reading list). Given the telepathic signal of this week related to my new curiosity about “confession,” and Cixous’ seminar reading list, I feel directed to read this. In life writing and narrative research, we tell life stories, relating incidents of some meaning or other - in one sense we "confess." Especially in telling stories never before told, or stories we can only articulate in a certain time and place, once events have come to pass. There is a 'secret' aspect to confession - what you otherwise would not tell. More generally, in our life stories, we are the 'heroes/heroines' of the tale, finding ourselves and others to be the cause of various happy events or fatal misfortunes. Misfortunes at the hands of others (or ourselves) are the topic of testimonials. As I understand it, Derrida takes up the testimonial side of confession, in terms of the “self” that is related, and the “selves” we make of others in telling our tales. I want to look more into this.

Back in the chapel of the Miraculous Mother, I sat for some time near the front, in a pew with praying women. I just sat there really, with no particular thoughts in my head. Just being in this space of contemplation, though wondering about that too. I was thinking about the space of prayer itself, and the function of the church and religion, how it goes on in our human story. I wanted to move to a seat where I could take in the full view of the gigantic Miraculous Mother. So I went to the back of the chapel, and spied an empty edge of a bench. This bench is attached along the whole back wall of the chapel. It too was full of people, with this one corner empty. I took it, and was able to admire the gigantic Mother for a few moments, until a woman approached me, asking if this was the line up for confession? I then noticed the glass confession box to the left of me. My neighbour quickly directed her to the bench next to us, and the end of the line, which was many, many people down from us. It turns out I had completely jumped the queue! No one had said a thing. I was directly headed for confession.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Fil rouge dans la forêt / Red thread in the forest

I spent the afternoon at the University of Paris 8, my first visit to campus. You need ID to get into the building spaces, it’s not a university campus you can just walk into. 

I immediately felt the contrast here to UBC’s hypermodern, brand-new-everything spaces. Paris 8 has a fairly small campus. It was founded in 1968, as an experimental institution for higher learning, in response to the student revolt and demands of the time. The buildings on this site were built in the 1980s, when the university moved to its present location. The classrooms are basic, in need of upgrades. Makes me realize how resource rich UBC is (where does all that money come from?). Yet in France, education remains open to all, as tuition is well funded. Though I am told there are new education regimes and spending cuts going on, which are re-configuring the number of universities.

Onto my class visit—my postdoc supervisor runs a doctoral student seminar called, “Atelier Doctoral.” Students bring their writing to share with each other—a wonderful workshop space for research. I was the presenter today, with lots of prepared notes in FRENCH. I was nervous about presenting in this completely new space (for me - my first campus immersion), in French, but hey - this is the way to learn, dive in. The students were lively and attentive, and had lots to say and ask. They were very generous with my French, we managed to communicate pretty well. I enjoying the time very much. I had birth/midwifery images to show, two of my felted placentas to hold and touch, and the DVD of 'red thread in the forest.' I love to have the tactile/textile piece on hand, it really does illustrate the “art” of the research so much more. 

Not to go on too long in this blog post, I’ll add more another day - red threads to follow. But walking around the park today, I realized I am in the "field work" part of my research. Because of the literary/writing-arts nature of my study, I hadn't thought of being here quite that way - as field work. But my qualitative researcher brain kicks in, through the living, organic inquiry that this is. The field work is being here, in France, in Paris, in a new university context, in another country, another culture, learning a language - opening up inquiry - new ground, unfamiliar, excited, nervous, listening, watching, uncertainty, not-knowing, feeling into/with, learning, sharing, enjoying process.

Here is the prospectus of my seminar:

Fil rouge dans la forêt / Red thread in the forest

Cette présentation explore une performance artistique concrète dans la forêt—la forét autour de l’université où je faisais mes études doctorales en sciences de l’éducation. Mon intention: lancer ma recherche qualitative avec un groupe de 6 femmes autour de l’éducation des femmes. Et aussi, je cherche à ouvrir le sujet, et moi-même, avec le geste du “fil rouge.”

