Exploring the poetics and the ethics of new materialist inquiry: Professor Bronwyn Davies

Year: 2019

Author: McKnight, Lucinda, Wolfe, Melissa

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Event One of AARE 2019 Poststructural Theory, the Posts and Beyond: Event Series feat. Professor Bronwyn Davies funded by AARE Poststructural Theory SIG Major Grant 2019

As researchers, our task is to get inside the processes of those materialisations of the world that we encounter (where encounter is not a collision but a mutual affecting and being affected); it is to find or generate the concepts that will enable us to see those encounters not in normative, already-known terms, but in ways that open up new possibilities for sensing and responding, for becoming sense-able and response-able. That is the ethics of new materialism.

And what of the poetics? New materialist research is necessarily playful. It crosses disciplinary boundaries, messing those boundaries up; it works with new and emergent philosophical concepts, bringing them to life through art, poetry, literature; it enters into the very specificity of sensual existence as it is caught in a moment of spacetime and simultaneously opens up, or finds its way into life itself. Through such explorations it seeks to break loose from old dogmas, old methods, old binaries—all the paraphernalia of a normalized set of thoughts and practices that place the individual human above and separate from the world, and that constrain research through the repetition of the already-known. It seeks to open up thought, giving space to emergence of new ways of understanding, new ways of becoming, throwing off the shackles of the clichéd conventions of rationality and order.

In the workshop following this paper, I will present one or more of my own explorations that begin with where I am, or slip right into the middle, and then reflect on what was involved in going there. What re-conceptualising was involved? What new practices? What ethics? What poetics? I will then open up that exploration with the audience, inviting them to shift from being audience to becoming participants, giving them an opportunity to talk and write about something that matters to them in their encounters with more-than-human relationality, that called/calls on their sense-ability and response-ability.