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