Mapping pathways through the data

Year: 2012

Author: Honan, Eileen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


In this discussion of the influence of Deleuze on the (re)presentation of data I will focus on three aspects of the relationship between text, data, and representation.

First, I draw on New Literacy Studies field to explain an evolving understanding of the multimodality of new forms of text. These new forms of text could almost be echoes of the 'nomadic' writing that  Deleuze and Guattari (1987) refer to. In particular they mention artists such as Joëlle de La Casinière, whose work Absolument nécessaire "moves fluidly between poetry, text and image" and "is at once a travel diary, sketchbook, script and graphic novel" (

Second, I discuss St Pierre's work in reminding us of the 'received understanding' or traditions assumed when dealing with data where "we believe we must translate whatever we think are data into language, code that language, then cut up pages of text in order to sort those coded data bits into categories, and produce knowledge based on those categories, which, in the end, are simply words...Yet how can language, which regularly falls apart, secure meaning and truth?" (St Pierre, 1997, p. 179).

Third, I discuss the (im)possibilities of following pathways offered by Deleuzean thinking when producing academic texts, when as Margaret Somerville (2012, p. 540) claims, "evolving genres of representation do not reject academic writing but strain at the very limits of what writing can mean". In this paper I discuss my own struggles to (re)present data on the page and my attempts to guide doctoral students through their own journeys. I pose these unanswerable questions in this discussion.

  • Is it possible to write rhizomatically using the linguistic mode only?
  • Does rhizomatic thinking and writing help qualitative researchers deal with the 'crisis' of representation?