Posthuman Research Group

Plymouth Institute of Education's Posthuman Research Group is an interdisciplinary group with the purpose of developing knowledge in the field of posthumanism.  

The group comprises world-leading researchers including Dr Ken Gale, Professor Jocey Quinn and Dr Joanna Haynes.  It also supports early-career researchers, such as Dr Marie Lavelle, to develop posthuman approaches.

Our posthuman researchers have published widely and won external research grants.  We network internationally and supervise many doctoral students using innovative posthuman methodologies. 

Since 2018, Jocey Quinn and Joanna Haynes have run a very successful interdisciplinary programme, ‘Adventures in Posthumanism’, including reading groups, workshops, book launches and conferences. The programme is open to University of Plymouth staff and students, as well as those from other universities.

Adventures in Posthumanism programme 2019/20

Wednesday 4th December 2019

Unhoming Pedagogies: an interactive workshop
Focusing on wonder, nomadic emergence, and the uncanny in education and the creative arts 

Natalie Pollard, University of Exeter 

This workshop engages with artworks and texts that instigate playful, provocative, and uncanny entanglements. It offers a space for creative ‘unhoming’ of traditional knowledge structures and educational power hierarchies, and for dwelling in moments of wonder, uncertainty and transformation inspired by the arts. It focuses on the language-based arts, and on posthumanist and new materialist methodologies. The workshop will activate modes of reading, interpreting and educating that are nomadic, wandering, digressive, vulnerably between agencies – unhomed – rather than treating these as secure, domesticated, belonging, or easily graspable. 

Wednesday 8th January, 2020.

Journeys to school in rural places: engaging with the troubles through assemblages.

Dr Cath Gristy, Plymouth Institute of Education, University of Plymouth

This paper engages with bus journeys to school, a familiar part of daily life for children living in rural areas, where journeys tend to be longer. There are many long-standing problems with bus journeys to school which lie in the shadows of schooling and in the spaces between government departments, research disciplines and between children, their families and schools. This position of “being between” means they receive little attention. This paper makes a contribution to understanding of the knotty problems of the provision, running and experience of school buses.

Complex problems need new and different research engagements. It is argued here that the processes involved in vital materialist approaches to enquiry such as assemblage, where both human and non-human actants are understood to have agency, offer different ways of working. Assemblage approaches to enquiry have the potential to offer new insights for those looking to improve bus journeys to school for the wellbeing of children and the planet as they offer an opportunity for producing knowledge differently.

Wednesday 12th February, 2020 

Unhoming Pedagogies: focusing on wonder, nomadic emergence, and the uncanny in education and the creative arts – Part Two: ‘Frightening, Ugly and Inappropriate – unhoming nursery rhymes with artworks of Paula Rego’. 

Dr Joanna Haynes, Plymouth Institute of Education, University of Plymouth

Following Dr Natalie Pollard’s presentation to our group in December, Joanna Haynes will invite an enquiry through readings of traditional nursery rhymes. The Unhoming Pedagogies project engages with artworks and texts that instigate playful, provocative, and uncanny entanglements. It offers a space for creative ‘unhoming’ of traditional knowledge structures and educational power hierarchies, and for dwelling in moments of wonder, uncertainty and transformation inspired by the arts. It focuses on the language-based arts, and on posthumanist and new materialist methodologies. The presentation activates modes of reading, interpreting and educating that are nomadic, wandering, digressive, vulnerably between agencies – unhomed – rather than treating these as secure, domesticated, belonging, or easily graspable. 

Wednesday 4th March, 2020

Diaries, notebooks, journals and … 

Dr Ken Gale, Plymouth Institute of Education, University of Plymouth 

Diaries, notebooks and journals are usually perceived as being part of a simply human writing practice of self making. In this, such practices can be seen to embody and construct a singular knowledge of the world which is constitutive of individualising notions of self and subjectivity that live within neurotypicality and a metaphysics of being and that work to perpetuate neoliberal ways of living in the world. In this session Ken will present an exploratory paper and invite participating contributions which can work to encourage understandings of diary, notebook and journal writing as processually vibrant, always creatively relational and, in agencement, animate in engaging activist approaches to posthuman inflected world making. 

Wednesday 1st April, 2020, 2.15-3.30.  Please note: we intend to run this session via Zoom. 

