Collaborative Embodied Skill in Space and Memory

Funded by The Leverhulme Trust.

This is an application for a Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professorship, the goal of which is to enable UK institutions to invite an eminent researcher from overseas to enhance the skills and knowledge of the academic staff and/or students.

The eminent researcher is Professor John Sutton, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy & Cognitive Science, Macquarie University. Sutton is a cognitive philosopher whose work on memory, skill, and history integrates theoretical and empirical research programmes. With degrees in Classics and Philosophy, and 12+ years working in Cognitive Science, he is uniquely placed for interdisciplinary advances in concept, method, and collaborative practice. After his early work helped to reinvigorate the philosophy of memory, his experimental studies of interactive micro-processes in collaborative recall have helped transform the cognitive psychology of memory: social influences on memory are essential ongoing scaffolding, not inevitable sources of distortion. Recent revivals of naturalistic philosophy of skill and expertise owe much to Sutton’s account of the meshing of cognitive and automatic control in real ecologies of music and sports performance. He is leading advocate of the influential ‘second-wave’ approach to distributed or extended cognition, showing how neural, social, and material resources complement each other in transforming mental life. Building on his early work on Descartes and the history of embodied cognition, Sutton now deploys cognitive history and cognitive ethnography across the humanities and social sciences. His work on ‘exograms’ and ‘the cognitive life of things’ integrates ideas about cognitive artefacts with historical studies of material culture. Recent contributions address memory and skill in archaeology, literature, linguistics, dance, and film.

Sutton's visit to Stirling will revolve centrally around a collaboration between Philosophy, Psychology and Sport. It will build on existing Stirling strengths, such as (but not limited to) Philosophy's increasing engagement with empirical science in recent externally funded research projects, sometimes with a link to sport (e.g. risk perception in extreme sports), Philosophy's track record in distributed cognition and the cognitive humanities, work in Psychology on place and memory and on spatial navigation, the cross-disciplinary Mobile Cognition research group, and the new Sports Psychology MSc. Sutton's visit will mesh these existing Stirling initiatives with his world-leading research on collaborative embodied skills, via linked themes of navigation, sport and performance, and collaborative or joint expertise across fields. This will produce a step-change in the local research environment. Sutton’s boundary-spanning career trajectory demonstrates insistent and thoroughgoing interdisciplinary innovation and this expertise will be harnessed to help deliver a new level of interdisciplinary collaboration and progress across the three domains of Philosophy, Psychology and Sport at Stirling, both in terms of research and research-led teaching.

Sutton's contribution will include a programme of Leverhulme lectures, a series of workshops that will connect Stirling researchers internally as well as with relevant experts across the UK, meetings with staff and PhD students to build interdisciplinary focus, and guest contributions to Masters and advanced undergraduate teaching.

Total award value £119,416.00

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Professor Michael Wheeler
Professor Michael Wheeler

Professor, Philosophy