Queering practice-led research: subjectivity, creative practice and performative research

Dallas J. Baker, Southern Cross University

Document Type Conference publication


Practice-Led Research (PLR) is gaining increasing acceptance in the tertiary sector as a valid, rigorous and innovative research methodology in the creative arts (Smith & Dean 2009, Green 2007).This is the result of an ongoing debate and discussion led, for the most part, by university academics in creative arts disciplines seeking to have creative works acknowledged as research outputs (Smith & Dean 2009, Barrett 2004, Bolt 2004, Haseman & Mafe 2009, Krauth 2002, Lycouris 2000, Marshall & Newton 2000). So far, much of this discussion and debate about PLR in the arts and creative industries has been about what constitutes research (Smith & Dean 2009, Allen 2006, Haseman 2006). This paper, in contrast, discusses what constitutes ‘practice’ and describes a form of PLR that is influenced by Queer Theory. This queered PLR foregrounds subjectivity as a practice in itself and views both creative practice and critical research as components in an ‘ethics of the self’ (Foucault 1978) or ‘self-bricolage’ (Rabinow 1997). In other words, this paper positions subjectivity as the core practice leading both research and creative endeavour whilst simultaneously seeing creative practice, research and subjectivity as intertwined and mutually informing each other. In this way, a queered PLR can be seen to reframe creative practice and critical research as an ethical intervention into subject formation and knowledge production. The pairing of PLR and Queer Theory is innovative and is suggested by the primacy of gender and sexual subjectivity (or identity) to much work and practice in the creative arts; which itself reflects an increasing primacy of gender and sexual identity in the contemporary world (Weeks 1998: 35). This pairing also arises out of the author’s own creative practice in the field of creative writing which grew out of an individual wish to discuss, understand, express, explore and describe gender and sexual difference. This queering of Practice-Led Research has the potential to innovate research in the creative arts by providing a methodology for bringing together the diverse threads of subjectivity, creative practice, critical research and performativity (Butler 1990) into a coherent whole. Furthermore, a queered PLR may give the creative arts researcher innovative tools to enrich creative practice, diversify research and increase points of connection with disparate creative artefacts or products. A queered PLR is also envisaged as a dynamic and performative pathway to new knowledges.