Book Chapter

Material and Aesthetic Tensions Within Arts-Based Educational Research: Drawing Woodpaths



Michael MK & Munday I (2014) Material and Aesthetic Tensions Within Arts-Based Educational Research: Drawing Woodpaths. In: Smeyers P & Dapaepe M (eds.) Educational Research: Material Culture and its representation. Educational Research, 8. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, pp. 145-162.

Entirely entangled in what people do with things, the study of practice confronts materiality and its representation. In this chapter the authors engage in a dialogue that unpicks theoretical assumptions of representation as they emerge in the materiality of a visual research methodology. Beginning with an observation of artist activity drawing as a research method is positioned congruent with a socio-material understanding of practice. Schatzki's concepts of practice bundles and material arrangements are used to theorize both the observed practice and the emerging art-based methodology. In response to this positioning Schatzki's idea of ‘site ontology' reflecting back to Heidegger's notions of ‘ready-to-hand' and ‘present-at-hand' is examined. How the materiality of the phenomenon of practice is represented (or mis-represented) through the drawings is explored in terms of the aesthetic awareness and unawareness that the act of drawing facilitates. Using drawing as a means to examine the social phenomenon of practice creates a tension between what is observed and how it is represented. Schatzki's collecting metaphors of bundles and arrangements seem not to accommodate this tension preferring instead to hold everything in relation to everything else. The authors, on the other hand, play with the unease between aesthetic experience and material encounter and they look to Heidegger's woodcutting and consequent woodpaths to better understand the usefulness of this tension. The critical dialogue that the drawing ‘Things of her practice' initiates recognises materiality as held taut through theory and method. One of the most significant outcomes of this dialogue is an illustration of an approach to educational research that is necessarily unresolved. The drawing is a material representation of practice but it is also materially constituted.

Title of seriesEducational Research
Number in series8
Publication date31/12/2014
Publisher URL…3-319-03083-8_10
Place of publicationCham, Switzerland

People (1)


Dr Maureen Michael

Dr Maureen Michael

Senior Lecturer, Education