The Body in Mind: Reflections on Research Embodiment

Participants recorded their reflections during the event. These are some of the results.
Participants recorded their reflections during the event.

The body can be messy, inconvenient and unpredictable. When you’re a scholar, the body can also be suspected of disrupting the research process. Academic cultures tend to negotiate the body by making it invisible – ignoring how it looks, moves and feels.

In this workshop, we explored what it means to be an embodied researcher. What is the relationship between our bodies and our work lives? How can we understand the roles of the body in research? In what ways do these roles differ depending on our subject or method?

Facilitated by independent dance artist Cecilia Macfarlane and sociologist Juliet Rayment (City University London), this participatory workshop included both movement and discussion.

‘The Body in Mind: Reflections on Research Embodiment’ took place on 25 February 2015, 5.30pm-7.00pm, at the Jacqueline du Pré Building, St Hilda’s College, Oxford.

How Do We Use The Body? Examinations of (Dis)comfort

Charles Adrian Gillott. Photo credit: Oliver Proske.
Charles Adrian Gillott. Photo credit: Oliver Proske.

“One way of approaching the phenomenology of the actor is to consider him as a kind of storyteller whose speciality is that he is the story he is telling.” (from The Actor’s Presence: Three Phenomenal Modes by Bert O. States)

A performer’s body, as the cliché has it, is his or her instrument. For the second event of the Body And Being Network, Charles Adrian Gillott shared the sometimes difficult experience of learning to inhabit the body and explored the connection between self-consciousness and stage presence. He examined what it means for a performer to be ‘present’ and asked whether it is possible to share that experience with others. Participants had the chance to reflect on how it feels to observe a performer in action and were encouraged to actively inhabit their own bodies.

‘How Do We Use The Body? Examinations of (Dis)comfort’ took place on 25 November 2014, 6.00pm-7.30pm, at the Jacqueline du Pré Building, St Hilda’s College, Oxford.

Raven Becomes Voracious: Tales of Insatiable Hunger  

Rebecca Leach and Stanley Ulijaszek at 'Raven becomes voracious'.
Rebecca Leach and Stanley Ulijaszek at ‘Raven becomes voracious’.

Long ago in Haida country, in the time of the trickster Raven, lived a tribe and their prince – a prince who could never eat. Why was the prince perpetually satiated? What unlikely food awakened the prince’s hunger? And what role would Raven play in turning the prince’s stomach?

The inaugural event of the Body and Being Network brought together the origin myth of the voracious Raven, as told by artist and storyteller Rebecca Leach, and histories of experimental starvation, as read by Professor Stanley Ulijazsek, director of the University of Oxford’s Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity.

Our tales of insatiable hunger were told on 30 October 2014, 5-6:30pm, at the Jacqueline du Pré Building at St Hilda’s College, Oxford.