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.


  1. How exciting, Nane! Since i always care about what you are thinking, experiencing, creating and am interested in what sense you make of it all I look forward to joining you here periodically.

    1. wonderful Dianne - glad you'll see this, and I can share with others - this forum is new for me, so we'll see how I go!