What Does It Take? Auto/biography as Performative PhD Thesis
Recently I completed a performative (creative) PhD in the School of Creative Communication (now the Faculty of Design and Creative Practice) at the University of Canberra, Australia, where such doctorates were established only in 2002. Since I completed in 2006, I have been contemplating some process issues that emerged during my three and a half year's studies. While conferring with fellow students and colleagues at three universities in England, I found that the many of the problems they encountered were similar and so were not due uniquely to the innovative phase that I encountered, but were part of a wider scenario. At my university, the requirements for a creative doctorate are a creative component (equivalent to about 60,000 words) and a theoretical component (exegesis) of about 30,000 words. The physical outcome of my thesis is two artist's books: one, Tissue, is autobiographical, while questioning the nature of autobiography, memory and identity. The other, Re-Picturing My Life, is the theoretical component, examining several paradigms including issues of methodology; the value of art as research; theories of memory, identity, autobiography, and human interactions with objects. I have placed some of my text/images in this paper to provide a taste of the work in my thesis. My paper reflects on performative work in the context of academic research, and the resilience, determination and sense of humour needed to complete a doctorate successfully in this valuable area of endeavour.
arts-based research; auto/biography; creative doctorate; performative