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 2021-2022

Wednesday 6th October 2021 14.00 to 15.30 via Zoom

Reading Group

We will be discussing an interview with Karen Barad published as Chapter 6 in Dialogues on Agential Realism: Engaging in Worldings through Research Practice (2021) edited by Malou Juelskjær, Helle Plauborg and Stine W. Adrian, published by Routledge. (pp 118-142). This is available in e-book at Plymouth University Library.

Wednesday 3rd November, 2021 14:00 via Zoom

Simon Webster Making meaning of the sketchbook: an inquiry into the conceptualisation, content and form of sketchbooks, and associated pedagogical practices, in post-compulsory Art and Design education, with consideration of the effects of new technologies on practices. 

This research project is an inquiry into, and exploration of, work carried out by students studying on formal Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE) Art & Design courses in a specialist Art & Design college. The project focuses on the use of sketchbooks and the effects that new technologies are having on sketchbook practices. The sketchbook has played an important role in Art & Design practices, and education, for hundreds of years and in that time its usage had 'remained virtually untouched by the march of fashions and theories throughout history (Clayton and Weisenthal, 1991:113). But, during the late 20thC and now, at the start of the 21stC, new technologies that utilise the microchip and the internet have had a significant effect on society and culture in general (Jordan, 1999; Slack and Macgregor Wise, 2015); this study offers research into more specific effects that the new technologies have had on Art & Design sketchbook concepts and practices. Sketchbooks are ‘poorly understood in terms of their meanings, having been rarely focused upon in research and yet widely used in practice’ (Ryan, 2009:121). Meanings concerning the nature of sketchbooks will be uncovered, discovered and, or, co-created as the study progresses, especially when the practices being investigated are new or idiosyncratic (Heron, 1996; Teddlie & Yu, 2007). The aims of the project were to: 1. investigate the range of practices that constitute sketchbook work, and the discourses that surround it, enabling an original contribution to be made to the body of knowledge concerning the use of sketchbooks in FE and HE Art & Design education. 2. study the effects that new technologies are having on the range of practices that constitute sketchbook work in FE and HE Art & Design education. Key concepts derived from this project, relating to the effect of new technologies, are the dispersed sketchbook and the digitally impregnated sketchbook. Simon Webster joined the Education team at the University of Plymouth in 2000, teaching on the PGCE for Post Compulsory Education and Training. He has also worked at Plymouth College of Art between 1998 and 2017 as a lecturer on Ceramics and Metalwork, Art History, and Graphic Design courses, as well as carrying out support work with students who struggle with their writing. He completed his Master’s degree in Education in 2008, which looked at ways of carrying out observations of online teaching. In 2021, he completed his PhD.

Wednesday 1st December, 2021 14:00

Simone Eringfeld

Hello, can you hear me? Podcasting and 'data music' as digital sonic methods for post-Covid research.

Covid-19 has required us to look for new ways of teaching, learning and doing research, often via digital means. Yet while we have largely been able to continue with our core academic activities of reading and writing, the lack of face-to-face interaction has made it a lot more difficult to continue speaking with and listening to one other, or to engage in conversations or conduct interviews. In a post-Covid academy, how can we creatively go about facilitating 'spoken words' and sonic interactions in digital environments? This talk explores podcasting as a new action research method and sonic elicitation technique for interviews. In addition, in this talk Simone illustrates how spoken word performance and the production of 'data music' (data-driven song writing and music production) can be used to creatively communicate research outcomes for a wide audience. *This event will include poetry, music and performance.*
Simone Eringfeld is an educationist, artist-researcher, poet and musician whose work explores new ways to blend academia with art. She graduated from the University of Cambridge with a Master's degree in Education, in 2020. Her thesis on the future of the post-Covid University, which used podcasting as its principal research method, won the BERA Master's Dissertation Award (1st Prize, 2021). In April 2021 she released her first spoken word music EP titled 'Please Hold', in which she presented data from her research at Cambridge. Her most recent work has focused on developing podcasting as an action research method and 'data music' as a new way of communicating research results. Simone tweets @SimoneEringfeld