Le fil rouge, qu’ est-ce que c’est?
Un fil de la vie, un fil du sang/sens, un fil de la naissance.

Il y a trois motifs que j’explore, trois motifs qui informent ma méthodologie
(et ma vie):

1. pratiques des sages-femmes au Canada / naissance
2. fil / tissage
3. performance artistique féministe, avec le corps /les gestes /la terre

Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Cixous seminar

Yesterday I had the pleasure, the gift, of attending Hélène Cixous’ monthly seminar, at the Cité Universitaire. Which is also where I am staying So I didn’t have far to walk through the park.

Her topic this year is “Les irréparables.” I won’t summarize her prospectus, because it’s impossible for me to translate, let alone summarize. Her reading list includes:

Shakespeare Macbeth, King Lear, Dostoïevski Crime et Châtiment, Derrida Circonfession, Pardonner, Edgar Poe Tales, Thomas Bernhard Le Naufragé, Proust Jean Santeuil, La Recherche du temps perdu, Hélène Cixous Homère est morte.

Yesterday she had added Blanchot, “L’instant de ma mort.” The instant of my death. I could actually understand much of her discussion. She takes her time with words (as she does in writing itself), and ideas, which is good for a French learner. She repeats and stays on a topic, goes down certain pathways, byways, then circles back again. I took many notes. This seminar is 6 hours long, with one coffee break. Today, I was thinking how you would never see this in Canada, a professor speaking for 6 hours. Perhaps it is unique in France too. No audience dialogue, no powerpoints—a person sitting at her desk, deliberately speaking, moving along in thought, narrative, reflecting in text. There were periods of "close reading," a literary practice I am not 'trained' in, but now understand more of after listening to her do it. How to stay with, and on, one page. It is mesmerizing to follow her trails—time gives you the gift of time, of listening, of being inside the movement of literature and thought (hers and your own).

This is a blog, not a paper. I won’t try to make sense, but interestingly, she started with the question of “arriving”—and the instant of death. Once occurring (our own), we can never tell of the instance of this instant. In Blanchot: le mort n’arrive pas - un presence suspendu. Death did not "arrive," it was a suspended presence, with duration (he was not killed by the firing squad). We moved through the biblical Abraham and Isaac (the almost instant of the father killing the son). Derrida on paradox as the moment/instant of—un temporalité intemporel. Questions of violence and non-violence, as in le rêve de Martin Luther King. And there is the problem of l’esprit de l’exclusion that continues to exist in society. And more, much more. Joan of Arc appeared, in her insistence on listening to God (my 'vision' of yesterday in Notre Dame) as Kafka, Kierkegaard, hovered closely in our ears.

Friday, 6 February 2015


I arrived in Paris yesterday. An auspicious start to my year, as one friend kindly emailed, because it was my birthday! Spent mostly in a jet lag haze, but today I feel good, happy even.

One of my biggest challenges for the research, and to be here, is learning to speak, read and understand French better then I do. I can feel how far I have go and it’s daunting. I’m not a language person in that sense, or maybe I just resist the learning—bit by bit I go.

I’m in that space of being here and not here. Walking out to get groceries, seeing the bakeries and cafes, and feeling like: I am here? It takes some time to arrive.

I took pictures today to share, and maybe to make myself believe in my own location. But I don’t have the download cord for my computer! They were great pictures, especially the one of my desk, ready to go with "Eve Escapes/Ève s'évade" (Cixous, 2012/2009), notebooks, and a package of creme caramel (because you can buy that in a French grocery store). 

I made it to Notre Dame this aftrenoon, and the Seine, to say hello to the mother of Paris (the water/river and the land). The Seine cuts through this city in its serpentine path, it's banks perfectly shored on both sides by stone. Walkways and roads are river banks, after eons of human habitation. Looking down, I noticed how fast moving the water was, coursing through the city, faster then I remember, and a murky brown. 