‘Mothering in hindsight’: Troubling time(s) 

Dr Marie Lavelle, Plymouth Institute of Education, University of Plymouth

(This paper will be circulated in advance)

The paper for discussion in this session has just been submitted for review, as such it seems ironic to be writing this blurb now in October and considering the future when the paper is about hindsight and looking back! Needless to say, regardless of the success or otherwise of publication, the paper troubles the concept of time in relation to mothering. It takes post-humanist and new materialist perspectives to explore mothering in hindsight.

Wednesday 6th May, 2020, 2.15-3.30.  Please note: we intend to run this session via Zoom

Lifelong Learning and Dementia: A Posthumanist Perspective 

Professor Jocey Quinn and Claudia Blandon, Plymouth Institute of Education, University of Plymouth

Book Launch and discussion

This session will be a book launch and discussion for Jocey Quinn and Claudia Blandon’s new book (published by Palgrave) based on their research with people with dementia and their networks. The book argues against the dominant dementia narrative of ‘loss’ and the emphasis on retrieving a past ‘self’. It shows that people with dementia have the potential to learn creatively, even at late stages beyond speech, and should be included in lifelong learning agendas. It demonstrates how posthuman ideas illuminate the lives of people with dementia, revealing them as both learners and teachers.

Date and location TBC - we anticipate that this conference will run in Autumn 2020.

2nd Posthuman Research Day for Doctoral Students and supervisors: Multi-Modal Approaches to Research

Keynote speaker: Professor Emma Renold, Cardiff University

In the spring of 2015, myself and a group of 15 year old teen girls made a graffitied ruler-skirt to lift the silence on routinsed sexual harassment and violence, in school, online and in their community - a post-industrial semi-rural Welsh valleys town in Merthyr Tydfil (UK). Unplanned, the idea to create a ruler-skirt arose from a throw-away comment by one of the girls; “boys lift up girls skirts with rulers”. It was one of those moments where an affective ‘snap’ (Ahmed 2016) meets creative ‘run(a)way methodologies’ (Renold, Ivinson and Angharad 2017) and “things in the making cut their transformational teeth” (Massumi 2015, ix). In a flash, the ruler seemed to become what Erin Manning (2016, p.1) calls a ‘minor gesture’ - an “always political (…) gestural force that opens up experience to its potential variation”. The ruler-skirt has been activating and making ripples and waves in and across policy, practice and activist spaces that none of us could have predicted three years on. In dialogue with a rich history of experimenting with what else post-qualitative research on gender, sexuality and schooling can do, and in dialogue with posthuman feminist-queer scholarship in educational studies (e.g. Taylor and Ivinson 2013; Taylor and Hughes 2016; Osgood and Robinson 2018; Ringrose, Warfield and Baradisi, 2019; Strom, Ringrose, Osgood and Renold 2020), this presentation offers a collective of ruler-skirt risings (attuning to the revolutionary forces of Merthyr Rising in 1831). Each rising provides a glimpse of an affirmative pARTicipatory embodied process and practice that remains ‘on the edge’ – a tentative cartography that makes itself felt across a range of fields, in micro-resonating moments (e.g. the up-skirting comment, a ruler-rattle) and macro force-fields of change (e.g. an activist tool-kit, a national curriculum, a law). Being ‘open to the insistence of the possibles, and of the pragmatic, as the art of response-ability’ (Debaise and Stengers 2017, p.19) is only sustainable, however, through collaboration and the regular nurturing of multiple ethico-political assemblages that have taken years to trust in and forge.

Emma Renold is Professor of Childhood Studies at the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Wales. She is the author of 'Girls, Boys and Junior Sexualities' (2005), Children, Sexuality and Sexualisation' (with Jessica Ringrose and Danielle Egan, 2015) and the co-editor of the book series “Routledge Critical Studies in Gender and Sexuality in Education”. Inspired by feminist, queer and new materialist posthumanist theory, her research investigates how gender and sexuality come to matter in children and young people’s everyday lives across diverse sites, spaces and locales. Here, (see www.productivemargins.ac.uk) she has explored the affordances of co-productive, creative and affective methodologies to engage social and political change with young people on gendered and sexual violence, including the co-production of the creative-activist resource for young people and practitioners, ‘AGENDA’. Emma recently chaired the Welsh Government's expert panel on the future of sexuality and relationships education in Wales (Renold and McGeeney 2017), and is regularly consulted in supporting the implementation of the recommendations. In 2018 Emma was winner of the ESRC Impact in Society Prize – a landmark achievement for how feminist-queer qualitative research-activisms can inform policy and practice.

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