Wednesday 12th January 2022 14.00 to 15.30

Jonathan Wyatt

The breaking body: Everyday tales of the lost and found

As part of my work towards a new book, ‘Writing, the Everyday, and Creative-Relational Inquiry’, this paper will inquire into the everyday body, a body “as much outside itself as in itself – webbed in relations” (Seigworth & Gregg, 2010, p. 3), in all the body’s losses, joys, mess, beauty, and contradictions. It will be a paper about how a(n ageing, White, male) body breaks, how it might (or might not) heal, what a body in its everyday movements remembers, knows, conveys, carries, mourns; what is lost but present. It will be a paper about how difficult it is to write about the body, however much scholars make claims (as I do) for ‘embodied’ scholarship. It will trouble and explore how we conceptualise ‘the body’. Bringing to the page the everyday poetics and prosaics of the struggling, soaring, body, and the legacies it holds, it will be a paper that looks for creative-relational possibilities for writing the in/corporeal.
Seigworth, G. J., & Gregg, M. (2010). An inventory of shimmers. In M. Gregg & G. J. Seigworth (Eds.), The affect theory reader (pp. 1-25). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Jonathan Wyatt is Professor of Qualitative Inquiry and Director of the Centre for Creative-Relational Inquiry at the University of Edinburgh where he is also Programme director of the PhD in Counselling Studies and other post graduate programmes. Jonathan gained his Doctorate in narrative and life story research in 2008 at the University of Bristol and has since published and presented widely in this field. Jonathan’s book, 'Therapy, Stand-up, and the Gesture of Writing: Towards Creative-Relational Inquiry' was published with Routledge in early 2019.

Wednesday 2nd February, 2022 14:00 to 15:30 via Zoom

Erin Manning

Out of the Clear

“When there is nothing to govern, nothing to secure, there is blackness” (Moten and Harney 2021: 84).

Clearing produces property. Property produces dispossession. “All property is loss because all property is the loss of sharing” (Harney and Moten 2021:14). The accursed share of all that exceeds interpersonality, mediation, whiteness, logisticality, of all that cannot be accounted for, sickens the field. And sometimes rejuvenates it. The force of the transindividual, of all that exceeds and precedes the individual, does rewild. But its vitality is weakened, and as perception is honed to single out the individual over the field, the human more and more becomes the focal point and soon man becomes synonymous with life. This is how the logistics of genocide - the genocide of relation - does its work, behind the scenes.
Out of the Clear begins here. It asks what the failure of mediation, and its insistence, leaves as its scar on the land. It asks what is at stake when the presupposition is that to make way for life you must first clear. It asks what practices, what architectural procedures - following Arakawa and Gins - can open the way for a mode of existence out of the clear.
Dr Erin Manning holds the Research Chair in Speculative Pragmatism, Art, and Pedagogy and is Director of the SenseLab at Concordia University, Canada. 

Wednesday 2nd March, 2022 14:00 to 15.30

Reading Group

We will be discussing a piece written by Nancy Tuana: Viscous Porosity: witnessing Katrina. Chapter 6 in Material Feminisms (2008) edited by Stacy Alaimo and Susan Hekman, published by Indiana University Press. (pp188-214). Available as an e-book via Plymouth University Library

Wednesday 6th April, 2022 14:00 to 15:30 via Zoom

Rose-Anne Reynolds

Re-membering as a sacred practice

The title of the presentation comes from Barad (2017, p.76). I will write a partial telling, a “re-membering as a sacred practice” because I will not be going back in time, but embodying and enacting a material reconfiguring of the life I lived as a child and an adult, in South Africa.
I grew up in Apartheid South Africa. I endured Apartheid education and compulsory schooling as a child and teenager. I then became a teacher in this same system, on the same colonised land, divided, carved up and scarred by Apartheid policies and practices. The memories I will share in this presentation are alive, continuous enactments of a changing universe. I do not turn back to look at these memories and they do not drop into ‘this’ present, they are already here, but gone, already past, but different. This presentation is not a story or a sanitised history, but a re-membering of a life as a child of Apartheid and a teacher growing out, through and beyond that system in ‘post’-Apartheid South Africa.
Entangled in this presentation is how the concepts of child and childhood can be re-imagined through tracing the entanglements of the delicate complexity of my childhood that is not past or gone, and my adulthood that is not fixed or stable. I use “travel hopping” (Barad, 2017) which can be understood as temporal diffraction, as a methodology.
This presentation troubles the lines and the material-discursive practices about child and childhood they allow to emerge. I think with the child, me as child, in 1981, 1985, 2007, 2017. I think with and through the lines of childhood, apartheid, colonisation, racism, apartheid and the violence these lines enact in and through a specific image of child.

Through deliberately chosen photographs and specific memories I trace entanglements with schooling and the land. Bodily borders are defined and performed by humans. Borders are drawn on maps to be enacted on land, or in the air, or in the sea, and even in the cosmos. They come into existence as they are performed. I read a map-drawing as text through Karen Barad’s work (2007, 2010, 2014, 2017) for the more-than-human is part of the phenomenon. I also pay attention to how this map works to disrupt the ideas of time and space being containers and why this is important for child and childhood education. The map-drawing is not a container, and therefore does not just contain the historical factors of the Group Areas Act and Apartheid South Africa, but also (and not limited to) geopolitical, economic, social, psychological and educational factors.
Rose-Anne Reynolds is a Foundation Phase/ Early Childhood Education lecturer in the School of Education, at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She was awarded her PhD on 18th October, 2021, and will graduate in December 2021 from the University of Cape Town. Her research interests include Philosophy with Children (P4wC), the Philosophy of Child and Childhood and Inclusive Education including Disability Studies. Rose-Anne holds an MEd in Applied Language and Literacy studies, with a focus on the language socialization of bilingual children in bilingual families. Rose-Anne is a Level 1 Philosophy with Children trainer and co-ordinates the Southern African P4wC network. 