At Notre Dame I was amazed that there was a line up to go into the cathedral at this time of year. Paris is always full of visitors I guess. Inside, I kept returning to the statue of Joan of Arc. I was drawn to her armoured yet gentle presence, her hands in prayer, her gaze pious and entranced. I lit a couple of blessing candles, keeping warm from the cold Paris weather.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Getting started with red thread

I'm starting this blog, the intention is to document and share thoughts, writing, readings, art, images, from my year of research. I am travelling between France and Canada on a SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) Postdoctoral Fellowship, to research through the University of Paris 8, in the Centre "d'etudes feminine et d'etudes de genres" ( I'm really happy to be able to do this work/study at all, given the factors of my health and life since graduating from my PhD. I have worked towards this project for a few years. It's also good to be in a Gender Studies department, this one in France with a unique history, the University of Paris 8 as well - an innovative institution of higher learning:, of which Hélène Cixous was a founder. 

It's a dream, a dream job, and I mean that in the full sense of the word "dream" - to dream.

I am working on extending life writing research methodology, as arts-based education research and a curriculum practice in schools, in universities, in community, in art, in one's very own head, heart, and home. I am reading and working with the oeuvre of the French-Algerian, poet-thinker Hélène Cixous. She is often identified in North America as one of the "French feminists." This label reflects her work on the gendered (at one time closed to women) nature of writing, and society-at-large, but does not fully capture the breadth of her work as a literary theorist, writer of "fictions," and plays. Many of her fictions have now been translated into English. This is the body of working I am reading in my inquiry.

An ongoing issue for me to re-visit, is the problem of translation. Also, the idea of representation of Cixous herself and her work - of who and what is this writer. How do I/we conceptualize? I am not writing a peer-reviewed publication in this blog, more a stream of musings and ideas from my research
 in process. I want to shake the net of ideas out wider, yet am fearful of being 'wrong' and how to get it 'right' in a blog-type space of quick-write. Which is not my usual process of writing (for instance, I am already editing this piece). My inner-outer ethics of representation, especially with a writer like Cixous, who in many ways writes 'beyond' my comprehension. Yet reading her texts, I enter places somehow familiar/strange, that show me something about my own thoughts and being in the world. In her reader, she opens writing, generating, and re-generating, word by word in text. Her writing is at times a 'transmission' (like in a car, and in a thought). So I will allow my own readings, and the ability to learn through others. Maybe the blog is a bonus that way, and will push me - to be both care-full and brave, to keep going. 

To speak of life writing, in the sense I have been researching /writing with for both my MA and PhD degrees, which were almost completely narrative works, is writing the stories of our lives. With attention to the craft of writing, we write to tell, to seek, to question, to convey, or to commune with the scenes, people, places, times and tales/tails of our experiences. We write across our lives, and enter the lives of others in relation. Life writing can expand knowledge, practice, and empathy, in fields such as literacy and arts education, curriculum studies, and philosophy of education (Chambers, Hasebe-Ludt, Leggo, & Sinner, A Heart of Wisdom, 2012). Life writing is crafted through written texts, it is conveyed in artistic and visual practices, textile gestures, and by all means of creative expression. Through writing and art, we are directed to new awakenings, or old knowings. Writing itself has a force, a generative, birth-giving quality, of bringing our attention to bear through language. Writing our lives can be “wayfinding” in an “education of attention” (Cynthia Chambers, Where are We? 2008), where we might not have known our own stories otherwise.

With the work of Cixous, I am exploring how her-writing may "midwife" (support/hold in the birth) the artful practice of life writing in education, in my own practice and that of others.

Well folks, who are actually still reading this blog (blogging can be a form of life writing), my older daughter laughed at me as I said to her, "yah, I'm going starting a blog for my research, but kinda hoping that its buried, you know? so no one ever reads it!?" She was like, "Mom, you're funny!" The truth is I want to do this, but I am not sure on format, style, genre and even content in this public form/forum. My first foray into the creation of an online 'presence.' How to interact with it? A place to organize ideas publicly, the ability to connect/share with friends, family, colleagues and others. See, I'm already rambling.

Sharing notes, fragments of a collected meaning, gathering pieces, unwinding and re-winding the red thread.