THIS IS A VERY SPECIAL POST.
For the last six months or so, I’ve been working with two friends (Ben Madden and Ryan Hanley) to plan a project that we’re running over the academic year 2012-2013. The project, which will be based at the University of York’s Humanities Research Centre, is called “Strange Bedfellows?: Creativity and Analysis in an Age of Austerity”. You can read all about the project on our brand spanking new website, http://strange-bedfellows.org/ . Briefly, it seeks to explore and analyze the relationship between the analytical and creative processes, and to identify ways in which the creative and academic sectors can work together in the face of recent political decisions that deny or downgrade their importance in today’s cultural landscape. You can read a one-page rationale for our project here (SB Project Rationale July), which makes it clear why we think these issues are important and why, at this precise moment in time, they’ve taken on particular urgency.
The inspiration for the project comes from a number of different places – Ben, Ryan and I all have different stories to tell about why we thought it was necessary to set up such an initiative. For me personally, the impetus for the project derived from the fact that – as readers of this blog will be aware – I’m constantly trying to balance the creative and analytical activities (fiction/PhD) that are important to me. I’ve become frustrated at my inability to do so as efficiently as I would like, and I can’t help but feel that if there were a more developed critical language, and range of codes and practices accessible, then these activities could not only exist together but actually reinforce one another and make me a better writer and critic. I’m interested in the ways that various sections of society take a view on the relationship between creativity and analysis – the language and taboos that we use when talking about ‘genius’ or ‘influence’; the proliferation of Creative Writing degrees in universities and how they interact (or don’t) with English Literature departments; emergent schools of literary thought and practice such as ficto-criticism or cognitive science.
These are the sorts of areas our project will address. We’ve recently been awarded funding by both the University of York’s Humanities Research Centre and its Centre for Modern Studies to carry out our first strand of the project, which is a speaker series that will run over the course of the next academic year. Alongside this speaker series, we want to run an exciting blogroll on our project website, which will feature ten bloggers who think they might have something interesting to say about what the creativity / analysis relationship means for them. You may be a literary student, academic, or critic, and you use your studies or professional activity to influence your own creative output. You might be a filmmaker with an interest in theory, or philosophy, or the plastic arts. Or perhaps a musician inspired by poetry, or a poet inspired by music. Or something completely different. Please see our Call For Bloggers (call-for-bloggers-july-2012) for more information about what this involves. If you’d like to take part, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to hear from you.
Do check out our website to find out more about contributors, have a look at our forthcoming events (more to come), and read more about the project in general. Twitter and Facebook accounts coming soon!
Please do spread the word about Strange Bedfellows – if you know anyone who’d like to be involved as a blogger or kept abreast of events, point them the way of the website.