Thursday 5th May, 2022 time tbc

Doctoral event. Keynote speaker: Maria Tamboukou

In this talk I will talk about my research for the book ‘Revisiting the nomadic subject’ (Rowman and Littlefield, 2021). This book follows the stories of forcefully displaced women and raises the question of whether we can still use the figuration of the nomadic subject in feminist theories and politics. This question is examined in the light of the ongoing global crises of mobility and severe border practices. Drawing on Hannah Arendt’s political philosophy, what I argue is that in recounting their stories migrant and refugee women appear in the world as ‘who they are’ — unique and unrepeatable human beings —and not as ‘what they are’ —objectified ‘refugees’, ‘victims’ or ‘stateless subjects’. Moreover, women’s stories leave traces of their will to rewrite their exclusion from oppressive regimes, defend their choice of civil and patriarchal disobedience, grasp their passage, claim their right to have rights and affirm their determination for new beginnings. What emerges from the encounter between theoretical abstractions and women’s lived experiences is the need to decolonize feminist theories and make cartographies of mobility assemblages, wherein nomadism is a component of entangled relations and not a category or a figuration of a subject position.
Maria Tamboukou is Professor of Feminist Studies at the University of East London, UK and has held visiting research positions in a number of institutions in the UK and overseas. Her research activity develops in the areas of philosophies and epistemologies in the social sciences, feminist theories, narrative analytics and archival research. She is the author and editor of 14 books and numerous journal articles. See the author’s website for more details on research projects and publications.

Wednesday 1st June 2022 14:00 to 15.30 via Zoom


Knowing Sight: Visual Culture in Troubling Times

Race draws our attention to some things and away from others. Race is both visual and sensory. Objects, sounds, smells, and styles, are raced particularly when those things are associated with racial others. In a segregated culture and society, visual culture gives us information about racial others. In the U.S., there is an established visual culture invested in the production and reproduction of antiblackness. Visual culture can both reinforce and resist hierarchies of humanity. I purposely say visual culture because it can include anything in the visual landscape—from memes and YouTube videos to prestige television and visual art. Many in my generation watched music videos and films and read magazines. Today people of all ages are awash in the visual images of digital media. Our ways of seeing are inherited but also disciplined and maintained by the images of visual culture. Black aesthetics, Black popular culture, and Black art have historically refused, troubled, and resisted inherited images. Yet, many people do not encounter those resistant images or, if they do, may not know what to do with such images.
I am interested in thinking through the pedagogical potential of staging encounters with visual culture in the field of education. Such encounters allow students and instructors to have collective, affective, and embodied experiences with the ongoing violence of social hierarchy through images. By paying attention to how we encounter the visual, even in disciplined historically unconcerned with these issues, we might better engage things like perspectives and gazes. This has implications of how we conceptualize representation, experience, knowledge, and subjectivity.

  • Campt, T. M. (2019). Black visuality and the practice of refusal. Women & Performance, 29(1), 79–87. DOI
  • Dahn, E. (2014). “Unashamedly Black”: Jim Crow Aesthetics and the Visual Logic of Shame. Melus, 39(2), 93–114. DOI
  • Fleetwood, N. R. (2011). Troubling vision performance, visuality, and blackness. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. DOI
  • Isherwood, M. (2020). Toward a Queer Aesthetic Sensibility: Orientation, Disposition, and Desire. Studies in Art Education, 61(3), 230–239. DOI
  • Knight, C. (2019). Feeling and Falling in Arthur Jafa’s Love is the Message, the Message is Death. The Black Scholar, 49(3), 36–47. DOI

Asilia Franklin-Phipps is an Assistant Professor in Education Studies and Leadership, with an affiliate appointment in Art Education. Asilia graduated from the University of Oregon with a Ph.D. in Critical Sociocultural Studies in 2018. Asilia worked in the Teaching and Learning Center at The Graduate Center, the City University of New York as a postdoc for two years, also teaching courses at Brooklyn College, Hunter College, and School of Visual Arts. Currently Asilia is interested in expanding spaces for Black life, which include rest. Asilia is currently writing about Black geographies, street art, visual culture. Asilia’s work is informed by Black feminist concepts of care, exhaustion, and self-preservation.

Wednesday 6th July, 2022