Speaking back to a university ‘performance’ culture: Engaging academics in arts-informed practices to explore the affective and emotional dimensions of their work.

Year: 2019

Author: Selkrig, Mark

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There is a decline in public and political respect for expertise generally in a post truth, fake news world. With higher education’s gradual move to marketisation in many parts of the world academic work become isomorphic with other sectors that produce any kind of output; it is commodified and seen as a product of ‘hypercaptialism’. As universities scramble to ‘manage’ and control the work academics perform. The concepts of ‘contestability, uncertainty, challengeability and unpredictability’ are now common features of university work in an era of supercomplexity, which in turn can produce deep emotional insecurity among academics who work in these institutions.
In this paper, I explore opportunities for speaking back to the powerful impersonal university machine, while enacting a collegiality of kindness and care that buffers the current era of emotional insecurity. I consider ways arts-informed methodologies have been employed to engage ‘colleagues’ to reflect not only on the cognitive domain, but also the affective, emotional energy that have become regular features of our work. The design of collective modes of enquiry, peers played with ideas through text and images, resonated with Maxine Greene’s notions of ‘wide-awakeness’ and ‘critical pedagogy’ which requires us to unveil and disclose, being enlivened by works of art and exercising our imagination through situations of speaking and making.