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State of Play Project Arts Centre, Dublin

22 Feb

May 8 and 9, 2008  Conference Programme


Prof. Kerstin Mey: Between Paternalist Care and Laissez-faire – On current models of PhD Supervision in practice-based research in Art and Design (University of Ulster)

In the German Academic System a PhD supervisor is traditionally referred to as ‘Doctor Father’. The term embodies a concept of paternal authority, signifies the supervisor’s position and ‘customary’ gendered identity in the hierarchal academic system as well as their (assumed) research and disciplinary expertise. It conjures up attitudes and images of reverence and firm (and fair) guidance. Yet it may also imply (and excuse) expectations of mild bouts of ‘juvenile’ rebellion on part of the PhD researcher as a constituent part of their maturing into an independent scholar. Although there seems to be a general agreement that the quality of supervision is vitally important for the success of the whole PhD enterprise, current perceptions of the role of the PhD Supervisor varies between disciplines. These range from the supervisor as manager of the PhD project, particularly in STEM subjects, to a more guiding and caring influence in the creative fields. The presentation aims to critically discuss key requirements for PhD supervision in practice-based research in Art and Design based on the perceived specificity of the subject field and its current prevalent approach to and form(at) of PhD research projects.

Prof. Kerstin Mey studied Art, German language and literature in Berlin, Germany, and holds a PhD in art theory/aesthetics. After positions in universities in Germany and the UK, she currently holds a Chair in Fine Art at the University of Ulster. She is Director of the Research Institute Art and Design there, and heads up the research area ‘Art and its Location’ in Interface: Centre for Research in Art, Technologies and Design. Her research is concerned with contemporary cultural practices and their social and political situatedness. She is an experienced PhD supervisor for practice-based projects. She authored the book Art and Obscenity (IB Tauris, 2006). Edited volumes include Art in the Making. Aesthetics, Historicity and Practice (Peter Lang, 2004), and with M. Kroenke and Y. Spielmann: Kulturelle Umbrüche: Identitäten, Räume, Repräsentationen (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2007). Her essay titled “The Gesture of Writing” (2005) reconsiders the role of writing in third level art education.